Picture of Powered Wheelbarrow Trommel

A great way to separate rock from dirt. It's perfect for gardens or in my case landscape rock!

I needed to install a french drain to redirect the rain from the front of my house. The problem was that my house is surrounded by rock beds! I ended up building a powered wheelbarrow trommel to save me from separating the river rock from the good dirt by hand. The trommel will also come in handy for getting all those pesky rocks from my wife's garden. The most novel thing about it is that the trommel sits on top of my wheel barrel so that dirt is dispensed right in the wheelbarrow for easy transportation. Oh, and I built the thing for less than 90.00.

If you'd like to build one for yourself, you'll have to make up the dimensions as you custom fit the frame for your wheelbarrow.

Specs for the basic parts
Gear reduction motor (125 rpm, 1/10hp, 12v, 12 amp)
I used a 3/4 inch pully with 5/8 inch bore, but any size pulley will work.
10 amp manual battery charger
1/4 inch wire mesh screen from any hardware store
The tops of three 5 gallon buckets (two for wheel tracks and one for pulley)
8 castor wheals that fit in the track of the bucket rims.
Rubber floor mat

If you are going to use a garbage can to catch the rocks as they come out of the trommel, you'll find that the wheelbarrow will tip backwards. I shifted my wheelbarrow's legs back 6 inches. The easiest way to keep the cross plate that gives the legs their stability is to turn the legs around before remounting them.

If you'd like to save 15 or so dollars you could forgo the mesh screen and bolt two 5 gallon buckets together and then drill "a lot* of 5/16 in holes in buckets to simulate a screen. It works. I tried it, but it won't perform as well as the mess screen.

Get a wheelbarrow with two wheels! I overloaded the wheelbarrow a few times and almost it.
I gotta ask, where did you source your 3/4" OD x 5/8" bore pulley? I have been looking for one, and I cannot find one for the life of me.
asred (author)  CaptainPointless1 year ago
Ace Hardware was where I got mine. They had a great selection.
heathbar642 years ago
Very nice! I can't tell from the pictures, do you have the drum slanted, or how do you make the rock travel down and eject into the trash can?
asred (author)  heathbar642 years ago
Good question. The drum is mounted level on the wood platform. The wheelbarrow is what puts it at an angle. I found that the longer the rock/dirt stayed in the drum the cleaner it got. So at times I used blocks to raise the back end of the platform so that it is slanted by about 5-10 degrees (the video shows no blocks because the wheelbarrow was already adjusted by the way it was positioned on the ground) . It's all about finding a good speed to angle ratio for loading the drum efficiently. The drum spins fast enough to move the rock through by the time I filled my shovel and was ready to load the drum again. Depending on your motor, if you find that it doesn't spin fast enough just put a bigger pulley on the motor.
Schmidty162 years ago
use it for gold mining dude get gold mmm gold fever
Nice! Time to go to Alaska.. No guts.. no glory!
WrshpMzshn2 years ago
I like it! Any idea how long it'd run on a car battery? It could be taken into the "field" and used for gold prospecting.
asred (author)  WrshpMzshn2 years ago
That I couldn't tell you. There are too many variables to consider. The motor is actually rated for 12 volts and 12 amps. You could plug it into your car without a problem and just leave your car running to charge the battery which powers the motor.
rimar20002 years ago
What a good idea!
asred (author)  rimar20002 years ago
Thanks Rimar2000. It's saved me lots of time. I was able to move a 20X10 section of river rock in one day.
rimar20002 years ago
What a good idea!