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  1. #1
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    TR: Help Me Build A Taffy Pulling Machine

    Edit: Finally got around to posting the final thing! (=
    (pics and video here)
    _________________________________________________

    So... I've decided to make my gf a taffy puller for Christmas. (And yes, she will actually use it.)

    Like this (sorta):


    Any suggestions/advice/heckling would be very appreciated. In fact, the best comment gets some free taffy (yeah, I'll mail it to you).

    I spec'd it out (see below) and ended up with a cost around $150 not including the motor. It will be driven by a Kitchenaid mixer, which I really like because Kitchenaid puts these great accessory ports on their mixers. The whole puller will essentially be a big Kitchenaid accessory, which saves a good chunk of change in not having to buy another motor. (Plus, if the puller sucks, at least the Kitchenaid will make a great gift.)



    After a bit of searching, I actually found plans for a taffy puller online. There's even a video of it in action. It looks like this:


    I'm basing mine off of that, but instead of 2 gearmotors I'm using the Kitchenaid mixer, and instead of the v-belts I'm going to use sprockets and chains. Seems odd to use separate drive systems when timing is important. Because the arms need to rotate in different directions, I'm going to have to have one of the chains run in a figure-eight. Chain seemed better than a v-belt for this, but maybe I'm just making that up. (I played around with an old chain and some sprockets and this seems feasible. The chain does rub on itself, but as long as the sprockets weren't too close together, binding and misalignment seemed to be a non-issue. [Edit: the figure-eight idea got replaced by a more intellegent chain path]) Also, i think copper + food = bad, so I'm using aluminum for the arms. [Edit: I guess copper's not so bad] [Edit: Going to use stainless steel for the arms, not aluminum]

    I really don't have much experience building stuff, so I'm posting this here so you can rip it apart and tell me what I should do differently in case there's a better way to go at this. I should probably also add that while not being overly experienced myself, I know a number of people who have welders, work in machine shops, etc. I'd rather not bother them with building it for me if I can help it, but if I get in a jam I'll have help.

    Here's my attempt at pricing everything out:

    ....Motor: Kitchenaid Mixer
    ........($0.00 - I bought one off of Craigslist for this, but I'm not counting it as cost since it's a useful thing to have)
    ........Has a port for hooking up accessories. The port is about 1 inch in diameter and terminates at a 1/2" square female fitting.
    ....Moving Arms: 2x 1.5' 1/2" dia. Anodized Aluminum rod, bent to shape
    ........(2x $13.25 McMaster.com, part 6750K163, 3ft ea.)
    ........Would be nice if they were removable for cleaning in a dishwasher
    ........I don't know how to bend these yet, but pipe and fittings is a lot more expensive
    ....Stationary Arm: 1/2" Aluminum rod, bent to shape
    ........($13.25 McMaster.com, part 6750K163, 3ft)
    ....Frame: Wood
    ........($10 Home Depot)
    ....Cover: 18"x24"x.093" Acrylic Sheet
    ........($6.77 HomeDepot.com, part 453217)
    ....Bearings: 4x 1/2" dia. pillow block bearings and 2x 3/4" pillow block bearings
    ........(4x $2.92 McMaster.com, part 3813T2)
    ........(2x $5.23 McMaster.com, part 3813T13)
    ....Shafts: 12" 3/4" dia. aluminum rod
    ........($13.21 McMaster.com, part 6750K18)
    ........The 3/4" shaft will have to be machined to fit the 1/2" square fitting on the Kitchenaid port.
    ........The arms will be their own shafts and are listed above
    ....Sprockets: ANSI #40, 2x 15 Tooth 1/2" bore w/set screws; 1x 9 Tooth 3/4" bore w/set screws; 1x 17 Tooth 3/4" bore idler
    ........(2x $11.72 McMaster.com, part 6280K691)
    ........(1x $8.32 McMaster.com, part 6280K631)
    ........(1x $9.95 McMaster.com, part 6280K631)
    ........Could probably save some money here by getting unfinished sprockets, or even using old bike sprockets...
    ....Chain: ANSI #40
    ........($6.14 McMaster.com, part 6261K444, 2ft)
    ........I think bicycle chain is ANSI 40. This stuff is wider tho.

