Earthquake® Tazz Chipper Shredder (30520 K32): Product Review
The Tazz is well-made, compact and weighs less than most chippers/shredders. It does everything bigger and more expensive machines can do.
Available on Amazon
Earthquake®, a brand made by the Ardisam® company located in Cumberland, Wisconsin, offers a variety of chipper shredders for the consumer market.
The 30520 K32 TazzTM Chipper Shredder with a 212cc Viper engine is a recent introduction that’s lighter and more compact than competitive machines yet powerful enough to chip 3-inch branches.
How did it perform? Keep reading to find out!
|Product weight:||121 lbs.|
|Engine:||Viper® engine, 4-cycle, single cylinder|
|Engine torque:||8.86 ft-lb gross torque|
|Chipping capacity:||3 inches|
|Chipper hammers:||2 J-hammers and 2 Tri-hammers|
|Shredder blades:||2 knives|
|Impeller speed:||3600 RPMs|
|Collection bag:||24” x 36” with Dock-n-Lock connection system|
|Fuel tank:||.95 gallon capacity|
|Oil:||16.9 oz SAE 30 (included)|
|Hopper/Chute:||2-way feed: Drop-in hopper and dedicated chipper chute|
|Wheels:||11″ x 2″ solid rubber wheels|
|Other features:||Sliding door over shredding hopper; rubber gasket over chipper hopper; tow kit and vacuum kit available as options for an additional price|
|Warranty:||5-year limited warranty|
The Tazz chipper shredder box arrived in good shape. Once I opened the box and laid out the contents, I did a quick scan of the assembly instructions to make sure that nothing was missing. I’m glad I did; my package included no screws, nuts, and bolts. I sent a message to customer service and two days later a small package arrived with the missing hardware.
Overall, I would say that assembling the unit was moderately difficult, taking me just shy of 90 minutes to complete. The diagrams in the instruction manual were not very clear, and several times I found myself assembling, disassembling, and reassembling because I put something together in the wrong order or upside down.
The first step is to attach the front rest to the frame with the supplied nuts and bolts.
Because of limited space to work, I used a couple of tongue and groove pliers to tighten down these bolts to attach the front rest to the frame.
Next, prop the unit up so the axle is off the ground by at least 6″ and slide the wheels onto the axle. The wheels are secured with cotter pins – don’t forget to bend the pins to keep the wheels in place.
Once the wheels are attached, the unit sits up with the weight nicely balanced between the wheels and front rest. You’re now ready to begin the rest of the assembly.
To attach the chipper hopper, align the two holes and one slot in the hopper with the three pins that protrude from the frame.
The space between the hopper and the frame is tight. A socket wrench works for a couple of the nuts, but you’ll need to use a Crescent® adjustable wrench or pliers to reach the one that’s extremely close to the machine.
Now it’s time to attach the shredding hopper. First, unscrew the hard plastic cover from the hopper.
Then insert the sliding door that opens and closes access to the shredder. This is a cool feature that I didn’t know I wanted; the sliding door opens and closes access to the shredder to keep things from accidentally dropping into the abyss.
The hopper rests over the sliding door. Once I lifted the hopper into place, I saw that one corner of the hopper was bent.
Fortunately, once I tightened the nuts, the hopper straightened out and caused no problems for the sliding door or the operation of the unit.
The opposite side of the hopper attaches via a metal clip with bolts already attached.
Next, attach the rubber guard assembly over the shredder hopper.
I found this task challenging. You have to hold up the stiff rubber while finding—by touch—the holes to insert the bolts. I’m not sure if the drop in the photo above shows my blood, sweat, or tears. It might be all three.
Finally, attach the handle to the shredder hopper by aligning the holes in the handlebar with the holes in the hopper.
The Tazz chipper/shredder comes with a collection bag. A collection bag pole attaches to the machine and the bag hangs from that pole by 3 loops.
The unit also works without the collection bag attached; debris shoots out of the flush discharge chute at the side of the unit.
The threaded end of the collection bag screws onto the flush discharge chute with a quarter turn. They call this a drop-n-lock connector.
To remove the collection bag, turn counterclockwise a quarter turn and slip the bag off the pole. At that point, you can simply unzip the end of the bag and dump the contents wherever you like.
It should go without saying, but you’re going to want to wear goggles (the closed sides protect your eyes better than safety glasses), leather gloves, hearing protection, and close-toed shoes. I also recommend long pants and something covering your arms.
Given that the impeller blade spins at 3600 RPMs, you can imagine that anything that might fly out of the unit would leave a mark. Don’t let that mark be on your eyes or skin.
Adding Oil and Gasoline
Before starting your engine, add oil and gasoline.
The Tazz comes with Viper® oil. The engine holds 16.9 oz. of oil which is added to the engine through the same hole that holds the dipstick (it has an orange top so it’s easy to find).
Fortunately, a plastic funnel comes included. Unfortunately, the funnel cannot work a miracle by fitting through the extremely narrow passageway without becoming tragically deformed and making a mess.
