Hand-fed chippers are not unlike most other types of heavy machinery: if left unchecked, there are plenty of things that can go wrong with all the moving parts. It’s safe to say we have a bit of experience with chippers, so allow us to troubleshoot five of the most common issues we encounter the most.
Give this quick guide a read to see some simple solutions and best practices for keeping your chippers away from potential problems and ensuring they perform on an optimal level at all times.
1. Knives and Anvils
We’ll start with the two most important components of any chipper. Let’s be clear about this: the knives and anvil are the heart of a chipper. If you don’t keep them in good condition, your chipper will perform insufficiently and eventually experience several issues that affect everything from safety and precision to overall durability.
Fortunately, demonstrating proper maintenance and knowing how to identify and address problems with your knives and anvil will keep your chipper running in peak condition.
How Long do Chipper Knives Last?
Like any other cutting tool, chipper knives have limited lifespans. The wear and tear on your knives is determined mainly by the material they have to cut.
- Only use new Bandit-approved knives and professionally-sharpened knives.
- Always follow the correct knife angle and grinding procedures.
- Do not let the heel of a knife sit inside the knife pocket.
- Only use factory-approved bolts and locknuts.
- Keep knife bolts and nuts properly torqued.
- Replace knife bolts and nuts after 4 to 5 knife changes/rotations.
Routinely following proper knife sharpening procedures will pay big dividends. Maintaining the proper angle on your chipper knives will reduce your fuel consumption and increase the chipper’s lifespan.
Operating your chipper with dull, worn-down knives increases the amount of power required to chip, which in turn increases machine vibration and causes feeding problems. Keep in mind that the extra vibrations will eventually cause cracks to develop throughout the machine, significantly shortening the chipper’s lifespan. It’s so much easier to simply keep your knives sharpened!
It’s up to you to ensure your knives are sharpened to the original OEM-specified angle. An angle protractor will help you verify that the knives were sharpened to the proper angle, but always consult your owner’s manual for the proper angle first.
Knife Saver Usage
Using a Knife Saver is a simple way to greatly improve the life of your chipper’s knives. The Knife Saver is a handheld sharpening tool (fairly similar to a kitchen knife sharpener) that easily touches up chipper knives while they are still in the machine. Ask your nearest Cal-Line location about these economical and practical tools.
Anvils require routine adjusting and maintenance to ensure optimal performance. It’s best to check and adjust your anvil each time you replace or sharpen your knives — so, fairly frequently for heavy users. If you notice excessive vibration, long slivers in the chips, too much dust, or uneven pieces, it’s likely the result of improper anvil-to-knife clearance.
Your chipper’s manual will tell you the proper anvil-to-knife clearance for your specific model.
Here’s Gavin discussing maintenance tips for your knives and anvil:
2. Belt Maintenance
Chipper belts are prone to stretching and cracking, so they have to be checked regularly to ensure proper working order. Alignment and tension should also be adjusted to avoid slipping and hindering the chipper’s performance.
Newly installed belts (and belts on new chippers) tend to stretch a lot when first used, so you may need to adjust them continually within the first few hours of use. After the belts have been broken in, check them after every 50 hours of usage, or once per month.
3. Clutch Adjustment
If your clutch is not adjusted correctly, it can slip under a load and cause significant feed problems. A burnt-up clutch is not covered under warranty. Consult your owner’s manual for adjustment instructions.
Like belts, a new clutch will always require several adjustments during the break-in period. Never engage or disengage the clutch at high RPM, and never use it to dislodge items.
Overlooking the lubrication of bearings, pivot points, hinges, and chains is a great way to damage your chipper’s performance and operability. Always lubricate these components as outlined in your owner’s manual.
The same goes with the Slide Box on the feed system — it must operate freely without binding or else the feed system will not operate correctly. Use 10W/30 motor oil to lubricate the metal-to-metal surfaces and the slide-to-angle iron surfaces, but never grease the yoke slide box.
5. Engine Maintenance
Chippers produce dirt, sediment, chips, and dust that can inhibit the engine’s ability to breathe. If you neglect basic engine maintenance, your engine will experience overheating and poor performance that could very well lead to engine damage not covered under warranty.
All filters, radiator screens, radiator, coolant level, water separators, oil, and filters must be checked, serviced, and changed as per the engine manufacturer’s manual. In some cases, you may need to check on these aspects throughout the day when working in a demanding environment with difficult materials.
As the largest Bandit distributor in the world, we are proud to offer a vast selection of Bandit inventory ranging from hand-fed chippers to stump grinders and everything in between. We’ll also keep your machines running at peak performance with our extensive parts & service department. Need a rental? We can handle that as well. Swing by and see us today at any of our locations, or contact our team to schedule a demo.