What’s a Jiffy Fiber Tumbler?

It’s a handy piece of equipment that helps remove debris from alpaca fleece. The wooden unit is covered with plastic mesh with ¾” hole openings that allows the majority of dirt, dust, chaff & 2nd cuts to fall out on the ground. It is motorized and wooden dowels inside the drum help separate the fleece as it tumbles thus allowing more debris to fall out. No tumbler will remove all the debris, but you’ll sure be amazed what ends up on the floor after a 10-minute tumbling.

Who makes them?

They are made right here at Alpaca Heights in Ubly, Michigan by the owner, Mary Hagen and her partner, James I. Fligger. Mary has been breeding alpacas since 1997 and is very involved with generating income from her fleece harvest. Jim gets all the credit for designing the tumbler which he has perfected from an earlier prototype he made several years ago. In Summer 2008 we decided to make these available to alpaca breeders around the country, so Jiffy Fiber Tumbler LLC was born and the Trademark registered. Jim named the company using his initials JIF.

How big are they?

Our drum measures 32″ wide and 34″ high. It sits on a sturdy hardwood base that contains the drive mechanism and motor. The unit weighs approx. 106#. It has castor wheels so it can be moved easily. The drum portion can be removed from the base by unscrewing 2 bolts. One client wanted us to scale down the unit so it could get through a 32″ door opening and we have done that, so that’s an option too (same price due to labor involved).

What are they made of?

We purchase quality ash lumber from a mill just down the road from us. We then store it inside for proper drying. Using this hardwood for the base and arms of the tumbler give it good stability. We use plywood and pine for the drum portion.  We use a quality Dayton gearmotor with 1/20 horsepower.

Who is buying them?

Most are alpaca breeders with a desire to process their own fiber and/or assist them in prepping their fiber before it’s sent out to a fiber mill or sold as raw fleece to buyers. We also have several mini-mills that are using them. Some also plan to offer tumbling services to their fellow breeders. We currently have more than 110 tumblers in operation throughout the U.S.

How much can you put in it?

We recommend tumbling up to 6# at one time, and to check it in 10 minutes to see if that is sufficient or if it needs a few more minutes. Over tumbling will cause problems with tangling or bunching up, you’ll learn what works best after a little practice. Personally I like to tumble 1 blanket fleece at a time so I can keep track of each animal.

Where should you do your tumbling?

We do not recommend tumbling in any enclosed area such as a basement, inside a garage, or anywhere you don’t want billowing dust floating through the air and accumulating on things. It’s just too dusty. Ideally you have a flat surface just outside your garage, shed or barn. Roll the tumbler outside and let the dust escape into the air. Cleanup is easy with a leaf blower. I also love to use my leaf blower for a minute or so on the fleece as it is tumbling to extract even more debris.

Is it noisy?

No, not at all. You can easily talk on the phone standing next to it. Because it tumbles slowly and there are no belts or chains or metal coverings, it is very quiet.

Do you use a tumbler at Alpaca Heights?

I could not be without it now. After each shearing my #1 priority is to set aside the bags of fleeces I know will be shipped off to a mill for yarn and those get tumbled first. #2 priority is to tumble fleeces that I will sell as raw tumbled fiber. #3 priority is to tumble fleeces I will eventually wash and have someone weave into rugs. I actually enjoy the process and it’s worth it all when I can show my CPA at year end that I have generated thousands of dollars in Farm Store/Fiber income.

Does it come fully assembled?

Yes. They are shipped on a wooden pallet surrounded by a large box to protect it. Once you remove that, simply open the hatch door, put your fleece in, plug it in and turn on the switch!

Price is $1200 plus freight for either the low profile design, or for the new taller version. We will obtain an exact freight quote for you based on your location. We prefer to ship via DHL Freight. Freight costs vary but a good estimate range would be $350-$450. You can save also by picking your tumbler up here at the farm.

OK, I’m ready to order, how do I proceed?

Simply phone Mary at Alpaca Heights (989-658-2383 farm or 989-550-9200 cell) or email alpacaheights@hotmail.com and a freight quote will be obtained for you. You can then decide if that’s within your budget. If it is, we’ll either send one out immediately or within 3 weeks depending on how many orders are ahead. We accept MC/Visa/Discover/Paypal and business checks.