Notes from Windward: #70


Improving our Chip Handling

Opalyn describes the latest developments

     "To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk."
                    -- Thomas Edison

     For the past month or so, we've been taking an hour or two a few days a week to feed the wood chipper. Lindsay, Andrew and Sarah have been working in the Windward woods to clear out dead branches that could harm our forest if a wildfire came through.

IBCs full of chips

     We're to the point where we can generate three hundred gallons of wood chips in a couple of hours. Rather than just spread them on the ground, we're looking for ways to store the chips for future use in our gasification work. We started loading them into open-topped IBC's that hold 300 gallons of chips each, but we're about out of them too, and there's still a lot of branches in the forest that need to be processed.

[Walt:   IBC stands for "Intermediate Bulk Container" and they come in a variety of forms. We have a friend that lets us have containers now and then which are damaged to the point where they're not useful for storing liquids, but are fine for storing wood chips.]


     One option was to use large IBC bags to store chips in. The farmer we buy hay from gets his fertilizer in these bags, and is kind enough to save them for us. They'd help us store lots more chips, but how would we support the bag while filling it, and then how to get it moved up to the barn?

     Walt came up with the idea of repurposing a metal rack from the boneyard to hold the bag upright and on a small, blue trailer we'd picked up on a recent visit to our favorite junk dealer Red's Trading in The Dalles, OR.

putting Little Blue to work

     The little trailer's tires were flat so I took them to Les Schaub to get fixed. I discovered they are what is called a "donut" tire--a small spare tire. These two had been repurposed and put to use on this little trailer. Works for us!

     One the joints on "Little Blue's" frame had failed so I ground out the old weld and rewelded it, and added some extra reinforcement on both joints. It had never been painted so I cleaned it up and gave it a coat of Rustoleum.

Lindsay gets ready to drill
mounting holes for the decking

     Yesterday, Lindsay and I headed to the shop to finish the repairs and upgrades. Lindsay used the hand grinder to take of an old mounting bracket while I headed over to the wood shop to cut a platform out of plywood. The platform is just shy of 4' square so a 1/2 sheet of plywood was trimmed to fit then a slot for the axel was cut out.

Lindsay and Sarah take the new setup for a test run

      Lindsay and Andrew dismantled the "Bomb Rack," loaded it into the work truck and took it to the chipping station, and the three of us reassembled the structure. Andrew and Sarah fashioned a set of mounting brackets, and it was ready to support one of the large IBC bags.

[Walt:   It's called the "Bomb Rack" because we built it from parts salvaged from three racks that once were used to load 1,000 pound bombs onto fighter jets. It's great fun to repurpose things like that.]


     With the repairs on the trailer finished we hooked it up to the tractor and discovered that the locking mechanism in the hitch was seized so we coated it with penetrating oil and let it sit overnight. Early this afternoon, I convinced the nut to turn and got the mechanism working again and hooked it up.

Opalyn, Theresa, Lindsay, Andrew and Sarah celebrate our first bag of chips

     As the bag was getting full the chute did get clogged with wood chips and we had to stop before the bag was full but otherwise everything worked well. We already started work on a cyclone to add to the chipper exhaust to prevent cloging in the future.

     The trailer did its job admirably, first as a platform for the IBC bag, then as the transportation.

In preparation for the "Table Cloth Trick,"
Lindsay and Opalyn tie the IBC bag
to the wall so that it will stay when Little Blue is pulled
out from underneath it

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 70