My new Apple Chopper

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My new Apple Chopper

Postby cranky » Fri Jun 17, 2016 6:11 pm

Or why I shouldn't be left to my own devices :crazy:

In case you don't know already I like to work with fruit. Why do I like to work with fruit? Because in my area I can often get it for free. Free fruit is my second favorite kind of fruit. My favorite kind of fruit is free fruit somebody else picks :D

Last year I did around 1,000 pounds of apples, this year I hope to get at least as many but have been working on improving my apple equipment to make it easier to work all these apples. Since the fruity goodness thread got rather long and somewhat difficult to find certain things in I decided to start a new thread showing people the madness to my method in regards to my equipment.

The first thing you need to understand about me is I am a cheap bastard and have almost no budget for equipment. The second thing is I actually like seeing just how cheaply I can make things. I also like free booze. With all that in mind I still need apple processing equipment.

Some years back when I began working with fruit I did it a slow tedious way, meticulously collecting apples, chopping them into pieces, deworming and coring them, then grinding them up in a food processor before finally pressing them in a 3 gallon press I picked up at an auction. The real problem with this method was how long it took. It could take 2 or even 3 hours of work just to get a gallon to a gallon and a half of apple juice. Fortunately I tend to have an hour or two of free time when I'm at work but it was painfully obvious that it greatly limited the total amount of apples I could process and thus the total amount of booze I could make. I tried using a juicer, which worked OK but was not a lot faster and I felt the juice and Brandy were lacking depth. So I set about trying to come up with a low budget high speed alternative.

One of the things I considered was buying a Harbor Freight chipper shredder. Some members have used them with great success but they are $150. Granted with a 20% off coupon it only comes to $120 but there are size limits to the apples. I really wanted something I could just dump my apples into regardless of size. Another alternative was the barrel type grinder that most people use. My intention was to eventually build one of those and I started accumulating parts to do that. The big obstacles in this was finding something suitable with the drive shaft, my preference would be stainless steel and I wasn't finding any suitable SS rod. Then one day Yakattack suggested using a morter mixer in a bucket. I thought this was a pretty good idea, so I headed down to my local Lowe's to look for a mixer. What I found was a bunch of them in the discount rack on clearance for $3.75 So I bought 2 and used one for the original apple chopper.
APPLES 26 SEP 15 #6 - C.JPG


Then I added a second blade to make the MkII,
GRINDER MK2 #3 - C.JPG


then I went back to Lowe's and bought 2 more and made the Mk III chopper which was the prototype that lead to this newest chopper.
APPLES 06 OCT 15 #4 - C.jpg

GRINDER 12 OCT 15 #2 - C.JPG


In retrospect I wish I had bought 6 mixers, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20.

If you want to read about the previous incarnations of the apple chopper they can be found here
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=48881&start=270
along with everything else I did last year.

Now this brings me to the apple chopper Mk IV which I have been working on lately and finally decided to share the details of the build.

I began with the Mk III which had some shortcomings. First and foremost is the plastic bucket I was using it in. This thing was both fun and terrifying to use because even though it was only being spun at 1650 RPM I could never shake the thought of a potential catastrophic blade failure which could send a blade right through the side of a plastic bucket and into one of the people operating the contraption. I found that to be a rather unpleasant thought so I started looking for a suitable tube to put it in. The problem there was the blades on the chopper are a little bigger than 8 inches so an 8 inch tube was too small and a 10 inch tube, much like a bucket, was really too large. The eventual solution came when I found myself with a 32" X 36" sheet of .032 thick stainless steel. With a little thought I figured I could roll that stainless sheet into a 9 inch tube giving the blades a much tighter and more efficient chopping ability.

So that decided I set about making a bottom for the new chopper. I began by making a rough circle a little bit larger than the blades themselves. I didn't use anything to actually measure just got a rough circle by tying two pens together to use as a compass. Then I cut the circle out and cut a piece of stainless out a little larger than the paper circle. My original intention was to cut out a piece of plywood to form the shape out of but didn't have any plywood so I wound up just using a piece of wood. This worked OK but far from perfect. Fortunately I don't need it to be perfect.
APPLE CHOPPER #4 - C.JPG


So I used used this rough circle and rolled the stainless into a tube to fit around the base I had just made.
Next I I began drilling the tube and bolting it to the tube to make it as tight of a fit as I could. In truth it isn't very tight but it is tight enough.
Once I got it screwed down all the way around I drilled some holes up the side to hold it all together and it looked like this.
APPLE CHOPPER #6 - C.JPG


