Cement mixer questions

I am going to do quite a bit of rock, flagstone, and mortar decorative work. In some cases, this will be just stacking flagstone, and mortaring inbetween. In others, it will be sticking flagstone on to block. But in any case, using a lot of mortar to make decorative rock work.
I need a mixer. What size would you suggest. I know that I don't want to make a huge amount at one time, as I am only one person. I would be working with a helper, but wouldn't be cranking it out like doing block walls.
What capacity, and would you suggest an electric or gas motor mixer?
Thanks
Steve
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Get the $180 or so new one at Harbor Freight. I have one & it's great.

work.
working
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I got the 3.5 cu/ft one from Harbor Frieght at one of their sidewalk sales. It had the motor missing.. Cost me $50 and I found a 1/3 hp motor for a few more bucks..
The motor is a little on the weak side with a full load, but I just poured a 240 sq/ft slab with it over a 4 day period. That worked out to be about 30 batches all by myself (and a wheel borrow).
There are some smaller mixer that would do the jobs your are describing but for future jobs you might need something larger and these mixer are good for the average job.
Steve
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SteveB writes:

All you need is a 5-gallon polyethylene bucket and an egg-beater on a sturdy slow-geared electric drill like the Milwaukee 0300-20.
Mortar must be mixed with a paddle, not a drum. The concrete drum mixers others are suggesting are OK for concrete, but they do a poor job mixing plaster or mortar. Drum mixers need aggregate in the mix to turn over the mix properly. If you attempt to mix mortar in them you will get a product full of dry lumps, which will yield a poor finish and final strength.
If you want to mix big batches of mortar (but you don't as you say you will work alone or with a helper at a slow pace) then you need a mixer with rubber-edged paddles. These are big and cost $1000s.
The bucket method will also save you time on a small scale since you can mix and work from the same container (no extra time/effort to transfer) and have much less to clean up at the end of the day. You might even use old buckets you can discard, and just give the paddle a quick rinse and let it build up old mix. If you have a drum mixer, you'll spend hours cleaning and oiling it.
If you need big batches (more than 1/2 or a full bag at a time), you can "hybridize", using a drum mixer first to do most of the work, then finish the mixing in buckets to get the lumps out.
See:
http://groups.google.com/groups?q=milwaukee+author%3Akinch
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wrote:

Gas would be more powerful but electric works fine in small batches. You can find 3.5 cubic foot models in a number of box stores, or order online from Harbor Freight.
FWIW, mortar, especially from a DIY'er is often best mixed in small batches. You would need a helper mixing and moving mortar and stone to use a full mixer load before it hardened up enough to be unworkable. I have a 3.5 cubic foot model and for small slabs or the like it's wonderful. Stucco too. But I can't lay block fast enough to use that much mortar, let alone flagstone facing or paving.
Jeff
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