Wednesday, April 15, 2009

They always say...

They always say that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I'm gonna have to agree with that.

You'll recall from my last post the problems I was having with my new pug mill. Well, I removed the paint as recommended by the company, and sure enough, within two weeks those pesky hard chunkies were back. My frustrations were growing, to say the least.

So I posted a comment on Clayart, an online clay forum, about the issue of porcelain in my Peter Pugger. I explained what had happened and wanted to know what others had done about the situation. My timing couldn't have been better. It just so happens that the same week I posted my question to Clayart, that ceramic gurus, industry reps, galleries, schools and enthusiasts were meeting for the annual NCECA conference and someone was kind enough to pose this question directly to Peter Pugger. Apparently there were others in my position who were also frustrated.

The company was aware of the problem and were currently working on the solution. I couldn't be happier! I called the company first thing the following Monday morning and was immediately passed on to the owner. They offered to help me resolve the problem right away. I must say, the customer service was amazing. They explained to me what was going on, that it's the alkalinity of the clay that's corroding the aluminum. Just the fact that they seemed to know what was causing the problem has led me to believe that they have thoroughly researched the issue and that their fix will work.

I know that other people, with other types of pug mills have not been so lucky in dealing with other companies. So I guess I got the right machine after all, especially considering the price tag of some of the others!

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    So I have a Van Ho pug mill that does what you are describing. Good luck with the factory coming up with a solution. Thank you for getting them to look at it.

    Seems to me that the solution is to either replace the casting with a more durable alloy (stainless steel), or create liners that will shield metal from the clay. I have not been able to do this 100% through the barrels, but where I have done this, it has been successful. It gets tricky because of the clearance between the augur and barrel.

    I was told that it may be possible to electroplate a layer of nickel or chrome on the Aluminum and this would be a protective layer. Paint or other brush on applications will probably not last and will cause a bigger problem as the material wears off.

    For us, it has been a big problem and we have gotten to the point of planning a monthly breakdown of the machine.

    My experience has been that the condition is exacerbated by temperature difference of clay compared to barrel. I suspect that the clay heats up as it is shredded, deaired, and compacted and the pore water of the clay is squeezed out, condenses on the augur, finds the way to the barrel and that is where the chemical reaction takes place.

    The big extruders in industry have liners in the barrels as a design feature. The benefit is that when the chemical/physical wear makes it's effect known, the fix is to replace the liner and not the barrel. My Van Ho Barrell is a mess.