27 May 2016

Cheapo Harbor Freight Cement Mixer

I splurged and bought a cement mixer from Harbor Freight. You see, I need to build some stairs in between two retaining walls and since I'm pokey, I can't really order up a big truck to dump yards of cement when I'm not ready.

I'm thinking that I can mix up a bag or two, build a stair, let it set and then move my forms and build the next step. And so on. I have 10 steps to build so if the weather and my schedule let me, I should be able to do a few steps a week and have this thing wrapped up in under a month.

I looked into renting a mixer and got scared away by the prices. Are they nuts? After renting this for a few weekends, you can practically buy a new one.


Then I poked around a bit on Craig's List and saw quite a few options but even an old POS was $100.


And finally I thought about the king of disposable tools: Harbor Freight. They have a few 1.25 cubic foot mixers for $149 that will mix a 60-80 lb bag in 3-4 minutes.  It's kinda small looking but do you need to mix more than a bag at a time? I don't.

It has a bunch of reviews, some bad but mostly good. The one that made me take a chance was by okk9:


After using their 20% coupons that are everywhere and a very reasonable shipping charge, my total was only $126. I figure after I use this for my ~20 bags of mix and I sell it on Craig's List for $50, I paid the same amount for a day rental but used it at my leisure. And heck, if it works out, I may keep it around longer and make a bunch of the stepping stone molds for the walkway.


I ordered it online on Sunday and it arrived Thursday afternoon. Not bad for $6.99 shipping. 

So after unboxing and laying out the pieces, it didn't look too bad.


And about an hour later, I had a mixer! The instruction aren't that bad. Just sort your bolts and parts before you start, look at the pictures, read the instruction step, look at the pictures, turn the wrench.


I only had 2 problems assembling. The mixer blades need to bolt into a bottom hole and a side hole. I bolted on the top of the mixing bowl without realizing that the holes needed to be offset so I had to take off the bower, offset and then re-bolt. No biggie, I just hate having to redo work.


 And then the motor plate was a bit tough to get on. I was hoping that it was easier to adjust the motor height but it's not easy. I ended up putting the motor mount high and then using a hammer to tap down the mounts on both sides. We'll see how that works out and if I'll need to re-tighten after mixing a few bags.


And now off to build a few steps this week. Wish me luck.