Trading power for speed?

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Isaac Carlson

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2012
545
NW Wisconsin
I have been thinking of getting a smaller cylinder for my splitter. Not as a replacement, but to swap out as needed. Use the small cylinder for more speed on the regular wood and the bigger one for tougher stuff.

I can split 3-4 face cord an hour with the 4" cylinder. I could split about 10 face cord an hour with a 2.5" cylinder.

The big one makes 4.5/20 tons and the small one would make 1.75/8 tons with low/high pressure.

Most of my splitting is 5 tons or less, so I'm pretty confident it would work just fine, while using the high pressure stage a bit more often for the extra tonnage when needed. 2.5x faster means a lot more time to go fishing/hunting.

Anyone want to share their thoughts?
 

andym

Feeling the Heat
Feb 6, 2020
434
Hicksville, Ohio
I have been thinking of getting a smaller cylinder for my splitter. Not as a replacement, but to swap out as needed. Use the small cylinder for more speed on the regular wood and the bigger one for tougher stuff.

I can split 3-4 face cord an hour with the 4" cylinder. I could split about 10 face cord an hour with a 2.5" cylinder.

The big one makes 4.5/20 tons and the small one would make 1.75/8 tons with low/high pressure.

Most of my splitting is 5 tons or less, so I'm pretty confident it would work just fine, while using the high pressure stage a bit more often for the extra tonnage when needed. 2.5x faster means a lot more time to go fishing/hunting.

Anyone want to share their thoughts?
Sounds good on paper. How difficult would it be to swap? 5 min? 10 min? Would it be an oily mess?
Ideally you would just have 2 splitters, but this has potential to be almost as good with some obvious advantages.
 
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Isaac Carlson

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2012
545
NW Wisconsin
I was planning on using quick couplers, so it would take about a minute.

remove hoses, pull pins, pull cylinder and set on table, replace cylinder with the other one, pop the pins in, connect hoses, put first cylinder on the rack. Done. The unused cylinder would ride on the side of the beam.

It seems pretty good to me, but that's why I am asking for input because it's easy to overlook things.
 
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DodgyNomad

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
668
West Michigan
Following this and taking notes.
 
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jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,283
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
I have been thinking of getting a smaller cylinder for my splitter. Not as a replacement, but to swap out as needed. Use the small cylinder for more speed on the regular wood and the bigger one for tougher stuff.

I can split 3-4 face cord an hour with the 4" cylinder. I could split about 10 face cord an hour with a 2.5" cylinder.

The big one makes 4.5/20 tons and the small one would make 1.75/8 tons with low/high pressure.

Most of my splitting is 5 tons or less, so I'm pretty confident it would work just fine, while using the high pressure stage a bit more often for the extra tonnage when needed. 2.5x faster means a lot more time to go fishing/hunting.

Anyone want to share their thoughts?

Use a maul on all the easy stuff. Way faster than the fast cylinder, easier on your back, no wrenches and purging air out of lines.

Better yet, use a kid with a maul on all the easy stuff! ;lol
 
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Isaac Carlson

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2012
545
NW Wisconsin
Use a maul on all the easy stuff. Way faster than the fast cylinder, easier on your back, no wrenches and purging air out of lines.

Better yet, use a kid with a maul on all the easy stuff! ;lol

I broke my back about 20 years ago, so swinging a maul is going to be the hard way. I have a 4 way right now and it will split wood as fast as you can stack it. I would be using couplers, so there would not be any air in the lines or wrenches. Just a snap, snap, and it's done.

If you can split faster with a maul than my splitter, I'd love to see it.
 

Osage

Feeling the Heat
Nov 3, 2011
276
kansas
I broke my back about 20 years ago, so swinging a maul is going to be the hard way. I have a 4 way right now and it will split wood as fast as you can stack it. I would be using couplers, so there would not be any air in the lines or wrenches. Just a snap, snap, and it's done.

If you can split faster with a maul than my splitter, I'd love to see it.
I split 95% of my wood where I cut it. Use a maul on all of it. I have a hydraulic splitter but can count on one hand the number of times in the last 35 yrs.
Depending on the wood I can beat my hydraulic easily for a cord or so.
 

jetsam

Minister of Fire
Dec 12, 2015
5,283
Long Island, NY
youtu.be
I broke my back about 20 years ago, so swinging a maul is going to be the hard way. I have a 4 way right now and it will split wood as fast as you can stack it. I would be using couplers, so there would not be any air in the lines or wrenches. Just a snap, snap, and it's done.

