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.


  1. Tonya Harmon

    you’re motivation to me. I just purchased a Delaval U10 that seems complete and was said to be in use when it was picked up be the lady I got it from. I am super excited about it and ready to brave the long road to figuring it out! I got it for quite a steal. If you have any idea about helpful resources I’d appreciate it.

  2. Larry Gerdes

    I own three DeLaval 343 separators. Well I Own threeframes and a pile of parts. The brass gears are not good. I am hoping to find out their value as is, and ifthere is a market for them if I rebuild them. Besides that I need to find the gears if I am to rebuild them. If youj can be of help in any of this I would be grateful.
    thank you. Larry at 208-404-4949. Ilive in soutern Idaho.

  3. Ed Greenwald

    I’m looking for parts for a Delaval 18 cream separator the shut off spicket for the bowl and o ring thanks Ed

  4. I have an old #12. Didn’t know what it was before I looked it up. Didn’t know if you or anyone would be interested. If you send your email address I can send a picture.

  5. I remember using this on the farm , but when the bell rang what did we have to do . I’m thinking we had to clean the rubber inside. Am I right
    Please someone email me on this . Thanks so much ?

  6. Shane G Maefsky

    What oil does the De Lavel No. 12 use?

  7. Barry Thomas


    I just got a De Laval Jr. #5. It all seems intact and all the pieces are there. Seems to rotate fine and the speed bell works. I would like to change out the oil, However I’m having a hard time finding info or a manual for my specific unit. Can you tell me what weight oil I should use, and is there any need for it to be food grade. I would think not as there should be no contact with the milk or separator disks. Any advice or help is much appreciated.

  8. I have a bowl/can to delaval. any idea what iys worth or how to find a buyer.

  9. Norman D Mathis

    I have a Mccormick Deering International cream separator that is in excellent condition being stored in the farm house for the past 60 plus years. It was used during the 50’s for a short time. It is either a S2/3 burgundy in color and weighs a ton. electric with also a handle. Huge bowl is in excellent shape and the burgundy color is very bright. Wondering what the value might be for this unit.

  10. Jim Murphy

    do you know where I can get parts for De laval cream separators? I have two model 18’s ? Thanks,

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