Pressed Back Into Action
(Page 2 of 3)
During its working life, several modifications (read: improvements) were made. For example, a 1909 Gomez feeding system replaced the original. It appeared this machine had baled a lot of hay, as a consider able amount of wear was present on the hinges, pivots and winch bearings. There were no grease cups on the bearings, but some did have 'oil holes' that probably plugged up fairly quick with dust and chaff, and maybe never got oiled.
Rebuilding from the ground up
The search for heavy lumber to build it first led to a hardwood supplier. Clear maple and oak - like the original wood - would've cost more than $10,000, which was way too much! We found a lumber recycler who could've filled our lumber needs with clear, old-growth Douglas fir, but that was still too expensive at about $3,400.
Eventually, a lumberyard in Tracy, Calif., gave us heavy Douglas fir timbers that we could rip to size. They had been used for a highway project 15 years earlier and were mostly close-grained without any nails. A local sawmill cut them to the sizes we needed for $650. We were also given extra timber so that it was possible to have clear lumber for every critical wooden part.
Mortise and tenon joints, bolted and strapped together, were used on the base frames of both the press box and the power unit. The combined mechanical advantage of the horse power winch and the final leverage of the press arms calculates to pro duce 72,000 pounds of pressure on the follower from a pull of 500 pounds at the end of the 16-foot sweep, so we obviously had to build every component to withstand the force.
We removed and reused many of the original bolts by heating the nuts red-hot so they could be unscrewed. However, 200 more new square-head and carriage bolts were needed to completely rebuild both the press box and power unit.
Nut and head sizes hadn't yet been standardized in the 1890s. Wrenches for nuts on 1/2-inch bolts varied from 13/16-inch to 1 1/4-inch. Other sizes varied as well. Lucky for us, 40 years ago a friend purchased the entire bolt supply (all square-head and solid-shank carriage bolts) from a blacksmith shop in Danville, Calif., and still had 450 pounds of them when he died, which I bought from his estate. Long bolts were made from rods by using square nuts to make heads.