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The Pulper Works!  Sort of.
6 October 2008


In the mood for some delicious 100% Kona coffee?  No problem, ordering from our website is easy, we ship it right away and the coffee usually arrives within two or three days.  We ship coffee all the time and very rarely have any problems.

Other companies, such as the John Deere parts department, have much slower shipping times.  It takes two to three weeks for them to ship even tiny parts that fit in an envelope.  Why can we ship in two days yet it takes them two weeks?  I just don't get it.

Last week I was hopeful that I'd get the mower fixed and get the new pulper working.  The mower is still waiting for parts but at least the new pulper is working... sort of.

I specifically asked for only two pickers the first day so I'd only have to pulp six bags instead of 30.  That was a good decision because those six bags made an absolutely gigantic mess.

The first major problem was that I forgot to turn on the water to the demucilager.  That means that it filled with beans, got clogged, then shut down the motor.  The overload protection worked perfectly which means I got the wiring correct.  That's good because if I had it wrong I would have destroyed my brand new pulper on the very first run.  That would have been bad.

Clogged Cleaning out the clogged demucilager was a messy job.  There are sharp edges and tight little corners.  I don't have all the drains installed yet so I was trying not to run the hose excessively.  It didn't matter though, I still ended up with a major flood.

The next big problem was the overflow out the end of the criba.  It's supposed to be just the bad beans but we were getting lots of good beans too.  Lots and lots of good beans.  I tried to save as many as possible but in the end, I'd guess a good $40 to $50 worth of good coffee was thrown out.

The problem was the spacer plates inside the pulper.  These plates are used to adjust the flow rate through the pulper.  When the pulper first arrived I had noticed that the plates needed adjusting.  Not only did they need adjusting, they had actually been installed backwards.  Unfortunately I forgot to go back and fix them.  Another coffee farmer pointed out the problem to me so it should be all better now.

The third big issue is drainage.  As I mentioned, I don't have all the drains installed yet.  I had hoped that the discharge auger would pump out all the water along with everything else.  It doesn't.  The pulped skins get augered out but the water pools inside the pulper, squirting out every crack and making a huge mess all over the place.

I need to change the auger so it points down instead of up.  Unfortunately that means I have to fabricate some new stainless steel parts, drill new mounting holes, move the pulleys, adjust the chains and basically rebuild the bottom half of the machine.  It's a big job so in the mean time I'm going to install some temporary pipes to try to move all the dirty water away.

As frustrating as it is, I know it's normal to have to fiddle with machinery like this before it works.  I imagine that the Wright Brothers and Henry Ford had a few setbacks with their machines too.  My machine isn't quite as complex and I know several other Kona coffee farmers that have been through this process before.  I repeatedly check out their machines and ask for their advice.

It will take me awhile to get everything perfect but I'm confident I'll get it all working good enough soon.  Some of the major problems need to be solved immediately because the entire picking crew is coming tomorrow.  This time I'll need to be ready for 30-40 bags instead of just six.


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