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How To Prepare 500# Of Clay For Recycling With A Pugmill?


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#1 enbarro

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 12:41 AM

Hi, a friend of mine moved and gave me 500#s of used clay and there’s bone dry and hard wet clay. I also have about 500# of really hard new clay of a different kind that will need to be worked separately. I have a Shimpo PM-071 Pugmill no vacum, but I don’t have much experience with it, or any real life friends who know how to use it. The amount of clay I use doesn’t warrant a weekly use of it and cleaning takes quite a bit of time. I usually just wedge my scraps. Also when I do use it (once or twice a year) the pugged clay sometimes comes out short and I have to mix it with new clay or add water and re-wedge it.

 

Is there a way to leave clay inside the pugmill for several weeks in hot weather for 2 or 3 weeks? If it does get hard, do I have to remove a last bit of dry clay before using it again with the same clay? The manual says to add a cup of water to the hopper, but what about clay on the barrel?

 

This is pretty much a onetime kind of affair. Since it’s not likely I’ll ever have 500# of scraps ever again, I don’t want to spend a lot of money to recycle it or have stuff around I won’t need after I’m done. I’m in no hurry and don’t have to do it all at once.

 

Pugmills should come with more information on how to use them… I’ve searched the web and haven’t had found something that explains how to used them in a way someone with no experience can understand it.  

I’ll appreciate any information or link!



#2 Mark C.

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 01:26 AM

1st I will say since you do not say where you live I cannot add to how hot and dry it

500#s is not that much-3 tyons on a day will really put the hurt on you-do not ask how I know this.

I need to know what kind of clay as to how long you can store it in mill and is that mill all stainless steel or what metal is made from? so I'm setting that answer aside .

There are many ways to soften the clay 1st before pugging here are two.

Now lets talk about bone dry or hard somewhat wet clay-the mill will need the clay 1st to be soft so I suggest putting the pugs into a large tub with wet towels and cover with a lid of your choice ( I do this with stoneware all the time) add water to towels if you have no bags for it or they are toast. This is raw pugs out of bags -if you have good bags that is ones that do not leak (you can double bag them to) add water to each bag and let sit-every day roll the pugs over onto another side ( I also do this) it softens in a few days(2-4). Either of these ways works.

If it porcelain then the story is a whole new ballgame ( you do not mention what kind of clay this is???)

then when its soft you can pug it-it may take a few runs thru that machine to get it mixed up well.

Some here drop the bag in a bucket of water but I have never tried this as it can be mush quickly if there are holes.

Hope this helps

Mark


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#3 enbarro

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 03:35 AM

Thanks Mike C.

My pugmill is the aluminum kind.

I have 50 pounds of cone 6 porcelain, which I plan to wedge… is there anything special to be done before it can be recycled?

The clay I was given is red earthenware, which is what I normally use.

How do I go about getting the dry scraps and really hard wet clay to the right consistency for pugging throwing clay? Also, I'm not sure what is the right consistency?

 

Btw, I like really like the color samples on your webpage!



#4 Biglou13

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 07:55 AM

I've used the mentioned pug mill
If you place wet rag at all openings and cover well with plastic and rubber bands the clay inside will stay moist for long periods of time.

Where do you live? Chances are there is a member here that is close to you and could help

There are lots o ways to recover scrap/trim and lots of posts about it. Lots o different techniques

The towel method is the most used. It is not an overnight method. It works well

Best way for trim is to start recovering the same day you trim.

Dry scrap and trim, place layer in 5 gal bucket. Spray till moist, add another layer spray repeat ..... Cover with wet towel cover and wait.

This method is more drastic..... place all in garbage can/ large storage container.with water.re hydrate, Decant water. Dry clay on plaster slab. Or pillow case method, When it feels like clay pug away. From the plaster slab, use a piece of water clay then drier clay from slab then pug ... Repeat. I keep a sprayer close if clay is borderline pug able an throw in a few chunks and spray with water then pug...
How wet or how dry is a matter of feel.
It's a pretty fast learning curve.

Do not try and force dry clay through mill.

Do you really want to pug 500# at a time. Do you need 500 # right away? You may my be better off with pug as you go method. Inspite of mill it's still a physical job. The cheater bar is you friend. Listen to motor when pugging you don't want to over stress it.

I tend to pug on the moist side, then get it to proper texture by wedging on plaster wedging table an/or leaving out. Or it dries a little as it ages.

