Troy-Bilt Chipper Shredder (CS4325): Product Review
The Troy-Bilt Chipper Shredder isn’t for the casual user. It’s a serious tool that reduces piles of branches into mulch in no time.
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If you have trees or large shrubs on your property, at some point you’ll need to dispose of broken, fallen or pruned branches. Sure, you could cut them into small pieces and toss them in the trash or compost pile. Or cart them off to the dump. But who wants to do that much work when you could simply feed them through a 2-in-1 chipper/shredder and end up with a pile of wood chips or shredded organic material to re-use in your yard?
The Troy-Bilt Chipper Shredder (CS4325) is a heavy-duty, dual-use machine that promises to make quick work of your brush piles and branches up to 3 inches in diameter. I put it to the test on my 1-acre, heavily-treed property. Here’s what I found…
- Product weight: 226 lbs.
- Engine: Briggs & Stratton®, 250 cc – 4 cycle (no oil + gas mix required)
- Chipping capacity: 3 inches
- Chipper blades: 2 hardened-chromium steel blades
- Shredder blades: 12-inch hardened-steel primary blade & 12 replaceable steel flail knives (4 sets)
- Reduction ratio: 10:1
- Impeller speed: 3600 RPMs
- Collection bag: 5-bushel capacity
- Fuel tank: 3 quart capacity
- Engine Oil: 18oz SAE 30 (included)
- Hopper/Chute: 2-way feed: Drop in hopper and dedicated chipper chute
- Wheels: (2) 10″ diameter x 4″ wide, pneumatic
- Other features: Steel hopper nozzle; striking red color
DELIVERY, ASSEMBLY, AND SET UP
Perhaps my reputation as assembly challenged got out, but I didn’t have to assemble a single thing. I got a call from the Troy-Bilt representative in my area named Jason. He told me that he would deliver a fully assembled and tested unit on whatever day worked for me.
Jason is now on my Christmas card list.
The only thing I had to do to get started was to learn how to start the unit and provide it with ample branches. Since I’d spent the previous month reviewing two different 2-in-1 extendable pole saws/pruners, I had plenty of piles to choose from. I wheeled the unit to my first pile, leafed through the operating instructions, hydrated, and got started.
The unit comes with safety goggles. Use them, or use another high-quality pair of eye protection like the ones we recommend (Wiley-X). Since the shredder generates quite a bit of airborne debris, goggles do a better job of keeping dust and dirt entering your eyes from the side.
Also, wear some hearing protection. The Briggs & Stratton 250cc engine is loud. Wear close-toed shoes, too, to keep your toes safe. Leather gloves are a must to keep your hands from getting shredded along with the branches.
As far as the rest of my safety gear, I really hope Google Earth caught a picture of me wearing my long, nylon workout pants and nylon jacket. For fun, the picture could add that the first day I tested the unit, temperatures reached 970 F and the heat index hovered around 1100. By the time I was done, I looked like I had barely survived a shipwreck. But those nylon layers weren’t just for fashion or spider protection: the impeller reaches 1300 RPMs, and the tips of branches tend to whip around while they’re going down the hopper. I got hit on my bare arm one time before I realized that I needed something that would better deflect the branches from my skin.
STARING THE CHIPPER/SHREDDER
Since this is a 4-cycle engine, you don’t have to mix the gasoline and oil. Make sure that you have enough gasoline and oil (in their respective places) to get you started and keep you going.
For cold starting, make sure the throttle and choke levers are both slid to their furthest right position.
The Troy Bilt chipper/shredder started on the first pull from a cold engine with no problems. And the large 3-quart fuel tank keeps the engine running for about 90 minutes with the throttle wide open.
Once the engine engages, slowly move the choke towards RUN. The lever makes a small click that you can hear and feel. Move the lever one click at a time until it’s fully in the RUN position.
CHIPPING & SHREDDING
The Troy-Bilt chipper shredder is designed to chip branches as big around as 3” and to shred branches (including leaves, pine cones, pine needles, etc.) as big around as ½”. The instructions state clearly to avoid fibrous plants like vines until they are completely dried out or twigs longer than 24” since those may clog the hopper.
