Introduction: Soil Screener From Gas to Electric

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About six years ago I made a gasoline engine driven soil screener, made some videos, and published the project details on Instructables.

Homemade Soil Screener/sifter

The screener was powered by a 6 hp gasoline engine and had the necessary pulleys, belts and springs usually associated with such screeners.

The most unique feature of the screener is the use of car tire sections that serve in place of steel springs and hinges. These same tire sections are still in place and working fine.

In recent years I've had a fair bit of trouble starting the gas engine. So last summer I made the decision to convert the screener from gas engine driven to electric motor driven. This allowed me to forget about pulleys, belts, springs and engine problems, and concentrate more on screening soil.

The modification cost around about $400 (US) not including the electrical line to the screener. So in view of the simplicity of the new screener and the reduced hassle in starting, stopping and adjusting, this was definitely the way to go.

A big feature of the electric motor screener is that I can turn the motor On and Off with my smart phone.

So with the cost of screened soil in this area I think I have a pretty good system, and I can't wait to get back to screening soil this summer.

Step 1: Rain and Dust Cover, Electrical Details, Eccentric Weights, Screening Tests

The most outstanding benefit of the screener is that there is only one moving part. The eccentric weight on the shaft of the electric motor creates enough imbalance to give the necessary vibration.

The electric motor is rated at 3 hp. I selected a robust motor to get sturdy, long lasting bearings, as needed in this application. The motor draws less than 4 amps of current when operating with the eccentric weight installed. The motor is rated to draw up to 12 amps at 220vac. So with that kind of loading I expect the motor bearings to last a long time.

In this video I also explain how the motor is interconnected to the 220vac through a relay, and controlled with my smart phone through a TP-Link smart plug. The smart plug is designed for 110vac and this voltage controls the relay contacts to turn the 220vac On and Off to the motor.

Step 2: Removing Old Gasoline Engine Parts Cover, Adjusting Vibration, More Screening Tests

The pulleys and belt are not needed with the electric motor version of the screener so I took them off. I decided to leave the old gas engine in place to help stabilize the main frame of the screener.

The screener is sturdy enough to allow me to drag any stuck material (such as wet sods) down the screen with the tractor bucket.

I added more weight and checked out the new motor current with this extra loading. The final eccentric weight ended up being about 16 oz. I'm getting real good vibration now, but I am not ruling out adding more eccentric weight this coming screening season.

In the video I also remove the screened soil and pile it up for use in the spring.

Step 3: ​Screening, Checking Rock Guard, Removing Rubble, Making Rubble Ramp, Sound Levels

In this video I purposefully put the tractor rock guard to the test by letting heavy rocks bounce off it.

Because of the size and configuration of my screener I load the material from the "wrong" side. And that is why I found the need to make a rock guard or shield to protect the tractor from damage (The introduction video covers making the rock guard).

I found it beneficial to make a rubble ramp to raise the tractor bucket a bit more to get better dumping height and angles. All of this would not be necessary if the screener was designed from scratch to allow normal loading of the screener.

Near the end of this video I spend some time checking out the sound levels made by both the screener and tractor.

Step 4: Bucket Cam Views, Stabilizing Bucket Cam Mount, Wormy Compost Added to Mix

I used my homemade magnetic mount for my GoPro Hero 3 camera to get some upfront views of the screening action.

At times the bucket cam jarred loose due to bucket dumping action. Later in the video I added two extra magnets to the mount.

Also in this video the bucket picks up a few loads from the compost heap and mixes that with the other material before screening.

The video further shows that the rock guard is working just fine in protecting the tractor from damage.

Step 5: Adjusting the Pulley, Finding Loose Nut/bolt, Bringing Motor in for the Winter

I discovered a hole in the dust/rain cover and thought that the pulley moved on the motor shaft. I moved the pulley back on the shaft and torqued up the taper lock bushing.

While preparing to bring the electric motor in for the winter I discovered a loose nut and bolt (one of two) that is secures the motor to the screen frame. It seems that this was more likely the cause of the cover damage. I will be using Loctite thread locking compound when I reinstall the motor next time.

I bring the motor in for the winter as the snow can get high enough to cover the motor.

The video also points out some of the material that will be screened this summer.