Emmet Restores the Cream Separator

by Emmet Fisher

The scents of restoration are the same for any piece of old machinery-grease and diesel fuel. Whether it’s a Climax treadle sewing machine from Orange MA, a Minnesota sickle bar mower, or a No. 12 DeLaval Cream Separator, most such “lawn ornaments” just need a quick clean and oil to serve their function.
Here at the farm, we’ve had a No. 12 DeLaval Separator for as long as anyone can remember; probably since it came out of the factory works in New York just over one hundred years ago. DeLaval was the first to patent the “Alpha” centrifuge style separator and was the most common and sought after brand of its time. In 1942 there were over six million DeLaval separators in the country, but many of them were melted for iron during the war effort of WWII.
In the last year, as Cricket Creek’s dairy herd has swollen to around thirty cows, we’ve begun to explore expanding our product line to include butter. Our plug in tabletop separator has too low a capacity to handle our quantities of milk, so I wheeled the No. 12 out to the shop to see if it could be restored.
As I clean and shine the pieces of the Separator, I marvel at its construction. Each small piece has been developed with great care and attention. How fast should you turn it? “60 Rev. Per Min.” is cast on the handle. Can’t count seconds? Just wait for the timing bell to stop. Completely constructed of metal, save the wooden handle, the cast iron, steel, brass, and copper pieces of the No. 12 all still function together after decades without use. It makes me wonder what will be left of my generation’s greatest innovations besides corroded microprocessors.
Only one weld on the machine still needs repair–soon with that seal filled, we’ll pour in the first warm milk, crank until the timing bell stops, turn on the spigot, and wait for the first sweet cream.