If you haven’t used a chipper/shredder, you should know about the two different hoppers. The big hopper is for small branches, pine needles, cones, etc. The small hopper is for thick branches, ones up to 3” in diameter.
If you confuse those two hoppers, you’ll either hate or break your unit. Or, likely, both.
For my initial test, I left the bag off and wheeled the unit to the edge of the woods so chippings could shoot out of sight.
I had four piles of branches on my first test, ranging from extremely soft wood (ornamental pear, Pine, Eastern Redbud, etc.) to hard wood (Maple and Oak).
With the unit started, I began pulling branches out of the pile and feeding them into the smaller hopper, thick side first. The first branch quickly disappeared into the hopper, through the spinning blade and out the discharge chute in an instant.
What To Do With Branch Ends
I noticed that the leafy end of the branches often stayed in the smaller hopper, leaving me to do three things to clear them. First, I could stick my arm into the hopper and push the branch down further. Yes, this sounds crazy, and I’m not recommending this practice. But for the record, with the machine OFF, I stuck my arm and hand as far down both hoppers as I could reach, and my fingers were nowhere near the blades. Still, I didn’t like this practice on principle.
Second, I could feed in the next branch and push the previous branch through in the process. This worked great, especially on softer woods.
Or third, I could pull out the severed branch ends and drop them into the big hopper. This became my new practice. Once the chipper blades severed and spit out the thick part of the branch, I tossed the remaining thin branches and leaves into the big hopper. A couple of times I had to push those smaller branches past the heavy rubber, but once the thinnest tip of leaves got near the shredder blades, it gobbled up the entire piece without a trace.
Cutting Branches to Size Before Chipping
Since I made my piles before I received the unit or understood its capabilities (and limitations—more on that in a bit), I had several branches that were too big or twisted to fit into the unit without further trimming.
Using a combination of two excellent tools, the Stanley Fat Max Bow Saw and the Fiskars PowerGear2 Lopper (25 Inch) , I cut most of the branches down to size so they would feed into the hopper more easily.
Let me say a word about the 3” maximum of the Troy-Bilt. I cut many of my branches above the fork of two branches. If the fork length exceeded 3”, it couldn’t fit into the hopper. I’m pointing this out so that when you cut down your branches, you will want to minimize the number and thickness of forks; otherwise, you’re going to spend more time cutting them to size instead of feeding them into the hopper.
Restarting a Stalled Engine
The chipper worked great. As I got to the end of my strength and the 3rd pile, I started getting to longer, straighter, and thicker pieces.
And that’s when the machine stalled. The engine shuddered and quit. I pulled out the thick branch that stalled the machine. Shining a light into the hopper, I saw no branches stuck. So I tried to restart the machine, leaving the choke in the run position as indicated in the manual.
The pull cord would not budge.
I texted Jason, my Troy-Bilt representative, while I drank some water, rehydrating the 6 gallons I had already sweated out. Then I tried starting the unit again. Then I called him and left him a message. I tried to keep tone out of my voice. You know that tone…the tone that says “Please, don’t answer because I’m so tired right now I’d be happy to quit and go inside.”
But Jason called back immediately. He walked me through how to check to make sure all obstructions were cleared before starting the machine.
Once I released the hopper, I saw that I had a large piece of wood still stuck in the blade. I removed what I could see. Then I removed the discharge chute by unscrewing the plastic knob that secures it to the frame.
I told Jason that I would call him back while I cleared out the pieces of wood lodged in the blade.
**Important Safety Note**
Now here is why Jason is on my holiday list. Before I finished cleaning out the unit, he called me back and asked me, “If your hand is in the bottom of the impeller blade, would you take it out for a moment?”
I complied and asked, “Why?”
He told me that he wanted to make sure that I had first disconnected the sparkplug wire. I had not. Then he told me that even gently rotating the blade with the sparkplug wire connected could start the unit.
As much as I complain about how ugly my hands are because I’ve broken most of my fingers repeatedly, I’m grateful to Jason that my new nickname isn’t “Stumpy” or “Ol’ Two Finger Scott.”
I disconnected the spark plug wire, finished cleaning out the debris, and reassembled the discharge chute.
This time when I pulled the start cord, the engine moved freely and fired up immediately. I had no other jams of any kind.
