More detail on the pedal-powered apple washer

[This is a note I wrote to Gene after he and I cooked up this idea after dinner a few weeks ago]
So sorry you and Cheryl couldn’t stick around for the big cider event.  We did manage to slam together an apple washer along the lines we laid out that evening – video attached shows kids chucking in apples.
The foundation was a scrap of culvert maybe 4′ long and 16″ ID (polyethylene I think).  It was smooth on the inside but corrugated on the outside, which made it easy to work with.  I paid $7 for a pair of rollerblades in good condition at Goodwill, and used the polyurethane wheels and bearings to make it roll.  On one end I set the wheels in one of the grooves (which were too deep, so I had to spin on about 1/4″ thickness of duct tape at the root of the groove to pad it out so the wheel would ride on the bottom of the groove rather than scuffing on the sides).  On the other end I set the wheels to run on one of the ridges to avoid an axial overconstraint conflict between the two ends (the tops of the external ribs were flat rather than rounded, so this worked fine). I set that end lower to encourage motion of the apples. The whole thing turned surprisingly smoothly, and I drove it with a V belt from a ~12″ pulley in one of the grooves adjacent to the one with the rollers running in it.  Polyethylene being very waxy, the belt slipped, so I took a used innertube from a skinny bike tire and attached it in the groove with brads; this gave it enough friction and torque to turn reliably even with modest belt tension.
That was as far as I got on a previous weekend; Saturday morning BenW and Bodhi pitched in and we got a piece of green astroturf in to line the ID of the tube, attaching it with doublestick tape and sheet metal screws.  I aimed the nozzle of an ordinary garden hose spray gun down the length of the tube (fiddling the adjuster nut to get a modest spray), and they put a 2×4 across the lower end to cause the apples to pile up and spin against the astroturf for a while until enough piled up that they started jumping over the barrier into a waiting bucket. In operation it sprayed a lot of water off both ends, so we ended up fastening 10 mil aluminum flashing around it for splash guards.
With the exception of the belt getting loose once, it basically ran without incident for about 2500lb of apples.  All in all it was a fun project and worked surprisingly well for the amount of time put into it, which I attribute mostly to the dimensions and details of the culvert being tailor-made to the application. I didn’t experiment with known dirty apples to see how clean it made them, but my overall sense was that it was doing a credible job, and it produced plenty of volume.  Unlike recent years with hand washing, the production constraint was clearly the crusher this year.  I think the quality of the wash could have been improved by positioning some of those soft-bristle brushes above the carpet of spinning apples where they gathered near the outlet end of the tube.
While the washer contraption was a success,  I’d really like to get the conveyor version of the washer working, just for fun. I hope you can make it for next year’s pressing – I think you’d enjoy the crew and it would be great to have your help with the contraptions.
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