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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

    Question

    I am shopping for an uncapper and would like to hear your valuable opinions on the pros and cons of both the Cowan and Gunness uncappers.

    My operation will top out at 500 colonies (hopefully!).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Clear Lake, WI / Sebring, FL
    Posts
    627

    Post

    Ive had both ,I use a Gunness now . The Gunness requires no heat source. The Gunness is faster but harder on the equipment. The cowen is a nice machine though when set up properly it works great. With you beeing in North Dakota you aregoing to want to run steam into the gunness with the cooler temperatures the wax will get brittle and chip off ,sometimes the foundation will go with it, unless you use plastic.
    Clear Lake Wi. / Sebring Fl.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

    Post

    Define "cooler".....

    My uncapping will be done in a heated shop so temps should not be an issue. And it can get very toasty here in July and August when flows are on.

    How is the Gunness hard on equipment.

    Thanks Trevor!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Clear Lake, WI / Sebring, FL
    Posts
    627

    Post

    The Gunness will sometimes chip the edges off the sidebars. Im not sure what temps to be exact. But if the wax gets cold it gets brittle and unless the frame is full it will tear out beeswax foundation. If you use plastic you wont have a problem. With the Gunness you need to have two people and the cowen you dont.
    Clear Lake Wi. / Sebring Fl.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

    Post

    Ahhhhhhhh the two people is extremely important.

    Is the Cowan that much slower?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Lakeland FL
    Posts
    844

    Post

    We have the cowan i never have run it that fast but they say it can do 60 boxes an hour and i beleive it. I have talked to a few comercial guys around here and they all agree that the gunness is much easier to run but they like the cowen better. So they kinda told me that if i was going to hire people to do the extracting and not be around to get a gunness, if i would be doing the extracing or just be around to help go with the cowen. And yes if your are the only guy extracting definatly go with the cowen, i have heard of one guy running it but he told me it is not fun to be running around the machine all the time lol. Nick

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

    Post

    Thanks Nick and all. Appreciate the insight.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Odessa, Missouri
    Posts
    629

    Post

    The older (and first model I believe ) Gunness model fifty is perfect for one person but much slower than the model 200 (belt machine). The model 50 does 3 frames at a time ( has a slide).
    The cowan machines are wonderful *when in adjustment* and also ideal for a single person.
    I believe their speed might be a bit slower than the gunness & boganschutz.

    I bunch of hispanics, a boganschutz and 6 large extractors can turn out record amounts of production. I have seen 40 barrels in a single day.

    Beekeeper friends with the 60 frame cowan say not possible with their machine. Not sure with the larger cowan. Maybe others will comment?

    The model 200 gunness is tiring for one person to run but is very fast and trouble free for two people.

    The Boganchutz is the uncapper of choice of the large operations. I like the speed and cleaness of the cut but hate the air and crap the machine puts in the honey.

    Extracting honey (profitably) involves no breakdowns and being able to keep the help from tiring from the boring work.

    Many uncappers simply make way too much noise in my opinion. My complaint to the makers has been noise.

    I use the gunness because (as Trevor said) lack of heat. Size of my current operation. Also safety as you can stick your hand in the flails of a gunness and not get hurt. I have never had a breakdown with a gunness.

    One draw back of the old style cowan uncapper if the height the frame needs lifted to place in the machine( tiring). You also want your extractors (old style) low enough you don't have to lift your arm high to clear the rim.

    Give careful thought to the way your honey house is set up. I hate extracting which is why I hire the work done (if possible).

    Most honey houses are too small (including mine). Build the honey house to fit the largest size operation you might grow to.

    Hive numbers have a way of getting out of control.

    Kind of like raising rabbits! Start with a couple and before long you got more rabbits than you can care for!
    Bob Harrison

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

    Post

    Thanks for the great info Bob. I am leaning toward the Cowan because of the one man operation. I like the safety aspect of the Gunness though..... as well as lack of breakdown.

