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The New-Old Leahy 416 Redwood Incubator

  1. Tabasco Jack
    After using a Genesis styrofoam incubator for several years and then buying a second one to use as a hatcher I was ready to move up to a cabinet. Prices are unreal. Good used ones are hard to find and most of the ones I saw for sale looked awful. I read a few post and websites about antique incubators and started hoping to find one. And find a few I did. They were either too far away or too expensive. Like they were gold plated or something. I searched for 6 months. No decent cabinets, redwood or otherwise.
    I was ready to place the order for a new Sportsman and I just happened to check Craigslist one more time. There it was!!! A Leahy #416 about 20 miles away. He had just placed the ad that afternoon. I called and told him I would come tomorrow and buy it.
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    I got it home and cleaned it up. It was in amazingly great shape, a little dirty but a little soap took care of that. I opened it up and took a look at all the wiring. Plugged it in and waited for it to heat up. It got hot. Then it kept getting hotter. No adjustment to the wafer thermostats would make it cut off.
    I took the top off and pulled out the thermostats and the micro-switches. One wafer made no noise when I shook it and the other one rattled. One micro-switch was not the correct type and wouldn't make good contact with the wafer.
    I ordered new wafers and switches from GQF. When they came in, I went to install them and the trouble began. One of the adjusting screws was bent and would not make the wafer contact the switch. Trip to the hardware store for a lonnnng screw. The new micro-switches have an additional safety feature consisting of a fusible link for surge protection across the bottom. Well, they don't fit in the antique mounting brackets. But the fusible link will pop right out when you take out the screws.
    I finally got the switches and wafers installed and fired the baby up for a test drive. I adjusted the right wafer to 102 degrees and it cut off just like it was supposed to. When I started adjusting the left wafer nothing would work right. Either it wouldn't cut off the heat at all or it wouldn't let the heat come on. I worked for two or three evenings trying to get these things adjusted and nothing was working. I was looking at electronic controls but I hated the thought of bringing this beautiful old incubator into the 21st century. While mulling this over and troubleshooting, it occurred to me that with new wafers, new switches and a working heater the only thing left was the wiring. And of course the wiring is very old. So, I started checking it out. The wires were in good condition with no breaks. I started following the wiring paths and behold, someone had wired the thermostats in parallel instead of in series. The blasted thermostats were competing with each other as to who would control the heat.
    So I rewired them in series and started setting temperatures. It worked perfectly!!! I ran it for several days to check temps and humidity and how the various vents affected it.

    I knew that I could not manually turn the eggs as my work schedule varies and I'm not home consistently. If I used the styrofoam bater turners I could only use two of the trays. Internet search after internet search. And I just happened to find a suitable turner at Incubator Warehouse. It is the Incuturn Automatic Egg Turner for Hovabator Incubators. This one rolls the eggs instead of tipping them. Almost perfect for the redwood and wire trays! Of course I had to hack it up a little. I trimmed the width of the rack, cut off a little of the rod and modified the mounting bracket. Now it was perfect. I sat it on the table, hooked it up and added some eggs to make sure they all turned. Now that I have a model to work from, I am going to make my own turners that utilize the full length of the trays.

    Now I needed power inside the incubator. Time for more mods. The electrical connections inside the incubator are all inside a single 4" square electrical box. And it was pretty full. I moved the existing box down a little and added an extension to it. In the extension I drilled and installed a 5 amp fuse. I added a power strip inside the incubator and wired it directly in the box. I added an LED under-cabinet light inside so I could see the eggs and the water level. The light needed it's own switch which had to be ordered along with a new switch plate.

    And now, April 1st, 2016, the Leahy #416 is on it's maiden voyage of hatching 42 eggs.
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  1. Tabasco Jack
    The first hatch was less than stellar. Since I had EE and Maran eggs in there I lowered the humidity to less than 30% I think it was too low. Less than half of the quail even started developing and I've had 95% hatches with them in the Genesis styrofoam. 29 out of 38 (candled at day 14) chicken eggs hatched.
    Got another batch of chicken eggs going but keeping the humidity up to high 30's.
  2. crazyfeathers
    You are one smart man. Your incubator is beautiful.
  3. mobius
    A thing of beauty is a joy forever....

    I admire your electrical skills!! Def want to know how the hatch turns out!
  4. Whittni
    Nice work!
  5. sueiris
    Looks beautiful! best of luck...thanks for sharing........ :)

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