I've been anxiously awaiting the end of my scrap buckets of cone 6 stoneware so that I could completely clean all of the red clay out of my pugmill and start processing the scrap from my new high fire porcelain and stoneware. Thursday was that day. Of course I had 19 other things that I probably should have been working on but when duty calls....
I bought my Venco de-airing pugmill about 8 years ago I think. It's one of those luxuries that some potters afford themselves to recycle clay and in some cases...avoid wedging. (kneading the clay to get the air bubbles out). I treated myself because it was in the "pre-mortgage" glory days of extra money. I think it was about $2300 or so. Since I had it apart, I thought some of you might be interested in how it works (or not.) I'm a bit of a machine freak so I love this stuff. I usually take it apart about twice a year to clean out the screen which ends up full of gravel bits, sponge parts, earrings, etc. It usually takes a little over 2 hours and involves bleeding knuckles.
After my slurry has dried for a week in a plaster tray (see 'clay management) it is fed through this hopper in tennis ball sized chunks. This screen catches any big items (needle tool) that may have fallen into the slop bucket.
It then passed into the auger chute and through this smaller screen which catches the bits of gravel chunks, etc. It then continues through the auger where the vacuum pump attaches and sucks out all of the air so there are no bubbles in the finished clay (that's a good thing).I've had some trouble with the old gasket leaking a bit so I pulled it out last year and now each time I crack open the barrel, I reseal it with this goopy gasket product that seems to do the trick.
The pugmill is anxiously awaiting some smooth, white cone 10 clay.....maybe this afternoon.