Ryobi Leaf Blower

My second system for blowing polystyrene beads into house walls for DYI insulation

See also:

22 Dec 2010   A new plan

The leaf-blower is slower than we'd like so we're now going to try something a little closer to what professional insulation installers use; a compressed air powered blower/transfer gun.

I've just bought one of these from Industrial Tooling Ltd for $60

We'll have to borrow an air compressor after we get back from holidays. More...

16 Nov 2010   Update

I've have been crazy-busy this year so haven't spent enough time on this project.

However - we have got it to the stage where it works reasonably well - but slower than we had hoped for.

  1. The motor still overheats after about 15 minutes. I pulled it apart to see if it was polystyrene dust clogging the motor - but no it wasn't. So it must just be that there's not enough air flow through the motor when we're transferring lots of poly beads. To combat this I grabbed a hair dryer that I'd ripped the heating elements out of (and converted to 12v DC drive) and glued that the leaf blower's motro air in-take. It looks ugly as hell - but did prolong performance a little. I've got no great ideas for improving it further.
  2. The hose blocks of you start the blower with the intake full of beads. The solution is just to make sure you turn the leaf blower on with the intake held out of the beads. Then, once the motor has wound up to full speed - you can dip the nozzle in to the beads and you won't have any problems.
  3. It's cumbersome for one person. Partly this is because a leaf blower is not a light beast. Using two people solves that problem. Or use one determined person.

So the process is still slow. But - don't forget - it is very cheap.

There's a saying I heard in the computer software industry: "Fast. Cheap. Good. Pick any two."

Looks like cheap and good is what you get with this process.

5 Aug 2010   Issues

After our last session David took the blower home and had a go. His main accomplishment was a huge mess in his lounge with beads everywhere.

His issues were:

  1. the blower got quite hot and the flow seemed to decrease
  2. the hose got blocked and unblocking it resulted in beads going everywhere
  3. it was cumbersome for one person

So we got together again to refine things.

We pulled the blower apart so see what was going on inside. To do this yourself just unscrew the dozen screws on the side opposite the orange lever/switch, including the one in the middle of the orange rotator "switch". Don't bother unscrewing the ones on the snout - it will slide out once you pop open the main housing.

Here's the insides. As you can see there's beads and dust all around and inside the motor. That's why the system is overheating and the blowing power is fading. The motor is filling with polystyrene dust. This is not good. The problem is the Ryobi motor is not well protected from the stuff being sucked up the snout. [I'm told the motor in Ozito leaf blowers are better insulated from the intake so will not suffer this problem, or will at least be less effected.]

The best idea I can think of at the moment (and I don't know if this will do the trick) is to attached a converted hair dryer to the side of the Leaf blower and have it blow clean air into the side of the motor - straight into the ventilation grills. It will look butt-ugly - but it might work.

That's a project for our next session.

In the meantime we cleaned out the insides with a vacuum cleaner and cut down the snout to make the whole thing easier to handle.

Cutting the snout down with a hack saw.

We also drilled out the motor ventilation slots a bit more to improve airflow - then taped a bit of Cleanex cloth over it.

Cut down and reassembled.

We also took off the reducing funnel we'd added at the end of the vacuum cleaner hose, and attached instead, a short piece of clear plastic hose - so we can see what's going on.

After doing all that we tested it again and the blowing power was fine again.

Next I'll work on a hair dryer fan setup for the Ryobi motor air intake. I'll post here when it's done.

28 June 2010   Testing the system

A friend of mine with a similar aged wooden house to mine wants to repeat my DIY insulation process, so we're building a new polystyrene bead blower system using ideas from some people at BRANZ. See infrared thermal imaging for my notes on those discussions.

Don't rush off and try this yourself without first reading my first cheap wall insulation with polystyrene beads page - which has a lot of background that you need to know first.

Here's the leaf blower system in action:

You can see me moving the blower around looking for the beads inside the bag. That's an old 2 cubic meter bag with 1 cubic meter of beads in it. I'm trying to find the sweet-spot which provides the optimum mix of beads and air to the intake. Commercial systems use a hopper that provides the perfect flow of beads/air to the intake.

More pics:

Here I am blowing beads into my outside walls. These were two holes I'd drilled way back in 2007 and never quite got round to finishing. Now they're done.

I'm wearing a mask because the recycled polystyrene beads we're using come with some polystyrene dust which is probably very bad to have in your lungs. As this was the first test with the new blower I wasn't sure how tidy the process was going to be. If it works fine several times with out any beads escaping I usually don't bother with the mask. It's probably much more important if you are blowing the beads inside the house as there is much less air circulating.

Wall segment completed. After this I inserted a wooden plug, PVA glued it in place. Covered the exterior end of the plus with more PVA, then later I'll putty over it and paint it.

For our first interior test we added a funnel from an old petrol (gas to those in USA) container. Since then we've switched to using a 150mm long piece clear tubing on the end - which we just hold in place over the hole in the wall. This allows usto see the beads going in. The interior hole I drilled was 16mm. According to my friends at BRANZ - that's the smallest hole you can still get good flow with.

20 June 2010   Converting leaf blower to bead blower

Here's how we connected a vacuum cleaner hose to the blower.

Step 1. cut the "fin" off the bottom of the blower. (This is a photo of the bottom after we'd cut it off.)

Step 2. Glue a piece of perspex onto the black clamp (that the bag used to be attached to). The masking tape here is just keeping it all in place whilst it dries.

Here's the completed leaf-blower after it's first test run. Note the poly beads in behind the perspex bottom. That's an old vacuum cleaner hose coming out of it.

7 June 2010   The beads and blower

Here's David with a 1 cubic meter bag of recycled polystyrene beads from PolyPalace in Porirua.

And here's a virgin Ryobi RESV-2200T (2200 Watt) leaf blower with the bag removed.

Cheers, Paul

Page last modified on 05 May 2011 at 07:24 PM