11 October 2011

Under Pressure

Chris Roehm and Amy Benson are farmers. Together they work Square Peg Farm located in Forest Grove, about 30 miles outside Portland. They are also forward looking – this includes everything from sustainable and organic methods to farm direct sales to communicating with their customers and future customers via a website and blog.

It has been an appley week at the Market, so when I checked in on the Square Peg Blog to see that Chris and Amy tricked out their apple press, I asked Chris if we could share his post with our PFM readers. Warning, the level of detail gets a little This Old House, but it also made me thirsty for apples – that will make more sense after you read. Square Peg can be found at PSU on Saturday and online here

Cider Press Rebuilt

My folks bought an antique cider press at a farm auction in the early 1970′s.  I vividly remember the trip to pick it up including the tag hanging on the press which included our misspelled last name and the sales price of $40.   We used the press over many years and a cider pressing turned into a pretty fun afternoon for lots of neighborhood kids.

The original wooden frame eventually got loose and sloppy so I asked my friend Matt Presley who owns Old Green Woodworking to rebuild it for me.  Matt brought the press back to the farm today and I was blown away.  He used quartersawn white oak, the same wood used when the machine was first built at the Eagle Machine Co., Lancaster, OH, circa 1900.    The original construction lasted for about 100 years so it was the pattern for the rebuild.  However, I agreed to some of Matt’s ideas for making the rebuilt frame more robust and easier to use.  The biggest change is that the tray that holds the pomace basket and captures the juice has been made into a removable component which makes it easier to clean and makes the whole press easier to move.  In the original design the tray was an integral part of the frame and provided much of the structural rigidity.  This function is now provided by the two longitudinal runners that connect the front and rear legs and several other improved joining techniques.  The only down side of the project is that our nicest piece of furniture is now a cider press that spends most of its time in a machine shed!

Matt and his Handiwork

I volunteered to refinish the castings – and will do so soon.  More pics when that happens and when we grind and press our inaugural apples.

From Left: new pressing block, pomace basket with one new slat, removable tray, new basket slide, rebuilt frame (notice new runners that connect the front and rear legs.)

The boards in the original tray were butted together and nailed. Matt’s version uses dovetail joints and glue.

The runners on the basket slide fit into grooves on the slats.

Cleats on the bottom of the tray keep it in place when located in the frame.