One of my readers asked me to post some of the result of my pug mill search. There are good things as well as bad reported by owners and users of various models. As a former owner of a large, powerstar Bluebird, I can say that for me, with my limited production, it worked fine. It was much bigger than I needed but I got an over $5000 machine for $800 at an auction, so I dealt with the size. What I didn't like about the Powerstar was that you had to tilt this over 300 lbs or more machine to empty the oil. Jim and I couldn't do it so we had to pay someone to do it.
For one Bluebird who spoke well of the brand, he also reported a long list of needed maintenance and rebuilds over time. Another poster with a Venco which also had heavy duty, long term use, had no where near the same maintenance or rebuilds. The Bailey has a new pugmill which looks good on paper, but they don't have a size small enough for my current needs.
The Peter Pugger is the one I zeroed in on. It's the perfect size - only 3feet long and 14inches high and deep. It will fit on a heavy metal table I already have, and it doesn't have those messy screens to clean. Four small bolts remove the shell for easy access to the auger blades for cleaning, and there's even a temperature control. When the machine is closed up the clay will stay moist a very long time. With my old Bluebird, I had to stuff the hopper and exit with wet towels, and plastic to keep the clay from drying out. It's small but with it's capability to pug and deair 500 lbs of clay an hour, is more clay that I or any working solo, studio potter would need.
And since I also sold my clay mixer, the Peter Pugger will be great reclaiming dry and wet clay as well. Most of the reviews were very good, with the exception of someone using it for porcelain who felt that the clay lost it's plasticity; but it could have been because he over mixed it, which another owner said, would cause that problem. Doing a short e-mixing with a bit more water was recommended as a fix.
I think you need to read up on all of them and do some one line queries for people who may own the ones you're considering. From what I can see, the PeterPugger is the only one that is that small that can reclaim dry scraps as well as pug and de-air clay.
These are pricy machines, but at some point you have to determine if, as in my case, you aging, aching body is worth it. And since I know that once I hang it up, the pug mill will have no trouble finding a new home, recouping some of my initial investment.
The Peter Pugger pictured is the one I'm ordering from the manufacturer. Since I'm paying cash, he'll ship it for free. They also have the option of time payments if needed or desired. I compared the total price to other on line prices and the manufacturer is the best deal. Some may give a little discount on the list price, but charge much more for shipping and may not give a cash discount. I think there may be the advantage of perhaps getting the machine quicker because I ordered directly from them. In case of any problem I won't have to deal with third parties.
Delivery was my concern, but because this machine is only about 185 lbs crated, he said the UPS or Fedex people would just put it on a cart and bring it to the house, as long as I'm here, which wouldn't be a problem to arrange.
It took me until one o'clock this afternoon to get household and garden things, including meetings with the garden man to get the drip system set up done. Now it's time to get this won ton soup heated up for lunch and hopefully I can get those mug handles pulled and on to pots this afternoon.
It's looking like another one of those "where did the time go", kind of days.