Need ideas for (cheap) large compost tumbler

Old 02-22-22, 04:04 PM
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Need ideas for (cheap) large compost tumbler

Compost piles are way to much work. Compost tumblers are usually to small. I made a tumbler out of a 55 gallon drum and it worked but it is way to small to generate enough heat to work properly. I mounted the drum on 4 inch castors and it rolled pretty well. But when it was full the weight if it caused the metal to flex and it would no loner roll on the castors.
I want to make a tumbler thats about 4 ft in diameter and about 5-6 ft long (a little larger would be ok too). It will need to be made of rigid material that will not flex under weight. I think my only options is metal. I could try to construct a wooden drum but it would be very heavy. I would prefer a good metal oil drum type of thing. I can not afford to purchase something at this time. I wonder if anyone can think of a good affordable (cheap-free) source of a good drum or has any good ideas.
Old 02-22-22, 04:13 PM
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If you can't work with a 55 gallon drum..... something bigger will be much harder to work with.

I once worked for an electrician that had an account where they made Dexatrim capsules. They had these stainless steel "cement mixers" to roll the powdered drugs into tiny beads before encapsulation. They'd be perfect but you couldn't move them.

You may need a small fleet of portable cement mixers.
Old 02-23-22, 05:09 AM
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"Compost piles are way to much work."
Really??? You literally just throw things on a pile. Mother Nature does the rest.

I have tried several "composters" and every one was a lot more work than a simple pile though they can process faster. Almost every model requires some type of weekly action. It is the nature of the beast. You have a simple pile composter which is the easiest since you do nothing but it is slower. The large, unturned mass is best for obtaining high enough temperature to sterilize unwanted seeds and diseases. Or, you go with a composter that requires you to regularly turn the waste (more work) for faster processing.

But, if you want a faster process then you need to make a batch composter like you described. I've done a couple composting factories (actually made potting soil) and they all used the simple pile method with occasional mechanical turning/mixing. They also added nitrogen to help speed the process.

A drum the size you mentioned is going to be expensive. No way around it. Materials are expensive so there is no way a big anything is going to be cheap. Least expensive might be a plastic water tank but you would have to properly support it to handle the weight but emptying would be a totally manual, messy and slow operation. Most any water or fermentation tank will be too thin a wall for horizontal use. You could get a propane tank of the size you want and cut a door and ventilation holes in it. I think the big problem you are going to have is loading and unloading. A composter the size you mention is a proper industrial machine. It's going to take horsepower to stir it and it's going to take horsepower via hydraulics or mechanical lift system to dump/empty it.
Old 02-23-22, 05:31 AM
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I have two 4'X4'X4' bins for composting. I only turn them once in the fall. In the spring I screen the compost and I get wheelbarrows full. I've been doing it that way for 40 years.
People overthink composting. It's easier just to let mother nature do the work.
Old 02-23-22, 06:36 AM
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"Compost piles are way to much work."
Really??? You literally just throw things on a pile. Mother Nature does the rest.
I assume he is referring to the "turning over" portion.

I once had a composter, 8x8x4' tall heavy gauge fencing, almost like chain link. But it was on a slope so the lower edge was dug out to allow access to the material at the bottom, under the edge of the fence. As the material composted it just fell down and I could remove. That one was easy to work with!

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