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  1. steamguy

    steamguy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2008
    Messages:
    111
    Loc:
    In the windy Columbia Gorge, WA
    Yup, I echo this. I built one about 6 months ago. Where I live the pellet quality is all over the map. I had a spare shopvac so I just dedicated it to this use. My old Austroflamm wasn't too picky about what I put in it, would burn it, fines and all.

    The new stove however is WAY different. It's fussy about not getting fines, plus the slot to the hopper is smaller than your hand so vacuuming out the fines is nearly impossible. I figured it's easier to just feed it clean fuel. I don't mind cleaning a few bags at a time, I just fill 5-gallon buckets and tote inside as necessary.

    Now I buy my fuel by the ton, as the weather can be really unpredictable and if we're 'iced in' then it's tough to get to the feed store for a few bags of pellets. But a lot of the fines in the bags comes from handling. Sometimes the handling equipment at the mill (and the kids at the feed store) can bust up the pellets and create a lot of fines.

    I built mine out of ABS; PVC in those sizes is rare around here as it's against local codes to use it for drain and waste. I spent about $90 on the whole thing and will be sharing the plans with my brother in law to help relieve the cost a bit.

    One thing I noticed: You have to be careful about how fast you feed it. Mine seems to want to have some air rushing past the pellets as they are being fed. If I just fill the infeed, then it wants to clog and the shopvac will suck the pellets straight through. Then I have to open the shopvac and scoop 'em out. I do that anyway periodically; I just throw the whole mess, pellets and dust, into a bucket and feed it through again. Presto- pellets recovered.

    I also noticed that if I had a bag of pellets that had gotten wet (like from me using them for ballast in the pickup) that once they'd dried out, I could bang the bag around to break up the marginal pellets, then run them through the machine to suck up the ones that had broken completely down.

    Hope this helps clarify a bit.

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  2. pegdot

    pegdot New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2007
    Messages:
    415
    Loc:
    Upstate, SC
    The one I built isn't a cyclone. They look pretty much the same but mine has no internal baffles. No problem with dust blowing back out the top. The cyclone thing sounds intersting though.

    Feeding the pellets in at a steady rate is a bit tricky. You might consider drilling a couple of small holes in the Wye above where the vac comes in to supply make up air so it won't eat whole pellets when the neck of the funnel gets full.
  3. tinkabranc

    tinkabranc Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Messages:
    1,641
    Loc:
    South Coast MA
    Hey Tristan,

    Out of curiosity...

    Did you actually have issues with the fines or are you trying to prevent
    possible problems?
  4. Tristan

    Tristan New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2007
    Messages:
    74
    Loc:
    Central MA

    No I was not having trouble with the fines/dust. Its more of a preventive measure. I figure a $5000 investment is worth $5 for the plan and $90 for the parts to build this thing. Besides, when its built, the thing just looks damn cool standing there in my garage. It screams for attention: "WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THAT?" Also, you will notice the amount of dust coming from these bags as you empty them into the hopper is no laughing matter. We have little rug rats in the house, and one of them is sensitive to dust (esp in winter because we cannot open windows to air out the house) - so instead of adding more dust via the pellets, i take a little time to clean out the pellets before i bring them into the house. Another reason is that these pellets are "luck of the draw". Sometimes you get good bags with min. dust/fines; yet sometime you get crap - and yes ... from the same exact brand - as they say ... different day, different plate of sh*t. Good luck friend.
  5. offingmoot

    offingmoot New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Messages:
    171
    Loc:
    Central/South Jersey
    just bumping this great thread for any newbs like myself that are interested, i ran across the plans but can onlu find them for $25, is there anyone who has the plans that is interested in selling them to me for $6??
  6. EJW1

    EJW1 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2008
    Messages:
    35
    Loc:
    So. NH
    Can one of you post some pictures?
  7. offingmoot

    offingmoot New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Messages:
    171
    Loc:
    Central/South Jersey
    i would like to also see some pics of peoples home made setup
  8. EJW1

    EJW1 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2008
    Messages:
    35
    Loc:
    So. NH
    There is nothing on ebay that I can find. I have typed it in every possible way.
  9. offingmoot

    offingmoot New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Messages:
    171
    Loc:
    Central/South Jersey
  10. BadDad320

    BadDad320 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Messages:
    259
    Loc:
    NW New Jersey
    Here is my pellet duster...............

