How to Build a Tub Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker

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Plucking meat birds is a task that's been performed for eons yet is just as difficult and time-consuming today as it was thousands of years ago. Feathers are difficult to pull from bird flesh, often making it necessary to soak the chicken in a vat of hot water first. The feathers come out easily once soaked, yet it's time-consuming to pick the bird clean. Humans, being industrious creatures, solved this issue by inventing the mechanical chicken plucker, which is a motorized rotating bin with rubber fingers that strip the chicken of feathers in just a few seconds.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic 55-gallon barrel
  • 100 to 200 rubber chicken fingers
  • Drill bit kit
  • Drill
  • 8-foot 2-by-4 boards (3)
  • Tape measure
  • Hand saw
  • Marker or chalk
  • Box of wood screws
  • Motor
  • Rubber belt
  • Reciprocal saw or jigsaw
  • Carpenter's square
  • Yardstick
  • Cardboard
  • Lubricant spray
  • Welding torch
  • Welding goggles or mask
  • Welding gloves
  • Flat piece of steel
  • Cut a plastic 55-gallon barrel in half across its circumference with a reciprocating saw or jigsaw. Discard the top half. Remove the bottom of the barrel, cutting as close to the seam as possible. Do not discard the bottom as it will be needed for a later step.

  • Determine the frame size. The frame should be just large enough for the barrel to slide within. Place the barrel on a large cardboard sheet. Trace along the bottom of the barrel with a marker or chalk. Remove the barrel. Use a carpenter's square and yardstick to draw a fitted square around the circle, a process known as "squaring the circle." This is the size necessary for the inside of your frame.

  • Construct a wood frame in which the barrel will be placed. Cut 2-by-4 boards so that they're slightly larger than the square on the cardboard; you need eight pieces. Cut four pieces of wood 4 feet long. Place one 4-foot length of wood vertically on each corner of the cardboard square image. Screw the smaller wood pieces to the vertical boards to fix them in place. You should have a square-shaped wood frame in which you can insert the barrel.

  • Use a marker to trace lines around the barrel's circumference, with a 1-inch space between each line. Draw dots on the first line, 4 inches apart. Repeat on the next line, situating the dots so they're between the dots on the lower line. This will result in an alternating pattern. Add as many lines as you'd like. Some individuals add fingers to the entire bucket while others add fingers to only the bottom half of the barrel.

  • Drill a hole through each dot with a 3/4-inch drill bit and drill. Place the drill bit against the dot and press firmly while depressing the drill's button. Spray the recessed portion of each rubber finger with lubricant spray then insert a finger into each hole so that they all face inward. Pull the fingers until they snap fully into place.

  • Insert the barrel into the frame. You may have to pound it into place with a hammer. Screw the barrel section to the wood frame with wood screws and the drill.

  • Draw evenly-spaced dots 4 inches apart on the plastic piece cut from the bottom of the barrel. Drill holes through each dot and insert lubricated rubber fingers.

  • Mount the motor. A motor from an electric weed-whacker is ideal as it is already wired for an extension cord. Add a length of 2-by-4 board to the bottom of the frame and screw the motor under the barrel so that it is centered within the frame. Weld a flat piece of metal horizontally to the motor armature then bolt the plastic bottom piece of the barrel to the armature with the rubber fingers facing upward. The bottom should be as close to the bottom of the fixed barrel, as possible, without touching it; otherwise, the chicken could launch out of the barrel and smack someone.

  • Plug in the motor and turn it on. The bottom portion that was cut free of the barrel and mounted on the motor should spin. Toss a dead chicken inside the barrel and spray it with water while it spins. Shut the motor off and remove the chicken when it is feather-free.

Tips & Warnings

  • Place a net or fine metal mesh over the chicken plucker opening while it is operating; otherwise, you'll be plastered with copious amounts of wet chicken feathers.
  • Wear safety glasses, when cutting the wood and barrel, to prevent eye damage from flying bits of wood and plastic.

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