Archives for posts with tag: cider press

Having only been presented with the screw for the press there was quite a bit of new metalwork that needed to be bought and fitted to get the project off the ground.

Unfortunately when it comes to buying nuts, bolts and tie straps unless you spend a lot of money the only ones it is relatively easy to get are galvanised and distinctly shiney looking, not really what you want for cider press restoration. I managed (again with lots of help from John, thankyou!) to source the bits we needed, but they needed some pretty severe distressing, and I don’t mean by calling them names.

The plan we came up with was a highly scientific programme of hitting hard with a hammer, dragging round behind a landrover on string, chucking in a very hot fire and then leaving in a water trough for 24 hours…

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It was a bit of a messy faff cleaning them up after so that the threads all worked nicely, and some might say it wasn’t worth the effort, I guess you just have to judge for yourself from the before and after bolts below. I know which one I reckon looks the part.

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All of the parts in the press are really oversize and heavy, lucky for the Slindon team the thing is going to be huge, otherwise after all this work I reckon I’d be sneaking it in my pocket and dragging it back to Black Down!

Next was fitting the boss in the top beam.

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The boss holds the screw up in the air, so needs to be really snug in the beam otherwise the whole thing would just drop rather than pressing. Much nifty drilling and chiseling later it was being driven into a beam with a very large hammer. When it was halfway in I must confess to weak thoughts of blimey, if this doesn’t drive all the way home we are never getting it out again. But, with a few more judicious hits success was achieved. Suffice to say the bolts that hold it in place are entirely decorative, that thing is never coming out.

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Mortice cutting in the top beam next. I wanted to get a few of the key joints cut to give a plan to work to next week when there are more people helping. That way the maths could be done in advance without too much thinking on my feet. The mortices are the slots cut into the beam that will later recieve and hold the legs in place.

The other job that I knew was going to be really tricky, and therefore wanted to get out of the way was making the plattern (which is what I am reliably informed is the correct name for the plate of a press).

It is made out of a large chunck of oak sawn out of the middle of a tree. It needs holding together with metal tie straps otherwise the force it excerts on the crushed apples to extract the juice would split it apart. Katie and Lauren did a fantastic job of marking out and recessing the straps into the wood.

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It was really fiddly and complicated, there are straps underneath as well as on top and they all need to line up perfectly. Daves penchant for working in inches when working in wood probably doesn’t help much either.

Recessing the metal meant lots of marking and measuring, but we were really pleased with the result.

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Next comes lots more joint cutting and fitting together… wish us luck!

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Yesterday we spent the day working in one of our orchards. Its just behind Haslemere High Street so is really easy to go and visit.

Its a lovely peaceful place, and in a few weeks time will be full of blossom. Yesterdays task was to prune the apple and pear trees, as well as repairing some of the tree guards.

About five years ago this orchard only have five or six trees left, we put together an application for some funding and got together the money to restore it. Since then we have planted 30 or so apple, pear, plum, cherry, damson and gage trees. They are all old fashined traditional varieites. We planted them on traditional rootstocks which will allow them to gow up to 20-25 feet high, much taller than a modern orchard, but it will mean they will provide a really usefull space for the local wildlife.

The trees are just starting to come into their own now, and last year we got our first decent crop of apples. Of course as they get taller they also take longer to prune! what used to take an hour or two now takes all day. We are also training some of the branches downwards to make the fruit easier to pick, just in case you come by and wonder why the branches are tied down with string. Over time these branches will adapt to the shape we are training them into and the string will be removed.

We also spent some time repairing our tree gaurds and making sure all of the trees are property protected. This pear tree is much bigger than the sort of thing we would usually put a gaurd on, but the sheep were having a bit of a nibble at its bark so we thought we would give it a bit of protection.

Not to sure what the sheep thought about that.

We run apple pressing days in the autumn with our volunteers where we teach them how to make apple juice and cider with the fruits of our orchard, we are hoping for a bumper crop this year.

We restored an old apple press and scratter to use on these days. The press is one which has been in use in Sussex for years, there is a picture on the wall of a local pub of our press being used in the 1800’s. This is it being used last year.

The scratter was kindly donated by John Simpson, who does a lot of work for us on Black Down. Prior to coming to us it had a plant growing out of the top of it.

They were both restored using oak from our coppice woodland.

We are saving the best (hopefully!) of last years cider for a party on the day we raise the main frame of the new building. If you are here helping out be carefull, its strong stuff!

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