Stay tuned, I have a lot more to write and show you guys tomorrow :D
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby cranky » Sat Jun 18, 2016 4:30 am

After the size and shape was determined I cut some slits in the bottom for the pulp to pass through. It is difficult to see in the pictures but I bent the leading edge of the slots up and sharpened it to act as an additional blade to further cut up apples, the other side I bent down at a 90 degree angle which helped stiffen it up. Then I drilled the center hole and added the bearing block salvaged from the Mk III.
APPLE CHOPPER #5 - C.JPG


Next I trimmed the excess off the tube then began bolting/screwing the whole thing back together
APPLE CHOPPER #7 - C.JPG

APPLE CHOPPER #8 - C.JPG


I cut cut some oak pieces to use as bracing and centering pieces
One went in the top, the other the bottom
APPLE CHOPPER #9 - C.JPG


Then I added additional pieces of oak flooring to attach it to the stand
APPLE CHOPPER #10 - C.JPG

APPLE CHOPPER #11 - C.JPG
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby cranky » Sat Jun 18, 2016 3:58 pm

Now that I had the cross supports in it was a matter of adding a couple short 2x4 pieces to the legs to attach it to then mounting it to the legs.
Here is what I have so far
APPLE CHOPPER #13 - C.JPG


and here is a shot looking down the business end
aPPLE CHOPPER #12 - C.JPG

You definitely don't want to put your hand down there while it's running.

Next on the agenda is making a chute to feed the apples down it. Then I need to buy a couple pulleys to fit my motor and the shaft. My motor turns at 1650 RPM so I'm thinking 1 to 1 drive would be fine but I may speed it up just a tad.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby cranky » Sun Jun 19, 2016 4:04 pm

Things are coming along nicely with the chopper setup. Today I more or less finished the chute.
APPLE CHOPPER #14 - C.JPG


I made it so it will hook over the cross brace and sits at a slight angle to make it easier to feed the apples into the chopper but not have to be directly attached.
APPLE CHOPPER #15 - C.JPG


When not in use it can then be folded up for storage
APPLE CHOPPER #16 - C.JPG

APPLE CHOPPER #17 - C.JPG


Next is mounting the motor. I was planning on using a couple pulleys but now I'm thinking I will see if my motor turns the right way and might forgo the pulleys and go direct drive.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby raketemensch » Tue Jun 21, 2016 7:49 am

Cool stuff, cranky. Looking forward to seeing it in action.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby cranky » Tue Jun 21, 2016 1:37 pm

Thank you raketemensch, I'm planning on getting a video up as soon as I have the chopper finished, I've even considered going to the Mexican grocery down the road because this time of year they tend to have apples pretty cheap and have bags of bruised ones for $1, a couple bruised bags might be a good way to test it. But I am trying to be patient and wait for the early apples to come ripe. I checked the tree the other day and it looks like this is going to be a good year for it.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby yakattack » Wed Jun 22, 2016 6:13 am

Looks pretty sweet cranky. Question though. How do the apples feed down? Are the blades orientated to draw the apples and pulp in and down?
HDNB wrote: The trick here is to learn what leads to a stalled mash....and quit doing that.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby cranky » Wed Jun 22, 2016 7:23 am

yakattack wrote:Looks pretty sweet cranky. Question though. How do the apples feed down? Are the blades orientated to draw the apples and pulp in and down?

It's actually kind of complicated how this thing works. The blades are actually pitched both up and down so some drive the apple up, This actually works to an advantage because by bouncing the apple up and down and chopping it finer as gravity does it's thing to eventually allow it to come out the bottom. I made the slots on the bottom about a half inch wide and with the leading edge of the slot pitched up and sharpened my hope is it if there are any chunks that make it to the bottom that are larger than the slots they will be cut down to fit through. If you watch the video of it running in the bucket setup you can kind of see what I'm talking about

It actually chopped things pretty fine in spite os the bottom being very open and a much looser fit so my hope is to get an even finer chop by adding more restriction. I may have to add additional slots to allow it to go faster but I want to see how it works with the 4 it has before I potentially weaken the bottom.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby rad14701 » Wed Jun 22, 2016 11:19 am

That's pretty slick, cranky...!!! :thumbup:
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby cranky » Wed Jun 22, 2016 11:54 am

rad14701 wrote:That's pretty slick, cranky...!!! :thumbup:

Thank you Rad, The one we videoed was the prototype and was right at the end of the season. I had actually declared that I was done for the season but had to pick those last 2 buckets just to test it out. My wife is actually getting excited that she will be able to help out this year once the new mods are complete.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby pythonshine » Wed Jun 22, 2016 3:22 pm

Exallent build Cranky. A fine job as always. Certainly an innovator to our hobby. Color me green.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby cranky » Wed Jun 22, 2016 3:53 pm

pythonshine wrote:Exallent build Cranky. A fine job as always. Certainly an innovator to our hobby. Color me green.

