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Whole Leaf Tobacco

update on the polish G120

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#1
i used to post here under "larryccf" but can't seem to get my password to work, so i registered under this name. I only came back as i originally posted about the G120 tobacco shredder i had ordered from the polish vendor tobaccoandmachines.com. Cost at the time was $220 shipped, with Polish VAT removed. VAT and shipping were nearly equal. I'd chosen it as it's rollers were the largest in diameter (32mm) in a $200 price range, and i'd already had a lower priced unit bend a roller the first time a small pc of stem had gone thru the machine. This G120 has a few miles on it, and while i was originally impressed with how it shredded, i'm disappointed with it's lack of durability, at this point after approx 50 lbs of leaf thru it. $220 divided by 50 lbs is over $4/lb shredding cost.

With less than 50 lbs of leaf thru it, mostly Va Lemon & 1st priming from Don, the original set of .8mm rollers are shot. But what i noticed over time was that i was getting more and more dust and less actual shag or strands whenever i'd shred. I'd clean the machine after every use with a brush & alcohol, removed the combs and checked them, re-adjusted them and would still get the same dust. On the last run, about 95% of the product could easily be sold for snuff, nearly as fine as talcum powder.

I discovered why when i took it all the way apart, including pulling the gears and the actual rollers. I was pulling it apart as the machine had gotten extremely stiff to turn, judging from the hand crank handle and i figured the bearings were stiff. Nope,, bearing were fine - The rollers were soft metal, not heat treated, and that's the core of the problem. When i went to tap the shaft at one end of one of the rollers out of the gear, using a small 4 oz hammer, instead of it moving thru the gear, it malleted out (ie the shaft grew in diameter where i was tapping, the same as lead would. But what else i found, once i had the rollers totally out, was the cutting lands from one roller would not totally engage into the grooves on the opposing rollers. While they'd worn down some, not much but slight indentations that acted as shallow teeth were worn smooth, the only thing i can figure is the lands had malleted some from shredding, ie fattened some so they wouldn't fit between the lands on the opposing rollers. The edges of the cutting lands have dulled, the same way a knife will dull if the blade isn't hardened. But it appears what was happening, to give me all the dust, was that the cutting lands were simply crushing the tobacco against the sides of the opposing lands, and vice versa.

I've got a little bit of knowledge re hardening metals and talked to Paul at Tobacco and machines about this. His excuse was that it would be too expensive to use hardened steel. And he may be right, but it's more expensive to a user to get 50 lbs of usage out of a $220 machine. What he meant about "too expensive", a lot of alloys, if you try to heat treat them after machining, they will warp, so the solution is to buy the alloy rod pre-hardened or pre-heat treated. BUt the problem there is, in a hardened state, the metal is harder to work, so the machinist has to turn the spindle at a slower cutting speed, which means slower cycle time to produce - the average 4 axis lathe to run producing these rollers, industry standard, will run $45-$50 per hour with mechanic. If you can get 10 rollers turned or produced in an hour with unhardened metal, vs 6 per hour with hardened metal, well you can see the math, cost wise to produce. 2nd consideration in cutting narrow .8mm or even 1mm grooves, is that the cutting bits are going to be narrow and fragile - and they would suffer high breakage rate cutting hardened metal, which means scrapped rollers, half finished. 3rd issue, is the shallow teeth on the rollers are produced by using a roller die (hardened roller die) - and it can't produce those "teeth" on hardened metal

By their very nature, all these small $100 to $200 roller shredders are short life span affairs. I've ordered a replacement set of 1mm rollers from Paul at Tobacco and Machines ($140 shipped with 1mm combs) and don't really expect any different life from them, but i'm out of shredded tobacco (or nearly so) and need to get shredding.

I looked into designing and producing a better machine, but the cost in a production run of 500 units, would be what i paid for this one and to be frank, i'm retired - while i'm a little bored, i'm just not interested in dealing with fabrication shops, sourcing materials etc. I do realize why Powermatic went with their stamped cutters - it's actually the smarter way to go. If they sell replacement cutting plates, i'd be ordering one of them - but i wasn't ready to spend $300 on a new unit right now.

