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  1. #121
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    805

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    Quote Originally Posted by ian View Post
    re sourcing a side conveyor, have you thought about using something akin to a snow blower?
    main conveyor transfers the mulch into a small hopper from where the snow blower shoots it out to the side
    I'll have to look into the mechanics of snow blowers - ideally it'd be bi-directional so you can dispense mulch to either side...

  2. #122
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    805

    Default So it works, kind of...

    Time for a bit of an update.

    This is the outlet of the hopper, all ready to go:

    Hopper Outlet.jpg

    And with the hydraulics all plumbed up, it was time to test it out.

    The challenge with testing is that you need:
    1. Some mulch (actually a fair bit)
    2. Somewhere to spread it (it being a fair bit of mulch)


    So I got a truckload of fine mulch delivered, and cleared a few spare rows.

    Deciding to be careful this time, I loaded just a few buckets and then tested to see if it'd feed OK. It did, so I tried adding more. My first load would have been about 1 cubic metre and it fed out nicely, leaving a very convincing trail of mulch:

    Mulch.jpg

    However, with around 2 cubes of mulch, I ran into problems - the hydraulic pressure increased significantly, and the chain started to move, but then something gave way

    Unfortunately this was under the best part of a tonne of mulch, which I then had to shovel out by hand

    With the floor chain uncovered, it became apparent that the chain links had snapped, and not where I assumed they would:

    Broken Chain.jpg

    I thought it'd fail at the long thin parts, and I was surprised at how brittle the links seemed to be.

    I need the machine to reliably carry 4 cubic metres, and while travelling over rough terrain to the spreading location, the mulch will likely settle and compact significantly, so I concluded that my floor chain simply wasn't up to this application, and there wasn't much scope to strengthen it - I could add a third run of chain in the middle, but I don't think that would add enough strength to meet the requirement.

  3. #123
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    805

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    In the mean time, I'd been speaking to a spreader manufacturer about a side conveyor, and he sorted me out with this:
    Side Conveyor.jpg

    It's 1500mm wide and should be able to throw some distance. It's also reversible, which I discovered is not something that's common with conveyors - typically if you reverse the direction, the belt will work its way over to one side. You need a special belt with a central spine underneath that engages with a slot in the rollers that keeps it on track in either direction.

    Just to note - this unit was almost $6k.

    With my floor conveyor not looking up to the task, I also enquired if they had anything that was a little stronger. This is what I ended up with:
    New chain.jpg

    It's 700mm wide overall, like my chain, but it has welded bars every 55mm. The bars are 10x25mm solid steel. I don't think it's likely to break.

    It also weighs 33kg per metre, meaning just the floor chain will be almost a quarter of a tonne.

    He also sorted me out with drive and idler shafts:
    New Shafts.jpg

    Also a little beefier than what I had - the shafts are 50mm compared to the 1" I was using.

    Retro-fitting the floor chain setup is going to be a little involved, so I've concluded that I'm going to have to remove the hopper again. On the upside, I've gotten pretty good at it.

    As for my old chain system, I think it'd work quite well for a smaller spreader, particularly with a third chain up the centre, and based on what I've learned with this, I may well make another unit down the track.

  4. #124
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Murray Bridge S Aust.
    Age
    65
    Posts
    2,782

    Default

    Glad to see that it's still progressing well, even if it was a costly learning exercise.
    Kryn
    To grow old is mandatory, growing up is optional.

  5. #125
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    805

    Default

    So finally getting back to this.

    To recap, my first chain conveyor was too weak, so I bought an off-the-shelf (kind of) chain, drive sprocket and idler. Upside is that they are *much* stronger than my homemade version. Downside is they're *much* heavier. The chain drive sprocket and idler would weigh close to 300kg. Hence the conveyor frame has to be considerably stronger, as well as being tall enough such that the tension created by the chain is borne equally through the frame.

    While I wait for my 50mm bearings to arrive, I went to work doing some modifications in Sketchup.

    In short, I'll add 50x25 RHS below the 65x35 frame, bringing the total height up to 115mm, and there'll be a sheet of 10mm HDPE on top, bringing it up to 125mm, which is pretty much the inner diameter of the drive sprocket.

