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Drum Carder FAQ

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How much fiber will drum carder hold

How much fiber will the drum carder hold and how long does it take to process?

How much fiber the drum will hold and how much time it takes are two very subjective issues.

First, how much fiber heavily depends on fiber type, thickness, density, how the brush attachment is used, etc.

Second, the time requirement is governed by not only what was listed above, but also on which model of carder you’re using, how many passes are needed, how fast you are turning the drum, are you pre-teasing the fiber, is it washed and nice and fluffy, are you blending, and so on.

Therefore, we can only give conservative estimates based on our experience:

For manual carders:

A singlewide Finest or 205 holds 1.5oz and takes 12min to fill it. Doublewides, 3oz. in 24min

The Petite: 1oz. in 10min.

The Mad Batt'r singlewide: 2.5oz in 20min; the doublewide: 5oz in 40min .

The motorized version of the above machines should reduce the time by about 25%.

So, for instance, processing 1 pound of fiber on a manual singlewide Finest should take roughly 2-hours. On the motorized carder, about an hour and a half.

If you’re trying to compare doing your own fiber processing with sending it out for commercial processing, the best way is to do a time study carding your fiber on the particular carder of interest.

Card any fiber

Which fibers can I NOT card on a Strauch machine?

You can card any fiber that is at least 1" long. It is important to remember that all Strauch drum carders will handle any fiber without the need to change drums or make any adjustments. The reason is the combination of three design features:
  1. Fine carding cloth on the large drum
  2. The Brush Attachment
  3. The unique Slicker-Licker cloth on the small drum

For more details check out the Technical Information page.

Properly use Brush Attachment

How do I properly use the Brush Attachment?

Loosen the wing nuts and push the brush down so that there is a little pressure on the drum. The bristles can bend about 1/4 inch. This method is great if you want to pack a lot of fiber on the drum.

Move the brush to the UP position to remove the batt. IMPORTANT: Do not turn the carding drum backwards when the brush is in the down position. Doing this will damage the brush bristles.

Motorize manual drum carder

Can a manual drum carder be motorized?

Existing manual drive Finest series drum carders can be converted to a motorized version.

All Mad Batt'r series carders manufactured after Jan 1, 2016, are built on the tall, 6-inch, frame and can also be upgraded. Any Mad Batt'r carders, produced in prior years, but, ordered with the tall frame option, are upgradeable.

Because of the complexity of the upgrade, these machines need to be returned to us.

Upgrading existing Strauch chain drive carders is $1375.00 for the singlewide machine and $1425.00 for the doublewides. If you do decide on an upgrade, remember to remove the existing handle so it won't get broken. In fact, whenever you box up the carder for shipment, or if you're putting in your car to go to a show, remove the handle!

Naturally the motorized carder will not have a crank but we can use the handle elsewhere. (Waste not......want not!).

Chain on motor

Can a drum carder be made to function both manual and motorized?

The motor drives the chain which in turn drives the drums. It's all connected together so the drums won't slip. The motorized version cannot be made to hand crank.

Putting an overriding clutch mechanism on the carder would make the machine VERY expensive. Secondly, we use an extremely high quality gear motor. Turning the drums by using a crank would be quite difficult because the motor's internal gearing.

How do I pack my carders for shipping?

If you're boxing up your carder for a pending move, or shipping it, here’s something you really need to do: Remove the handle. With the chain drive machines, if you don't, it WILL get broken. With the Petite, the handle or shaft WILL get bent.

The handle unscrews from the shaft. To remove it, hold onto the drum by putting an old towel over the carding cloth (to protect your hands) and unscrew the handle COUNTERCLOCKWISE. If the handle is on too tight, hold onto the drum and, using a block of wood, tap the metal part of the crank (NOT the breakable black plastic part) in the direction you want the crank to turn.

For assistance, view our short video to the left. The same procedure applies to the Petite.

As to the box, if you didn't save the original packing, just use a lot of foam, bubble wrap, or rags to protect the machine.

Obsolete Fricke upgrade

Can an old obsolete Fricke carder be upgraded?

It really does not make sense. Modern Strauch machines use so many newly redesigned components that replacing all of them on your carder is not economical.

A suggestion, however: most of those old machines have the very coarse carding cloth on both drums. These carders are actually desired by felters. The coarse cloth allows for a lot of fiber to be pack onto it. They are not looking to obtain a high quality batt desired by hand spinners. Owners of these machines may consider selling them (for instance, on eBay) and buying a world class universal drum carder made by Strauch.

Drum ratio

What is drum ratio?

Drum ratio is defined as the number of times the large drum rotates for one rotation of the small drum. The higher the ratio, the faster the pins on large drum whip past the teeth on the small drum. So what does this really mean?

In general, the higher the drum ratio, the better the blending. But this does have practical limitations. For instance consider a 25:1 ratio. You are going to crank that large drum 25 times before the small drum goes around once. Think about how your shoulder is going to feel!

Testing various ratios on the Strauch machines has shown that a 5:1 ratio is a good balance between physical cranking and blending quality.

Our Finest series has a 5:1 ratio. The 200 Series, Mad Batt'r series, and Petite are 4:1. The large drum of the Finest is spinning 20% faster past the small drum compared to the other two carders.

