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Friday, May 23, 2008

Product Review: Troy-Bilt CS 4265 2-in-1 Chipper Shredder

Troy-Bilt Electric Chiper ShredderThe Troy-Bilt TB154 Electric Cultivator
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Our garden is fairly unique for the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. We have no lawn at all, 5 mature trees and many smaller ones. This means that instead of lawn clippings we are constantly dealing with piles of leaves and limbs from both the deciduous and evergreen trees. We regularly fill both our compost bins and our one garden waste bin every week. If we have to do a major cleanup or pruning, we often have leaf piles lying around until trash day and it can even take 2-3 weeks to get rid of it all.

Enter Troy-Bilt. Someone at the company came across A Gardener's Notebook and was kind enough to offer up a Chipper Shredder unit to review. I knew immediately that I could certainly put a chipper shredder through its paces. We still had a ton of leaves and limbs from the Fall, so we started gathering everything together in anticipation of its arrival.

The Troy-Bilt CS 4265 2-in-1 Chipper Shredder arrived a little over a week later on a small pallet. My wife, who accepted delivery could not believe the size of the box and it took a little maneuvering to get it from the driveway to the back garden. The delivery waybill estimated the weight at about 200 lbs.

I haven't used a gasoline-powered piece of equipment for years, although at one time in my life I could strip and re-assemble lawn mower engines (and still have them work!). First, I had to go purchase a gas can and some gas. Then I sat on the couch and read the extensive manuals -- one for the engine itself and another for the chipper shredder unit. Everyone I mentioned the unit to immediately made some "Fargo" comment (See IMDB for more info if you've never seen it), and this reminded me to be smart and careful before I used the chipper shredder.

...I think it is going to find a permanent place in my garden.

This is an impressive piece of equipment for someone who hasn't started a lawnmower in over 20 years. It is quite large and does take up a significant amount of storage space, We are clearing out a space in the garden shed for it, but getting it into and out of the garage through a common 3' door was a challenge. The discharge chute extends quite far on one side, so I had to move it through the door sideways, leading with the chute and then turning the rest of the unit through the door. The inflated rubber tires allowed the unit to easily move whether in the garden or on pavement.

Setting up the unit for the first time was straightforward as virtually everything you need is included. There is a heavy duty bag that can be attached to the discharge chute, goggles and the first filling of oil for the engine. You will want a long necked funnel to fill the engine as it is very difficult to pour into the fill cap with a standard bottle. I ended up making one with an existing funnel and a bit of plastic tubing. The gas tank is situated front and center and was easily filled using my new drip-proof gas can.

Setting the choke, throttle and pulling the starter handle was all it took to get the unit to work. The 205cc motor started on the first pull with a slow chug-chug-chug, but quickly spun up to an impressive roar. The unit is loud, so ear protection is highly recommended. It sounds like a dangerous machine and should be treated as such.

For our first test, we had a collection of old, dry limbs from a previous pruning project that never made it into the garden bins. They were quite long and we hadn't taken the time to cut them into smaller sections for the bin. The opening for feeding limbs on the chipper shredder is sized so that you can't feed in limbs larger than the recommended size. This is a wise design choice, but it can prevent you from feeding in limbs with odd bends or crooks. You will have to cut them into more manageable sections.

These limbs were quite dry and seemed to vibrate in my hand a lot as I fed them through. Quite frequently, as I reached the end of a limb, smaller fragments would be ejected from the feed tube. It wasn't a large problem, but definitely another reminder of the importance of eye protection.

The chips produced by the chipper shredder were excellent. They resembled course sawdust and would be a great addition to the compost pile or used as mulch on your flower beds. The unit showed no signs of laboring or stalling even as the limbs reached the maximum rated size.

The second test was shredding up an entire garden bin of leaves. These leaves were fairly dry and loosely packed. Dumping the leaves into the feeder by handfuls worked well with no signs of bogging down or stalling. Pouring leaves from a bin directly into the unit was more hit and miss as it is more difficult to control the flow of leaves. Shredding dry leaves did generate a lot of dust which billowed out of the collection sack and coated the ground for about 7'-8' around. The dry leaves probably caused more dust than fresh leaves would, but I highly recommend wearing a dust mask when shredding leaves. Again, though, the mulch produced was excellent.

One issue that worried me when getting this unit is that our garden paths are covered in pebbles. Raking and blowing leaves picked up a number of pebbles no matter how careful you are. Rocks and pebbles can quickly dull the blades so I wanted to be as careful as possible. Even so, I am sure I heard an occasional stone go through the unit. While it is certainly not advisable to put stones through it, it seemed to handle the occasional pebble with no ill effects.

When the unit first arrived, I thought that it might be a bit large for my use, but after seeing how much it reduced the volume of our garden waste and the high quality mulch it produced, I think it is going to find a permanent place in my garden.

Link: Troy-Bilt CS 4265 2-in-1 Chipper Shredder Specs and Information at TroyBilt.com


Blogger Josh said...

Looks awesome, I would much rather have mulch than the several burn piles that I have. Does it say how big of stick it will take, I'll guess maybe up to 4".

9:02 PM  
Blogger Douglas said...

2" on the limbs, actually. Troy-Bilt has a bigger unit, though.

9:22 PM  

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