Anyway, after spilling oil on my driveway (arggggh!), I finally got the job done. Had I known the magnitude of this challenge, I would have put oil in the machine BEFORE attaching the chipper hopper.
Then I added gasoline. You don’t have to add premium gas (87 octane is fine), but as a practice, I always add a fuel stabilizer to prevent gumming and gas spoilage.
I recommend that you add the gas and fuel stabilizer before moving the unit to the location you plan to work. This reduces the risk of accidental fires from spillage.
Starting the Engine
Once you’ve moved the Tazz chipper shredder to where you plan to start your work, it’s time to start the engine. Begin by turning the on/off dial to the ON position.
The engine comes equipped with a fuel switch. To open the fuel line, make sure the switch is in the ON position.
Next, find the throttle, as marked by the familiar rabbit and turtle icons. Slide the throttle to the middle position. Strangely, the throttle lever isn’t centered between the rabbit and turtle icon. To find the middle, move the lever to the far right and the far left to gauge the actual middle, as shown in the photo.
Finally, find the choke. When starting the unit cold, slide the choke to the fully open (left) position, also known as the CHOKE position. When starting the unit after it’s warmed up, you can leave the unit in the RUN position or midway between CHOKE and RUN.
It’s time to crank the engine. Grab the starter ripcord. Pull it gently until you encounter resistance. Then pull the cord straight towards you in a smooth motion. The engine will sputter and then engage. Once the engine engages, slide the choke to the half choke position (midway between CHOKE and RUN) for about 45 seconds. Then slide it to the RUN position.
Once you are ready to start shredding or chipping, slide the throttle to the rabbit icon to provide full power to the motor.
Shutting Off The Engine
To shut off the engine at the end of your session, move the throttle to the turtle position (low throttle). Let the engine run for a couple of minutes to let the engine cool down. Then turn the power to the OFF position. Move the fuel lever to the OFF (or closed) position. Once the engine comes to a complete stop, slowly pull the starter handle until you feel resistance and release. This prevents moisture from entering the combustion chamber.
For a quick shut down, you can slide the fuel lever to the OFF position and wait until the engine stops.
One of the best things I can say about the Viper® engine is that, regardless if the engine was hot or cold, it started on one pull each time, a trait that will keep you from suffering a heart attack in the all too familiar pull-until-you-drop that occurs with some small engines.
CHIPPING & SHREDDING
The Tazz chipper/shredder is built to chip branches as big as 3 inches in diameter and to shred light brush, leaves, and other soft, bulky organic waste.
With the Tazz started and warmed up, I began my test by feeding it a combination of soft and hard wood on branches ranging from 1 to 3 inches through the smaller (chipper) hopper.
The short length of the chipper hopper made it spit out any short branches (in the 6-12″ range). Short branches tended to bounce around the chipper blade before being shot out of the hopper. For this reason, don’t stand in front of the hopper!
However, the chipper hopper excelled in chomping up longer branches. The short funnel shape of the hopper makes it impossible for even a small hand to reach the impeller blades. I found that the chipper worked best when I kept a loose hand on the branch and gently guided it down the funnel. Once the thick end of the branch was consumed, I removed the thin, leafy end of the branch and dropped it into the shredding hopper.
The first time I did that, the shredder did nothing. Then I remembered the sliding door over the shedder knives! I slid the door open, and the thin part of the branch dropped into the shredder blades. I heard a shredding sound, and the hopper emptied quickly.
I found the chipper hopper a little too low for me to use comfortably over a long period of time. At 5’10” tall, I have no problem reaching the cookies at the top of the cupboard when my wife hides them from me. And I have little difficulty bending low to reach under the frozen broccoli to score the ice cream at the bottom of the freezer. But the height of the chipper hopper was awkward for me. I found myself having to bend at a weird in-between position to feed it.
Additionally, the throat of the chipper hopper is narrow. I couldn’t feed it two or three 1” branches at a time without one or two branches missing the opening. Since the chipper hopper is narrow, it was also more temperamental with crooked and forked branches. If the branch forked more than 3 inches, it never reached the blades. I found myself having to re-cut some branches to make them fit in the hopper.
To be fair, I found the limitations of the Tazz similar to units costing hundreds of dollars more. This isn’t the sort of unit that you see road crews using to clean up after a hurricane. It’s a small yet powerful unit, designed best for the homeowner that doesn’t maintain 20 acres of woods.
On a positive note, the Tazz does a great job chipping. It devours maple, oak, and other hardwood with ease, especially long, straight branches. My Crape Myrtles and Eastern Redbud branches, since they are the very picture of long and straight, disappeared quickly through the chipper.
During my testing, I experienced one “jam” when the unit ran out of gas midway through chipping a branch. To clear a jam, remove the collection bag. Switch the unit into the OFF position. Then detach the discharge chute…which isn’t a simple job. The angles are tough to reach, and I couldn’t keep my eyes on both the bolt head and nut. Removing the discharge chute required both a socket and a Cresent® adjustable wrench.
