Antique Cider Presses: Pressed Into Service

Iowa man collects, restores antique cider presses

| October 2012

  • Trio Of Cider Presses
    A trio of restored presses.
    Photo By Loretta Sorensen
  • Apple Cider Press 1
    Joe does extensive research to ensure that his restorations are as correct as possible. He is continually amazed by the intricate workmanship of early presses, created using nothing more sophisticated than hand tools.
    Photo By Loretta Sorensen
  • Joe-Wurth
    Joe serves home-pressed cider from his one-of-a-kind bar. He used woodwork salvaged from an old house and lumber sawed from a tree on his property to build his bar and backbar.
    Photo By Loretta Sorensen
  • Junior Apple Cider Press
    A cider press in very good original condition. Antique presses rarely turn up in such good shape.
    Photo By Loretta Sorensen
  • Two Tub Apple Cider Press
    This handsomely restored two-tub press was manufactured by Tiffin Agricultural Works, Tiffin, Ohio.
    Photo By Loretta Sorensen
  • Eagle Two Tub Cider Press
    This restored Eagle Senior two-tub press has been mechanized with a 1/2 hp engine. Manufactured by Eagle Machine Co., Lancaster, Ohio, it is one of two restored presses Joe uses. “Back in their day, it was not uncommon for families to have eight to 10 children and everybody took a turn on the crank,” he says. “It’s fun to turn the crank for about the first five minutes, then it becomes hard work. An electric motor mounted on the cider press makes the fun last a whole lot longer.”
    Photo By Loretta Sorensen
  • Apple Cider Press Parts
    Some parts have manufacturer’s parts numbers.
    Photo By Loretta Sorensen
  • Whitman Medium Cider Press
    This Whitman Medium, manufactured by Whitman Agricultural Works, St. Louis, dates to the 1870s. The company claimed its Americus mill was “the best cider and wine mill made.”
    Photo By Loretta Sorensen
  • Cider Presses
    Joe likes to think of these antiques in their original context. “One of my presses goes back to 1869. That’s the same year the Transcontinental Railroad was completed,” he muses, “and just four years after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.”
    Photo By Loretta Sorensen
  • Cider Press Wheel
    When Joe restores a press, he completely disassembles the piece. Here, the flywheel, gears and other old iron from a vintage press.
    Photo By Loretta Sorensen

  • Trio Of Cider Presses
  • Apple Cider Press 1
  • Joe-Wurth
  • Junior Apple Cider Press
  • Two Tub Apple Cider Press
  • Eagle Two Tub Cider Press
  • Apple Cider Press Parts
  • Whitman Medium Cider Press
  • Cider Presses
  • Cider Press Wheel

You might say that Joe Wurth was, uh, pressed into his first experience with a cider press. The Marcus, Iowa, man had never laid hands on a press (sometimes called a mill) until a friend asked him to help restore her family’s antique. That favor has since evolved into a full-fledged collection and hobby for Joe and his family.

It started simply enough. While building birdhouses for his young sons to place around the yard, Joe began to develop woodworking skills. Before long, he advanced to more complicated projects, things like picture frames and jewelry boxes.

Then a co-worker took notice and asked a favor. Her family had a long tradition of making cider every fall, but hadn’t made a batch for a few years, she said, because “a couple of boards” on their antique cider press needed to be replaced. “She knew I had just purchased a table saw,” Joe says, “and asked if I would consider cutting the boards needed to make the press functional again.”

Joe went to look at the cider press the following weekend. He expected to see an antique with a few rough edges. Instead, he found a basket case. “It was a pile of iron with the remains of two rotting legs,” Joe remembers. “My friend’s father looked at me with a smile and said, ‘Well, let’s get this stuff loaded up!’ Before I knew it, the iron parts were in the back of my pickup. As I headed back home, I wondered how it had all happened.”



Joe didn’t know it at the time, but that first press was a large one capable of producing 600 gallons of juice in a day. “It weighed close to 500 pounds,” he recalls. “It took four of us to load it in the pickup when it was all restored. That project was my baptism.”

Favor morphs into hobby

Joe spent most of that summer restoring the antique cider press. Pleased with his first effort, he hatched a plan. “I started wishing I had a press of my own,” he says. That fall, Joe and his wife attended a Missouri farm sale where they purchased a single-tub press manufactured by Red Cross Mfg. Co., Bluffton, Ind.

bonifield
10/9/2018 7:08:22 PM

I have a press man. by P. P. Mast, #25, needs a part. Where do I go? email ajilldogs@embarqmail.com


bonifield
10/9/2018 7:08:20 PM

I have a press man. by P. P. Mast, #25, needs a part. Where do I go? email ajilldogs@embarqmail.com