Wednesday, October 3, 2007
The unintended collection
WOW! It's been almost two months since I last checked in. Summer is our busy time. I should have taken time to post, but, didn't.
Last time I posted I was showing off one of my custom cheese presses. I also make/restore presses of a different flavor. These are rapidly becoming favorites. This summer I tackled two restoration projects between working on our 105 yr old home, gardening, foraging, and working at a job.
That large cider press on the left looked like this when my DW Pelenaka dragged it home from a yard sale last fall. She paid a whopping $20.00 for it. There wasn't a good stick of wood in it. The big acme screw was siezed into the cast iron crossbar. With winter closing in I didn't get much done last year. As soon as it was out of the car I started soaking it liberally with KROIL penetrant. Best stuff ever made as far as I'm concerned. On the second day I started gently playing a propane torch over the area where the screw passed through the casting. Every day I followed the torch with another shot of KROIL as soon as the metal cooled. After about a week the screw would move back and forth maybe 1/8 of an inch. Then the rawhide mallet came out to tap the screw back and forth. After half an hour it would turn just as it was designed to do. It turns out the previous owner greased it with lard before leaving it out in the weather for the next 20 years. The KROIL broke the rust loose and the heat melted the old grease out. Now the screw has some pitting where it was stuck inside the casting. Not enough to affect operation though. With snow and foul weather on the horizon the old press was greased up and tarped until nicer weather could arrive. When july rolled around and I finally got back to it. I laminated a bunch of fir 1x4's to make a new frame. You may ask why I didn't just make it from maple like it was to begin with. The answer, as it sits today this press weighs close to 100lbs. Using the fir gave me strength, but saved many pounds of weight. Three coats of Krylon white make for easy cleanup. The old basket bands were from a different press and were so oversize you had to fight to get them in and out of the press. So, new ones were made from nice no rust aluminum. All the fasteners that might come if contact with juice are stainless steel. Slata sre red oak treated with Boo's Mystery Oil. Good stuff a bit pricey at $16 a pint, but well worth the price. A new press disk was made from a plastic cutting board. All this effort was made in an attempt to simplify cleanup. It's nice being able to just spray it down with a hose when you're done pressing.
The black press looked worse than this when we found it on somebodies lawn 2 years ago. Covered top to bottom with rust at least it was functional. I shot the red paint and cleaned the loose rust away so we could make our first three gallons of home made cider. Pelenaka hated the red, so when I finally got serious about doing the rebuild last year, I scrounged up some food safe black paint. New red oak slats and a bunch of stainless fasteners really made a difference. I did make one concession to technology when it came to the press disk. That was cut out from a heavy duty resaurant cutting board. When we're done pressing we just spray it down with a hose and wipe some oil on the slats to preserve them until next year. Last year we finally aquired a proper fruit grinder to prepare pomace. Prior to this we used a food processor. This brought a doubling of production and we could have done more if the wind hadn't knocked down all the wild apples before we could get to them.
The little green wine press was another of this summers projects. Found burried in a pile of junk next to an antique shop. It had somebodies version of a home made basket, made from galvanized pipe hanging strap and some entirly too small pine slats. A little grinding to smooth out the casting was all it needed before a coat of food grade paint was applied. Some new aluminum basket bands and some maple slats held in place with stainless screws finished the project.
The big white one is available if somebody wants it. The same for the green wine press. The black one isn't for sale. $300.00 takes the white one and $100.00 takes the little green one. I'll consider taking an anvil, forge , or hand cranked drill press in trade. I am also willing to buy more old presses to fix up. I can fix up your press if you have one needing restoration.