So why do we have this difference? In a word...cost. The Finest is our top-of-the-line drum carder and we wanted to maximize all the features and benefits associated with the machine. Different parts are used on the Finest and they are more expensive. That is not to say the the 200 Series or Petite are not good blending carders. They are, The Finest is better.

As an analogy, consider driving a Cadillac or Chevy to go to the store. Both will get you there but the Caddy will do it faster, more comfortabily and with style!

Card fine fibers like alpaca, dog hair, cashmere, merino

How do I card really fine fibers like alpaca, dog hair, cashmere or merino?

Remember that we have always said that our drum carders will card any fiber. We know it is generally accepted that fine very short fibers (an inch or less) such as cashmere, qiviut (musk ox) and cotton cannot be carded with a drum carder. This is true with other machines because pins are used on both drums. Only the Strauch drum carder comes with the unique Slicker-Licker cloth on the infeed drum. These are smooth blades NOT pins! This allows for any fiber to be able to be processed. But....the techniques for handling each fiber is different.

For short fine fibers, turn the drum very slowly to allow the fiber to be picked up by the infeed drum and released onto the large drum. If you crank too fast, the fibers stick to the small drum.

The problem with fiber under, say one inch, is that you can't get it off the drum because the fibers have not "locked" together. This is especially the case with cashmere, qiviut and cotton. Cotton is notorious since the fibers are so short. It's like carding dust!

But it can be done. Here are two techniques we tried with our very short cashmere and it also worked with cotton:

We really loaded lots of the fiber onto the large drum so that it had no choice but to come off in a batt. We then put it through again, really loading the large drum. This worked well and the end result was a very fluffy batt which you could easily spin. I break off hand sized sections and spin those.

Another suggestion: One way to card fiber shorter than one inch is to put a little of a longer fiber on the carder first. Not too much, but enough to very lightly cover the large drum. This forms a "net" for the shorter fiber and helps to pull it off the drum. As an example, we tried this with very short cashmere we had de-haired by hand. We put a light layer of very fine Merino on first then carded the cashmere then another light layer of Merino. The cashmere was sandwiched between the layers of Merino and came off the drum easily. We still had 95% cashmere. This little bit of Merino also added some elasticity to the spun fiber.

You can blend with very short fibers: As an example, we raise cashmere goats which are combed each spring and the fiber sent out for dehairing. What I get back are beautiful carded clouds.

However, in the dyeing process, it became very slightly matted and we were able to use the Strauch drum carder with success and have spun the fiber into beautiful yarn.

Different drums

Do I need different drums?

You DON'T need different drums with the Strauch carder. One drum with the "05 Fine"-128 tpi cloth can be used for ALL fibers, especially the very fine varieties. This cloth works very well with merino, llama, alpaca, cashmere, dog hair and other exotics.

Different drums, with coarser cloth, are offered, on the 200 Series. These are for those with special carding needs--like felters who want a thick batt with fibers not precisely aligned.

Replacement belts for the Petite

Can I purchase replacement belts for the Petite?

Yes, you can. They are $12.00 each (includes postage).

Note: To extend the life of drive belts, remove them from the machine when you are finished for the day.

Which carder is best for me

Which carder is best for me? How do I choose?

We have two styles of drum carders that are designed for two different purposes: The spinner's carders having fine teeth (128 TPI) on the large drum (this includes the Finest, Petite and 205) and the Mad Batt'r which uses longer and coarser carding cloth.

A. Let's first discuss the "spinner's carders":
  • These carders will handle any fiber, long or short, coarse or fine, without changing drums or adjusting drum spacing. Fibers such as alpaca, merino, cormo, angora bunny, mohair cards beautifully with the Strauch carder. They are truly universal carders.
  • My machines do not require routine maintenance....no lubricating, no "tweaking" of adjustments....just take it out of the box, screw on the handle and away you go!
  • The 205 is standard size carder for those folks who want a chain drive but not all the accessories that are included with the top of the line Finest.

  • B. Now as to the Mad Batt'r:
  • This style carder was designed for those folks who want to make those nifty and sometime outrageous art-batts. They want to add lots of "lumpy-bumpys", fiber scraps, etc.
  • That's why this carder uses a very coarse carding cloth (72 teeth per sq. in. as compared to 128 TPI for the standard line of machines). The pins are also longer (½” as compared to 3/8” for all the other machines).

  • C. Which style? Here's what I tell folks that want "the best of both worlds":
  • You can make art batts with the standard carders. They just won't be as thick. So you have to make several thin ones and sandwich them together.
  • You can use the Mad Batt'r to make spinnable smooth batts like the 205 (as well as the Finest and Petite), you'll just have to pass the fiber through the carder more than once.
  • So, if more than 50% of your needs are art batts, choose the Mad Batt'r. More than 50% hand spinnable smooth batts, choose the 205. (or the Finest, or Petite).
  • Strauch Drum Carders guarantee

    What is the guarantee on Strauch Drum Carders?

    All Strauch Drum Carders come with the Strauch Guarantee.

    Click here to view our guarantees.