So, it took me more than a year to finish it, but it's finally done! I've been working on an automatic chicken plucker in my spare time. I got the idea from Herrick Kimball's Whizbang Plucker, which you can read about here. I got the motor from a treadmill that I bought on GovDeals for $5.00. The tub is an old rain barrel that got repurposed. The lumber is from an old outbuilding that I took down. The wheels on the bottom are from a broken pair of in-line skates. The drive shaft came out of a washing machine that we scrapped a few years ago. If you're the kind of person that takes things apart to see if there is anything useful inside, then you'll understand why I had all this stuff hanging around in my workshop.
The pieces I didn't have were the feather plate, pulleys and bearings, rubber fingers, and the controll board for the motor. I had the feather plate custom built by a local metal fabrication shop. Doherty Steel has helped me on a number of projects and has always done quality work that was quick and affordable. I gave them the dimensions and the number of holes I needed and they did the rest. They also welded the pulley and feather plate to opposite ends of the drive shaft for me.
I bought the rubber fingers from Herrick Kimball's son off of his website. The pulleys and bearings were pretty easy to find at my local farm store. The control board for the motor was a bit tougher. If I had been thinking ahead, I would have taken the control board out of the treadmill when I salvaged the motor. But I wasn't, so I had to hunt. My dad finally solved it for me when he was in town for a visit (thanks, Dad). He found just the piece I needed through a local electronics supplier called IBT. They have just about anything you could ever need, and they had the part I was looking for.
It took me so long to build this that it had started to become a joke among the guys at the farm store. I don't think they really believed that I was building it. So when I tested it out, I took this video to prove to them that it was real. I have used it one time since, and I timed myself. From clucking hen to fryer in the freezer took me 14 minutes. I had never done it in less than 40!