Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How to Remove Clogs from your Chipper-Shredder

Or Why Shredding Oleander is a Bad Idea

I've recommended using oleander as "shredder floss", feeding in a branch or two to clear out the small stuff that bounces around in the bottom of the brush hopper. It works great.

But when we started shredding a pile of trimmings from the neighbor's yard, the shredder stopped after a few minutes. So we turned off the shredder and did some exploratory surgery.

Shredder chute blocked by bark
Shredder chute blocked by bark

Oops! Totally blocked the exit with a mass of stringy green stuff.

Cleaning the clogs out

We disconnect the spark plug to be sure the shredder stays off.
  1. Unlock and raise the exit chute guard to expose the exit screen. 
  2. Pull as much material as you can out of the chute. I use my hands first, then long-nose pliers for the rest.
  3. When you can see the metal guard screen and it's clean, lower and lock the exit guard and re-start the shredder.
Not clean enough! Keep going!

If it won't start, you have more cleaning to do. 

  1. Unlock and raise the exit guard. 
  2. Remove the metal screen. Typically it will have two long bolts holding it in top and bottom. You might have to pry gently to get it out of there.
  3. The screens are not reversible, so lay it down next to the shredder in the same orientation as it was inside the shredder.
  4. Pull the starter cord to expose the flails and dislodge more clogs.
  5. Pull a few inches to turn the flails a bit, stop pulling, then reach in and drag out whatever is in there.
  6. Remove your hand! 
  7. Pull another few inches and repeat the cleaning until there is no more debris near the flails. You should hear them clanking as they turn.

Guard Screen Partly Removed
Sometimes there will be finely ground stuff caked all over the inside of the shredding compartment, much like the way wet grass packs itself under the deck of a mower. This must also be removed.  You can't reach it from outside the shredder. You have to use the shredder motor to knock it loose.
  1. Lower the exit chute and lock it into place. (leave the guard screen out for  now)
  2. Reconnect the ignition wire. 
  3. Try to start the shredder. Keep starting the motor until it catches. Each attempt will force the shredder to cough up more of the caked-on material.
  4. When the shredder motor finally catches, let it run for a couple of minutes. 
  5. Turn off the shredder! 
  6. Re-install the exit guard and tighten the bolts. 
  7. Lower the exit chute and lock it into place. 
Exit guard being re-installed

Keep Calm And Carry On

Continue shredding, but don't shred whatever it was that clogged up the chute.
Remind yourself to check the bark on green growth to make sure it's not going to do it again. Half-break a sample branch a couple of inches from the end and peel back the bark. If it peels off in strips several inches long, it's going to clog up the machine.Let the material dry until the bark is brittle and doesn't come off in strings.

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