RG 2008 November

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8289401_8cd6453906_s.jpg This page is part of The Cidermaking Year by Rose Grant

November , 2008


Richard, if you have not yet solved your problem I may be able to help (free of charge - I just like these old machines). I am a hydraulic press engineer specialising in water hydraulics controls. Your problem is most certainly related to the seals. Two points however. The rubber type of seal which you discovered in your press is most probably a logical and normally perfectly adequate replacement for what may originally have been a leather composite seal. Rubber based (NBR) seals are pften used when ram surfaces are worn and uneven and do almost as good a job as leather at sealing uneven surfaces, but last longer. There are other materials. Also, you need to replace your safety valve - there are a few companies around can do this. If you have some drawings, sketches, photographs it wouldhelp. best regards Brian Hollingworth

Water Hydraulic Press

We have an old H Beare press, and not much has been done to it for the
last twenty years or so.  It still manages to eek out plenty of cider
each autumn, but over the last four years the amount of pressure that
it's exerting has begun to slide and I think it's in desperate need of
a service.
It is a water hydraulic press, and I can't imagine there are still
spare parts being made for it.  If anyone can point me in the
direction of someone with a little knowledge of these presses I'd be
very grateful.    Richard Hunt
Loss of power... it's going to be the seals isn't it?   Mark

I agree with Mark's diagnosis.

From my experience with St Em it appears that seals are the most likely problem with a water hydraulic press. The old lady has always been incontinent and leaves a puddle on the floor after every pressing. I can easily put up with this. Water costs nothing and the puddle comes in useful when mopping the floor at the end of the day's work. However I think the problem is worse than it ought to be. When I assembled the ram I noticed that the seal was a concave section synthetic rubber ring to which a solid rubber ring had been added as packing to ensure that it fitted better within its locating groove. I thought at the time that this arrangement was a bodge and unlikely to be the original sealing method employed. Now Barry has got me thinking that most probably the original seal would have been made of leather and rather more substantial. Perhaps I will see about getting one made to measure for next year.

A more urgent problem is the seal in the pump. The pump always oozes water as full pressure is reached. This year the oozing became a forceful little spray! It is now taking longer to get the press up to full pressure due to this leakage. I would like to take the pump apart and see what could be done about this. I have tried but been defeated by its large brass nuts. I need an engineer with a set of huge spanners and a lot more strength than I've got!

I've become resigned to the fact that there will always be some leakage due to the age of the machine and the very fact that water under pressure is difficult to contain. The only annoying aspect arises when the cheese is fully compressed. I would like to be able to hold the pressure on the cheese to allow enough time for all the juice to flow out. At present the pump has to be switched off, otherwise it labours and could possibly damage itself. ( The pressure relief valve does not work. It probably seized many years ago). Once the pump is off, then due to the leakage from the seals the pressure on the cheese soon reduces and the juice flow stops.

Perhaps I'm being silly to worry about the last pint or two of juice, but a solution to the problem has come to mind. What I need to be able to do, is to slow the pump right down in the final stage of each pressing. It should then be possible to keep pumping just the little amount needed to compensate for the losses from the seals and so allow the pressure on the cheese to be maintained.

St. Em is powered by a 1.5 hp single phase motor. I need to replace this with a 3 phase motor and a variable speed control inverter. It just so happened that Andrew asked me if I would like a 3 ph 1.5 hp motor that he had spare. I was pleased to accept his kind offer. Andrew duly dropped it off here, en route to his family holiday in Dorset. Now I just need to find the right inverter for it on Ebay.

Many of you will have followed the fun I've been having with inverter motor control. It has been an ideal means of setting the speed of the mono pump that receives the pomace from the mill and pumps it to the press. This year I tried to take the automation a stage further by adding a little elevator to drop the apples into the mill. The elevator is about 6 ft high, was once used for packaging potatoes and it took me a year of pestering to persuade Barry to sell it to me! I glad that he did because physically it suits my Vigo mill as though it was made for it. I fitted an invertor to its motor and this provided a wide variation of speed control. When I then tried the elevator with the mill I was amazed to see that it was rather too efficient, quickly filling the hopper of the mill to overflowing. I slowed it right down using the inverter. Even with the motor power frequency at only 12 Hz the elevator still ran too fast. A reduction factor of 5 or more is still needed, so I will have to change the gearing. Another little engineering job for next year!


Perry vs Pear Cider

Well done to Roy Bailey for achieving pole position on the letters page of the Telegraph yesterday. You certainly put the readership to rights over the Perry versus pear cider issue! The accompanying colour picture of the real amber liquid being enjoyed 'bottoms up' was also quite a coup. (I've never seen a colour picture on that page before). I imagine the photo was taken from your viewpoint behind the Lambourn Valley stall, showing one of your satisfied customers enjoying the real nectar!


Ps. I'm carefully saving the bottle you kindly brought to Barry's for me, to enjoy at Christmas, along with Jez's Cyser.