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Houston, we have a problem.... - Random babblings of a fiber-obsessed nutcase

About Houston, we have a problem....

Previous Entry Houston, we have a problem.... Jul. 30th, 2010 @ 09:35 am Next Entry
my milking machine. :sigh: I think it's fixed now, but.....since I like to share what I've learned, and maybe spare someone the scrabbling I've had to do, I'll go into detail. Skip it if you're not considering *ever* getting a dairy animal.......

OK, quick recap. We have a rebuilt Surge milking machine. Here's the whole thing:



(Yeah, I know I posted these the other day. Deal with it, OK? The pics will come in handy!)

The pump is at the top of the pic, the teakettle-shaped thing is the milk bucket. It's HUGE, and it's stainless steel, so it's HEAVY. This machine was designed for a cow - the handle on the bucket would slide into a surcingle on the cow's belly, and the bucket would hang, right in front of the udder. For goats, it sits on the ground - the milk lines are longer (I think ours are 6' - on a cow, they'd be 1', at most). This is a simple milker - there's no ballast tank, everything is pretty much right there; less moving parts to go boink.

Last night, we fiddled with it and got it to suck up water out of a bucket. Whee! We drug it out to the barn, hooked it up, and decided to test it on Rosa (she's actually the most mellow of our milkers - Annie would probably freak, Mocha wouldn't, but she milks out fast. Rosa's a gallon-a-day, so we figured we had time to mess with the machine.). Turned it on, built up the vacuum (more on that in a bit), so I popped the shell on Rosa...and got Nothing. Nada. Vacuum, yes, but no pulsation. Therefore, no milk.

See the little box-thingy with all the hoses attached?



That's the pulsator. It's what makes the suction...well, pulsate. Only ours didn't. We fiddled, we banged, we twisted knobs...and I ended up milking out 3 goats (Himself did Mocha). SG put in a call to the seller, then he got it to suck again, so we ran soapy water, then bleach water thru it to clean it. (It didn't really *need* to be cleaned, but I figured it was best to get into the swing of things.)

The seller called this AM. Sweet Geek went into the milkroom and they talked while he did things to the machine. The pulsator simply wasn't working.....you're supposed to hear a "clicking" when it's running. We...weren't. (Funny thing: I answered the phone, since SG was on the tractor. The seller asked me "How long have you had the machine?".....I said "Let's see..UPS delivered it.......Wednesday." Dead. Silence. "Huh. OK...so....." :snicker:)

After about 15 minutes, I was sent to find some WD-40. The pulsator pistons weren't moving, and that's why we weren't getting milk. SG zapped it with a few sprays....and now it's working. The seller stayed on the phone until SG had adjusted it to the right speed (I have no clue. I can't hear a difference, but apparantly the seller can.)

We're going to try it again tonight......:fingers crossed: it works.

The folks on DGI have suggested we trade this pulsator in for an Interpuls one.......it's an $89 "upgrade", plus a conversion kit. They've also suggested I trade buckets - a DeLaval one is "better". For the moment, the only thing we're going to do is install the shut-off valves on each inflation vacuum line. I'll look for a DeLaval bucket - this on is hard to carry, but it'll work. We're not doing a ballast tank, because the milk bucket (where vacuum builds up on this machine) is 5 gallon....we get 1 gallon of milk per milking. The vacuum won't drop too much - even when we add 2 more does next year. Even if I get a DeLaval bucket - they're 4 gallon, I think. I'm in no rush to change.....I need to get this figured out, first. (The shut-off valves are a necessity - the plugs are too hard to pop off when trying to get the cups on the doe, and we lost quite a bit of vacuum last night while I fiddled. The valves will make that part go quicker.)

So. If you are thinking about dairy animals, AND you're sorta thinking about a machine.....I will recommend Perry's milkers on eBay. He was very nice on the phone, and didn't seem to mind talking SG thru different things to get us up and running. The machine is clean - the pump is a bit noisy, but it's also up against a metal feed barrel. It didn't seem to bother the goats.......Perry's prices are a little more than half the cost of a brand-new machine.....and it's got a guarantee. Parting one, you don't have that (if you're mechanically minded, that won't be such a big deal. For us, it was.)

I need to get some new shots of the milk room - we installed a hook in the rafters, and ran chains to 2 velcro loops. These are to hold the 2 sets of teat cups off the ground, in between does and after cleaning. We've also got 2 2.5 gallon buckets - 1 for soapy water, 1 for bleach water. In between goats, you swish in the soapy water, then the bleach water and hang it to drip while the goat finishes eating. That way it's clean and sanitized between goats - less chance of spreading mastitis. When you're done, you dump all the used cups in the soapy water, turn on the pump, and suck the water thru the lines (AFTER you've dumped the milk into your tote, of course!). Swish the bucket, dump the soapy water, then run the bleach water thru as a rinse. Swish and dump that, turn the bucket upside down to drain, set the clean lid on one of the buckets, and voila! You're done until the next milking. Once a week, you'll haul the bucket in for a good scrubbing.......sounds like a lot, but it only took a few seconds to suck the water thru the lines - swishing and tossing took longer. :lol:

Here's hoping tonight goes well!

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