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  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    48
    Location
    Liberty Hill, Texas
    Tractor
    Kubota L3130 HST

    Default Bearcat chipper review

    I posted this as an answer to another thread, but thought I'd add it here in case anyone is looking at Bearcat chippers.

    I just bought a chipper and wanted to share what I have learned. I was first interested in the Bearcat 70554. A neighbor up the road has one and gave me a demo. I think it's a great machine - he ran a 6 foot long 4 inch diameter cedar post through it. He has a 35 HP Mahindra tractor. What I liked is that it looks to be a very well built machine. The only thing that made me hesitate was that it dumps the chips on the ground sort of below the unit. That means as the pile builds, you have to move the tractor. They make an add-on blower for this machine, but it runs about $1000 and no dealer had one.

    I was also intrigued by the self-feed models I read about on other threads. However, it sounded like the lesser priced models have their share of issues.

    I finally ended up buying a Bearcat 73554. I saw this one on the Bearcat web site - no dealer had one in stock. I think it is based on the 70554, but it looks completely different and has a built-in blower with a snout that pivots 360 degrees. It also has a lever to adjust the chip size (the 70554 requires installing a different screen for each chip size). Their list price for this is about $1000 more than the 70554. We gave the 73554 its first run last night (after a little adjustment of the pulley guard). It's a solid machine. We ran about 50 cedar trees through it. They range from 5" on down. Most were in the 3 to 4 inch range. I have a kubota L3130 HST and a 5" trunk was pushing it. I had to run the PTO at 500, and learned that it was best to do 4 or 5 foot sections if the logs were 5". Luckily most of my big trees will become fence posts. I did have to trim trees down to fit in the chute - it's not like you could shove a Christmas tree through it. But if you can shove it in the chute, it can chew it up. We also put some brush through the brush hopper. The manual said to put nothing larger than 3/4", but we probably exceeded that. It does a good job, but it is actually a little scarier than the chipper. It also uses different blades that basically thrash everything, so the chips aren't as clean and small. Enough rambling - here's the bottom line:

    70554
    5" chipper
    brush hopper

    73554
    5" chipper
    brush hopper
    360 degree blower
    adjustable chip size

    I paid $3650 for the 73554. Luckily my dealer got one in stock just so I could look at it. I think Bearcat does a good job servicing their dealers, and they are responsive on their web site. I even had a rep call me. I told him to talk my dealer into buying one. A week later the dealer had it. My dealer also delivered it to me 35 miles away. Time will tell how this machine lasts, but my neighbor has been happy with his for over a year.


  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    29
    Location
    Capitol Region of NY
    Tractor
    MF 1540

    Default Re: Bearcat chipper review

    Doug,
    My exact thought when posting in the other thread. To keep the Bearcat reviews consolidated:

    I went with the 70554. The dealer where I bought my MF 1540 sold me the 70544 for under $2600. It was my max price wise.

    Felt I could add the discharge blower later (when I wanted to spend more) if the bottom discharge drove me nuts. It doesn't! I put a tarp under the chipper and occasionally I kick the pile away from the chipper. Then I take a break and have just enough on the tarp that I can dump in the loader by myself. It's about 2/3 of a loader full that I can handle.

    The 70554 will grab a piece of wood and pull it in and chew up, no feeding required. You can't stop it when it starts on a piece. Had a fresh cut tree 20 ft plus in length and ~5 inches around at the base. Fed it in and it would chip 5 to 6 foot then stall out the tractor. Happened about 3 times before the green wood was narrow enough for it to continue to the end.

    The shredder hopper has very stiff bristles. When I throw a handful of twigs on top they need to be pushed through the bristles. When I use a small stick to push anything built up through the brushes the stick gets pulled out of my hand so quick it hurts more then when the chipper grabs onto a limb. Dealer said the bristles would loosen up with time.

    Over all I'm very happy with the 70554's chipper, less then thrilled with the shredder portion. I would suggest, if at all possible, you try the machine yourself before purchase.

