When I bought 50 meat chickens, I started to think very seriously about how to butcher them. In the past, we’ve butchered 10 or 15 at a time, skinning the birds instead of plucking. If they’re young, they skin easily. If they’re more than about 6 months old, they’re “tough old birds.”
The problem is, I like chicken skins. And I don’t like skinning chickens. But I really don’t like plucking them by hand. I finally realized that I would have to build a plucker.
The little PVC table top pluckers that attach to drills seemed only marginally better than plucking by hand. Whizbangs looked simple and practical but too expensive. Then I noticed the similarity between a Whizbang plucker and a washing machine. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who noticed. A man posted this video of his “Chicken Washer” on YouTube. And better yet, he offered free plans to all who asked!
That seemed great, until I finally got the plans from him this morning. Turns out it’s just a modified Whizbang dressed up as a washing machine. Nothing wrong with the design, but not what I was hoping for – I wanted to use as many of the machine’s original components as possible.
Unafraid – well… maybe a little afraid – of venturing into unknown territory without the guidance of an anonymous appliance hacking guru, I forged ahead.
Disassembly was pretty straightforward. The control panel cover came off first. I took a picture of the wiring so I can put it back together the right way.
The skin was held on by three screws and a handful of plastic clips. I also had to disconnect the wiring harness and drain hose.
The basic tear down went smoothly, with only a couple things causing issues. The spanner nut that held the drum and agitator on the driveshaft was stubborn and the drum made for a cramped space to try to swing a hammer.
At this point, I was really hoping the new-to-us washer that replaced this one would work on laundry day.
I have no use for the agitator shaft so that will be cut off. I plan to mount the feather plate on the clutch housing. The existing holes will be convenient for that.
The feather plate will be roughly 19 inches in diameter. I’m using 3/4 inch plywood this time around. I’ll paint it with several coats of good exterior paint after I drill the holes for the rubber fingers. It won’t last forever, but should last a couple years, at least. Replacement will be simple enough when it does need to be repaired.
I haven’t decided for sure how to attach all the components together. I might use a 2×4 frame like the Whizbang pluckers, or I might use a modification of the original washer base. Whichever way I decide on, things should be a little simpler because of the gearbox being used in place of the typical belt and pulley system.