I ran four more full tanks of fuel through the unit throughout my three days of testing. The Troy-Bilt chipper shredder started on the first pull each time with both a hot or cold engine.
Chipper Discharge Chute & Collection Bag
I should say a quick word about the chips that come out of the unit. After my first session, I wish that I had caught the mulch so I could use it as hot mulch on areas I wish to choke out weeds. In addition to that, keep your feet, kids, and pets clear of the discharge chute. After chipping a few piles, the forcefully thrown debris dug a hole in the hard North Carolina red clay and exposed rocks in the soil. It’s powerful!
Eventually, I installed the chipper bag. It attaches over the discharge chute and knob, and it cinches with a strap to enclose entirely around the discharge mechanism. According to the specs, it holds up to 5 bushels.
Remember me saying that debris shoots out of the unit with great force? After filling the bag a few times, the part of the bag where the clippings first enter the bag showed some signs of wear. This wear in no way compromised the function of the bag.
Branch Size Limitations
Lastly, let me touch on the limitations of the chipper. Trees don’t grow straight, and neither do branches. More than once, I thought I had trimmed a branch at a small enough angle to be fed into the chipping hopper only to have it get wedged before it finished cutting. That’s the nature of the beast. The only alternative is to get a chipper that can handle 5” or 7”. But then, you’ll be frustrated when you find that those branches have wide parts, too.
The chipper works great for its intended purpose. With few exceptions, I was able to cut branches small and straight enough for them to feed flawlessly through the chipper. But don’t expect this to function like an industrial chipper that can take out entire trees in a snap of your fingers.
You can feed the thin tips of branches into the hopper once the smaller hopper has taken the girth down to about .5”.
I already have a leaf shredder, but this fall I will be interested in seeing if this could perform well on that task as well.
By the time I completed several days of chipping piles of branches, I wasn’t done. My yard was covered with small branches, twigs and leaves. Initially, I tried picking them up and feeding them into the big hopper. But after bending and straightening a dozen times, I started thinking of better ways to get this done.
A couple of years ago, I tested an unusual little product that I seem to use more than I ever thought I would. Going into my shed, I brought my Golden Gark to the worksite.
Not only did this save my back, but it gave my yard the finished look instead of the “I’m-too-tired-to-do-any-more-work-this-week look” that my wife knows only too well.
PROS AND CONS OF THE TROY-BILT CHIPPER SHREDDER (CS 4325)
If you’re in the market for a chipper/shredder, here’s what I liked about the Troy-Bilt unit:
- Quality made. I’ve often compared Troy-Bilt products to German engineered cars. They are built well with high attention to detail.
- Powerful. The 250cc engine performed like a work-horse. I ran the engine for more than 7 hours, and I encountered only one jam.
- Transportable. The Troy Bilt weighs as much as a large human. Fortunately, the large rear wheels and the solidly-made handle makes it roll easily from one location to the next.
- Chipper bag. I wish I hadn’t wasted all of the mulch when I used it on the first day. Once I saw the quality of the mulch, I bagged it and put it where I never want to mow again. Whether you’re bagging mulch to use or haul away, the 10:1 reduction ratio means you’ll have less to have to dispose of when you’re done working.
- Hopper heights. Both the big and small hoppers were long enough to keep hands away from spinning parts. Additionally, the small hopper was tall enough that I didn’t have to bend over to feed it.
If they could improve one thing, it would be this:
Send it with a 4-man crew.
Seriously, the only drawback about the Troy-Bilt is the price; it’s probably not in the budget for someone who may need a chipper/shredder only once every other year.
The Troy-Bilt Chipper Shredder (CS 4325) comes with a limited 2-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.
The Troy-Bilt Chipper Shredder works very well for its intended purpose. A few years ago after a terrible ice storm, I spent over $1000 having broken branches hauled away. This tool would have paid for itself with just one storm. If you have many trees or acres, this tool will save you money in the long run – or maybe even in the short run if you had an ice storm like I did.
WHERE TO BUY
You can order the CS4325 Chipper Shredder directly from Troy-Bilt where it currently retails for $899.99 (plus $49.00 shipping).
Last update on 2021-02-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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