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Using a pug mill for softening clay


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I've never cut up a brand new bag of clay directly into a pug mill.  With my hands the way they are, once I get to 5 or 6 lbs, I need the clay to be pretty soft.  I think adding slip is the preference over adding water.  I know there are a lot of variables, but start with 1/2 cup of slip?      VPM30.

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2 hours ago, fergusonjeff said:

I think Mark means to add water through the hopper (top), but at the side toward the barrel end.  This is what I do, and it allows the water to mix before it works through into the vacuum chamber.

 

Yes exactly-you want the water in the hopper at the barrel side(left) away from the vacumme side.

This info comes from the manufacture

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Thanks guys.  I'll have to give it a try.  Be nice to throw some larger stuff with fresh clay.  My pugmill is full of recycle, half S60 and half Amador, so it's a medium color.  If I run out all I can, then add the new clay I'll have to do a couple of boxes before it runs clean.  The S60 is pretty light color, but not white.  With my stuff, it doesn't really matter all that much.

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I read ages ago and use this method. Fill a 5 gallon or slightly smaller free ice cream buckets with water around a bag of stiff clay in the bag. Open the bag and put 1/4-1/2 cup water and re-seal the bag. let it sit overnight or for a few days. This really works. I also saw a method for softening pugged clay. Dampen tee shirts. Put the stiff pugs inside the tee shirts and lay them into a shallow plastic storage container (like for under the bed) . Put the lid on and wait 3-4 days. very evenly moisturized.

Marcia

 

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  • 1 year later...

I had an old Blue Bird 650  fall into my lap. I feel very fortunate for this bit of luck and circumstance. I replaced bearings and changed out the motor oil and fired it up.  It is a large machine! I put a 5 gallon bucket of recycled clay into the business end and it never made it thru the machine.  I like throwing with soft clay and would like to run my boxed clay thru the mill to soften it. How much water should I add? I plan to run several hundred pounds thru the mill.

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It doesn't take very much, maybe 1/4 cup per 25 lbs.  That would be for commercial softness going to the softest you really can throw.  Easy to wedge and center.  That's for the clay I use, Soldate 60 and Amador.  If you're using B Mix, porcelain or something like that I'd think it might be different.  You really have to experiment and see what you like.  After pugging it soft, it really does benefit from a rest/age period of at least a month and more is better.

Did you get the machine to pug out the clay?  The hopper has to be really full, no big air voids.

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Thanks for the info. What I have is a blue bird 650-really cavernous.  It was given to me .  I assume that’s what you mean by a machine to pug out the clay. So far I’ve Been the machine.  It is so large I have been hesitant about running it. I have about 450-500 pounds of clay from 2017. It is on the dry side. Fine  for hand building but very hard to center.  I thought I’d  start putting in a little clay and adding some clay from my bucket a bit at a time. So...experimentation it is! Thanks again.

Dan

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You can add some water run it thru and if its still to dry run it thru again with more water.You need to fill the machine for it to operate well. The machine will hold lots of clay when its done-keep it wet and covered at both ends. I'm assuming this is not a vacuum machine. 

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Like @Mark C.says, run the clay through with some water, if it is better, I often will run it through one more time to make certain that it is good. Don't know why, but the old Walker I used always turned out a little better on the second time around, but then we used it mostly for recycling from slop and mixing in clay up to leather hard with it.

 

best,

Pres

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8 hours ago, Pres said:

Like @Mark C.says, run the clay through with some water, if it is better, I often will run it through one more time to make certain that it is good. Don't know why, but the old Walker I used always turned out a little better on the second time around, but then we used it mostly for recycling from slop and mixing in clay up to leather hard with it.

 

best,

Pres

 

They might not have been de-airing, but I loved the Walker I had at my previous School!

If I found one for sale, and had some disposable income, I'd snatch it up.

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a simple way to add water is to cut the clay into pieces before putting into the pugmill.   dip the pieces into a container of clean water and drop them into the hopper.    just dip, you don't have to soak or anything, just dip and drop into the hopper.   when they come out as pugs, feel the softness and repeat if necessary to get what you want.

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