    Attached Files:

    • fm3.bmp
      File size:
      300.1 KB
      Views:
      603
  11. smoke show

    smoke show Guest

    I"d pay $25 for that!
  12. EJW1

    EJW1 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2008
    Messages:
    35
    Loc:
    So. NH
    Is the suction on the top fitting or the bottom?
  13. offingmoot

    offingmoot New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Messages:
    171
    Loc:
    Central/South Jersey
    nice to see a little humor on this board
  14. steamguy

    steamguy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2008
    Messages:
    111
    Loc:
    In the windy Columbia Gorge, WA
    The suction is applied to the top; the way the "improved design" works, you apply the vac's exhaust to near the bottom. I can see how it helps - it creates a closed loop that keeps the really fine dust down because it's recirculated until it's finally caught by the vac. It would also tend to boost the strength of the column of air inside the duster.
  15. in-control

    in-control New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    90
    Loc:
    Central Ma
    How about scooping the pellets out with a small strainer, shifting them around to get the fines out over a trash can? Cost ~$2.
  16. Czech

    Czech Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    1,065
    Loc:
    Twin Cities, MN
    Oh, you're talking about the pelleduster, now I'm tracking again....
  17. DiggerJim

    DiggerJim Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    497
    Loc:
    Northcentral Connecticut
    Tried buying the plans online and get a Paypal error. Emailed the site addy and got a reply that they'd look into it...nothing since. :-( Time for me to figure out how to make it myself.
  18. offingmoot

    offingmoot New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Messages:
    171
    Loc:
    Central/South Jersey
    "How about scooping the pellets out with a small strainer, shifting them around to get the fines out over a trash can? Cost ~$2."
    sounds like a lot of work for 2-3 tons of pellets
  19. steamguy

    steamguy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2008
    Messages:
    111
    Loc:
    In the windy Columbia Gorge, WA
  20. offingmoot

    offingmoot New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Messages:
    171
    Loc:
    Central/South Jersey
    has anyone used the corn vac for pellets?
    i will need a storage container near my pellet bags, a hose into the cornvac over a bucket and a hose from the cornvac to my shopvac
    questionis does my initial storage conatiner need to be airtight as well, say i get a large plastic storage conainer that you would put clothes in you attic, do i need to worry about moisture getting in? and how closedoes the hose need to be into the pile in there for it to suck into the cornvac?
    i will look on the corn forums well
  21. steamguy

    steamguy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2008
    Messages:
    111
    Loc:
    In the windy Columbia Gorge, WA
    Here's a photo of mine. Was in the middle of some other work, and the pellet duster stuff was just shoved to the side. My wife would kill me if she saw that I made a photograph of my workbench while I was in the middle of a project, so I took a moment and fuzzed it out.

    You can see that I had to build it out of ABS; which essentially doubled the cost of the entire gizmo. But it does work well. Got a couple of mods for it that I'm going to try once I have some spare time from doing yard work.

    Attached Files:

  22. offingmoot

    offingmoot New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Messages:
    171
    Loc:
    Central/South Jersey
    very nice and thanx for the pics
  23. steamguy

    steamguy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2008
    Messages:
    111
    Loc:
    In the windy Columbia Gorge, WA
    No problem. You can see that I used a 5.5HP shopvac which is about twice the recommended power for the duster. I want to try putting in a baffle to 'spin' the air inside the duster to make it more of a cyclonic separator. This will burn off some of the excess horsepower, but is going to take a while to get to... (low on the list...)
  24. itworks

    itworks New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    Messages:
    206
    Loc:
    Southwestern CT
    I guess I'm either very lucky, or missing the whole point. To date I've burned approximately 40,000 lbs of pellets, many different brands, hard and soft wood varieties without dusting or massaging them in any way without ANY problems.
  25. steamguy

    steamguy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2008
    Messages:
    111
    Loc:
    In the windy Columbia Gorge, WA
    Well, I burned 15 years' worth of pellets in my old Austroflamm, and could easily reach into it to periodically clean (vacuum) the accumulated fines out of it. It was necessary to do that every couple of weeks.

    Consequently, I NEVER had an auger jam, NEVER replaced the auger motor in all those years. That's burning at least 3 tons a year, sometimes as many as 4 or 5. Those old Austros were built like tanks.

    But with this new stove, the access into the feed hopper is so narrow that I can't get my hand into it to properly clean it; and so I need a different way to control the amount of accumulated fines in the bottom of the hopper. Therefore the only way for me to do so with this stove is to keep them from going in there in the first place.

    You might also be really lucky to be able to obtain fuel that is consistently low in fines. Some of this stuff I get in this area can have a double-handful of fines in a single bag.

    Hope that explains it sufficiently.
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