Instructables

How to make a Worm/compost separater/shaker with a straight shaft electric motor?

I raise composting nightcrawlers for fishing bait and worm castings.  I need to make a simple shaking machine with 3 different sizes of screens.  The first screen with keep all of the larger pieces of dirt and twigs from the compost and a few of the larger worms.    The second screen of a smaller mesh will keep most of the worms and a little of the unfinished compost.  The third and final screen will let through only the worm castings and the worm cocoons.  This machine should hold at least a five gallon bucket of compost at a time and the worms have already turned any large particles of garbage; leaves; dirt etc into small parts, but picking these worms out a few at a time is a very time consuming process and I have a lot of 50 gallon barrells to go through.

jennis94 years ago
find a printer (a man that prints or a business) and see if they have a paper jogger or an old paper jogger.... it's a good place to start if you can find an old one for sale.

google it and there's a video that may help.

also there are DIY worm harvesting machines if you google as well... redwormcomposting has a few good solutions.
cody24682 years ago
I'm in the process of building this sifter.
Here is the website: http://www.14daywormcastings.com/index.php?id=WormCompostingBlog
Hope this helps.
worm-harvester-200.jpg
I know a guy in Indiana that builds those worm shakers machines his name is Steven Steigerwald 260-570-3099
Try rectangular screens, slanted one above the other with the lower end of each screen dumping into a chute to divert the production into the proper container.

A 25-30 degree slope should work nicely and you can slope the middle screen opposite to separate your production bins to make it easier.  From the side it would look like a zig-zag.
Tray4 years ago
Something like this?
http://www.nifty-stuff.com/automatic-compost-sifter-screen.php
Moderate the speed to reduce damage to worms

or this? (probably too rough for worms)
http://www.nifty-stuff.com/homemade-rotary-trommel-screen.php
Some pictures of what you mean would help. I'd look at something with cylinders of mesh rotated on a shaft.

Steve
zimginny (author)  steveastrouk4 years ago
I am almost computer ignorant when it comes to putting a picture on line, but in this case, I don't even have a picture in my mind of what it will look like, but I think that I will just use an old electric cable rewinding machine used by large electric companies to respool wire from a large reel to a smaller one.
I have one of these already with a variable speed motor, I just have to figure out how to switch the different size screen to give me the smallest particles possible.  I didn't use this machine to start with because I didn't like the idea of them tumbling, but I guess shaking can't be that much easier on them.
Thank you for your comments, they were all  appreciated.
Keep it nice and slow and look at the output for damaged worms, if it works you'll be happy, if it doesn't you stop after a single run.

Steve
jennis94 years ago
Oh -- and there are smaller versions of worm harvesters out there. it uses an auger motor and a 5 gallon bucket cut in half with screening in between.

zimginny (author)  jennis94 years ago
I have seen these on line and even tried to build one with a 50 gallon drum since I have over 1000 lbs to go through and a 5 gallon bucked wouldn't work fast enough.  I cut a 50 gallon barrel in half, attached my screen to it and had too many worms come out with the vermicompost and had a mess all over the floor.  It is a good idea, I just have to perfect it a lot.  Thank you for the idea though.
I'm not sure about the motor, but you could create the trays as you described, stack them on top of each other, put a collection bin on the bottom, and then attach the collection bin to an industrial strength sliding hardware like what's used for drawers (something like this but stronger) inside a frame to support the trays and the motor.  If you can motorize the collection bin for the finest particulate to shake in the sliding hardware, then you should be able to sort the worms for sale.  You could do it manually without too much effort, but motorizing it will definitely be easier.
 
zimginny (author)  AngryRedhead4 years ago
I tried your idea manually.  It works okay for a small amount, but I have over 100,000 worms and ( 8 ) 50 gallon barrels of casting to separate.  I have the motor and the mechanism, now all I have to do is figure out how to make it shake hard enough.  Thanks for the answer, but it took me a little while to build it.
The shaking would need to be jerky like you were shaking an apple tree branch for the apples.  Another option might be to "bounce" the trays with springs rather than horizontally shake them.

The other day I saw a segment on Whatever Martha in which Martha Stewart was using a tumbler to separate pine needles from other debris.  It looked like a huge bingo cage and was hand cranked.  It might work better, but it would be pretty difficult to build.
 
zimginny (author)  AngryRedhead4 years ago
You really have some great ideas.  I didn't even consider putting large springs on the bottom.  Thank you!