cranky wrote:That's a great setup Jimbo and I love the strainers. I have a 12 ton jack I am planning on using for next years press, I plan on building it pretty much like yours only I plan on using 4x4s.
Just getting into distilling, but I built a grinder and press last year similar to the ones shown in this thread and pressed some 16.5 bushels of neighborhood apples (didn't weight anything) to yeild 36 gallons of must. Used it to make 30 gallons of ciders and cysers, with some juice for the kids on the side.
I used a 6 ton jack after reviewing other DIY stuff on line. The frame cross beams for my press is re-purposed 2x8 LVLs from our addition. I'm sure they're WAY more capable than I need. Pressure plate for the jack top is a bit of 3/4" Massaranduba decking instead of steel... worked just fine. I've seen a few of the posts sweating the strength of their frame members and saw this plan for 4x4s. Wood is VERY strong in the direction of the grain. I used 4 posts, each of 2 in^2 of Aspen (not all that strong, but plenty for this). However for the cross beams you might be better to use a few 2x8s rather than 4x4s. The height of your beams are 3x as important as the width of your beams to resist bending (and breaking).
My press bucket is a drilled out plastic homebrew... had to be careful not to burst it last year. I really like the SS basket ideas I've seen posted in this thread. I add in a mesh bag inside the press bucket and the must comes out clean, no other straining needed.
My grinder is a 6 diameter drum with 6, helical rows of SS, countersunk fasteners that are not countersunk, set into the drum a bit off of a true radial alignment to promote the grinding actions. Had no problem with apples falling in and getting chewed to nice pomace. But, I built mine with a hand crank and got tendinitis grinding all those apples. Ground up a small amount of little crab apples to add to some of the blends... those were AWFUL to grind.
Just unpacking the equipment to tune it up for this year and my number one focus is to replace the hand crank with a pully and connect it to a motor in my shop. I hear it's supposed to be another good apple season here in the Midwest. I hope to try distilling some apple brandy this year.
Question for you all, other than being French, what makes Calavados any different than apple brandy? I did allow my pomace to macerate (sit all mashed up for a couple of hours before pressing) and do think it helped my yields. I believe some of that maceration is attributed to the French, as is the Keeving process during fermentation (though I didn't try that last year).
By the way, I fermented all my must on Lalvin EC-1118. Takes a long time to mature (some of my cider is still working itself out, and all the cyser needs more time). It dries the must out completely, and does give a "Champaigne-like" flavor. Pretty good, nothing like most store bought, but I had to be very patient with the fermentation.