Thank you, if I had a way to weld stainless the work would be much cleaner but then it wouldn't have that unique junk pile look :lol:
Funny thing, my wife is now actually talking about buying 1,000 Lbs of apples if the guy down south sells them for 10-15 cents a pound this year. I would like to see just how fast this thing could chew through 1,000Lbs of apples.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby pythonshine » Wed Jun 22, 2016 4:14 pm

After i finish Yaks boiler. I might have to make him one of these....the town i live in has about six or so orchards around it....if i can make any improvements, i will see about making two and send you the second....so many projects and only one life to live :crazy:
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby bitter » Wed Jun 22, 2016 4:42 pm

Very cool... I need one of those!

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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby pythonshine » Wed Jun 22, 2016 4:57 pm

Who knows what the future hold bitter ;-)
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby cranky » Wed Jun 22, 2016 5:28 pm

pythonshine wrote:After i finish Yaks boiler. I might have to make him one of these....the town i live in has about six or so orchards around it....if i can make any improvements, i will see about making two and send you the second....so many projects and only one life to live :crazy:

I'm sure there is plenty of room for improvement, a round barrel/ tube comes to mind, maybe another set of blades and an easier way to remove the blades from the chopper, for cleaning and such. It would be nice to weld or otherwise permanently attach the blades to the shaft too. Some type of bearings come to mind but the oak blocks work surprisingly well and I don't have to worry about grease getting in to the mix, it is actually quite well lubricated by the apple juice. Of course all those things cost money like so many other things in this hobby.

bitter wrote:Very cool... I need one of those!

B

The basic prototype was actually very easy, cheap and quick to make, and did a very good job with nothing more driving it than 18V cordless drill. Speed is important, my big old half inch 850 RPM drill was too slow, 1400-1650 did very well, I personally would be afraid to go much faster than 2,000 RPM. The motor I am planning on using is a 1/3 HP (I think earlier I said 1/4HP but it is actually 1/3) turns at 1650 RPM which I think will be perfect. I also have a 2 HP motor but it is very big and heavy and I am trying to make this thing at least somewhat portable.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby pythonshine » Wed Jun 22, 2016 5:59 pm

Couple sealed bearings. Ss shaft and blades...hmm. Think i might have to do some sketch. :think:
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby cranky » Thu Jun 23, 2016 4:23 am

pythonshine wrote:Couple sealed bearings. Ss shaft and blades...hmm. Think i might have to do some sketch. :think:

That would be perfect and if you make the blades yourself you can make them fit 10" SS vent pipe or even 8" but the pipe could be off the shelf which would make things easier if not necessarily cheaper..
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby pythonshine » Thu Jun 23, 2016 4:26 am

True. But the easy way isn't the fun way! I will do some more reading and see about throwing a sketch up sometime after 8pm....as for now I'm of to bed.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby cranky » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:16 pm

Apple season has begun which means that I am way behind, as usual :roll: Fortunately today I found the time to just about finish the chopper :D

As you know I have decided to go direct drive rather than pulley driven which meant that I needed to extend the legs to be tall enough to support the motor. This meant cutting new legs. The whole thing is about 60 inches tall.
APPLE CHOPPER 04 JULY 16 #1 - C.JPG


Once the legs were extended I mounted the motor to a piece of 3/4" plywood.
APPLE CHOPPER 04 JULY 16 #2 - C.JPG


Because I forgot the screws at home I then had to take it there to finish working on it. I added some 2x4 pieces to the legs to act as spacers for the motor then mounted the plywood to the 2x4s. The only thing lacking now is a coupling to connect the motor to the drive shaft. I did a sort of half assed thing to try to work as a temporary measure but it didn't work so I will just have to wait until I get the coupling to run it with the motor.
APPLE CHOPPER 04 JULY 16 #3 - C.JPG


In the mean time I can still run it with the cordless drill.

