I need advise as to what brand/model to buy, I need a quality unit that is easy to clean , I'm only doing 5 pound batches.
Seems like everytime I buy something like this I wish I had something different after a few uses
The LEM, Gander Mountain, Cabela's, Northern Tool, etc.... all appear to be coming from the same factory in China. So I would be looking at price as my guide.
There are those who say never buy a model with the white nylon gears. I've had mine for nearly 4 years and use it all the time with no problems (as others have posted). The trick with the nylon gears is don't bottom out the plunger and keep on cranking. I marked my threaded rod where the bottom is (marked it with an empty cylinder). That way I have a visual indicator of when to start slowing up as the pressure will not be from the meat, but from the bottom of the cylinder. Just pay attention to how much pressure you are putting on the crank arm and you will be fine with nylon (also you can make the sausage meat mix more loose by adding liquid if needed).
You can buy replacement nylon gears if they break. Also if you replace both the gears and the screw rod you can switch over to the black metal gears if you have issues breaking the nylon ones (and probably still be a a lower price point if you get the original stuffer on sale).
Northern Tool usually runs them on sale in the fall and they have various discount coupons for $10 of a $50 purchase, etc..... I lucked up and got my 5 pound model for $47 (after the $10 discount), but I have not seen that sort of price since then.
Looks great Jesse! Nice job. I have had the nylon gear model for several years now and like the others said, just don't apply too much pressure, and when it gets toward the bottom of the stuffer stop cranking, lol. Not too complicated!
Your extra-long sticks look awesome! You must have a tall smoker.
Could be a number of things. Are you using collagen cases? Maybe understuffed?, old cases?
Here is some info in tough cases:
I've notices some casings tend to want to pull away from the sticks. I've found the ones at retail stores like Bass Pro, Cabela's, and Gander Mountain (ie, the LEM retail packed casings) seem to be the ones I have do this the most. I think it has to do with the age of the collagen casing as those retail packs are not really air tight, and there is no telling how long they have hung on those display pegs (old casings). I know it's not understuffed casings as I have tried to stuff them to the max (ie to the point of blowouts), and they still separate with certain casings. And I've made a ton of sticks.
I've got some from Butcher & Packer and The Sausagemaker that stick to the meat just fine like you would expect. It's not a huge deal to me as I'm not going to toss collagen casings just because they separate from the stick. If they do, I just peel the collagen casing off. I usually trim the sticks to final length and let them sit for 24 hours in a paper bag before I decide to peel them. No way I'm tossing sticks because of loose casings. It's the meat I want!!!