    At the driven end (which will be the rear now) I'll use a 4 hole fixed flange bearing, and at the front where the outfeed is, I'll use a 2 hole bearing in slots with tensioning bolts. Current plan is to mount the bearings on 12mm flat bar, just need to get a feel for how strong the connections need to be. By driving the conveyor from the rear, it means the bottom of the conveyor chain will now be in tension, whereas when it was driven from the front, it was just the top section.


    Mulch Trailer 20 Rear.jpg

  6. #126
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    805

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    My 50mm bearings and housings finally turned up today, 3 and a half weeks after ordering. That put a bit of a dent in progress

    Moral of that story is if you do order from Blackwoods, if it hasn't turned up in a few days, chase it up early and often. In my case I called for the second time on Monday, the person actually followed it up (unlike the guy I'd spoken to previously). The supplier said they never received the order from Blackwoods. Two days later and today I have my parts.

    The next thing I learned is that if you don't know how to fit spherical bearings into a housing, because you've never had to do it before, and are wondering whether freezing the bearing and roasting the housing plus some persuasion in the press could *ever* overcome the 3mm difference in diameter between the two, it turns out there's not much written about it on the web. I had to resort to Youtube to discover just how laughably easy it actually is.

    So the drive end is all installed as per the render above (I made up the mounting plate for each side while I was waiting for the bearings) - just need to make up the idler end - for that I'll need some wider 200mm by 12mm flat bar, as the 2 hole flange bearings are about 197mm wide (I used 180x12 for the 4 hole housings on the drive end).

  7. #127
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    805

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    Before getting on to the idler end, I decided to install the motor. As the frame is only 3mm wall RHS, I inserted 500mm long 12mm flat bars into the RHS
    IMG_1767.jpg

    Slid them down to centre on the motor position and then plug welded them in place.
    IMG_1781.jpg

    The motor mount was made from a 300mm long by 180mm wide piece of 12mm plate, with a 83mm hole. To get the chain lined up, it needed to come out a little further, so I sandwiched a 200mm wide by 150 long piece of 10mm plate behind it. I then drilled and tapped into the flat bars I'd installed above for four 10mm bolts.
    IMG_1785.jpg

    I had planned to make the idler mounting plates out of 200 wide 12mm plate, but realised that would require a lot of cutting, so I used 65 x 12 flat bar, which still required a bit of ripping on the bandsaw
    IMG_1778.jpg

    Then setting up on the table of a thousand holes
    IMG_1779.jpg

    Then welded in place on the frame, along with some tension adjusters.
    IMG_1786.jpg

    At this point had also fixed the 10mm HDPE deck, for which I had to revise my original fastening plan, as it turns out, HDPE expands and contracts like crazy - 1.5mm for each meter for a 10 degree change in temperature. As a 3m length, from -7 in winter to 40 in summer the difference in length is 21mm . So no nice countersunk fixings. Rather, the deck became 3 sections, with M6 bolts with washers in 10mm holes to allow the sheet to shift about.

    IMG_1784.jpg

    So deck on, rolling ends installed, along with motor and sprockets- time for the floor chain to go in, then only a bit of plumbing and I can fire up the hydraulic motor and see her move

    The result? This:
    IMG_1787.jpg

    A 100mm gap. The deck is 3.1m long. The rollers add 200mm each end, so 3.5m total length. Times two is 7m. Add the two half circumferences of the end rollers, and you get 7.45m They sent me 7.35m of chain

    I think the only option is to shorten the frame by 75mm. That will get me my 100m of chain, plus it'll put the idler end bearings half way in the 50mm long adjustment slots.

    Just need to decide whether to completely re-do the idler end, cutting off the bearing plates and cross pieces, then shortening the frame, reinstalling the cross members and welding the bearing plates back on, or instead, just do a cut & shut somewhere along the frame, which would be a *lot* less work, but maybe not as strong...

  8. #128
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    The Shire, Sydney
    Posts
    10

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    Looking goo so it would be a shame to Have to cut it now, can you get the extra 100mm of chain and the 2 extra bars? If they are out of a header someone like Neil's of Corowa (header wreckers) might be able to help you..

