Milking It for all It's Worth
(Page 2 of 3)
Another in their collection is the Empire Mechanical Milker,
which, despite its fancy name, worked just like any other milking
machine, Dennis says. "It has the cups and everything like all the
rest," he says. "I think that was just a name they gave it to
advertise it." The company's claim to fame was made in their ads,
which stated that the Empire Mechanical Milker worked "just like a
sucking calf." These were made by Empire Cream Separator Co. of
The Clean-Easy was manufactured by one of the companies that had
multiple places of business, Dennis says, made by Ben H. Anderson
Manufacturing Co. of Clearwater, Fla., but also in Wisconsin. "The
reason I remembered that was because in a previous issue of
Farm Collector a woman asked if anyone had information
about the Clean-Easy, and I copied the information out of the book
and sent it to her. In her return letter she said she hadn't found
out anything else about it."
A year ago the collection grew quickly when a man offered them
three IH milking machines after a show. "He said, 'I'd rather see
somebody use them than they just go to waste.' All we had to do was
go and pick them up."
The milking machine Dennis has put the most work into is the
Hinman Milking Machine made by a company of the same name in
Minneapolis. "I fixed the vacuum pump once, but after I got it
going at a show, it froze, and I had to take it all apart
A routine challenge in collecting milking equipment is finding a
unit with a working vacuum compressor wheel. The wheels aren't
difficult to fix, Dennis notes, but often need repair. "A series of
little boards flip on an eccentric shaft when the shaft goes
around," he says. "Those boards get stuck from dirt and gunk caked
in there." He removes the boards, which are made of Bakelite but
look like wood, cleans them and the slots they fit into, and puts
everything back together. He's salvaged boards from duplicates or
the occasional beyond-repair unit.
The Nickersons have 16 different milking machines in their
collection, plus a few duplicates. "When it comes to Surge, for
instance, there are many different kinds," Dennis says. "There are
upright buckets, hanging stainless steel aluminum buckets, and so
on, and the same goes for De Laval."
In the old days, dairy farmers rarely milked more than two cows
at one time, lifting or pulling the milking machine down the center
of the barn and attaching teat cups to a cow on each side.
"Really," Dennis says, "how many cows you could milk depended on
the buckets you had. If you had an upright bucket, you could only
milk two cows at one time into one bucket. Today you have so many
multiple milkers, but they don't milk into a bucket. Today they can
milk many cows at once because the pipeline dumps the milk back
into a cooler that holds hundreds and hundreds of gallons. The
limiting factor in the old days was the size of the bucket."