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Sumiink

Peter Pugger VPM 20SS

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Hello,

Can anyone advise me on the Peter Pugger VPM 20 SS, de-airing mixer pugger? i started by looking at the Shimpo NVS-o7 and was advised i can leave a hollow centre in the pug, especially with porcelain. I have heard that the 20SS is really their best model, as the paddles are different, the hopper is bigger, and also the barrel narrows 2x for superior compression. I am not a production potter so am concerned also about the size, but i was also advise i could do a 25 lb batch without compromise of quality. Most important is the quality of the pugged clay and the ease of use. Also, critically, 2 people i spoke to with the 9ss said they have to pug the same batch 2-3 times; and that it can't do what is in the movie - i.e., turn dried out clay into a beautiful pug, without alot of messing around with wetting down the clay on boards in advance. I was advised the 20SS is less 'finicky'. this is a big stretch for me, can anyone offer a rave review? Or, problems with the combining of two functions into one machine which sometimes means neither is that good - i.e., either the mixing, or the pugging, suffers. thanks.

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Yes I can advise

I have the VPM 30 which is not stainless.

I have a friend with a VPM 9 and its to small for most anyone as it holds so little you need to run it thru twice.

I have been around two of the VPM 20s Only one was the stales ss model-They are at an art center that I volunteer evey few years and I will be there in about a week as its mid pacific on an Island. They process white clay in one and brown clay in the non ss model.

They are a good size machine-I feel the right size for most people.

The 30 is the right size for me as I'm a production potter-I just wish it was SS as I work in Porcelain only.

The 20SS is as large as they can get into their  C&C machine with a solid block of stainless 

In my view this is the best combo machine on the market and clay has been my life for over 40 years.

I will add that I have not been around any of the Bailey Machines only these Peter Puggers and the Shimpos and the Australian luggers and of course the funky bluebirds.

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I have the VPM-20SS and really love it.  There have been a few threads on peter puggers in the past that would be worth searching for. 

In general it does just what they say.  I would not be so sure it could handle 25#loads.  The hopper seems to mix best when it is completely full.  I usually add about 30# per load and there is usually about 5-10 pounds that remain inside.  I switch clays all the time and as long as I don't minds the clays mixing I don't worry about it.  There is a fair amount of clay that remains in the nose and will spiral into the new batch.  The stuff remaining in the chamber will mix will, but the stuff in the nose will unevenly mix throughout the entire pugging.  When switching clays I usually run it through twice. 

Every few months I switch between Cone 6 and cone 10 clays.  When I do this I clean it out as much as possibly without taking it apart.  A few percent of the wrong cone won't make too much difference.  If you were switching from a dark stoneware to a fine porcelain and wanted to keep it perfectly white then you would have to take it apart are really clean it.  Fortunately I am not that picky. 

I use it a lot for mixing both scrap and for mixing entirely new batches from powder.  Adding water to scrap and mixing from powder both take a little practice.  The whole batch tends to like to spin when a wet layer lubricates the outside of the clay.  Sometimes this can resolve itself with just a few minutes of mixing, other times it requires some fussing. 

I have not had any problems with inconsistent moisture.  I tend to occasionally throw in a bucket of mixed scrap.  The scrap will vary from bone dry to leather hard.  In general this is not advised because leather hard clay does not break down easily.  I usually mix a load as soon as I empty it that way I can mix the new batch for a few minutes, let it sit overnight, and then mix the batch again the next day before pugging.  If you tried to mix scrap of varying dryness and pug right away you will probably have harder chunks in the pugs.

One final piece of advise involves getting the vacuum to move into the chamber.  When you start vacuuming you are usually only working in the rear chamber.  I usually have to start pugging slowly until the seal breaks between the two chambers and them put back to mix.  The amount leaving the nose will suck back in and then the vacuum works in both chambers. 

I can tend to pix a lot of clay from scratch and it is not the easiest.  I still really like the 20SS, but if I ever come across a reasonably priced solder mixer I might get it just to make it a little more efficient.  But, for mixing wet clays and reworking scrap it is excellent.  This is definitely the best addition I have made to my studio.  I was reluctant give the price (~5,000) but it has been even better than I expected.  I never use clay straight from a bag anymore.  I can pug a load to whatever moisture level I want for that day's items.  I always struggled with this when using clay straight from bags. 

I think I addressed most of your questions (plus some).  If you have other please let me know.

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thanks for the response. this gives me the confidence now to go ahead and get the machine. it sounds less finicky than the 9SS, which i have been advised takes repeat puggings; and alot of fussing with pre=-wetting clay on boards...

not sure what you mean when describing the vacuum moving into the chamber. also, i was advised by another user that the pug mill has a spiral memory, so he tried to put the clay on the wheel to re-inforce the spiral to preclude S crack.....

when i start using i will revisit and likely have further questions! thanks.

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As to the spiral cracking, I don't think it is related to the spiral nature of the pugged clay.  I cut the pugs, make balls and don't worry about direction.  On the few occasions of a spiral crack I can usually trace it back to poor trimming. 

