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converting a non-de-airing pug mill to de-airing


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#1 docweathers

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 09:19 PM

I have a small old bluebird non de-airing pug mill that I would like to upgrade to de-airing. The part I am puzzled by is how the vent into the paddle chamber is arranged so it can suck out air without getting plugged with clay. Does anyone know how this works or can send me to a reference.

Also I understand that old milking machines work as good vacuum pumps. Is this true or do you have any other suggestions for inexpensive vacuum pumps?

Thanks Larry

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#2 Mark C.

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:12 AM

I have a small old bluebird non de-airing pug mill that I would like to upgrade to de-airing. The part I am puzzled by is how the vent into the paddle chamber is arranged so it can suck out air without getting plugged with clay. Does anyone know how this works or can send me to a reference.

Also I understand that old milking machines work as good vacuum pumps. Is this true or do you have any other suggestions for inexpensive vacuum pumps?

Thanks Larry


How about calling Bluebird??
http://www.bluebird-mfg.com/

as far as cheap vac pumps try Harbor Freight either a store or online.
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#3 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:13 AM

I have taken my Bailey de-airing pugmill apart regularly to clean it and change clay bodies. It has an area where the clay is forced through screens to break it up. This is the area where the compressor sucks out the air. I don't know how other de-airing pugmills work, but that is what mine has in it.

Marcia

#4 justanassembler

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 09:45 AM

I have taken my Bailey de-airing pugmill apart regularly to clean it and change clay bodies. It has an area where the clay is forced through screens to break it up. This is the area where the compressor sucks out the air. I don't know how other de-airing pugmills work, but that is what mine has in it.

Marcia


This is how most de-airing pugs work--they use a set of restricor plates or screens that turn the clay into ribbons as its forces through, I would assume to make it easier to extract the air with a smaller vacuum

#5 OffCenter

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:20 AM

I have a small old bluebird non de-airing pug mill that I would like to upgrade to de-airing. The part I am puzzled by is how the vent into the paddle chamber is arranged so it can suck out air without getting plugged with clay. Does anyone know how this works or can send me to a reference.

Also I understand that old milking machines work as good vacuum pumps. Is this true or do you have any other suggestions for inexpensive vacuum pumps?

Thanks Larry


I think you'll find that it's not worth the time and effort to try to convert a $100 pugmill into a de-airing pugmill. If it pugs well you got a good deal. (Actually, for that price, even if it doesn't pug well you got a good deal.) De-airing is over-rated, anyway. My Peter Pugger de-airs but I can't tell the difference between clay that is run through it de-aired and not de-aired.

Jim
E pur si muove.

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#6 docweathers

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:52 AM

I did call bluebird and they don't convert. They say it's more work than they think it's worth. They would rather sell me a new de-airing model. After reading the above descriptions of how a de-airing mill works, I think they may be right.

I'm very interested in Jim's comment that he can't tell the difference between when he de-airs and doesn't de-air clay. I've heard that before.

I wonder if Marcia and justanassembler would agree.


Larry

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#7 GEP

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:00 AM

I have a Bluebird de-airing pugmill, the 440 model. The vacuum hose is attached to a separate chamber that sits on top of the pugmill, separate from the clay processing stream. The chamber is connected to the clay area by a tiny opening. The opening has a spring-loaded gate that opens and closes constantly when the pugmill is on. While pugging, small amounts of clay DO get sucked up into the vacuum chamber. But I've never gotten enough clay in there to interfere with the vacuum hose. Any clay in the vacuum chamber should be removed at the end of a pugging session. At the most, I pug 75lbs of clay at a time, so anyone who pugs more than that might need to stop and clear out the vacuum chamber during their session.

Here's a picture of the Bluebird 440, where you can see the vacuum chamber sitting on top:
http://www.bluebird-mfg.com/440.jpg

Here's a picture of the Bluebird 425, which I'm guessing is the one you have. There appears to be a cover bolted over the hole for the vacuum chamber, which it means it can be converted:
http://www.bluebird-mfg.com/425.jpg

EDIT: I just read your comment that Bluebird told you it could not be converted. I stand corrected.
EDIT#2: Just reread your comment which said Bluebird won't convert it. Doesn't mean you can't.

Anyhow, de-airing is really valuable to anyone who wishes to never wedge. In a production environment like mine, wedging is a tremendous waste of energy. But for anyone who doesn't mind having to wedge their pugged clay occassionally, having non-de-aired pugged clay is still much better than non-pugged clay.

EDIT#3: My comment above is referring to recycled/reclaimed clay.

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#8 docweathers

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:34 AM

I have a similar but somewhat older version of the pubmill you picture. Instead of the cast aluminum augur chamber mine is a welded steel tube. I could easily weld a little vacuum box on top of that tube. Does yours have the slicing blades that are mentioned in earlier posts? how good a job of de- airing does it do?


