Log Splitter Mods Part III: Seeking a 5 Second Cycle Time

If you're looking for speed, then catch the new modifications made by Jared and Nick as they pursue a five-second cycle time on a souped-up RS-322 log splitter.

Video Transcript

Welcome back to RuggedMade. I'm Jared, and I'm Nick. We're here in the woodlot, and we’re kicking off 2024 with another episode covering our souped-up 300-Series [Log] Splitter. This is episode 3, so if you haven't seen the other videos, be sure to check those out. If you aren't familiar with what we're doing here, this is just a fun project we've been working on where we wanted to see if we could soup up a regular 300-Series to make it cycle faster.

The main thing we did was we took, instead of a 10-horsepower engine with the 16-gallon-per-minute pump (which is the standard spec on our RS-322), we took the 420cc Raven engine, which is approximately 15-horsepower. We wanted to see if it would turn not only the 22-gallon-per-minute pump that's standard on our 700-Series splitters but also the 28-gallon-per-minute pump, which normally would require a bigger v-twin (16 to 20 horsepower) engine. So far, if you check out those other videos, we've had great success with this. That extra displacement from a Honda GX390 to a 420 seems to be just enough. We've had no problems with the pump, so we're still in that testing mode. But so far, it looks great. That gained us a lot of speed. If you look at the last video we made, in episode two, what were we seeing? 6+? Around six. Unloaded, best case scenario out and back, 6+ seconds cycle time, which is fast for a hydraulic splitter. And you still have the 22 tons of power.

We wanted to see what’s the next thing we could do, and for that, we wanted to play with the cylinder. Here, we've got a stock cylinder, which is a 4-inch ID cylinder for the 322, and the rod on this cylinder is 2 and 1/4 inches. That's still fairly large by normal log splitter standards, but it wasn't meant to be an oversized rod. This is a cylinder that I had specially made up for this project. It's still a 4-inch ID, but it's a, let's see, why don't you do the honors here, Nick? The cylinder is 4-inch ID, and the rod is 3 inches, so that's a 3-inch OD rod. Three-quarters of an inch larger than the standard. What that's going to do is, on the extend portion of the stroke, it's not going to do anything as far as speed's concerned. But on the retract, the pump has to push a lot less volume of fluid into the retract end, the rod end of the cylinder, in order to get it to go back. With this style of splitter, it's not doing any work, so it’s just, how fast can it get back and open up this space so we can get the next log in position? Today, we're going to see how big a difference that large diameter rod makes to our cycle times. What do you think we might see? Any guesses? I hope for a second improvement. Okay, so we saw 6+ before. If we can get down close to that 5-second range, that would be pretty awesome. It'd be fun because, you know, if you're souping up a machine, whether it's a car, a tractor, or a log splitter, the whole point is you shouldn't have to ask why. We're doing this just to see how fast can we make it go. But if you are someone who is worried about productivity and splitting a lot of firewood quickly, then this may actually make a difference to you. So, let's get it fired up and see what we get.


So, splitting with a four-way [wedge], you know, these are not really tough-to-split logs, but we're consistently seeing 5 seconds, 5.1 out and back cycle times. Yeah, it's pretty good. I mean, that was our goal, to see if we could get down to about 5 seconds. I mean, there's a point of diminishing returns trying to get it to go even faster. You still have to position the next log anyway, but yeah. I found that using the return detent, especially the rod and the push plate, were out of the way as soon as I could have possibly wanted them to be out of the way to get either a new log in place or a resplit.

Now, we're just going to do, sort of the more scientific laboratory test where we're not going to split a log. Just best-case out and back cycle time. We've given the fluid some time to warm up, which is going to have an impact on cycle time and it's more realistic if you're splitting for hours; your fluid's going to be hot. That'll pretty much wrap up the video, just seeing how fast it can really go unloaded. Then, we'll split a little bit more. So, let's get our best-case, not-splitting-a-log cycle times.

So, what did you think? It's fast. One of the things I really liked about this kind of speed, and by the way, we were consistently seeing 5.1 seconds out and back without splitting or pretty much the same time when splitting this fairly easy-to-split, straight-grain stuff. That's just a real-world 5 seconds out and back. One of the things I liked is, if I was trying to get down to these smaller, what we'd call, like bundle pieces, man, I could just do split, split, split, and I could get the push plate out of the way as fast as I really wanted to. One thing that we hear from so many customers or people inquiring about one of our splitters is they want to make smaller pieces because they're selling bundle wood or they're running a small wood-burning stove that only takes 16 to 18-inch pieces. It's not always about, “Can I split a massive round into four giant pieces where I don't really care if it takes 5 seconds or 15 seconds for one stroke? Because then I'm going to put those huge pieces into a big furnace, a big outdoor boiler.”

I think this really gets into the limits of real-world speed, and we ran it with the four-way. You ran it with the four-way, and you still have all that power for splitting. We didn't really break down the cycle time, separating the extend from the retract. That'd be something we could look at in a future video. One other thing that we forgot to mention when we talked about the change from episode two to this episode, obviously, the big change is this special cylinder with the big rod. We did also throw a larger tank on. Nick did that. Yeah, we threw a 12-gallon tank on this just for a little extra fluid. We started out with the 8-gallon tank, which is standard on the 300-Series, which is fine for the smaller pump that comes standard. But even the 12-gallon tank is really just a stopgap. It's really not enough fluid for a 28-gallon-per-minute pump running it all day in the summer. That's something we'll be playing with later, but we just figured we'd throw something bigger on it and not let the fluid get too hot.

There's other stuff we can do. We have some ideas; we’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave some comments down in the bottom about what you'd like to see us do with this, how far do you want us to take it. We've had comments about 45s on the fittings, we're going to be doing that. We could get a little more creative if you really want us to do it and we'll let you know what we think about this as far as if this is something that we should offer for sale or should we maybe offer an upgrade kit, so let us know what you think. Thanks a lot for watching, and we'll see you next time.