I know of a non profit clay center that would take the donation of pug mill and gladly pug you clay for you.
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#5 Pres

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 08:33 AM

I used to use a larger Walker pug mill that was stainless. As we never used porcelain, there was really no use for the stainless other than it really held up well for many many years. We used slop buckets for everything, and pugged on a regular basis. I would usually have two working barrels 1) wet slop from throwing, and soft clay from scraps of handbuilding, 2) scraps from handbuilding that were drier, but not bone dry. There would also be barrels of bone dry that would be slaked down. We would pug by mixing the two barrels to come to a consistency that was right for new work. I always would start with some of the barrel 1 to clear out the clay that may be hardened into the pug barrel. This would be repugged with the rest of the clay later. Then I would start adding a double handful from both barrels and check consistency at the outlet. If to dry re-pug with a little of barrel 1. Checking the consistency from time to time is all that is needed, and adding clay when needed. Let the machine do the work. Even though they have plungers to force the clay into the hopper, only use the plunger, when you have added too much clay, to break the bridge that forms. I got to the point that I only added enough clay to fall into the blades, and let that work before adding more. You can usually wander around the shop doing clean up, assembly or something else checking on the pug mill on a periodic basis. This unless of course you have other people in the shop that might get curious as to what is going on and puke it with something like fingers, or wooden tools. Hated that, and broke the habit with students really fast, but you have to be careful.


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#6 schmism

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 12:17 PM

So clear this up for me.....

 

There are pug mills on the market that do not offer a mixing option?    IE they only spin one direction (to extrude clay) and dont reverse?

 

It was my understanding from watching vids on youtube that if you had a pugmill that had a mixer function, you could add trimmings, bone dry scraps,  slip water to the hopper and mix until you had the right consistency.   To wet, you add dry clay (as in clay "powder" or small bone dry scraps).   to dry and you add SMALL amounts of water (like just an ounce at a time).   Let mix for 5-10 min and check the hopper again.   WHen it was what you wanted you reverse and pug out.   The clay at the "end" of the milll that wasnt gettting mixed and could have been sitting for some time was recycled back into the hopper for mixing.

 

There are some people that talk about letting your newly pugged clay age for some time.   Something to do with helping the plasticity... Although there seem to be many that go right from the end of the pugmill to the wheel head. 



#7 Benzine

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 09:48 PM

Those Walkers are great, aint they Pres? There was one on an auction site, a state over that had me tempted. I'm not sure if I'd get the OK from the school, nor do I really have the space though.
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#8 Mark C.

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 10:43 PM

So clear this up for me.....

 

There are pug mills on the market that do not offer a mixing option?    IE they only spin one direction (to extrude clay) and dont reverse?

 

It was my understanding from watching vids on youtube that if you had a pugmill that had a mixer function, you could add trimmings, bone dry scraps,  slip water to the hopper and mix until you had the right consistency.   To wet, you add dry clay (as in clay "powder" or small bone dry scraps).   to dry and you add SMALL amounts of water (like just an ounce at a time).   Let mix for 5-10 min and check the hopper again.   WHen it was what you wanted you reverse and pug out.   The clay at the "end" of the milll that wasnt gettting mixed and could have been sitting for some time was recycled back into the hopper for mixing.

 

There are some people that talk about letting your newly pugged clay age for some time.   Something to do with helping the plasticity... Although there seem to be many that go right from the end of the pugmill to the wheel head. 

Yes not all mills mix-the Peter Puggers where one of the 1st to offer both functions 

The older bluebirds or at least the one I used only pugged clay and not very well at that. I ran 3 tons thru it twice in a very long day

The peter puggers of today are well designed for both functions 

The shimpo NVS-07 is also a mixer and lugger.

I think all the rest of the shimpo's  mostly pug but am not 100% on that

Not sure on the baileys as well.

If you plan on using one for porcelain it will eat pits in aluminum over time is its stored in the chamber/barrel thats why you need stainless interiors.

Stoneware zero issues with pitting-thats what Petter Pugger told me when I was at factory.

 

Mark


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#9 enbarro

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 11:09 PM

Thanks to all for taking the time to reply!

Pres, my pugmill only has one barrel.

Schism, As far as I know my pugmill runs un only one direction, and the hopper is rather small I’d say it holds less than 8 pounds of clay…

Biglou13, when you say the clay will stay moist for long periods are we talking weeks or months?

 

Yes, Ideally I rather pug just the clay I'm going to use that day, but haven’t been able to get the timing or the clay right.

 

My worry is that I don’t know when the clay in the barrel gets hard enough to damage the pugmill.



#10 Mark C.

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 02:01 AM

I store a wet rag in mine over the clay on top under hpper door. Mine is o ring sealed so its air tight. Do not let your clay get hard. That will make you have to take apart the whole barrel.

Mark


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#11 Pres

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 08:14 AM

Enbarro, You must have misunderstood me. The barrels I am talking about were 55 gallon barrels that we used to store the slop and dry clay in.


