Monday, August 16, 2010

I Sing the Separator Electric

While I have been supremely content to lightheartedly and carelessly skim cream off the top of the milk with a gravy ladle, leaving to waste an 1/8" in each quart, my husband has worked feverishly behind the scenes trying to catapult me into machine efficiency with a properly working electric cream separator.

Our first one, an antique Westfalia that I bought used on eBay many moons ago, is missing a part that adjusts how fast the milk goes through the machine. If it goes through too fast, the cream does not separate completely and must be run through again. Possibly related to this is a problem we have with the milk foaming excessively. We're not sure because we also do not have a book for this machine. So this separator is usable, but it certainly does not perform at its peak.

This situation has preyed on Herb's mind for the last six months. Ultimately, it could not be borne. He tried and tried to buy the missing part, but to no avail. Apparently it's just one of those parts that is prone to get lost after 40 or 50 years.

Despite its problems, Herb loves our Westfalia machine. It gushes with horsepower; its body is rock hard and quivers not under a load, the Atlas of cream separators. As its motor winds up to full speed, it sings a manly song of precision machined bearings, which draws Herb into the earthy, testosterone-rich milieu of shared masculine memory, where Vikings row in sweaty synchronization and tribal hunters converge on the charging buffalo, bows drawn.

So I was not surprised when, with immense satisfaction, he informed me that he had found and purchased another Westfalia separator, one with the milk flow adjustment part and a book. It arrived while he was out of town. Despite being travel weary, upon his return Friday night, he set briskly to work setting it up for the greatly-anticipated triumph of cream separation without waste or worry.

Well, he got half of what he wished for. No waste. Solid cream. HEAVY cream. We tried using it in our coffee, but it takes quite a bit of stirring to get it to dissolve, and it leaves an unattractive layer of fat cells floating on the top. All is not lost, though. Herb figured out how to adjust it by the time four gallons of milk had run through. Next time we'll have pourable cream.

In the meantime, he suggested that this batch must certainly be just seconds away from butter. I'm going to put it in the mixer and see. If it works, I have an idea for a song: It Ain't Heavy, It's My Butter.


hebiew said...

Winifred, I don't know if you are aware, but the Wittkop's originated from Westfalia, Prussia. Now that you have a working unit, can the missing piece be duplicated? It is my sworn duty to make mechanical things fulfill the purpose of their existence...

Wendy Haught said...

My Stevie,
Yes, I am aware of your Prussian ancestry. It's soooo interesting!

Herb actually tried to fabricate the missing piece before he got the second separator, but I don't know what the results were. Seems like he was doing it with Teflon? I probably have this all mixed up. I think he said that he could have a machine shop duplicate the one from the second machine.

You and Herb ought to start a "sworn duty" mechanical things club.

Fotofule said...

I had to look at the photo twice, as the spoon looked more like a necklace with ice cream pendant the first time.

Wonder what I'd come up with on a Rorschach test!

Wendy Haught said...

The Rorschach test would reveal that you a mess, that's what.

(Gentle Reader: It's alright for me to say this. She's my sister.)