    Brian

  3. #3
    Gold Member slaveToHorses's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    434
    Location
    Oregon
    Tractor
    JD 2355, JD 3720,JD 855, JD LX280

    Default Re: Bearcat chipper review

    I have had my BearCat 72854 for 3 years or so.
    It is a PTO driven 8" chipper with hydraulic horizontal feed and electronic feed rate control.
    I like dedicated chippers as opposed to chipper/shredders. The shredder function causes compromises in the design.

    The only problem I ever had was with the feed rate controller not working. Turned out to be a dealer installation issue.

    I absolutely love the chipper. I can feed it a 30+ foot tree and walk away to get the next one. It just chomps away, moving the tree in and out as necessary and crushing the branches as it goes. Everyone likes to feed it, even my son's will leave their computer games to come feed the chipper!

    Here is a shot of my son and the beast.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  4. #4
    Bronze Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    71
    Location
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Tractor
    Kubota BX23

    Default Re: Bearcat chipper review

    Brian,

    Last week I also bought a BearCat 70554 which I am powering with my BX23. I was a little worried about the pto power as the BX was at the low end of the BearCat's requirements. After using it for about an hour I did manage to stall it out with a 5" log about 8 feet long, but all in all I am very happy with the results.
    Like you said, it will grab and pull in about anything you can fit in the hopper.
    I also found the bristles in the shredder hopper to be very stiff making it almost impossible to push leaves through it. I see Bearcat offers some sort of push tool to help.
    I have been debating about the 2 speed blower unit for it as well as the leaf vaccumn attachment....that would be a lot nicer than trying to force leaves down the shredder hopper. The downside is I think those attachments almost double the cost of the unit.
    I also dont mind the chips coming out near the bottom...but I haven't used it extensively yet. I do notice some debris comes through the bristles at the top when using the chipper.
    I think this is about the biggest unit ( capable of 5" ) I could use with my tractor and couldn't resist when I was able to get the dealer down to $2250.
    Larry

  5. #5
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,030
    Location
    MN
    Tractor
    John Deere 990 MFWD and a few others

    Default Re: Bearcat chipper review

    I also am a owner of the Bearcat 70554. We have owned it ever since about 1991 when we got our JD 970. Has held up real good all these years but the bristles have not loosened up which makes it hard to get debris down the shredder. I would like to get one with a blower and a larger chipper opening for apple tree branches but it works well for the couple times I use it per year so it is probably not worth the cost to trade in. Very well built machine and will buy Bearcat again.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    50
    Location
    Graham, WA
    Tractor
    Kubota L5030 GST

    Default Re: Bearcat chipper review

    slaveToHorses,

    I will be going to my local dealer next week to price out a 8" 72854 and was wondering how the chipper teeth are holding out for you? Are they easy to change out? What was the cost of your chipper? I don't think my dealer will try and ding me to bad, but it doesn't hurt to have some info.

    Thanks, Kevin

  7. #7
    Gold Member slaveToHorses's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    434
    Location
    Oregon
    Tractor
    JD 2355, JD 3720,JD 855, JD LX280

    Default Re: Bearcat chipper review

    <font color="blue">I will be going to my local dealer next week to price out a 8" 72854 and was wondering how the chipper teeth are holding out for you? Are they easy to change out? What was the cost of your chipper? </font>

    The Chipper teeth are in great shape, even after a few years of some heavy use. I just checked them the other day. All you need to lift the flywheel cover are two 9/16" wrenches. You tilt back the cover and everything is exposed. The teeth are easy to replace. The trick to having them last is to check carefully for foreign objects (nails, etc.) in the wood. Also keep the wood clean. Don't drag it through the mud and then into the chipper.

    I can't tell you exactly what I paid for the chipper because I did a package deal with a used tractor and the total was not broken down but I think it was around 7,500 for the chipper/hydrofeed/speed controller.

    You'll love it.