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#12 Stephen

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 10:35 AM

Mark,

 

I have a Peter Pugger 9 and we switched from stoneware a few months back so I cleaned it up from top to bottom to get the old stoneware out and it is pitted. We have mostly used Seattle Potteries Vashon White but I did make a house white stoneware and I assume that's the culprit, I had read about the porcelain issue and was prepared for it to happen with the new stuff but was surprised to see it with the stoneware.

 

Does it matter a great deal? I have been using it a bit lately and seems to work fine. I am assuming at some point it might be an issue with vacuum? Did they mention the issues that one would have with the pitting? 



#13 Biglou13

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 08:35 PM

Thanks to all for taking the time to reply!
Pres, my pugmill only has one barrel.
Schism, As far as I know my pugmill runs un only one direction, and the hopper is rather small I’d say it holds less than 8 pounds of clay…
Biglou13, when you say the clay will stay moist for long periods are we talking weeks or months?

Yes, Ideally I rather pug just the clay I'm going to use that day, but haven’t been able to get the timing or the clay right.

My worry is that I don’t know when the clay in the barrel gets hard enough to damage the pugmill.

Months (approx 2) but sealed very well. Imagine if you store with wet towels/ sponges sealed with rubber bands, Saran Wrap, multi layers of plastic, then every few weeks re wet and re seal the 3 openings then yes even longer if not indefinite. Pm me if you need more details

Clay is softer than metal, unless chemical reaction, you'll know motor is stressed by sound of motor? I haven't dissasembled yet but manual makes it look easy. Another indication your have dry clay in barrel is mis shapen pug, eg one flat side. Or the pug/log comes out curving.

When I wedge recovery clay, it's been drying on plaster/ dry wall/ canvas slab. The edges are always dry the middle wet, if you put a bit of each it comes out pretty good. If wrong consistency re pug with some dryer or wetter bits until right consistency. Or if clay is a little too dry , spray some water in between bits of pre puged clay. There is no rule clay that clay can't be pugged multiple times, (at least with stone ware) If clay log is cracking as it comes out it's too dry.

As far as timing, get 3 - 5 gal buckets, buckets 1 and 2 you moisten generously cover with very damp towel, cover with air tight cover. I like to use splash pan slop. About one a week scoop out what is softish. If too wet leave lid ajar. When you can scoop out with hand, place in bucket # 3. Wedge from bucket #3. If pugs are too wet you can leave pugs out over night, repug next day. I There is no rule for perfect consistency. But given your own conditions you'll eventually figure out pattern.
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#14 enbarro

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 11:37 PM

Thanks Biglou13, I finally got it! This is going to make my life a lot easier…

I have disassembled mine several times. It’s easy, but cleaning it takes a long time.

 

Sorry Pres, English is my second language. I wasn’t able to get a mental picture of what you explained when I first read it. I think in pictures. :)

After reading all the information on the thread I think I just need to get a 10 gal. trash can and a couple of 5 gal. buckets.

Could you give me a “visual” explanation of how you mix the clay from the two barrels before placing it in the hopper? What is the consistency of the clay in barrel 1 when you take it out to pug it? Do you clump it together with clay from barrel 2 on a flat surface, or is it a scoop of barrel 1 and a scoop of barrel 2 into the hopper kind of deal?



#15 Biglou13

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 04:41 AM

You don't mix it before you place small amounts in hopper and let pug mill do the work.
I sometimes use this tool . http://www.cheftools...ctinfo/02-1894/
If pug log is inconsistent cut up and re pug.
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The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
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#16 enbarro

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 05:32 PM

Thanks Biglou13!



#17 Pres

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 09:05 AM

Took a few minutes to clarify the idea for you, Enbarro.

 

 

Attached File  Pugging clay.jpg   104.87KB   2 downloads

 

 

 

Hope this helps you out. This is how I used to do things, and as you work with the pug mill you will find your own way. After a while you will realize that some scraps are too dry so you add some slop over them to soften them up, or you may add some dryer clay to the wet bucket to dry it up. All in all it is a work in progress. Keep barrels(buckets) covered when not pugging.

 

Best of Luck

Pres


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#18 enbarro

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 11:17 PM

Thanks Pres! This is going to speed up the recycling process. My pugmill's hopper is a LOT smaller than the one in the picture, but I guess it'll be fine once I can eye ball the right consitency.

#19 Pres

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 12:11 AM

That is an old Walker pug mill, there are those of us that believe it could not be beat. Thing would run all day, and keep on chugging out clay with little maintenance, and little watching. I had one in my High School class room.


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#20 enbarro

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 11:49 PM

I understand why… it looks like a really simple and effective design.






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