I also noticed higher priced shredding roller sets available on ebay poland, and hope / assume they used hardened rollers, considering their pricing.

I've ordered one of those Teck 1 antique shredders, after seeing a youtube video of one producing 1mm cut strands. At least the blades can be sharpened and/or replaced fairly economically and look fairly easy to adapt a motor to it.

I've attached some files of the old .8mm rollers, and the new 1mm rollers - notice the difference in depth engagement of the cutting lands on the new rollers vs the old .8mm rollers (highlighted with red arrow).
 

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FmGrowit

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#2
Welcome back Orig Ralph. I'll see what I can do to merge your accounts and restore your original account.

The Achilles heal of unmanufactured tobacco has always been finding an efficient shredder. I think a knife on a simple lever is still the best option, but the manner in which the tobacco is fed through the lever continues to be a safety issue. Some sort of ratcheted feed needs to be employed to feed the tobacco at a consistent rate while maintaining a fair amount of compression of the leaf bundle.

I've toyed with designs for years and have determined it is beyond my ability to design a proper machine.

Don
 

deluxestogie

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#3
I suppose it's no surprise that every commercial shredder I've ever seen in a video of a production line is a reciprocating, single-blade guillotine.

Bob
 
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#4
here's a shot of the Teck 1, a late 1800s / early 1900s german design. It's not going to be as fast shredding, but if i press the leaf into slabs or "bricks", maybe 3/8" to 1/2" thick, it'll shred at a decent rate. Surprisingly the feed mechanism is pretty simple, but watching the video on youtube, it's a decent feed rate. I'm going to have to reduce the final drive speed on my pulley system quite a bit, somewhere in the range of 15-20 rpm

here's a link to the youtube video
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH8j-O90UpE
and a better video showing the feed mechinism
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Zc8kD5AiiA


i've seen these on ebay come up quite a bit, mostly folks asking $150-200 but recently asking prices seem to have floated down to the $50-80 range
 

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FmGrowit

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#5
I recently modified one of these things with really good results. The problem was keeping the tobacco compressed close to the blade without risking amputation. Yes, I'm exaggerating, but I couldn't imagine the liability with selling these things knowing that someone will not stop cutting even after slicing into their own flesh.

I simply rolled up a fairly tight cigar and manually fed it through the levered blade at about 1/16" per slice. It worked better than any other slicer, dicer, shredder, cutter thingie I've ever used and it was nearly effortless.


1550168098301.png
 
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#6
that's similiar to a paper cutter board - i had an old vintage one that was old when i bought it at an auction back in the 70s, but pretty solid unit - and even pressing slabs of tobacco that were 12X14" and almost 1/4" thick, it was slow and tedious. It wasn't mechanized though, just manual. I also entertained a delicatessen sandwich meat slicer - can be had at restaurant auctions and the blade/wheel can be easily re-sharpened without removing from the machine.

But for production, a roller shredder is going to do more leaf in less time. Powermatic's approach was the smartest - the cutting discs are simply stamped out of pre-hardened thin sheet, and actually stamping them out further work hardens them. WIdth of cut is controlled by the spacer thickness between the cutting discs, and those discs should be replace-able and probably could be resharpened on a drill chucked in a vice. But i haven't looked at how easy they dis-assemble.

That Teck 1 would not be difficult to copy/build in modern materials - casting the table wouldn't be necessary but that cutting head with the handle, the mass of that head serves as a flywheel, and the momentum from it serves the cutting action. A cavity mold for casting that would be expensive, but it could be done in concrete, with a 6 or 8 spoke metal tube skeleton acting as the rebar in the concrete, and the whole thing covered in a polymer or fiberglass shell - in fact the concrete could be poured into the shell and allowed to cure there. The Teck 1's feed mechanism wouldn't be hard to fabricate, that worm gear on the shaft is an off-the-shelf item, the toothed ring on the end of the wooden sprocket would have to machined, but not an expensive item. What would be trick would be if it could be engineered so a user could adjust the feed rate to dial in whatever cut width they wanted (the feed rate is what's conrolling the cut width). The downside is , mechanized, you couldn't afford to retail it for what the Powermatic sells for, and that would be a dis-advantage.

