Pedal-powered interleaved-disk drum belt press concept

High summer has landed wet on the Upper Valley.  I took a walk up Quarry Hill this morning, and little streams and waterfalls that normally dry up in June are still running happily along.  Down in the valley the apples are swelling on the trees, and the first cider of the year is only a couple months away.  I’ve come up with a new concept for a pedal powered belt press that I think will be cheaper and easier to build than the previous concepts that I’ve explored.

The basic idea is to have one big drum (shown 16″ long and 16″ in diameter below) probably made out of a piece of maple tree trunk, and a series of smaller rollers consisting of interleaved disks (indicated as 6″ diameter, 3/4″ long, on 1.75″ centers) arranged circumferentially around the large drum, such that the gap between the drum and roller grows steadily narrower, squeezing cloth-wrapped apple pulp such that the juice is gradually expressed.

I’m soliciting feedback from my fellow engineers and cider zealots on the feasibility of the design, and any suggestions for improvement.  For instance:

  • Will the basic concept work?
  • Are the dimensions about right?
  • Should the clearance between the disk rollers and the drum be fixed, or should the disk rollers be spring-loaded?
  • Should the pedal drive actuate the drum, the rollers, or both?
  • What is the most economical way to produce the disk rollers?  (I was thinking the disks could be trepanned out of good quality plywood on a drill press; it might be better (though more expensive) to make them out of HDPE.  McMaster sells 6×1″ disks, but they are 17 bucks each and I need 35 to make the unit as shown.  They could also be trepanned out of HDPE; 8619K485 is about enough to do the lot of them for around $90…

Here are some SolidWorks snapshots:

oblique view:

Side view (apple pulp wrapped in muslin enters at right):

View from input end:

View from below showing interleaved disks:

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