VG Paper Blog


Research for Building a Hollander Beater

I wanted to create large amounts of pulp for papermaking at the AZ Ren Faire. The blender method won't cut it. It would take three days to get enough raw pulp to fill a five gallon bucket with the blender. Not to mention that you could only blend pulp so long before you had to let the blender cool off. The blender made nice, soft pulp (read short fibers) but not very strong paper. I must find another way…

What Already Exists
So what beaters already exist in the world and are they affordable to the individual papermaker? I did find that a lot of papermakers have made alliances with Universities & Educational Institutions to use their equipment because what exists is $$$$$$.

In alphabetical order:

  • Cherub Beater by Mark Lander, New Zealand.
    It is a portable 3/4 lb. Hollander beater that folds up and travels nicely. You can email Mark for more information and current price list.
  • Little Critter Beater by Mark Lander, New Zealand.
    It is a portable 2 lb. Hollander beater that folds up and travels nicely. You can email Mark for more information and current price list.
  • Oracle Beater by Lee McDonald, Charlestown MA.
    Lee has three 1 to 1.5 lb. portable beaters, Standard Model, Educational Model and the Take It Apart Model. Lee has a 10 lb. beater, Hydra beater.
  • Reina Beater by David Reina, Brooklyn NY.
    In my opinion, these are the finest Hollander beaters in the world. David Reina Designs, Inc. offers a 2 lb. beater and a 7 lb. beater.
  • Valley Laboratory Pulp Beater
    This is a device for beating pulps under standardized laboratory conditions. It is a Hollander that is used in the commercial paper industry to assess the paper making potential of pulps without the necessity of full-scale trials.
The range in price is about $750 - $38,000 or more. As much as I would love to have a Reina beater in my life it was just not going to happen at this time. So I decided to look at a bunch of beaters and patent office drawings to see the different components needed. Note: There are other pulping devices (hydro-pulpers and such), but are not as prevalent as Hollanders.

There is a main difference between a Hollander beater and a Valley beater. Many Hollanders have a drum that moves up and down to the bedplate. Valley beaters have a stationary spinning drum and a bedplate that moves up and down.

Basic Components of the Hollander

  • Drum - Cylinder with blades or bars attached to the circumference.
  • Bedplate - Another set of blades/bars set at an angle to the drum.
  • Tub - A trough that holds water that all the other components play in.
  • Backfall - A curved dam that the water and pulp go over to keep circulation moving.
  • Cover - Keep the pulp and water in the trough. It is infinitely more important than you will ever believe.
Every beater (Hollander & Valley), has these components. Just variation of sizes, materials and forms of these items. I really just had to sit down and make some decisions. I felt the number one decision is how much material could it process in a batch. As you will see in Doing the Math: Holland Beater Building the capacity of the beater dictates the size of the drum, bedplate, and tub. So since those are some of the basic components, I needed to make that decision. 1 lb. would not be big enough for what I needed to do. 10 lb. or 7 lb. would be great, yet the size of all the parts and the beater could be quite large. David Reina's 7 lb. beater holds 45 gallons of water and has a 15.5" diameter drum. Where the hell am I going to find a 15.5" metal cylinder? Much less be able to afford it. How heavy will that be? The materials need to be easily obtainable and cost effective.

Since I decided that I was making a Hollander rather than a Valley beater (because I felt the Valley would leak like a sieve if I couldn't figure out how to seal the bedplate), how was the drum and motor going to be mounted to move up and down? So below are images that I reviewed to see the feasibility of building an arm versus a geared mechanism.

Beaters with ArmsBeaters with Gears/Screws
Drum on an ArmFiberglass tub with drum & motor on an arm. Geared DrumFiberglass tub with drum on a geared lifting device.
Drum on ArmDrum mounted on the bottom of an arm with motor on top. Geared DrumDrum mounted on screw that pivots from back.
Drum on an Arm Geared Drum
Drum on an Arm Geared Drum
Drum on an Arm Geared Drum
Drum on Arm Geared Drum
Drum on Arm Geared Drum
Wooded arm with drum Geared

All the Hollanders that I looked at (in pictures, since I don't know anyone close that I can actually see a Hollander), seemed to be easier to construct an arm mounted drum and motor. At this time, I didn't know how to weld. So a lot of the components were going to be made of wood. In fact I did see David Reina build a wooden Hollander in an article of Hand Papermaking (insert the date). It was amazing but the drum was stack laminated wood. Wouldn't it float? I have also seen weights stacked on arms to keep the drum in close proximity with the bedplate.

So there are shafts that go all the way through both sides of the tub and ones that only go through one side of the trough. How is it held in place? How is downward force added? What effect does torque have on twisting of the drum's position in that small area versus a larger heavier frame? Or is it a fantastic geared mystery like the amazing engineering of David Reina?

Thoughts about arm, motor, and pulley configurations below:

Pulley, Drum, Arm configuration

I have noticed that there was a wide variety of tub floor, bedplate position, and backfall design as well. Here are some drawings of bedplate position and patent drawings:

Hollander Patent Drawings (Note position of bedplate & backfall)
Small bedplate, high backfallSmall Bedplate, high position, short backfall. Hollander BedplateBedplate embedded in the beginning of the backfall.
German Hollander Patent DrawingGerman Hollander similar position to the one above. Hollander Patent Drawings
Relatively flat bed with bedplate in a dip, half drum height backfall.
Patent Number 1778710-0Relatively flat bed with bedplate in a dip, half drum height simple backfall. Patent Number 1815007-0Bedplate in a slight rise with a high backfall.
Patent Number 1842758-0Relatively flat bed with bedplate in a dip, half drum height backfall. Patent Number 1849556-1High ramp with bedplate recessed, even higher half drum backfall.
Patent Number 13241-2Short Hollander with split bedplate and tiny backfall.

Note how some of the Hollander drawings have a deep tub, a ramp up to the drum and bedplate and a half drum height backfall or lower. The advantage of this is lots of water and pulp. But is the water & pulp material going to successfully get up the ramp to the drum and bedplate. If the bed and bedplate are relatively in a flat or parallel position, it doesn't take much to get the water & pulp material through the system. This requires a large drum to get the volume of the tub, because only half (or a little more) the drum is in the water because the shaft runs through the center of the drum. Can leak out of the sides of the shaft slot.