Year 5: Friday – setting up

I got up around 6AM on Friday and spent the day setting up and preparing for cidering.  Joshua and Kelsey went up to Portland looking for real estate, and Alexis went along to shop for groceries and other supplies.  Meanwhile the folks and I got to work on the cidering setup.  The biggest issue was the forecast, which called for 1-2 inches of rain all day Saturday and into the night.  The forecast for Sunday was for beautiful weather, but I didn’t trust the new equipment to push all the apples through in a single short day, and besides that what would 25 people have done all day in cabins in the rain?  So we cleared out four bays of the open-fronted pole barn just west of the grassy spot where we typically make cider, moving out four small boats in the process.  The building is only perhaps 16′ deep, so we also set up two large tarps off the south side to cover additional area.  We moved in and set up the hydraulic press and the pedal grinder, and mounted the grinder in its frame.  In hooking up the tandem to the frame we weren’t particularly surprised to find that the forks of the tandem were wider than those of the Miyata touring bike I used before, such that the chain interfered with the right side fork on its way forward to the grinder assembly.  To solve this problem we replaced the existing fork mount with an angled fork mount sculpted from a piece of 4×6 with a chain saw, such that the effective width of the fork was decreased sufficiently for chain passage.

The pole barn has no utilities, and so we ran a hose and #10 extension cords from the big house, hooking up two 300W halogen worklights for overhead illumination and a sprayer for washing apples.  We were also worried about hypothermia, since only a small fraction of the assembled crew could pedal at one time.  An inspired bit of redneck engineering solved this problem with a minimum of fuss – a used 250 gallon fuel oil tank my dad had on hand had one of the large sides cut off, and we propped it up at a 45 degree angle outside the barn facing in, and it served admirably as a reflector oven, throwing a significant amount of heat into the work area.

All that took pretty much all of the daylight, and the day ended with three significant matters left undone.  First, we needed a press grate to go under the stack of cheeses on the press (since the standard grates don’t allow juice to flow out the ends).  Second, we needed something to go on the end of the ram to distribute the load.  Third, we needed to splice the drive chain from the tandem to the grinder.  Joshua and I dug around in the scrap metal pile after dinner and found a couple pieces of channel that looked marginal but perhaps workable.  We cut and drilled the pieces, then welded them together with rough but serviceable beads, and fitted some 2×12 scrap to spread the load from the 4×19 channel piece to a 20×20 pad.  I scrounged up some short leftover pieces of maple and beech flooring to make press grates and cut them to width and length, but didn’t get a chance to screw them together before bedtime.  It had started to drizzle by the time folks started showing up; we hung around in the folks’ house till everyone arrived, then showed them to the cabins.  By the time everything was shipshape it was about 1AM – a long day.



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