It might be an interesting project for Whole Leaf, to pickup a number of the Teck 1s, refurbish them, bore the table for roller bearings (not ball) so the shaft would have better axial stability, cut new blades (don't laugh, but after looking around for blade material, the best (best when cost is factored in) is from decent quality lawn mower blades, and i've got 4 used honda mower blades - i can get 2 Teck 1 blades from each mower blade. Machine shop time might run $30 or so, but it's the perfect steel and pre-hardened to a point where it's still capable of being re-sharpened. Bead Blast the table and cutting head, powder coat them, and see if there's a market for them at $300-$325. Maybe add an attachment point at the back end of that shaft for motorized connection - maybe just a short pc of 3/8" hex bar (same as an allen wrench), so a user could attach a drill. That would a good way to take that market's pulse. If those sell, then look into fabricating them from scratch.

I attached a shot of the underside of the Teck 1 - there really isn't a lot of complexity to the design, and insanely easy to maintain, which should be a major factor for the user - that G120 (and i'm sure this is true of the RS100, etc) was a major headache re-assembling - you needed 4 & 1/2 female korean sized hands to re-assemble to keep the cross braces in their slots. Everything, cross braces and side panels were all stamped / sheared - no machining work involved. It definitely kept fabrication cost down but didn't make life easier for the user.
 

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the Teck 1 just arrived - one aspect was a bit of a surprise, if it were any smaller it'd make a helluva cute working desk display - the total length of the table area, not counting the cutting head, is 9", width of the leaf feed sled or tray area is 2 & 3/16". The handle on the cutting head is about the size of a large thumb - don't know why, but i pictured this thing being larger.

On the upside, even with dull blades, I ran some leaf thru and it cuts pretty decently but what's really cutting is the edge of the table, same as on a paper cutting board. The blades don't leave enough of a gap between them and that edge to slip a pc of waxed paper between - there is zero daylight showing between any of the blades and that cutting edge. And wall thickness is not going to allow installing much of a roller bearing. But, even at 100 yrs old, there's no play in the cutting head.

I'll use this for a bit, but i think i'm going to build a larger version.
 

Jitterbugdude

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#8
Looks like you are on the same quest a lot of us have been on, to find the ultimate shredder. I have a pasta shredder attachment for a Kitchen aid mixer, a Teck 1 and Teck 0, a Powermatic, a WLT and 3 "Polish" shredders ( 8mm and 1.6mm) made by Lucas. The shredders I bought from Lucas look like they will last several lifetimes. He says his rollers/cutters are good for .5 ton before needing to be replaced. If you are interested, it might be a good idea to contact him and ask him the specifics of his "hardened steel" rollers. He speaks/writes English very well.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/PROFESSION...e=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649
 
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#10
I've looked for one with a narrow cut. These days they all seem to either cut confetti, wide rectangles, or super wide ribbon. Also, good ones are quite expensive and you might as well go with a powermatic
 
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JItterbugdude, thanks - that unit does look stout but after working this Teck 1 last night, i'm leaning more & more toward what FmGrowit said above about knife action cutters. Plus, not sure why Lucas would put the gears inside the frame like that but at 150mm long, that's a decent size roller.

already got to working out an upsized version of the Teck 1 - and i've got some cast steel rings, about 1" thick X 6" that are crying out to be the cutting head.

curious, your Teck 0 - is it larger or smaller than the Teck 1?
 
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#13
has anyone taken the cutting head / flywheel off? was it threaded on or just a slide on affair? I can't tell by looking, but suspect it's threaded onto the shaft unless there's a flat or woodruff key i can't see
 
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