Rethinking a Product We'd Rather Not Think About

I’d be happy not to know what a drum machine is, but I do because I’ve watched the rooter guy use one to unclog our sewer line. What is a drum machine? It’s a large motorized version of the hand snake a homeowner might use to clear the drain from a sink or other small fixture.

Milwaukee Tool recently unveiled its first drum machine—actually, a sectional drum machine because its cable can be lengthened by joining it to another. I wouldn’t normally be interested in such a machine but I am because this one is a complete rethinking of a mature product whose deficiencies have been known and accepted for years.

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Conventional drum machines are used to clear long runs of 3-inch and larger drain lines. They typically weigh 70-plus pounds and have wheels to make them easier to transport.  But it’s difficult to get them up and down stairs and haul them in and out of buildings without creating a mess—dirt tracked in on the wheels and filth that drips from the cable.

This is the machine without the drum in place.

Milwaukee’s M18 FUEL Sectional Drum Machine is powered by an 18-volt tool battery and is the first of its kind not to require a cord. It weighs 50 pounds with the heaviest cable and can be split in two for transport.

Built-in straps allow the machine to carried in and out of the building like a backpack while the drum is carried by a handle. 

Straps make it possible to carry the machine like a backpack.
The drum has a built-in carry handle and is easily swapped for drums containing different sizes and types of cable. The pulley on back will engage with the drive belt of the machine.

When the drain tech arrives at the work area the drum is rejoined to the machine by dropping it into a sort of cradle and locking it in place with a pair of suitcase style latches. Should a different size or type of cable be required  a drum containing it can be easily swapped in. 

The cable is enclosed so unless someone tips the machine it’s unlikely to dribble the dreaded “poo stew” on the floor. After clearing the drain the housing surrounding the drum can be opened, cleaned with a hose, and left to dry.

I won’t go into the specs because they won’t matter to you unless you’re a drain tech or plumber. 

What impresses me most about this product is how different it is from every drain cleaning machine that came before; it’s cordless, easy-to-transport, and flexible—because drums containing different types of cable can be swapped in as needed. 

The M18 FUEL Sectional Drum Machine (model 2775) is expected to launch in November 2017. 

The video below was shot by the folks from Coptool at a presentation I attended at a recent Milwaukee media event.

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Source: core77

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