The vacuum on the 20SS (and regular 20) works on the rear chamber.  There is a very small gap around the shaft that allows the air from the front (clay) chamber to escape to the vacuum pump in the rear chamber.  When mixing, you are bushing the clay against the back of the from chamber where it seems to prevent the air from escaping into the rear chamber.  By switching the machine into pug mode you are moving clay away from the wall separating the chambers and this usually breaks the seal.  I first saw this on a youtube video and I think this is the one:

This is not my video, but it shows the switching process somewhere in there. 

 

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I bought a VPM 20 last summer. As with all things new, there is a learning curve. As a pugger, it works just fine. As a mixer, it will take some time to learn the tricks. The first trick is not dumping in all the water at once; you will create a rather nasty slime ball that just spins in the chamber.

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have used my bailey pugmill for years.  the easiest way to mix the pieces that are hard with the pieces that are soft is to dip the hard ones in water just before tossing them into the hopper.  put one of each as you go until they are all in there then close and pug.  pouring water into the hopper is not necessary unless something drastic has happened.  cannot imagine what.

i usually put them through twice because i want to throw with the pugged clay and want it softer than what usually comes out of the bag for my slab pieces.   have been at a standstill for several months because the new clay is too wet to use for anything.  very discouraged.

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5 hours ago, Sumiink said:

also, i was advised by another user that the pug mill has a spiral memory, so he tried to put the clay on the wheel to re-inforce the spiral to preclude S crack.....

This can happen from the orientation of the clay pug on the wheel if the pug isn’t wedged. (I don’t wedge under about 2 - 3 lbs from the pugger)  When I got mine I cut off thin slices of clay straight from the pugger and put them on a board and just left them out to dry. It was a number of years ago but I seem to remember about 1/3 of the slices developed S cracks. I know we don’t make pots by just cutting of a slice and leaving it out to dry but I wanted to see if throwing pugs “soup can” style might develop S cracks more readily than putting the pug on its side. I know people who throw soup can style without problems, think the wetness of the clay as it’s going through the end cone plus the type of clay used comes into play also. If you ever have a full block of commercial clay freeze you can see it delaminating into a somewhat spiral pattern. Van Gilder mentions the same twist in the clay from the pugger auger, around 5:40 in this video.

Have you looked into the Bailey Mixer Puggers? I put any condition of clay into mine, from bone dry to slop, mix for about 15 minutes then pug, works really well. One other thing, save your throwing slop to add to your pugged clay, or at least the sediment at the bottom of the bucket. The fines that are removed while throwing really help to add the plasticity back to the recycled clay.

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thanks everyone, all really helpful. will study up for when it arrives....and will watch the video. grateful for your help!

i am in Canada and they really are not supplying the Bailey here right now.....needs CSA approval and Tucker who used to carry them isn't any longer. I know they are supposed to be great. that said, i have also heard the screens, while good, also get clogged. They would likely ship to me, but if an issue no-one to service it as no reps here. ...

So likely Peter pugger...

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You will like the machine after you use it awhile . The factory is about 3 hours from me and I toured it once. They have made these for over 3 decades and have constantly improved the products.

I think you can deal direct with them-or at least they drop ship it to you.

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Just a word in defense of the VM9, I have had one for I guess 6-7 years now and have never experienced any problems at all and have never had to run anything through more than once or put anything on a board. I don't mix dry and wet though because early on I did notice an occasional hard piece or two in the clay if I threw with it right away. If I let the logs sit for a week or so though that problem went away as the moisture evened out. Never had to mess with anything. I have put dry in and some water and let it sit for a day and it pugs just fine but no you can't just fill it with dry and run it through for good results. I do also make sure I mix it until it feels right to de-air and pug. Maybe that's the issue with the folks that are having problems. I would guess that I mix maybe 10-15 minutes to get to that point but I go 5 minutes and then check and do again if needed. Used it to pug clay made from scratch for a half a year. Mixed that in a 50lb bluebird mixer and pugged in two loads, again with no issues.

As for size, I think it depends on who you are and what ya need. It pugs the better part of a 5 gallon bucket of reclaim into 5-6 5ish pound logs and takes a half hour or so. I don't have that much reclaim these days but even when I did it was plenty. But I am not a full timer like Mark and don't have his needs. I just throw reclaim into a lidded bucket (often toss in bone dry pieces ) and when those build up spend a half day pugging and putting into used clay bags.  No s-crack problems or throwing issues with the resulting logs.

Anyway I would highly recommend the VM9 if your needs are moderate. 

Edited by Stephen

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No machine is going to take totally dry chunks of clay and turn them into nice moist even clay without letting it sit with some moisture for a day or two. These machines mix, but they don't pulverize hard stuff into powder that takes in water and mixes smooth quickly. You have to give the dry stuff time to take in water.

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6 hours ago, neilestrick said:

No machine is going to take totally dry chunks of clay and turn them into nice moist even clay without letting it sit with some moisture for a day or two. These machines mix, but they don't pulverize hard stuff into powder that takes in water and mixes smooth quickly. You have to give the dry stuff time to take in water.

