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“Washing Machine” Cider Maker
Philemon Riehl’s cider maker chops up apples and literally spins out the cider. His “washing machine” cider maker may be the best small cider maker ever and he gives all the credit to his wife’s grandfather, Harvey Miller.
  “He’s in his 90’s and is still making cider with his machine in Colorado,” says Riehl. “We decided to make our own, following his design.”
  Riehl stopped at a local appliance dealer and picked up a used top loading washing machine. His only requirement was a clean machine with a good motor and drive.
  He cleaned out all the excess wiring and controls, as well as the agitator. He also removed the door.
  “I wired it so it is on spin cycle whenever it runs,” says Riehl.
  After cleaning it, he replaced the drain hose. He cut an exit hole for the new hose in the side of the machine slightly above the height of a 5-gal. plastic pail.
  Riehl used the plastic pail lid to make a screen to catch any larger bits of apple expelled with the cider. After cutting out the center of the lid, he cut aluminum window screening to fit.
  “I used a soldering iron to melt it fast to the lid,” says Riehl.
  The apple grinder is a nail studded, marine-grade plywood base. It fits in the bottom of the washing machine drum with a hole in the center for the agitator base. The base is studded with paneling nails that protrude about 3/8 in.
  “Putting the nails in was the most time consuming part,” says Riehl. “I welded a small nut to a nail for a jig. It gave me the spacing I needed and kept me from smashing my fingers.”
  Riehl screwed blocks on the back side of the plywood to keep it flat over the concave base of the drum.
  He fashioned a new door out of plywood with sides to hold apples. It has a 3-in. diameter pvc pipe that is mounted off-center and extends into the drum. It stops just above the nails. A wooden plunger is also designed to stop just above the nails when extended into the pipe.
  “I start the machine, dump apples into the tray on top, and start dropping them into the pipe,” says Riehl. “I just keep adding apples until the machine starts to wobble and let it spin until the hose runs dry.”
  The nails macerate the apples, releasing the juice, which is then spun out of the drum. It drains through the screening and into the waiting pail.
  “The nails chew the apples up fine,” says Riehl.
  Cleaning out the machine is fast and easy too. Riehl scoops out the nearly dry pulp after every bushel.
  At the end of the day, he removes the nailed platform and the drum. He then washes everything in a bleach solution.
  “It’s fast. I’ve made 50 gallons of cider from 17 bushels of apples in a single day,” he says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Philemon Riehl, 1280 S. 1700 E., Godding, Idaho 83330 (ph 208 320-6094; philjen06@icloud.com).

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #4