The Complete Guide to Buying Cement Mixers

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The Complete Guide to Buying Cement Mixers

Cement mixers are widely used at construction sites, but many homeowners taking on ambitious backyard projects also find that they need to use a small mixer to create concrete. Though they are commonly called cement mixers, this device actually produces concrete by mixing it with sand, gravel, and water. While many backyard warriors of old used various devices to mix cement, including discarded washing machine bins and the tub of a wheelbarrow, today's overwhelming selection of portable cement mixers at affordable prices should be tempting enough to earn a second look from both casual and professional consumers.

Cement mixers are often sold through either home improvement stores, or online at websites like eBay. Buying cement mixers is not extremely difficult, but it is slightly confusing to try and pick between different sizes and power methods. The key thing buyers need to remember about mixers is that drum size and high quality construction both play an important role.

Cement Mixer Basics

Whether it is pulled by a truck or carted around by hand, the interior design of cement mixers is surprisingly basic. They feature a large open space called a drum that spins on an axis. Most drums are made out of heavy materials like reinforced steel, that can withstand the extra weight of concrete. Inside the drum is a paddle that shifts through the mix of cement, gravel, and water to produce a uniform concrete creation.

Cement mixers come in all shapes and sizes. Because this guide is limited to cement mixers that can be bought in a store or online at eBay, it does not focus on the large industrial cement mixers used in factories or on trucks. Instead, it examines portable mixers that are moved using human power. Portable mixers are smaller than their industrial counterparts, but they work wonders for many backyards builds as well. If a larger mixer is needed, most construction companies choose to rent one rather than buy their own.

Frame

Cement mixers need to be rugged because they are dealing with heavy forces. Not only are they expected to be able to mix concrete, they have to do so directly at the job site. This means a lot of carting around, and so cement mixers are built for intense strength. As mentioned above, the drum is typically reinforced steel, and the frame usually is as well. Steel is one of the strongest man-made materials, and it can bear the extra weight of concrete with ease. Be careful about buying any model that compromises on the construction of the frame. The initial price may be less expensive, but buyers can expect to be back in the shop looking at cement mixers again in a couple of years.

Wheels

Large cement mixers are attached to a trailer, and use the same rugged wheel design as large trucks. Buyers do not have to worry about the wheels on larger versions, but they do present several issues when selecting a portable model. Remember that the mixer needs to be pushed everywhere, including muddy inclines and bumpy ground. Add in the extra weight of a full cement load, and it becomes clear why wheels are so important.

When selecting a cement mixer, take a moment to study the wheels. They need to be large and thick, tiny wheels are not going to do the job. Treads should be thick just like those found on off-road tyres. The axles are also important, and it is a good experiment to try and push the mixer around in the store. The wheel should be steady, and the axles should not bounce or give in any way. Less expensive models tend to sacrifice on the quality of the axles, and the last thing a worker wants is to have is for the cement mixer to spill over on the job.

Drum Size

Manufacturers measure their drum sizes in either cubic feet or litres. The most common sizes in the UK are 113 litres, 170 litres, and 255 litres. Keep in mind, however, that just because a drum says it can hold 255 litres of concrete does not make it so.

Drum (cubic feet)

Drum (litres)

Actual size (litres)

4

113

75

6

170

113

9

255

170

By design, cement mixers can only be two-thirds full. This is because when the mixer spins to mix the cement, gravel, and water, it tilts slightly towards the side. If it was full, the mixture would spill out from the top every time it spun.

Bag Ratings

Cement mixers also come with bag ratings that refer to how many bags of cement can be made at once. Keep in mind that manufacturers base this number off of pre-mix cement, and not Portland cement. These are two very different things since a single bag of Portland cement is equal to six bags of pre-mix concrete.

Most consumers only purchase pre-mix cement because it is easier to use. Pre-mix cement includes cement already mixed with sand and gravel so that the operator just needs to add water. However, professionals who use Portland cement instead because they have to produce a specific type of concrete using specialised sand and gravel, need to keep the bag rating in mind when looking at concrete mixers.

Cement Mixer Power

Cement mixers use two main types of power: hand-drive and electric. Customers should select a model that fits with their needs. It may be tempting to spend less on a hand-driven mixer, but shuffling around a 255 litre drum full of cement is hard work.

Hand-driven Models

Hand-held models are less expensive than electric ones because they require a little bit of elbow grease to get them going. Most are driven by a large steel wheel that turns a crank, allowing the mixer to spin. They are a popular choice for smaller cement mixers under 170 litres because their size makes spinning them somewhat easier. Since they do not run off of electricity, they are more versatile. These mixers can go anywhere without having to worry about where to connect the power cord.

When purchasing a hand-driven model, make sure the turning mechanism is securely attached to the machine. It should be made out of steel just like the rest of the machine. Stay away from models that rely on plastic parts, since they are not strong enough to deal with the heavier pull of wet cement.

Electric Models

Electric cement mixers forgo human power and use electricity instead to keep the mixer spinning. The good news is that they are easier to use to make concrete than a hand-driven one. They are popular in the 170 and 255 litre drum range, and work well for landscape and construction companies that have to regularly mix medium-sized batches of concrete.

The downside to electrical models is that this extra convenience comes at a cost. They are more expensive than hand driven mixers, and their use is somewhat limited. An electrical mixer can only work where it is attached to a power cord. This means they are not the best choice for construction sites that do not have electricity, or any other area where they would be without power.

How to Buy Cement Mixers on eBay

There are several reasons why choosing to buy a cement mixer from eBay is most advantageous. First of all, the prices are extraordinary low, and it is even possible to save a lot more cash by purchasing a used model directly from the seller. Since the cement mixer is going to get filthy one way or another, the outward appearance should not play as large a role as the condition. A used cement mixer may look its age, but because it was built out of steel, it should last for a long time. Be careful, however, of purchasing any mixer that looks like it sustained damage to its frame.

Secondly, there is an extensive selection of cement mixers available on eBay's website. Check out which models are currently for sale by typing 'cement mixer' into the search box and viewing the results. You can also choose to limit the seller's area by typing in 'cement mixer UK' so that you do not have to pay expensive international shipping charges. Browse through all of the listings until you find a model that seems to fit your needs.

Conclusion

Cement mixers come in all shapes and sizes, from gigantic industrial bins to portable models. eBay shoppers often are not looking for large industrial models, but instead want to focus on buying a portable mixer to use on the job. There are several features to watch out for when it comes to cement mixers. First, buyers need to pay attention to the construction of the mixer, paying special focus to its frame, wheels and drum.

The drum itself should be one of the main points of concern, and buyers need to purchase a model that has a drum large enough to fit their needs. Keep in mind that even if a drum says it is 255 litres, this is not entirely true. Finally, buyers need to select between buying a more expensive electronic model, or going with the less expensive hand-driven type. High quality models equal longevity and an easier time on the job mixing cement.

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