Extracting: From hand crank to motorized

Motorized extractor

Motorized extractor on stand

This is my current extracting setup. I’ve made improvements over the years. It started out as a used Maxant 3100H hand crank extractor that I bought from a fellow beekeeper and friend. After a few years of handcranking, I saw a post for a free treadmill that someone was giving away that had a bad belt. I took it apart, scrapped some metal and saved some for future projects. I salvaged the motor and controls and eliminated some wires that I wouldn’t be using, like the ones going to the motor that raised and lowered the treadmill angle.

I got a pulley from a Saturn motor in the junkyard. The center hole was larger than the shaft on my extractor so I inserted a bushing in the pulley from the collection I’d saved over the years. Next, I welded up a bracket from some flat pcs of metal to make a pc of angle iron.  After taking some measurements and considering different options, I decided to mount the motor hanging down for easier use. I drilled some holes, put everything together and had myself a motorized variable speed extractor.

Salvaged junkyard pulley from a Saturn engine replaces the original v-belt pulley.

Salvaged junkyard pulley from a Saturn engine replaces the original v-belt pulley.

Top view of motor and angle bracket installed with new pulley and belt.

Top view of motor and angle bracket installed with new pulley and belt.

The angle bracket that I made mounts right to the existing red center support on top of the extractor and has some adjustment for belt tension. For this use, the belt doesn’t have to be very tight.

For the first few years the transformer and circuit board were set on the kitchen table in a plastic bag during use. It was one of those, “someday I will build a case for them”, but when I took the extractor out during honey season I would want to get right to extracting and by the time I was done I just wanted to get everything cleaned up and put away. Finally before one season rolled around I took everything out and made a small wooden box to house the electronics and bent up some aluminum sheet for a cover, drilling holes for ventilation. While I was at it I replaced some of the individual wires with a three wire piece of cable I had saved from an old heavy duty extension cord.

Here is the transformer and motor speed control circuit board mounted in a box.

Here is the transformer and motor speed control circuit board mounted in a box.

The finished power and circuit box in use.

The finished power and circuit box in use.

Last year, I raised up the stand so I could use taller buckets and also consolidated the wiring some. This year I made a guard for the drive pulleys. (should have done that at the start). I spent 30 yrs working in machine shops so I am aware of the dangers of moving motorized parts so the guard is an important addition, especially for the sake of people who come to watch or help with extracting.

Motor with belt guard attached.

Motor with belt guard attached.

This is the control panel from the treadmill. The red tab is the safety key which can be pulled to stop the extractor in the event of a frame blowout

This is the control panel from the treadmill. The red tab is the safety key which can be pulled to stop the extractor in the event of a frame blowout

Here is the control for the extractor. I considered taking the electronics out and putting them into another box, but the way they were mounted inside would have made that difficult, and this panel provided a good level of protection. When in use, I put a plastic bag over the speed control to keep it from getting sticky when adjusting.

Last year I added some 2 x 4s to raise the stand up to accept taller buckets.

So, what are my overall thoughts? I love my powered extractor. We used to crank anywhere from 150 to 400 pounds of honey by hand. Now it is so much easier. Since I am a take-aparter and saver, I had all of the materials on hand for this project except the pulley and belt. I did have some of those around too, but not the size I needed. The motor is compact for its power (1.3 hp continuous duty, 2.25 peak) The pulley sizes are 1-1/2 inch diameter on the motor and 5-1/4 inch diameter on the extractor.  The new wiring is long enough so that I can place the speed control panel on the table next to my uncapping tank and adjust the speed as needed while I’m uncapping the next set of frames.

I hope this post will inspire you to take on a project of your own. The more you do, the more you will learn.

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About Beekeeping in the Berkshires

Here at Berkshire Farms Apiary we've been keeping bees and making honey since 2005, with hives in most of the surrounding towns. We also make pure beeswax candles, lip balm, and hand salve, as well as give presentations. As secretary of the Northern Berkshire Beekeepers Association, I am very active in the local beekeeping community.
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2 Responses to Extracting: From hand crank to motorized

  1. Meaghan says:

    Hi! I was wondering if you could help me find a beekeeper that would be willing to give a tour of their farm to a couple of preschool homeschoolers in the pioneer valley?

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