  9. #129
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    805

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    I'm leaning towards cut and shut as it'll be the quickest way to move the project along - I lost so much time waiting for the bearings, and want to put the machine to work before there's too much growth on the vines.

  10. #130
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    805

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    Cut:
    IMG_1802.jpg

    Shut:
    IMG_1803.jpg

    Just need to re-trim the plastic deck, have another go at fitting the floor chain, install the hydraulic motor and drive chain, plumb up some hydraulic hose to the motor and see if she works

  11. #131
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    805

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    I need to support the chain underneath the deck, for a couple of reasons - the weight of it hanging adds a lot of tension, and the sag also fouls the hydraulic motor that I mounted a bit too high

    I had planned to add rollers, made from 3/4" NB pipe with bearings in each end, but I'd need to bore out the ends to mount the bearings, and I don't have a lathe, and my machinist neighbour has gone awol. Has me thinking again about getting a lathe, but that's a whole other can of worms.

    So I decided to use timber rails, as I had before, but mounted a bit better this time. So off came the deck and conveyor chain:
    IMG_1861.jpg

    By gosh she's so very light with all that gone.
    IMG_1862.jpg

    With the rails installed.

    In the other forum, I'd asked about rivnuts/nutserts, and ended up using M10 rivnuts suspend the deck:
    IMG_1863.jpg

    IMG_1864.jpg

    They seem to work really well - I had to bore out the hole in the vertical angle to 18mm to account for the flange on the rivnut, and then a large flat washer was needed to span the hole.

    With the deck back on, and the chain re-installed, the remaining item was the side conveyor, which I fixed in place with some angle and rivnuts.

    So the goal was to get her going, which involved plumbing up the hydraulics. In the time since receiving the hydraulic parts from the same bunch who supplied the conveyor components, I discovered a bunch in the UK called Flowfit, and with the Pound in the toilet due to the Brexit shenanigans, they're a really cheap source for hydraulic stuff, so I ordered all the hoses from them, along with all the fittings I needed to complete the plumbing. If I'd got the spool valve, flow dividers and motor off them I think I'd have saved even more. For example, a 5m 1/2" hose with fittings each end (say 1/2" BSP to 3/4" JIC) is about 23 pounds, or about $40. My local hydraulic shop would charge me more than that for just the hose. I went in there the other day for a 45 degree elbow 3/8" BSPP to 3/4" JIC fitting - $48

    So with all the hoses and fittings good to go, hooking it up was pretty quick. I am still waiting on a direction valve for the main floor chain, but that isn't vital for the moment, so I connected it up to run in one direction.

    I brought up the oil pump (tractor) hooked it up in the what I hoped was the correct direction, crossed my fingers and pulled the tractor's hydraulic valve - and it worked, as expected, no leaks, all kind of smoothly. I made a video for anyone interested in about 60 seconds of conveyor action, including random blocks of wood being flung off the side conveyor

    https://youtu.be/Ga5D0nFyLo8

  12. #132
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    805

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    So I'm in the home straight. I've gotten much more efficient at lifting the hopper on and off the deck. This is it going back in place for hopefully the last time:

    IMG_1868.jpg

    Note the legs are from the old installation, and are too short for the new, higher conveyor deck. They'll get chopped off and new legs installed. This time they're attached to the chassis rails with bolts and rivnuts, rather than being welded in place. This will make repairs/modifications much easier.

    Among the few final steps is mounting the hydraulic controls - while looking like a bit of a mess, they're pretty simple - there's a flow divider feeding a directional spool valve that feeds a motor, and another of the same setup connected in series. The tricky bit in mounting is that while these components are rigidly fixed to each other, they're not sitting on the same plane, requiring packing out to a host of different depths.

    In this case, I TIGed various washers and bits of steel of the required thicknesses to a 6mm backing plate.

    IMG_1872.jpg

    That plate will be welded to a post which will position the controls within reach from the tractor seat, allowing the operator to control the direction of side throw (left or right) the distance of throw, and the volume of material coming out out of the hopper.

    The machine also has the option of feeding out the back, which I plan to use to transport soil to areas in the mid-row where there's dips and depressions.

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