The Peter Pugger VPM-9 is the newest addition to the studio equipment at Barley Hollow. It arrived last week, and I set it up this afternoon. It was easy to set up and by the end of the day, I’d reclaimed all my trimmings and have a bag full of perfectly air-free, nicely moist clay ready to throw. I have to say, it’s a really nice piece of equipment. It looks and feels really solid, and works as advertised. It took a little time to get the moisture worked out, but that wasn’t hard. I’ve collected a dry-ish bucket of trimmings an crashed pieces, as well as a bucket full of clay that I let get too dry while reclaiming before the pug mill was in the plans. The second bucket was prep’d for reclaiming my old way, so it’s pretty wet. For now, it will serve as the moisture additive for reclaiming.
The trick now will be sorting out a permanent place for the pug mill to sit. It’s not very large, but I am a bit tight in the studio as it is. I have a few ideas.
Here are some observations from the setup process. First, get the optional table. It’s solid, and makes working with the pug mill really convenient. The wheels make it very easy to move around. The VPM-9 is heavy enough, you won’t want to move it around much otherwise. In setting up the table, to get things level, I had to extend the non-wheel leg one more notch, and lower the static feet to about a 1/4″ gap, but that did the leveling job. (You’ll know what I mean when you set up yours.)
The rest of the setup and initial operations are pretty well documented in the manual and videos. One thing I did on my first run, was to get a bit too much moisture in the mix. When I switched from mixing to pugging (extruding the mixed clay), the first couple inches out were too moist. I extruded the whole batch, and put it back into the mixer, and ran it again. Worked perfectly, and the results were very nice. The first time you load the mixer, it will take more clay. The manual points this out, but it took more than I expected. Not a problem, just an observation.
I had a couple empty bags from the clay I last used. I’m glad I kept these since the pugged clay needed to go somewhere until it can be thrown. It’s nice to reuse all the way through the process. At the end of the day, I have a bag of what I’d estimate to be 20 lbs of clay, ready to go. The VPM-9 is full of clay ready to pug, too. And my reclaim bucket is clean and empty – something I haven’t seen before.
For now the whole cart is parked out of the way behind my work table, but I want it to have a permanent space in the work area.
I should also note that the VPM-9 was very well packed, and the amount of cardboard going to recycling was impressive. All in all, it has been a very positive experience and I look forward to thorwing with the time it will save me.