    I visited the shop where the Gunness is made. Very small shop on a farmstead. Another warm and fuzzy knowing the bucks go to a "smaller" operator.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Omaha, NE
    Posts
    262

    Post

    Gunness all the way weve had ours sine 1988 with out any problems. However keep this in mind if you are in Western Dakota your honey is too dry will not work on the gunness.
    AKA BEEMAN800

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Bismarck, ND USA
    Posts
    512

    Post

    Having seen a Cowen uncapper in operation (helped a commercial outfit extract part of one Summer that had a Silver Queen) and having used a Gunness (smaller one, 100 model) for the last 6 years, (also have seen the 200 model in operation as a friend has one), here's my comments:

    - no heat required for the Gunness is nice
    - helps a lot if the honey is warmed in a hot room prior to uncapping with the Gunness
    - a LOT of wax will wind up in honey storage tanks with the Gunness, unless all the honey goes through a spinner first; skimming tanks is a major pain (speaking from experience)
    - the Gunness is faster than the Cowen, no doubt about it; however more man power is required
    - the Gunness is noisy
    - heat is required with the Cowen; issue or not? Cowen makes a self contained hot water heater
    - auto load is not possible with the Gunness as with the Cowen; while loading and unloading frames into and out of an extractor is not extremely hard work (some might consider it), it does get old and it is time-consuming.

    Summary (IMHO): The Gunness is probably a better machine for a large operation (several thousand hives) with adequate man power and several extractors; the Cowen is probably better suited to a somewhat smaller operation, 1-2 person crew using the auto load.
    Gregg Stewart

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Omaha NE. USA
    Posts
    17

    Post

    As Brian said buy the Gunness. Probably ran close to a 1000 drum of honey thru our's in the 18 years we have had ours & have spent less than $100 bucks on it total. Yes the 1st year or two it will be hard on side bars & poor equiptment but learn to adjust the cutting depth. We set one side deeper than the other. This with running the frames at an 45 degree angle cures most of the problems.
    SUKIE

  14. #14

    Post

    only have used the dakota gunness but i sure do like the way it works.it does work smoother w/2 people.
    bob

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Merced, California, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: Cowan or Gunness???

    I have run both and currently have a Cowen. I can run 10-11 frames per minute but in California with some frames not fully drawn, scratching frames is required to get the honey out of partially filled frames. So by running at 11 frames through the uncapper you are slowed by the scratching process-sometimes significantly. The other consideration is you can run any imaginable size frame through the Gunness. While not having a Gunness, I think the second man could be replaced with a turntable to accumulate frames off the belt while the uncapper operator is feeding the other end. This system is used in pallet yards when reclaiming boards and works well in that regard. A large Gunness can feed 4- 72 frame radials and keep 3 guys pretty busy.

    As far as damage, the Cowen will eat frames that are damaged or out of alignment as well as a Gunness.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,690

    Default Re: Cowan or Gunness???

    As far as damage, the Cowen will eat frames that are damaged or out of alignment as well as a Gunness.

    Very true, but I made a better slip clutch for a Cowan that ALMOST eliminated that problem. A good frame could get cocked and not destroyed. A weak frame, not so much.

    Crazy Roland

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Palm Bay, FL, USA
    Posts
    2,297

    Default Re: Cowan or Gunness???

    We are a small but growing operation and currently have the old style Cowan, but I have a couple years on the Silver Queen too. Both require you to scratch any frames that aren't built out beyond the bars. At full throttle, even on our old machine, it takes a dedicated scratcher person to keep up with the flow. Our next one will be the Gunness.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Moscow, Tennessee
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Cowan or Gunness???

    I just got a Model 200 Gunness uncapper and I am not sure how to deal with frames on the output side of the uncapper? I know the bottleneck will be that my extractors can not keep up with the uncapper. My question is: Do you have some type of uncapping tank or some form of chain conveyor to hold the frames before you load the extractor. What I am trying to say is do you stage the frames before loading into the extractor or do you go straight from the uncapper into the extractor? Not that it matters, but I currently have two extractors a 33 frame and 20 frame. Any help will be appreciated

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