  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    48
    Location
    Liberty Hill, Texas
    Tractor
    Kubota L3130 HST

    Default Re: Bearcat chipper review

    Now that I've had a chance to use the 73554, I thought I'd give an update. We have been clearing land covered with Eastern Red Cedar trees (Juniperus virginiana), and an occasional oak. These trees have been dry for quite some time, and the wood is hard. They range from 5" on down. Anything under an inch or so goes in the brush hopper. After about six hours on the machine, and literally hundreds of trees, it is still chewing them up. The manual mentions that dry wood will dull the blades faster and suggests mixing green and dry if you can. The idea is that green wood keeps it lubricated. I would guess that too much green cedar might gum things up - don't know yet. I have noticed the blades are wearing - it no longer sucks a big branch out of my hand. The manual also says to expect up to 15 hours on a set of blades. I think I'll get that. The good news is the blades are reversible, so I have a spare edge when I need it. I also ordered a spare set of blades, but not from the dealer. The dealer only sells a "package" for $120 or so. I bought 4 blades from Tennessee Saw and Knife for less than half that. I haven't received the new blades yet.

    I haven't had the trouble others have with the brush hopper. It is a little stiff, but since we mostly put the bushy limb ends in it, they are easy enough to push through. Once it catches them, they do get sucked in fast enough to scare you at first. And the machine really makes some grinding noise - it is a different set of thrashing knives that chew (beat) up the brush hopper material.

    Now that we have used the chipper a few times, my wife and I have a routine down that goes like this: I start cutting the trees to fit with a chain saw and she starts running the big stuff through the chipper. Once I get ahead of her a bit, I take over on the chipper end and she switches to the shredding hopper with the little stuff. When the pile goes down, I go back to the chain saw. We park a garden cart and aim the output snout at it. When the cart is full, we give the machine a break. Of course not everything hits the cart, so we get a cart load plus an extra pile around it - a bigger cart might help.

    It's dusty, dirty, wear long sleeves, boots, gloves, earplugs, and goggles kind of work. But I like the outcome (great mulch) more than burning everything.

    p.s. You don't have to tell me - I already know my wife's a keeper.

  9. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    48
    Location
    Liberty Hill, Texas
    Tractor
    Kubota L3130 HST

    Default Re: Bearcat chipper review

    Now that I've had a chance to use the 73554, I thought I'd give an update. We have been clearing land covered with Eastern Red Cedar trees (Juniperus virginiana), and an occasional oak. These trees have been dry for quite some time, and the wood is hard. They range from 5" on down. Anything under an inch or so goes in the brush hopper. After about six hours on the machine, and literally hundreds of trees, it is still chewing them up. The manual mentions that dry wood will dull the blades faster and suggests mixing green and dry if you can. The idea is that green wood keeps it lubricated. I would guess that too much green cedar might gum things up - don't know yet. I have noticed the blades are wearing - it no longer sucks a big branch out of my hand. The manual also says to expect up to 15 hours on a set of blades. I think I'll get that. The good news is the blades are reversible, so I have a spare edge when I need it. I also ordered a spare set of blades, but not from the dealer. The dealer only sells a "package" for $120 or so. I bought 4 blades from Tennessee Saw and Knife for less than half that. I haven't received the new blades yet.

    I haven't had the trouble others have with the brush hopper. It is a little stiff, but since we mostly put the bushy limb ends in it, they are easy enough to push through. Once it catches them, they do get sucked in fast enough to scare you at first. And the machine really makes some grinding noise - it is a different set of thrashing knives that chew (beat) up the brush hopper material.

    Now that we have used the chipper a few times, my wife and I have a routine down that goes like this: I start cutting the trees to fit with a chain saw and she starts running the big stuff through the chipper. Once I get ahead of her a bit, I take over on the chipper end and she switches to the shredding hopper with the little stuff. When the pile goes down, I go back to the chain saw. We park a garden cart and aim the output snout at it. When the cart is full, we give the machine a break. Of course not everything hits the cart, so we get a cart load plus an extra pile around it - a bigger cart might help.

    It's dusty, dirty, wear long sleeves, boots, gloves, earplugs, and goggles kind of work. But I like the outcome (great mulch) more than burning everything.

    p.s. You don't have to tell me - I already know my wife's a keeper.

  10. #10
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    3,196
    Location
    Red Oak, Texas
    Tractor
    JD 5525 and 5093e Kubota SVL75

    Default Re: Bearcat chipper review

    I talked to a dealer today about the 73554. He said he could get me one for $3325. That sure seems reasonable after hearing the prices on here.

    Does it pull the trees in? I do not want to have to sit there and push them in the whole time. They dont have one to look at. Tell me how it works on the feeding part.

    Thanks,
    D.

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