WoodPro AVP PTO Chipper/Shredder rev(long, w/pics)
About a month ago, when I was trying to determine what chipper to get, I posted some inquiries about this chipper and apparently no one had any experience with one. I requested and got some references from the manufacturer, Vandermolen and they checked out OK, so I bought one. Last week I set it up and used it. As shown in the pictures, it completely reduced two pretty large brush piles in about 3 hours on Saturday afternoon and another 4 on Sunday.
Overview: The machine comes fully assembled; you just have to cut down the driveline to fit the distance to your tractor PTO. The manual and parts list are adequate but mainly deal with the engine-powered models and there are some minor differences in parts that the manual does not cover.
The driveline installation produced the only set-up problem: I had no trouble cutting the driveline and plastic cover to the appropriate lengths, but then it turned out that the driveline opening for the attachment input shaft was too narrow to fit on the shaft. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img] I tried greasing both shaft and hole ( [img]/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] ) but still nothin' doin'. I couldn't believe it so I measured both the shaft and the hole with a dial caliper and found that the shaft was .015" (1/64) wider than the hole.
I knew what to do about this, but didn't want to do it without the specific OK of the manufacturer; so I tracked him down by telephone late Saturday morning and his reaction was [img]/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img]
He confirmed that it was OK to enlarge the driveline opening, which I did, without much difficulty with a 1" drum sander.
After that little manufacturing goof, I concluded that it wouldn't be smart to assume that all of the necessary bearings had been greased. There is one on the rear of the PTO input and one on each end of the flywheel shaft. Old grease came out pretty quickly, so I guess that they had been greased after all. Then did the same with the usual 5 points on the driveline (2 zerks on the universals, both shaft ends and 2 zerks on the shield).
At that point you hitch her to the 3ph, lift her and set her down where you are going to operate. As shown in the pics, the machine has four adjustable legs that allow you to set it down even on rough terrain so the machine is born (and steadied) by the ground and just braced and powered by the tractor.
Here are some pics:
brushpile Sat pm
One of the things that I liked about this machine is its safety design. As you can see, when the chipper is at usual operating height (driveline input shaft about level with tractor PTO) the lower lip of the hopper is about 5' above ground level:
Because the depth of the hopper is about 35" from the lower lip to the throat (where the flywheel and blades are located) it is almost physically impossible to anadvertently get your hand or arm near the blades; indeed, you would really have to climb up on the hopper and climb in in order to do so, unless you are an NBA center [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] .
Here's a photo of the hopper throat; with a part of the 30" flywheel and part of one of the four 7" knives visible The opening is well more than 6" in each direction (117 sq.")
so it will take some pretty good sized stuff:
throat opening and flywheel
The flywheel consists of two approximately 1/2" steel disks mounted about 3 1/2" apart with a series of flails in between. The whole flywheel assembly is 4 3/4" thick. The specs don't give a weight for the flywheel, but the entire machine weighsabout 950# and I would estimate that about 1/3 of this, or some 300# is the flywheel. Whatever it weighs, once it gets going, it takes a LONG time (3-4 minutes) to spin down.
The machine is rated for a minimum of 22hp at the PTO which is what my B7800 has. Given the amount of flywheel inertia to overcome, I engage the rear PTO very slowly and with the engine running at idle, and then increase RPM to operating speed very gradually.
This machine does not have hydraulic feed, but it really doesn't need it; the downward slant of the hopper, plus the action of the knives, draws most material steadily and naturally in, so that you can dump a load of material in and go get another armful while it is chewing the first load up. Theonly exception is very stiff and springy branches which you sometimes have to push in.
This machine is both fast and powerful. It couldhave produced the same amount of chips considerably faster if more than one person had been feeding it. It is quite capable of reducing a large variety of materials from vines, upper tree branches and their leaves through sapplings of all sizes and up to 6" hardwood. Needless to say, large hardwood goes slower and you want to run at full (540rpm) PTO speed. For most medium sized stuff, I was running at about 1900-2000 rpm and that seemed more than sufficient.
Here are some pics that show the disappearance by Sunday evening, of my brush piles and the creation of an almost 5' high pile of chips. for the last pic, to show the scale of the chips, I put one of my workgloves on top of the pile:
brushpile gone Sunday afternoon
The size of the chips varies somewhat with the material. The machine makes very small chips from softwoods and virtually pulverizes anything rotten or punky. Maple and hickory chips, particularly from larger diam logs, are somewhat larger. Shredding action with leaves and soft material is satisfactory although perhaps not quite as effective as with a dedicated shredder.
I have now used the machine for about 10 hours (I had some more brush piles that I reduced during the week). If you are going to chip a lot of hardwoods, or run saplings with their roots through (even if you beat them and inspect for stones, there is still going to be some abrasives left on the roots that will accelerate knife wear) you probably want to check on the condition of the knives every 10 hours or so. I checked and am going to resharpen.
BTW, in order to do so, I suggest making a jig from some angle iron, so that you can mount all four knives in line on the jig and sharpen them together. Unless all four knives have the same amount of material and blade angle, the chipper will not perform as effectively. The bedknive should be checked and the gap reset after sharpening the knives.
The flails require much less frequent attention.
All in all, I think that the WoodPro, which at $4795, cost significantly less than the equivilent BearCat and Valby chippers that I had considered, is a solid performer and a good value. It is well designed and well built. About one third of the flywheel housing is hinged to swing away and provide very convenient access to the knives and flails for sharpening and/or replacement.
This is obviously a lot of machine for an individual homeowner, but if you have enough land and a continuing need for processing volumes of material (or if you can pool ownership with one or two neighbors [img]/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] ) this machine is very worthwhile. Previouisly, I had a 10hp Troybuilt chipper and there is just no comparison either in the range of material that it can handle or the speed and efficiency of use.
For anyone considering a PTO-driven chipper, particularly anyone who would also like to be able to shred soft material for composting, the WoodPro is worthy of serious consideration.
Hope this is helpful to some. If not, it was still fun to put together. [img]/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]
Re: WoodPro AVP PTO Chipper/Shredder rev(long, w/pics)
MadDog, thanks for this review. I read all the chipper threads with much interest as I eventually will buy one. You've covered this chipper pretty well and I look forward to your ongoing reports. John
Re: WoodPro AVP PTO Chipper/Shredder rev(long, w/pics)
Thanks MadDog for a great post...