I get what you are saying but I do exactly that with the Bailey Mixer Pugger with vacuum. Put hard chunks of bone dry, slop, leatherhard and  use the mix function until it resembles dryish sand then add water, let it slake for 5 minutes or so then blend and pug. It's good to throw right from the machine without letting it sit. Yes, if I let the pugs sit for a day or two they do stiffen up a bit from the clay absorbing more of the water but my experience with using it for quite a few years is the clay is perfectly throwable straight away.

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14 hours ago, Mark C. said:

The cost between the VMSS 9 and the VMSS 20 is about 500$ and the capacity is so much larger . Its resale will fit more users as well. 

I guess but I would think it would just be a case of matching it to your needs. The whole line-up is pretty much the same and the 9 seems to built extremely well to me. Is the 20 supposed to be a better machine or just bigger? I am not particularly recommending one over the other  and mainly chimed in because I have never had to fuss with my 9 at all so I wanted to let the OP know that whoever was having that issue was not experiencing something that is inherently wrong with the 9, at least not in my experience, I Just went to their site and they seem to be of similar quality.

For what little reclaim I have the 9 is more than enough so just not sure why I would want to spend $500 more for the extra 20lbs capacity and a bigger machine to deal with unless the 20 is better. They didn't have the 7 back when I bought mine but likely would have gotten it if they did and it also would have been just fine and what I would recommend to any part timer. It is not hard to load whatever amount of soft reclaim and mix for 10-15 minutes and pug out the logs. Same amount of clay still has to be transferred, mixed and pugged so the time savings is a little marginal and having to stop, mix and pug a few extra times when processing a few months of reclaim is just no big deal. I kind of enjoy it once in the groove.

BUT I am not production or anywhere near that at this point, just a part timer with maybe a 5 gallon bucket every month or so to pug. I love the pugger though and I am sure if the OP gets either one of them he will two.  Actually I bet he will be happy with any de-airing mixer/pugger he buys. 

...as far as re-sale, selling me pugger is not something I would ever, ever do. Had to go without for a bit last year and just threw the reclaim away. Wedging reclaim is just not worth it to me.

Edited by Stephen

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The literature from Peter Pugger states the VPM 20 has a capacity of 45 lbs and can pug at a rate of 600 lbs / hour and mix at 180 lbs/hour. VPM 9 has a capacity of 25 lbs and can pug at a rate of 500 lbs / hr and mix at 150 lbs/hr. If the quality of the pugged clay is comparable the mixing and pugging rate seems more relevant than the capacity. Just for comparison the Bailey MSV 25 with a capacity of 25 lbs pugs at a rate of 900 lbs / hr.

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The deal with all Peter puggers is they are all alike in the build-they just are sized up from the 9 to the huge ones-The capacities and pug rates vary due to size of machine. The other differences 

are they make the barrel in stainless steel in two models the 9 and the 20 all other are cast aluminum.They all have the same basic layout and functions -you can order them with some speed options., The larger ones have wheels and are to big to sit on counters like the  ( and the 20 series).The one I use was bought used and happened to fit my needs perfectly.(30VPM) I wish it where stainless but they have yet to offer this size in stainless. The barrel pitting issue will not be an issue as the machine will outlive me as I keep porcelain all the time in mine .

All machines are made with the best materials and are extremely well thought out and they all have evolved from the basic one made in the later 70's.

If you see a 9 next to a 30 they look the same only one is tiny-all the same functions all really well made.The history go these is interesting as he started only making a clay mixer along ago-he had the best one in the 80's-it also pugged clay but had no vacuum-it for me was miles better than a soldner as it extruded the mix at hip lever vs the Grueling bending over to dig the clay by hand from the soldier mixer. (Soldner mix great I must say). The draw back was it had no vacuum in the chamber. which meant wedging still. Also these 1st machines tended to spin porcelain in the barrel and worked better with stoneware. even today with a wet mix you can spin the mix in the barrel with any machine as Glazenerd has mentioned he has done.

Brief history

He started this company in Atascadero Cal in the late 70's if I recall. He moved North to Ukiah Cal with his wife later.  Over time he has refined this machine into what I think is the best combo machine made. His focus was this combo machine that mixed and pugged clay and thats really what their focus is still on today. They branched out into the hobby market about 10-15years ago to stay alive and offered smaller machines (for decades they only made large machines).This couple broke up  in the 80's and she moved to Willits and started the company called Pure and Simple which sell forms (heavy plastic) for making plaster molds like hump and drape molds(not slip cast). She is a potter as well. Its a small world. These two towns are about 30 minutes apart .

I live about 3.5 hours north of these places.Small world again.

While we are taking about machines the same story is true with JIM Bailey and slab rollers as he started  with making  just that the best slab roller and now after 40 years has a large company making lots of items-Peter Pugger is exactly the same except they only make Mixer/puggers

 

Edited by Mark C.

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The maximum pugging rates (pounds/hour) seem kind of useless.  If all you are doing is throwing in clay and spitting it out as fast as possible then what is the point?  I use mine for mixing different clays, adding stuff to clays, remixing trimmings/reclaim, mixing up clay from dry ingredients...   All of these require mixing time.  I mix while doing other tasks, so no time lost. 

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