If you have ever tried splitting wood by swinging an ax, you might agree that it’s an extremely labor-intensive task. Given the motion and force that needs to be exerted in order to split the wood, the task can quite feel like a punishment. If you’re sick of cutting your firewood via manual labor, consider investing in a good quality log splitter.
Some factors play a vital part in the splitting efficiency and productivity of a log splitter, and one of them is the time cycle.
What is Cycle Time?
It refers to the total time it takes to complete a cycle of extending the splitting wedge from full retraction to full extension and back. This is determined by the volume of fluid flow or gallons per minute (GPM).
If a log splitter has a spec cycle time of 15 seconds, that’s how long it takes to split a log: the faster the cycle time, the more work done in less time.
A cycle time over 15 seconds is considered not reliable. So, what affects cycle time?
The size of a cylinder can be associated with a slower cycle time. A log splitter with a smaller cylinder typically sacrifices some splitting force. The type of hydraulic pump also plays a part in what affects the cycle time.
How to Increase Cycle Time
An average log splitter cuts wood way faster than an ax. But if you really want to get the task done and over with quickly, you might want to speed up the machine’s cycle time. Below are the tips on how to do it.
Upgrade your hydraulic fluid pump
To increase cycle time, you will need a bigger hydraulic fluid pump; however, this could also call for the need to increase the size of your hydraulic tank. This is to prevent the hydraulic fluid from overheating. To accommodate the increased hydraulic fluid flow, you will then need bigger hydraulic hoses and larger supply lines. Quite an expense, right?
Purchase a 2-stage hydraulic pump
Another option is to get a 2-stage hydraulic pump. There are two modes of operation in a 2-stage hydraulic pump. When the return stroke has no load, it pumps a larger volume at low pressure and moves the ram back quickly. Pressure increases, and the pump switches to high-pressure mode once the ram hits the wood. Basically, a 2-stage hydraulic pump speeds up the whole process by requiring less power in moving the splitting ram.
Implement a 3-way valve
A 3-way valve speeds up the forward stroke and reduces the splitting force in proportions. The extra valve consists of a standard port that connects to the other ports. The second valve port connects to the line that went directly to the rod end of the cylinder. As for the remaining port, it joins into the line feeding the base end of the cylinder with a tee fitting.
How to Adjust Pressure
Harder woods require more force to split successfully. Luckily, you don’t need to purchase separate log splitters for catering to every type of wood. Instead, adjust the pump pressure, and you’re ready to go.
The engine on a log splitter is easy to navigate, so there’s no need to hire professional services in adjusting the pressure:
- Start the Engine – The first step is to start your log splitter’s engine. Turning the engine on will help reflect the capacity of the engine. Once you turn on the engine, wait for the hydraulic to warm up. Only proceed to the next step when the engine has reached its idling speed.
- Expose the Pump – Set down the log splitter guards and expose the pump.
- Set to Neutral – Locate the pump level and set it to neutral.
- Adjust the Pressure – To test the pressure capacity of the pump, adjust the screw using a flat-blade screwdriver. The pressure increases as you turn the screw clockwise, while it decreases as you turn the pressure counter-clockwise.
- Set the Shield Back – After setting your desired pressure, do not forget to put the shield back up for protection.
Speeding up a log splitter’s cycle time costs a lot of money. If you are splitting logs by yourself, there’s no need to speed up the cycle time. The machine is already done splitting before you could even grab the next log.
However, if you’re splitting logs with another person, spending some bucks on a splitter might still sound practical.
Why does my log splitter lose power and how can I fix it?
If the splitter motor suddenly dies under load or while a log is loaded in the machine, you may be faced with various problems. Check out the following issues and learn how to fix them.
1. Problems with the fuel line
Just like any engine, any clog or air in the log splitter fuel line will cause a stall. Take note that this can happen even if you have a full gas tank or if you just used the splitter for the first time.
To remove air or any clog from the fuel lines, open the system and shake the log splitter to move air out of the lines. Open the fuel lines. If you find air bubbles then these are signs that air has mixed with the fuel.
Correct problems like vibration which usually cause bubbles to form. Remove the air more efficiently by opening the splitter’s bleed valve and cycling the pressure system back and forth.
2. Problems with the engine
A non-starting engine such as a Briggs and Stratton engine must be checked right away. An engine that dies right after a full-throttle can be a sign of engine failure. A technician may check the air filter, a bad pump/bad fuel, carburetor, and other engine components. And even if the engine is running, a technician may test for anything that sounds like trouble like clanking, wheezing, or sputtering.
A technician may adjust your engine, tighten a screw or plug or replace a filter to remove any vibration or unwanted sounds.
3. Problems hydraulic fluid levels
Stalling may happen to most old hydraulic-powered splitters. A splitter may stop while in the middle of splitting wood or may completely stall before it starts to rip wood because of leaking fluid or reduced hydraulic pressure. Leaking hydraulic fluid will reduce pressure cause stalling and sometimes the splitter may not move at all.
To find out if this is the reason for stalling, check the hydraulic fluid pressure gauge, relief valve, and other components of the hydraulic system. If you find a leak, this may be due to an old hydraulic system. Also, low hydraulic fluid levels can lead to stalling. You should have your splitter serviced and refilled with new hydraulic fluids.
4. Problems with the stage pump, valves, and filters
Any problems with various log splitter components can lead to stalling even under load. Check components like the stage pump, pressure gauge, hydraulic pump, two-stage pump, relief valve, control valve, spark plug, and pressure relief valve. If you have an old or second-hand splitter, inspect and change these components as needed.
5. Power cord/power source problems
For an electric power log splitter, problems with your power source and extension cords could be reasons for a stalling motor. The only way for an electric log splitter to efficiently chop wood is to plug it into a reliable power source or extension cord.
6. Temperature extremes
A log splitter may not work well under extremely cold temperatures. When these machines are kept in storage for long periods, the hydraulic oil becomes thicker. This results in a weaker response up to the point that the splitter starts to warm up.
Why is my wood splitter moving slow?
Another problem that users often encounter is when a splitter is unable to push the wood or the force is not enough to split the log. Just like a stalling splitter, problems with the hydraulics and fuel lines are common culprits.
It is also possible for an old log splitter to start failing especially when it’s poorly maintained. For this, take your old machine to a service center or consider an upgrade.
How much HP does it take to run a log splitter?
An efficient log splitter needs the right amount of splitting power and force to split an average-sized, well-seasoned log. We recommend a splitter with a 5-horsepower engine with a two-stage hydraulic pump with 2500 psi.
There are many reasons why log splitters stall or stop under load and why splitters slow down. Problems with the fuel lines, hydraulic system, other engine components, and power supply for electric-powered splitters are the most common reasons. Take time to maintain or care for your log splitter to avoid these common problems.