Once the discharge chute is off, you have access to the hammers and knives. Carefully remove the jam and debris from within the chipping/shredding chamber. Make sure you are wearing thick leather gloves to prevent your fingers and hands from getting sliced. I used pliers to remove the big chunks.
Once the jam is cleared, reassemble the discharge chute and reinstall the collection bag.
Limited “Self-Feeding” Capability
One final note. The manufacturer says that the unit is self-feeding. I didn’t really find that to be the case, possibly due to the short length of the chipper hopper.
The chipper tends to rotate branches, making them twist slightly. Resist the urge to hold the branch tightly or to try to cram into the hammers. I found that holding onto the end of the branch lightly kept it from twisting away from the blades enough to allow the blades to work their magic. This practice also keeps branches from bucking back.
I got into the routine of chipping long branches (thick side first) and then tossing the thin, leafy tops into the shredder hopper. And as a shredder, this is the best I’ve used. I liked the rhythm of chipping and then shredding, because it allowed me to dispose of an entire branch with little effort.
Not only did the Tazz reduce small branches, twigs, and leaves, it never jammed. On comparable units, stringy materials clogged the rotor and cutting disk. I did not experience any jams while shredding green materials, even Birch and shrubs.
When I completed each shredding session, I used my Golden Gark rake to scoop up any remaining bits of debris on the ground and shoveled them into the shredder hopper.
The collection bag lacks a visual indicator to show how full the bag is while you’re working. But once it’s full, you’ll know. Bits of debris will start shooting out from between the discharge chute and the threaded bag collection collector.
When the bag is full, shut off the unit using the OFF switch. Unscrew the bag, dump it, and reattach it to the threaded connector. Switch the unit back to the ON position. Without adjusting the throttle or choke, it started right up each time.
PROS AND CONS OF THE TAZZ CHIPPER/SHREDDER
If you’re in the market for a chipper/shredder, here’s what I liked about the Tazz—
- Compact – The Tazz weighs about 100 lbs. less than comparable units without compromising performance. As an added bonus, its small footprint takes up less space for off-season storing.
- Easy to Transport – Most of the weight sits over the wheels, making transport to your worksite easy. Coupled with the light weight, the Tazz can go anywhere you want to take it. If you’re so inclined, Tazz offers a towing option so you can literally take it anywhere you can drive.
- Powerful – The 212cc Viper® engine never made me wish for more power.
- Chipper Bag – While the chipper bag lacked a fullness indicator, I liked how simple it was to attach and empty. Even with a full bag, I could carry it with no problem.
- Shredding – Even though the chipper disliked bent or forked branches, the shredder devoured everything I dropped into it. I also liked the safety door that allows you to close off the shredder should something accidentally fall into the hopper.
- Vacuum Feature (optional) – While I didn’t test the vacuum attachment, the Tazz offers this as an option. From what I read, the vacuum hose sucks leaves directly in the impeller blades, allowing you to clear and bag leaves quickly.
- 20:1 Reduction Ratio – Most chipper/shredders reduce debris by a 10:1 ratio. The combination of hammers and knives on the Tazz reduces debris 20:1. That means finer mulch for your garden.
- Chipper Plug – I like the rubber chipper plug; it’s a nice feature that keeps birds (or tarantulas!) from nesting inside the machine in the off-season.
- Well-Priced – At under $600 for the 2018 model (at the time we published this review), the Tazz chipper/shredder is value-priced, yet it offers performance on par with its pricier competitors. (I did a quick check to compare the 2017 and 2018 models, and I could not find a difference between the two except price.)
Here are a few things that I didn’t care for about the Tazz—
- Assembly – I struggled putting this unit together. But I’ll be the first to admit that reading directions and following them are not two of my best traits. And fortunately, assembly is a one-time thing. Once the unit is together, you don’t have to do it again.
- Chipper Hopper Placement – The chipper hopper sits low on the machine, which forced me to bend at an awkward angle. If you are looking for a unit that functions mainly as a chipper, I’d look for one with a higher and wider chipper throat since the narrow hopper is less tolerant of bent and forked branches.
- Wheels – While I like the solid rubber wheels that never require inflating, I wish the wheels had bearings that last longer over time.
The Tazz Chipper Shredder (K32) and the Viper® 212cc engine come with a limited 5-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.
I found the Tazz a perfect size for my property (1 acre) and pocketbook. I will likely use this unit 5 or 6 times a year, with the majority of the work taking place in the winter months when cutting the trees won’t stress them as much. Since the Tazz chipper/shredder excels in shredding, this tool is ideal for mid-season clean up of shrubs and storm-dropped debris. I expect that it will also be handy in autumn to reduce fallen leaves to finely chopped mulch.
For the price-conscious homeowner wanting a powerful, compact chipper/shredder to use a half-dozen times a year, the Tazz is a fantastic choice.
WHERE TO BUY
You can find it on Amazon Prime with Free Delivery. Or you can order directly from Earthquake for $749.99.
Last update on 2019-02-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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