Amazing Tools #15: Now THAT's a dust collector

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 05-02-2011 01:42 PM 7251 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 14: Bridge City Tools Jointmaker Pro v2 Part 15 of Amazing Tools series no next part

I had an opportunity this past week to work with a small team for 3 days on the Disney lot in Burbank. This is the campus where Walt used to work (his office has been preserved there), and where many of the original animated and live action films were created. It was built on 51 acres with profits from “Snow White” (1937) to serve what Walt presciently saw as a need to grow the animation side of his company. There’s a history of the studios here, with pics. One of these pics shows walt inside the mill, a large, warehouse-like building I’ve passed often enough while on the lot (we work nearby – coworkers and I occasionally have lunch there), and in which all the woodworking needed for the sound stage sets is done. I’d love to get a peek inside one day!

For whatever reason, I’ve walked by this 3+ story contraption before without realizing what I was seeing. The mill building is on the left, and that is officially the largest cyclonic dust collector/separator I’ve ever seen. It’s designed such that a truck can pull in under it and drive away when full. Humorously, throughout the week I kept seeing everything from golf carts to expensive convertibles with their tops down parked under it, dust chute material draped across them. I guess it doesn’t get used anymore, or those folks are dumb or brave. Oh, and the folks in the shot are my team. The two on the left work with me all the time. The two on the right flew in from Canada and Australia for the week, just for this one assignment. We had a great time.

Click for a much larger view!

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

9 comments so far

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4580 days

#1 posted 05-02-2011 02:12 PM

they used to have these in all the lumber yards
a big box with a chute
and would drive a truck under
or next to and dump the sawdust in
now days even the particulate gets used from the mills

changing times i guess

good to see you again gary
that wood you have at home should be getting close to ready
now you just need to find time to do something with it

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 4530 days

#2 posted 05-02-2011 02:14 PM

I don’t intend to be a “topper” here, but I have my own picture of an enormous cyclone. This is at a 300,000 sf cabinet factory just south of Albuquerque, NM. I took this shot from the shoulder of southbound I-25. Those are standard size 18-wheeler trailers.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 4430 days

#3 posted 05-02-2011 03:03 PM

Gary, you seem to lead a charmed life!!! Or at least you gota really cool job.

I worked in the polishing department for G Leblanc Corperation for 7 years

polishing clairinet bodies. Used the dust collector there everyday for 7 years

yet never seen it. It was in back of the building or on the roof. I have no

Idea who had to empty it…or even if it was emptied once in those 7 years!!!!

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View Mickey Cassiba's profile

Mickey Cassiba

312 posts in 4270 days

#4 posted 05-02-2011 04:32 PM

At the moulding plant I recently worked at(we were not a large operation)we produced three large fruit trucks of wast chips and dust daily, sold to local ranchers for their horse barns. The only thing that we did not collect was the walnut dust. When I worked at Warner Brothers in my early years…the extractors at the prop shop had to be shut down during recording due to the vibrations produced and audible…even in the soundproofed set buildings. No telling how much was produced there…

-- One of these hammers oughta fix that...

View lew's profile


13424 posts in 4994 days

#5 posted 05-02-2011 05:22 PM

Guess Mimi wouldn’t let me put that one in the basement ;^)


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4620 days

#6 posted 05-02-2011 06:09 PM

patron – agreed! Always need more time. In fact, I’m rushing out the door in a few!

JJohnston – that’s quite a pipe they got running to that thing!

Bob – it is indeed a very fun life. I’m always thankful. Was that dust collector for metal chips?

Mickey – very cool that you got to work for the WB! I’m sure there was all kinds of fun stuff going on there.

Lew – I’m not helping you move it in ;)

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

View Occie gilliam's profile

Occie gilliam

505 posts in 4535 days

#7 posted 05-02-2011 08:04 PM

Hi Gary I always look foreword to your post
you do have a nice life
life is good

-- OC down in Costa Rica. come down and see me some time. I'll keep the light on for you [email protected]

View clieb91's profile


4264 posts in 5174 days

#8 posted 05-03-2011 02:12 AM

Gary, Great to see a post a from ya and hear things are going well. What an awesome place to work. Hope you get a chance to peek at the shop one of these days.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 4430 days

#9 posted 05-07-2011 07:43 AM


The dust collector took metal and plastic. Metal for the instrument keys, the clarinet bodies were
plastic. This job was my closest brush with fame. I personally cleaned up Pete Fountains Clarinet
and also polished Maynard Ferguson’s Horn!!!

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

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