I have a Bluebird de-airing pugmill, the 440 model. The vacuum hose is attached to a separate chamber that sits on top of the pugmill, separate from the clay processing stream. The chamber is connected to the clay area by a tiny opening. The opening has a spring-loaded gate that opens and closes constantly when the pugmill is on. While pugging, small amounts of clay DO get sucked up into the vacuum chamber. But I've never gotten enough clay in there to interfere with the vacuum hose. Any clay in the vacuum chamber should be removed at the end of a pugging session. At the most, I pug 75lbs of clay at a time, so anyone who pugs more than that might need to stop and clear out the vacuum chamber during their session.

Here's a picture of the Bluebird 440, where you can see the vacuum chamber sitting on top:
http://www.bluebird-mfg.com/440.jpg

Here's a picture of the Bluebird 425, which I'm guessing is the one you have. There appears to be a cover bolted over the hole for the vacuum chamber, which it means it can be converted:
http://www.bluebird-mfg.com/425.jpg

EDIT: I just read your comment that Bluebird told you it could not be converted. I stand corrected.
EDIT#2: Just reread your comment which said Bluebird won't convert it. Doesn't mean you can't.

Anyhow, de-airing is really valuable to anyone who wishes to never wedge. In a production environment like mine, wedging is a tremendous waste of energy. But for anyone who doesn't mind having to wedge their pugged clay occassionally, having non-de-aired pugged clay is still much better than non-pugged clay.

EDIT#3: My comment above is referring to recycled/reclaimed clay.

Mea


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#9 OffCenter

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:40 AM

I'm very interested in Jim's comment that he can't tell the difference between when he de-airs and doesn't de-air clay. I've heard that before.


I always wedge. It's my way of getting to know the clay before I throw it. I've used Walkers, Bluebirds, and homemade puggers. My Peter Pugger is rated as one of the best and I can't tell the diff between clay that has been de-aired and clay that hasn't. There is a lot of discussion to be found about pug mills on this forum if you search "pug mills."

Jim
E pur si muove.

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#10 docweathers

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:13 PM

I've seen your work. If "I always wedge. It's my way of getting to know the clay before I throw it" Is a secret to the beautiful things you create, I will never give up wedging.
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I'm very interested in Jim's comment that he can't tell the difference between when he de-airs and doesn't de-air clay. I've heard that before.


I always wedge. It's my way of getting to know the clay before I throw it. I've used Walkers, Bluebirds, and homemade puggers. My Peter Pugger is rated as one of the best and I can't tell the diff between clay that has been de-aired and clay that hasn't. There is a lot of discussion to be found about pug mills on this forum if you search "pug mills."

Jim


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#11 GEP

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:18 PM

I have a similar but somewhat older version of the pubmill you picture. Instead of the cast aluminum augur chamber mine is a welded steel tube. I could easily weld a little vacuum box on top of that tube. Does yours have the slicing blades that are mentioned in earlier posts? how good a job of de- airing does it do?



I have a Bluebird de-airing pugmill, the 440 model. The vacuum hose is attached to a separate chamber that sits on top of the pugmill, separate from the clay processing stream. The chamber is connected to the clay area by a tiny opening. The opening has a spring-loaded gate that opens and closes constantly when the pugmill is on. While pugging, small amounts of clay DO get sucked up into the vacuum chamber. But I've never gotten enough clay in there to interfere with the vacuum hose. Any clay in the vacuum chamber should be removed at the end of a pugging session. At the most, I pug 75lbs of clay at a time, so anyone who pugs more than that might need to stop and clear out the vacuum chamber during their session.

Here's a picture of the Bluebird 440, where you can see the vacuum chamber sitting on top:
http://www.bluebird-mfg.com/440.jpg

Here's a picture of the Bluebird 425, which I'm guessing is the one you have. There appears to be a cover bolted over the hole for the vacuum chamber, which it means it can be converted:
http://www.bluebird-mfg.com/425.jpg

EDIT: I just read your comment that Bluebird told you it could not be converted. I stand corrected.
EDIT#2: Just reread your comment which said Bluebird won't convert it. Doesn't mean you can't.

Anyhow, de-airing is really valuable to anyone who wishes to never wedge. In a production environment like mine, wedging is a tremendous waste of energy. But for anyone who doesn't mind having to wedge their pugged clay occassionally, having non-de-aired pugged clay is still much better than non-pugged clay.

EDIT#3: My comment above is referring to recycled/reclaimed clay.

Mea



I honestly don't know what kind of slicing blades are inside. When I was contemplating buying it, someone told me the only downside of a Bluebird was they are very difficult to open and clean. I have solved that problem by never cleaning it :-) I only use one clay so that is ok for me.

I would call it's de-airing function 100% reliable. I can't recall ever being bothered by an air bubble in my pugged clay. I've had it for almost 6 years.

If you are planning a DIY solution, I should clarify that the purpose of the spring-loaded gate between the vacuum chamber and the clay chamber is, every time it closes, it clears out any clay that might be plugging up the opening.

Mea
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#12 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 01:19 PM

I like my de-airing Bailey pugmill. I use it to homogenize hard and softer clay as any lugger would. But, I don't have to wedge as much. I Still do a little to prep the clay for the wheel. Mine is easy to dismantle and clean.


Marcia




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