DIY Cider Press Review: “Anyone can build a whizbang cider press!”

In this video I show you the basics of a simple cider press I built from plans I purchased from whizbangcider.com. I actually built two cider presses and grinders. One of the presses was a gift for my uncle who plans to grow a lot of fruit at his lake house.

Here are 2 key things that attracted me to the ‘whizbang’ design:

  1. Uses a 6 ton tube jack to press the cider rather than laboriously turning an acme screw
  2. Uses a garbage disposal to create the mash, which I thought was a great idea.

In the book Herrick Kimball recommends that the disposal unit you choose should be modified with a more powerful electric engine to avoid overheating. I got antsy and decided to try it without the modification and it has worked fine for 5+ batches, however I do notice it does rather warm. I don’t run it for very long periods of time since it does such a nice job of crushing up apples.

Please check out Herrick’s blog post here: New Techniques for Cider Making for a more detailed explanation of the cider making process. You can purchase his book on his website as well.

Review: Rain Reserve Water Diverter

Today’s entry comes from John Daleske. This is a great article because setting up rain harvesting is a big “to do” on my list for next year. It seems like a simple thing to install.

Review: Rain Reserve Water Diverter

by John Daleske

Capturing precious rain water will be critical in the future and important now for gardeners and permaculturists. It is also important as a back-up source for (mostly) potable water should there be a loss of one’s main water source.

The Rain Reserve water diverter

Rain Reserve makes a downspout diverter. I got a couple and have been testing them this past year. The design requires removing a downspout section, fitting the diverter in place, then screwing it in place.

Installation requires a way to cut the downspout (metal snips or a saw), screwdriver, and a drill. It took me about an hour.

As a closed system, it is supposed to keep mosquitoes and other water-loving critters out of the barrel. Rain water flows into the chamber. The center of the chamber has an upward extension with a hole at the top. Excess water and floatable debris flow out here. At the bottom of the chamber are the two outlets to which you connect the hoses.

The two hoses are pressure fit, though you could add clamps. One hose runs to a barrel. I installed two 50-gallon barrels.

The diverter input handles only the standard (American) downspout. All of my downspouts are the larger (6″), which required the reducer you see feeding into the diverter. That is an extra item, which I did not realize did not come in the kit. I am a little concerned that if we get a heavy rain for an extended period, the diverter would not be able to handle the excess flow, backing water up the downspout and eventually causing the gutters to overflow.

Rain Barrels hooked up to the diverter

I wanted the barrels high enough to let me water my garden using drip irrigation. The base is loose stacked cement block, two blocks high, leveled to provide a sturdy platform.

Note the sag in the feed hoses from the diverter to the barrels. There is no overflow pipe from the barrels. The intention is that the water fills up the barrel and up the hose at which point all other water fill flow out the center drain hole and down the downspout. The sag is caused by the weight of the water.

Also note the crimping of the hose on the left. When installed, the hose lines seemed the right length and could not have been cut shorter. I am trying to decide on the best way to correct that crimp. The barrel curently still fills up.

One of the main concerns I have is that this design does not handle debris wash from the roof to keep it from getting into the barrels. I have seen washer designs that collect the first few gallons from the roof, which will have the majority of small debris, then allow all subsequent water to fill the barrels.

The other concern I have is that this seems like it would not do well in areas with lower rain fall amounts. It allows too much water to just flow directly to the exit, only capturing a percentage of the overall flow.

For a small installation with just two barrels, it is an easy way to get started. For semi-arid or arid regions, I would look for a better way to capture a higher percentage of the flow.

Get your avatar on my blog, thesurvivalpodcast.com and many other blogs

Just a quick little tip which might enhance your experience on my blog and many other blogs.

If you would like to have an icon show up next to your post when you submit a comment to a great number of blogs and some messageboards around the internet then head on over to gravatar.com.

Just make sure when you make a comment that you provide the same email address as your gravatar and your avatar will automatically show up.

SaveOurSkills.com 2.0

This is the obligatory introductory post! I’m not going to drone on about the philosophy of the site too much. This site is about taking action, so this post will be mercifully short.

I’m very excited to be taking over as webmaster here at SaveOurSkills.com. My name is Nick LaDieu and I am a 32 year old web developer living in western Pennsylvania.

Right now I would consider myself to be a product of modern society. I don’t fix my own car, heck, I don’t even fix my own bicycle! I’m part owner of a software company and I’ve never changed the oil in my car or even put on a pair of brake pads.

Why in the hell would I decide to be the webmaster of a website called SaveOurSkills.com?

There was a DIY ethic in this country that our grandparents and great-grandparents took for granted. This self reliant attitude has been lost to my generation, however the knowledge still exists and is making a comeback.

I have decided that anyone can become self-reliant in this modern internet connected society and that includes myself.

Let’s learn together.

Please drop me a line:

Building a Solar Dehydrator

By: Archer

Finally finished my solar dehydrator. Started it last summer, completed most it, then ran out of summer. Decided to finish it last weekend.

Initial tests showed that on a 85+ day the inside was over 125. I need to tweak it a bit, want to add a few more air holes between the heater box and the food box (engineering mistake here… ). I also want to paint some cans black and put them inside the heater box. I also need to use some type of cooking paper since I’ve learned that the aluminum grills sheets may react to certain foods. This is made from scrap wood I had and the plexiglas I picked up off of Freecycle.

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Dewalt Battery Recycled

By: HumeMan

After reading an article in last months Back Home Magazine about re-using dead drill batteries, I decided to try it for myself. Cordless drills are the great, but if you are unable to recharge them due to a loss of power or you are too far from an electrical outlet, you’re out of luck.

Taking a junk battery that no longer works, I’ve given it a cord, perfect for attaching to your 4wheeler or car battery. This battery no longer works. It’s worn out and can’t hold a charge.

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How to Bake Standing French Loaves from Scratch

By Cohutt:

Not much to it really after you do it once or twice

1 pack of yeast
¼ tsp sugar
1 cup of water +
3 ½ cups of unbleached bread flour
¼ cup rye or whole wheat flour
3 tsp salt

Proof the yeast in ¼ cup of hot tap water by stirring it with the sugar

Add the cup of water to this when it bubbles up some

Put flour in food processor with a plastic dough blade

Turn on processor and slowly by steadily pour the water/yeast mixture in until the dough forms a ball that runs around the bowl a bit.

Let it rest for 5-10 minutes

Check it- if sticky/wet feeling to the touch add a tiny amount of flour and run the processor.

Once it is soft to the touch but no sticky, turn on the processor and have it turn the ball 30 times – 30 laps. If you do much more the dough will overheat.

Let it rest 5 minutes then turn out on a lightly floured surface and pound flat, fold over, repeat about 30 times.

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