    ....Total Price:
    ........(13.25 * 3) + 10.00 + 6.77 + (4 * 2.92) + (2 * 5.23) + 13.21 + (2 * 11.72) + (2 * 8.32) + 6.14 = $139.72
    ........plus tax, shipping, misc hardware, beer for helpful people

    It seems like I ought to be able to find a lot of these things just sitting around, but since no one item is really driving the cost (maybe the sprockets), I may end up just having to pay up and be done with it. It'd be cool to do it for less than $100 though. Suggestions?

    In-progress pictures to come...
    Last edited by bedtime4bonzos; 03-23-2009 at 12:29 AM.
    Feel the rhythm... feel the rhyme...

  2. #2
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    I have a copy of make magazine at home, if the full info is not avail online. Let me know if you need that...

    Email me at dave@fatskideals.com for boot fitting questions, or stop by
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  3. #3
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    It's annoying to navigate the online "sample" article, but it's all there. Thanks though!
    Feel the rhythm... feel the rhyme...

  4. #4
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    thats awesome.

  5. #5
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    watching taffy mixers is completely mesmerizing.

    props to giving her such a thoughtful gift!
    "... I'm still confused though as to rate this thread -2 or +2 Icemans." -skifishbum

    check out my blog, where I dance with corgis.

  6. #6
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    BWAHHAHAAAAAHAAAAAAHAHAHHAHHA!!!

    shake that laffy taffy, shake that laffy taffy girl...

    edit: oh, this is serious...

    From bike experience, you've got a bit of angulation available in the chain, but it does lose efficiency a bit... like when you go small ring in front and small cog on the rear. I think the fig 8 would be fine, but you really should avoid having it rub, it's just not good engineering - just space it out a bit so it doesn't touch...
    Last edited by jfost; 09-30-2008 at 10:58 PM.

  7. #7
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    Great idea but I think you should make it a pedal powered taffy machine. That would be way cooler IMVHO.

  8. #8
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    ^^ to keep her from getting fat off all that taffy? i see what you're doing there.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfost View Post
    I think the fig 8 would be fine, but you really should avoid having it rub, it's just not good engineering
    I completely agree with not wanting the chain to rub on itself. It's my least favorite part of the design.

    Quote Originally Posted by jfost View Post
    just space it out a bit so it doesn't touch...
    How do you mean? The only condition that I can think of where the chain would not touch is for the axis of rotation of one sprocket to not be quite horizontal (ie. the sprockets would have to lie on non-parallel planes). Am I wrong?

    That could work though... if the drive axis was inclined just enough that the chain wouldn't hit... you might get rid of the clearance issues without creating chain/sprocket allignment issues. Seems ugly.

    Options I considered for achieving the opposite rotational directions::
    1) Figure-eight chain drive, which I've chosen, but has clearance issues.
    2) Figure-eight flat belt drive. I read that this works well, but I don't know anything about flat belts. One major plus: you get to have a Mobius Strip as your belt.
    3) Gears. This is probably the best solution engineering-wise. But it adds 2 bearings, 2 gears, and a shaft to the design. I'd like to avoid the extra cost.

    Someone school me on this...

    Quote Originally Posted by AsheanMT View Post
    Great idea but I think you should make it a pedal powered taffy machine. That would be way cooler IMVHO.
    Yeah, I considered it... it would be pretty rad. I decided to aim for "kitchen appliance" instead of "garage appliance".
    Last edited by bedtime4bonzos; 10-01-2008 at 09:03 AM.
    Feel the rhythm... feel the rhyme...

  10. #10
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    the other option, is of course, just finding a second stand mixer (or use 2 motors)

    edit or using a planetary gearset like what i said over email
    (click the "sun" button in the animation, thats what youd need)
    Last edited by pechelman; 10-01-2008 at 10:08 AM.

  11. #11
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    Thoughtful gift man!

    Talk about thinking outside the box!

  12. #12
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    ill also add that I think copper is absolutely 100% food grade safe and is actually the prefered metal for certain kitchen tasks, such as beating stiff egg whites

    my concern with copper though might be the flavor it could leech onto the taffy
    i seem to remember copper having a distinct smell
    copper is also pricey in comparison to aluminum or even a cheap cres

  13. #13
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    how lee shit.

    Brilliant. I've no valuable contribution to offer, but cheers.

