This, friends, is one serious piece of apple squeezing hardware. An original “Kentucky Buckeye” cider mill, made by the Belknap Hardware and Manufacturing Company here in Louisville. It dates to probably the 1890’s.
At that time, just about every family who lived in rural territory east of the Mississippi owned (or at least had access to) something like this. Mills of similar design go back to about the 1860’s.
The mill has two work stations on it, a grinder at the back for shredding the apples and a big screw at the front for squeezing the pulp.
The operation is pretty basic. You put a few handfuls of apples into the hopper…
…and as the crank is turned they’re ground up. The bits emerge below, dropping into a bottomless bucket situated on a plank.
When the bucket is full it’s slid forward along the plank to the pressing station where a wooden top is put on and the screw wheeled down:
Then all there is to do is apply a little elbow grease. Then the screw is brought down, the pulp is compacted, and the liquid gold then starts to flow.
Originally the machine came with two buckets which would allow two people to work the back station, loading and cranking while two more folks at the front station squeezed and poured off juice. My guess is that at full tilt a press like this could produce a dozen or more gallons per hour.
These days, only two people work Mose’s mill at any given time, one at each station (and they’re usually at least partly inebriated). However I should mention that a third station has evolved over the years, just to the side of the main operation. It’s this chair:
…in which a third person sits and tells the other two how to do their jobs better.