Bob and Bruce Lanham's Vacuum Bagger

vacuum packer

This homemade 'vacuum chamber bagger' (as opposed to the regularvacuum baggers thatpull the air from the bag, the 35-50-cent ribbed-bags,these units pull the whole chamber to 30" of vacuum and then the bag is sealed and the air is let back in and that collapses the bag)is styled after the $1450 unit on the market.

vacuum packer

Go to http://www.profmarket.com and under categories go to 'Commercial Packers', the unit 'SVP-10'. Our brother has one and they are all automatic and slick as heck. That's more money than I can afford but maybe if several guys split a unit?--- They have 'Commercial Bags' on the last page but no listings. Basically you have to buy a case (1000 bags)and 8x10's cost .12cents each and I also went the 10x15's which are 16-cents(these bags are pretty big and we're able to bag the entire head of the squid we've been taking).---

vacuum packer

OK basic components are the 'BOX' that will houses the bag with your product in it and the 'SEALER' and then the 'VACUUM PUMP'. Will require some wood-working ability, either epoxy or fiberglass work to seal the box from leaking air while you pull the vacuum and 5-10? man hours to assemble. Expenses for the unit will be $30 for bag sealer, plex for lid $20-50, materials for box $50-80 and the vacuum pump $80-300 so basic unit could run as little as $150+ if you have the pump all the way to $400+ if you don't get a good buy on plex and the pump. Finished product is pretty heavy also at about 40-pounds for the box with sealer. ---

vacuum packer

The Sealer Once you get the sealer (I reconmend going to http://www.harborfreight.comand under 'sealers' you'll find 'electrical impulse sealer' #43476-2VGA which is the 12" model and $29.99. I've never seen them for cheaper in their catalogs) you can demension the box to hold it and the bag with product. I went a horizontal model but someone in Southern Cal used a vertical configeration.

I made our box with 1/2" marine ply(perhaps someone can make one from alum.?)for the bottom piece and 1/2" Super-ply(good exterior ply) for the sides and lip. You can get complicated with tongue/groove joints or just butt seams. There is tremendous pressure(15 psi)on the large flat surfaces so I used epoxy(either System 3 or West Marine wood epoxy and a layer of 4+ oz. fiberglass cloth to strenthen and seal the box from leaks. I fill the extra interior space with wood blocks to lessen the time it takes to evacuate the air.

The seal I used on the lip of the box is just wetsuit neoprene but seal material(closed cell foam) can be an o-ring or whatever. There is tremendous pressure on the seal when the vacuum is drawn(hopefully close to 30" of vacuum . The electrical wire from the sealer can be sealed with a 'cable packing gland' from West Marine. I used a cable gland from Ikelite u/w Housings and available at dive shops. The sealer is accuated (after full vacuum is pulled)by a plunger which can be a shaft sealed with the same type control gland or packing gland from West Marine. The sealer has it's own timer, adjustable, and the plunger is held in till it cycles (lite goes out).

The lid on my box is a 3/4" piece of plex from TAP plastics and rather pricey at $50. You can save money by going to one of the commercial plex suppliers in the Bay or buying scrap or scoring some off eBay or going with a wood lid and having a small window to see the operation (ideally you want to see how the bag is laying in the sealer to avoid wrinkles in the seal area and that the bag sucks down). Large surfaces have tremendous pressure on them so there is considerable deflection in my lid so I put a strongback inside. Smaller windows, say 12" square, have less pressure so possible to go down to 1/2" plex. When the chamber has the atmosphere evacuated the outside air at sealevel is 15 psi so like someone standing on the lid for a 12" window.---

The PUMP. I went a 4 free cfm dual-stage oil filled vacuum pump and I'd reconmend that as a minumum. They can be bought new for $350-500 or shopping eBay I bought mine for $80. People with shop air can use the 'venturi-effect' vacuum pumps but I don't know much about them. I connect the pump with a SS flex hose used to feed water to lavatory faucets. It's rather small in dia. so I might go to a larger SS flex line used in hotwater heaters to give less restriction.