    Make sure to post a full TR with video.
    "Typically euro, french in particular, in my opinion. It's the same skiing or climbing there. They are completely unfazed by their own assholeness. Like it's normal." - srsosbso

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bedtime4bonzos View Post
    I completely agree with not wanting the chain to rub on itself. It's my least favorite part of the design.



    How do you mean? The only condition that I can think of where the chain would not touch is for the axis of rotation of one sprocket to not be quite horizontal (ie. the sprockets would have to lie on non-parallel planes). Am I wrong?

    That could work though... if the drive axis was inclined just enough that the chain wouldn't hit... you might get rid of the clearance issues without creating chain/sprocket allignment issues. Seems ugly.
    exactly... I think you'd literally be talking a matter of a degree or 2 off parallel, then you can bring it all back into alignment with the very last bend of the pipe (the "taffy holding" section). This would give you the tiniest bit of clearance for the chain, and since the rotating arms are independent at the taffy end (except for the taffy) you're golden. I can't imagine that the taffy doesn't have some inherent tolerance built in... seems to be a non-fussy material to work with as far as alignment goes!

  15. #15
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    You don't need to cross the chain to make one of the shafts spin opposite...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patches View Post
    You don't need to cross the chain to make one of the shafts spin opposite...
    yeah... a friend of mine just enlightened my dumb ass as well... thanks patches.

    Last edited by bedtime4bonzos; 10-01-2008 at 02:02 PM.
    Feel the rhythm... feel the rhyme...

  17. #17
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    ... just add an idler pulley like so:

  18. #18
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    Drats, beat me to it.

    [Edit to add]: And the design you posted is tidier, space-wise.
    Last edited by Patches; 10-01-2008 at 02:07 PM.

  19. #19
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    Also, don't run the chain outside of the wood frame as shown in the drawing you posted... use a jigsaw to make cutouts in the wood and mount the sprockets BETWEEN the bearings, not outside. Not only will this change the loading to double shear (better), but now you can put washers or short pieces of pipe on either side of the sprocket to fill the space between it and the bearings, so the sprocket itself will act as a retainer to keep the shaft from falling out of the bearings.

  20. #20
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    only thing I'd suggest is since this thing appears to be independently supported, I would use a 3-piece universal joint type shaft to couple the mixer output to the input for your contraption, otherwise you would have to have said contraption square and level with the mixer, and both bolted down tight. And I probably wouldn't choose wood. Stainless would be pimp and more rigid. This rig is gonna need a lot of rigidity

    also would try and find a bearing supply near you and source the parts there. Wake up the guy at the counter and he will probably have ideas or options that you/we would never think of

    edit: seems solid stainless rod would be a better choice for the arms on this thing
    Last edited by khakis; 10-01-2008 at 02:19 PM.
    The killer awoke before dawn.
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  21. #21
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    "Abba Zabba. You my only friend"

    Sorry. I know that has nothing to do with it. But whenever someone brings up Taffy, thats what I think of.


    But props for a sick gift and sick project.

  22. #22
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    can i be your girlfriend.....?
    smile when you are going down, it looks more graceful
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  23. #23
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    an idea is to use electrical conduit for the puller arms, 3/4" conduit is 15/16" OD. That would be nice and stiff - a requirement I would think.

    then use TEFLON tubing to coat the outside of it - something like this:
    mcmastercarr.com
    Part Number: 8547K47

    not as cheap as copper tubing, but more "inert" and is also food grade.

  24. #24
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    The whole point of the fig-8 was to make the chain run more compact, no? That way you power one of the arms direct-drive style and fig-8 over to the other arm... the idler pulley makes for a more complex setup, albeit sound in principle.

    Either way, still a cool idea and the kitchenaid motor is bombproof!

    edit: i guess you could really tuck that idler pulley in to the chain path and make it pretty compact... might just be the way to go to keep everything efficient and parallel.

    edit2: what if you went big ring on the drive motor and small rings on the rotating arms, draw it out and I think you can get by without even the idler pulley by offsetting the motor a bit. you've got to grab enough teeth on the small cogs to turn the arms under load, but I still think it's possible.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by jfost; 10-03-2008 at 03:35 PM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by bedtime4bonzos View Post
    It's annoying to navigate the online "sample" article, but it's all there. Thanks though!
    If you PM me your email, I can email all the article pages to you.

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