One other issue that comes to mind is with all that weight up so high I think the feet need extended to give it more support. It also has gotten quite heavy. I can still lift it but it is pretty cumbersome to move around.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby cranky » Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:37 am

Yesterday I ran the chopper for the first time since the rebuild. Results were actually disappointing. I still haven't gotten a coupling I took the motor off and ran it with a cordless drill. It wasn't chopping much at all, the drill bogged down and failed to reach sufficient speed and the apples came out more as slices than anything else. I was blaming the speed of my old Ryobi drill until I looked down at the blades and noticed some of them were backwards so some of the blades weren't chopping anything causing the problem.

I think I failed to mention that I took the chopper apart the other day and changed the set screws. I retapped the holes for 8-32 screws to replace the 6-32 I had been using because some of the 6-32s had backed off while running it. When I put it all back together I didn't pay enough attention to what I was doing and I got some blades upside down, which meant they ware backwards. This made a huge difference in performance. Of course the old slow drill didn't help. I really need to get that coupling so I can run that nice big motor.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby steelmb » Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:22 am

cranky wrote: I really need to get that coupling so I can run that nice big motor.

A hose and a couple hose clamps should work. Hydraulic hose with the steel braid is real tough but would still give some flex. Oh and its cheap which according to you is right up your alley. LOL.
I believe MCH may have said it best. "It's your hooch, you get to choose."
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby cranky » Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:30 am

steelmb wrote:
cranky wrote: I really need to get that coupling so I can run that nice big motor.

A hose and a couple hose clamps should work. Hydraulic hose with the steel braid is real tough but would still give some flex. Oh and its cheap which according to you is right up your alley. LOL.

I was actually thinking about that, not sure where to get it but I will have to look around. Thanks.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby steelmb » Wed Jul 06, 2016 7:39 am

Agricultural repair shop, Harbor freight, maybe a truck repair shop. They may even have some short end cuts that they would just give you.
I believe MCH may have said it best. "It's your hooch, you get to choose."
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby cranky » Thu Jul 07, 2016 4:53 pm

Today I took steelmb's advice and sought out a bit of 1/2" hydraulic line. I managed to procure a piece about 6 or 7" long for free :ebiggrin: I cut it into 2 pieces and used one as a coupling
APPLE CHOPPER 07 JULY 16 #1 - C.JPG


Next I took a bucket of apples
APPLE CHOPPER 07 JULY 16 #2 - C.JPG


Loaded it into the chute
APPLE CHOPPER 07 JULY 16 #3 - C.JPG

And started it up. It worked like a charm until it became evident that I had a bit of a flaw in my design. I believe I already mentioned that the slots might be to small or too few and that proved to be the case. With a 1/3H.P. motor running at 1650 RPM the apples were chopped into pieces very quickly and clogged the outlet slots.
APPLE CHOPPER 07 JULY 16 #4 - C.JPG


This will be easily remedied tomorrow by cutting larger and more slots which will allow the pulp to pass easily through into the bucket.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby yakattack » Thu Jul 07, 2016 5:27 pm

Nice cranky. Loving this thread man. Keep it coming.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby cranky » Thu Jul 07, 2016 6:18 pm

yakattack wrote:Nice cranky. Loving this thread man. Keep it coming.

Thanks Yak. I hope making the slots bigger fixes any issues. It went very well right up to the point it started backing up. That big motor works pretty well, I don't think I need to change it out to the 2 horse. I think that 2 horse motor would just make the whole thing too top heavy. I also think it wouldn't hurt to run even faster, maybe 2,000 RPM. I actually started filming the video. it went through a half bucket in only a few seconds, this thing is going to be very fast. I need to quit screwing around with other things and focus in finishing the chopper and press. They almost doubled our work load with no extra people at work so it is beginning to get difficult to find time to do the projects.
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Thu Jul 07, 2016 6:42 pm

Wicked cool.
Your vision+followthrough is impressive!

I sure hope safety backups are keeping pace with improvements!
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby Tiki » Fri Jul 08, 2016 12:29 am

Impressive !
Another way to prevent the clogging may be to make the outlet a slot in the side of the cylinder
Centrifugal force will fling the product out like a regular garden mulcher and you won't have to rely on gravity to keep the outlet open
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Re: My new Apple Chopper

Postby Tiki » Fri Jul 08, 2016 12:40 am

Something like this
chopper.png
chopper.png (5.65 KiB) Viewed 4071 times
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