If you can split faster with a maul than my splitter, I'd love to see it.

I definitely can, but it's not because I'm fast or your splitter is slow. It's because hauling rounds to wherever the splitter is and then heaving each one up on the table (or walking them over for vertical splitting) takes a lot more time than a whack with a maul right on the spot where I bucked it.

Of course there's always gonna be gnarly rounds (and sometimes entire trees) that are a lot faster in the splitter, but the majority of what I do gets done without a side trip to see the splitter.

Nothing against splitters, have one, love it, but only use it a few times a year. (It is real satisfying to cut a big gnarly round into nice rectangular slabs, thinking about how many maul whacks you would have needed to get big jagged chunks out of the same piece...)

Ar the end of the day though, do whatever is best for your back. That's something I wish I had cared about years ago!
 

Jags

Moderate Moderator
Staff member
Aug 2, 2006
18,256
Northern IL
Swapping to a smaller cylinder does make me wonder how much more time will be spent on the slow side of the pump. With that variable will you actually create more splits in a given time frame? Dunno, I am sure part of that will depend on what you are splitting. I gave up a 3.5 inch cylinder and went to a 4 ( on my small splitter) just because of too many getting stuck.
Your results will be interesting.
 

Corey

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2005
2,594
Midwest
If swinging a maul creates an issue are you 100% OK with lugging hydraulic cylinders in/out of the splitter? They have always surprised me as being 'notably heavier than you'd expect' - so just be sure you're OK with the weight.

In the 'other, possibly easier' categories:

Any chance to upsize your hydraulic pump? Seems like you might be splitting to the lighter end of the spectrum, so possibly you could upsize the GPM on the pump, but stay with a 2-stage so you'd still have fast splitting of the small stuff, but a 'low range' for the hard stuff.

Go with more 'ways' on your wedge? Possibly find/make one with 6 ways vs 4, or 2? It seems a lot easier to swap out a wedge than the whole cylinder.

Splitting length OK? I know some people have put a 'collar' on the cylinder rod to limit stroke and shave a few seconds off the 'auto return'.

Lastly, are you sure the math holds? I mean in my 'glory days', I could run a mile in 6 minutes (and a few odd seconds). ...but I sure couldn't run 10 miles in 60 minutes! There is a bit of difference between 'sprint' and 'long haul'!

Even now, if I do go at splitting like killing snakes, it seems there is always 'something' to do while the ram is running through the wood. Picking up split pieces and getting them out of the way, getting a new piece of wood close and ready. I've also found that by applying the same techniques from maul splitting to hydro splitting, a lot of times, I don't need to make full strokes of the ram - only a few inches of wedge is enough to 'pop' the wood apart.
 

kevin j

Minister of Fire
Jan 21, 2008
694
minnesota us
I’ve always been an advocate of speed over sheer power, because I don’t deal with wood much bigger than about 18 inches. Mainly because it’s hard for me to lift. I have a 4 inch splitter with a log lift but it’s stored offsite so I use my 3 inch one almost all the time If I do have larger wood then I can quarter with the 80 cc saw. I built one with the 3 inch cylinder and it’s about three seconds out and a little less than three seconds return. With a good size table on the input and output, I can really fly through the wood especially with a helper or two I’m not sure about a 2 1/2. that might be too small but my 3 inch cylinder unloads the pump at about 1000 psi (I would set that higher but I run out of engine horsepower) and I stay on high flow probably for 90% of what I do. Ash maple Elm, occasional Oak
 

Isaac Carlson

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2012
545
NW Wisconsin
I cut some elm just so I could see what I would need for tonnage, but I think the dial is off. It says 350 psi before I start the splitter. It's brand new too! It didnt go past 1200 psi on the tough crotch piece and stayed below 800 psi pretty much the whole time. Thats with my 4 inch cylinder, but the guage is messed up, so I don't know how close that is. I will have to see if I can get a different one.
 

xman23

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2008
2,331
Lackawaxen PA
Sounds a bit extreme.