Introducing My Deluxe Whizbang Chicken Scalder Bug-eyed scalder inventor and waving chicken Before you can pluck a chicken, you have to scald it, which means, you have to dunk it in hot water. Scalding loosens the feathers, thus allowing for fast, easy, efficient plucking. I purchased the pot and burner together as a turkey deep-fry outfit. A thermometer came with the equipment too. A pot of water, heated in the back yard, does a decent job of scalding birds. But you must keep a close eye on the temperature using the thermometer.
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Introducing My Deluxe Whizbang Chicken Scalder Bug-eyed scalder inventor and waving chicken Before you can pluck a chicken, you have to scald it, which means, you have to dunk it in hot water. Scalding loosens the feathers, thus allowing for fast, easy, efficient plucking. I purchased the pot and burner together as a turkey deep-fry outfit. A thermometer came with the equipment too. A pot of water, heated in the back yard, does a decent job of scalding birds.
But you must keep a close eye on the temperature using the thermometer. If you scald too cold, the feathers will not come out like you want them to. With the pot-on-burner scalding system, you maintain optimum temperature by manually turning the burner on and off.
Or, if it gets too hot, by adding some cold water. Because the pot is relatively small and you lose some water in the dunking process, you also have to add water frequently.
So scalding in a simple pot over a flame is not easy or carefree. That being the case, you can buy a poultry scalder, but good ones are expensive. There are small, relatively cheap electric scalders but I understand they take a long time to heat up and are not well suited to scalding a lot of birds.
As a tightwad shade-tree inventor I made it my objective to develop a homemade scalder design that would automatically maintain a selected water temperature. In addition to that, I wanted my scalder to heat up quickly and have an insulated water tank. Portability was another feature I wanted.
And I hoped to somehow incorporate an automatic bird dunker into the unit too. It took me two years of tinkering but, in the end, I came up with a design that I was very pleased with.
No serious problems have developed. It is a remarkably useful tool. The rest of this essay will introduce you to my unique scalder and give you some specific details about its construction.
Before I launch into the details of this wonderful device, I want to make it clear that while I feel the Whizbang Plucker is a virtual necessity for backyard poultry processing, the Whizbang Scalder is more of a luxury. If, however, you are processing a lot of chickens as a home business, this scalder can really save you time and trouble.
The red band around the tank is a ratcheting nylon strap that secures the tank to the frame. The bicycle style wheels on either side of the frame make for easy portability.
Tip the frame with empty tank attached back and it easily rolls where you need to go. The plywood pieces under one side are to level the unit up on my unlevel back yard. The handle on the side of the tank is completely unnecessary.
Birds are attached to the gondola which is suspended over the center of the hot water tank by a cable. The cable runs up to pulleys in an overhanging arm and back down to a revolving arm visible in the photo. The gondola fits around, and slides over, the chimney that is positioned in the center of all propane water heaters. The revolving arm is attached to a gear motor on the back side of the frame. The revolutions translate to a dunking action. I want to make it clear that the auto dunker is an option.
The refillable propane tank in the picture is what fuels the burner under the tank. I settled on propane over electricity because propane heats a given volume of water faster I also think propane is safer than electricity, especially around water.
A full tank of cold well water around 20 gallons will heat up to degrees in an hour. The propane burner is 33, btu. The foam insulation around the tank does an excellent job of preventing heat loss and saving energy. The inside of the tank is coated with porcelain enamel, which is a durable and easy surface to keep clean. Here is a picture of me clipping chickens into place on the dunking gondola The center flue pipe in the tank gets very hot so there is a heat shield on the gondola.
Even still, if left there too long, it gets hot enough to cook the bird where it touches the pipe. By the way, I am incorrectly attaching the birds in the above picture. The tender meat of the breast should not be in contact with the hot pipe. Here is a top-down view of the chickens being dunked all the way down into the water Here is a good place to discuss tank capacity.
The dunking tank will accommodate chickens but not bigger birds like turkeys. I have dunked chickens that dressed out at 6. I think it is safe to say that the tank will accommodate any size chicken.
That said, it turns out there is a way to easily modify a propane water heater so the tank will accommodate bigger birds. One poultry processor told me he made room for the bigger birds by using a torch to heat up the bottom of the tank. That softened the steel up enough for him to push the chimney all the way over to one side.
Thus modified, he says the tank will scald big birds just fine, and he processes many hundreds of birds with his scalder every year. Obviously, the gondola and auto dunker will not function with a crooked chimney, so hand dunking would, therefore, be necessary. The above picture shows the back of the dunker frame.
The motor on the shelf is a gear motor that turns at 10 rpm. The switch on the right turns the motor on and off. You turn the dunker off when the birds are sufficiently scalded. How, you may be wondering, do you know when they are sufficiently scalded? You simply do a wing and tail-feather pull test. When those big feathers pull out effortlessly, the birds are sufficiently scalded. You can scald three chickens at once and it typically takes less than a minute of dunking.
So that translates to chickens per hour CPH. By the way, the gondola and dunking mechanism can be operated manually, thus saving the cost of an expensive gearmotor. All you have to do is put a handle on the end of the cable that connects to the gear motor arm. Next picture please The above photo shows a transformer at the top under the gear motor shelf. The transformer converts volt household current to 24 volts, which is what the temperature controls work on.
And speaking of temperature controls, directly under the transformer is a wonderful piece of technology known as an electronic temperature controller ETC. The ETC has a digital temperature readout. It tells you the temperature of your tank water at all times. A very nice feature! Better yet, with a simple push-button procedure, you can program the ETC, telling it the temperature of scald water you want.
The ETC then controls the gas valve which is the box-like thing in the bottom of the photo. The ETC tells the valve when to allow propane to the burner if the water is cooler than desired and when to shut the gas down because the target water temperature has been reached.
The ETC on this Whizbang scalder works perfectly! The scald water temperature is automatically maintained within a 4 degree temperature range. The above picture shows the back of the dunker frame underneath the gas valve.
A gas supply line and a gas pilot line run from the valve to the water heater burner down under the water tank. Since the factory controls do not permit pinpoint temperature selection or a close range of temperature control, those parts were discarded. A temperature sensor is threaded into the opening where the factory controller was and a wire runs from there to the ETC. You will also notice a metal shaft barely visible in the bottom right of the picture.
That is the axle for the two bicycle-style tires on either side of the dunker frame. Now let me explain the one design flaw I mentioned earlier The goofy looking guy in the picture above is yours truly. Anyway, notice that the chicken is hanging from one leg? The chicken is waving. That leg slipped out of the broom-holder leg clip on the gondola. It is, however, easy enough to prevent The photo above shows the solution to waving chicken legs.
Simply put a u-shaped piece of stiff wire into the clips as shown above. The wire locks the feet in place. It is easy to put in and take out. Problem solved. By the way, the chickens in this picture are clipped in the right way—with their back ends against the hot pipe. So there you have it—the Whizbang Chicken Scalder. I tell you where to get the harder-to-find parts and how to hook up the temperature controls and all of that. Brand new is, however, not necessary, as I explain in the book.
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This book was first published in and an updated 2nd printing was published in A scanned copy of the 2nd printing is being sold here as a pdf file 12MB that you download to your computer. Paperback copies of the book can be purchased from PlanetWhizbang. The following description comes from the back cover: Every small-farm and backyard poultry producer needs a good scalder to quickly and efficiently scald their homegrown poultry prior to plucking. Precise scalding translates to fast, complete and easy plucking of feathers. But high-performance, readymade scalding equiment is much too expensive for your average small-scale poultry producer to justify.
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