How do I use a ratchet press?
Our Italian made ratchet presses are very simple to use once you understand how they work. We’ll break it down for you here step-by-step. These instructions are for any of our ratchet presses, but note that the large ratchet presses (#40 and greater) have 2 ‘gears’. They have inner and outer slots for the pawls. The inner gear operates a little faster—each ratchet turns a little further on the central screw.
Before getting started, be sure you have all of the equipment. The press should have the following items:
- I – round metal rod, threaded on one end
- 2 – half-moon wooden plates (pressure discs)
- 2 – long wooden blocks
- 4 – small wooden blocks
- 2 – flat, parallelogram shaped metal ratchet pins (pawls) for the slots on top of the ratcheting mechanism.
Preparing the press: To use the ratchet press, take out all of the wood pieces (blocks and pressure discs) that are in the basket. Lubricate the threaded rod and the ratchet head (the metal piece that spins on the threaded rod) with a light film of WD40, Silicon Spray or Keg Lube. The ratchet head may stick when it is new or has been sitting during the off-season. If it is stuck, hitting the ratchet with a mallet or a block of wood may be necessary to free the parts. Be careful of paint chips falling into the basket. Remove them as soon as you can before using the press. Make sure the ratchet is in good working condition and all parts are clean and working freely. A Sanitizer solution may be sprayed liberally on the press.
Loading the basket: Set the basket on top of the red metal base. Fill the basket with the fruit pulp, spreading the fruit evenly around the screw in the middle. Place the two pressure discs on top of the fruit pulp to be pressed. Once both of the pressure discs are in place, apply a small amount of pressure with your hands to allow the pressure discs to set into place, ensuring that they are flush with each other and level. You may or may not need to use the spacing blocks at this point, depending on the size of your press and the amount of fruit pulp you have. These spacing blocks go on top of the pressure discs, on either side of the threaded rod at alternate angles.
Getting ready to press the fruit pulp: Turn the ratchet down clockwise until it meets up with the pressure discs or the spacing blocks. Now the ratchet head will have sufficient resistance to work as a ratchet. Place the steel rod in the ratchet head and tighten the bolt. Locate the pawls (two (2) metal pieces 2 -3 inches long ). The pawls must be installed for the ratchet to move up or down on the threaded rod when under tension. The pawls’ ends are cut at a 45 degree angle which comes to a point. This point is what makes the ratchet work. First lay the pawls in front of the ratchet head, facing opposite. The points at the bottom of the pawls will be the ends that go into the slots. In this position, the pawls will make the ratchet head go down. To make the ratchet head go up, simply place the pawls in with the point going the opposite direction.
Collecting the juice: To make certain you are extracting the maximum amount of juice, allow the pressure from the ratchet to do the job for you. Crank the ratchet down 2 or 3 cranks, then stop and let the juice flow. At first it will flow heavily, then it will slow down and stop. Then crank the ratchet 2 or 3 times again, stopping to let the juice flow. When the ratchet handle comes to the top of the basket, raise the ratchet head by reversing the direction of the ratchet pins and start placing the spacing blocks underneath it, one piece on either side of the screw. Start with the long blocks first, then move on to the smaller blocks until you run out of blocks. Insert more spacing blocks at opposite angles as needed. Continue this process until there is little or no juice flowing out of the press.
Cleanup and Storage: As soon as the juice has been extracted, reverse the direction of the ratchet pins and spin the head up to the starting position. Remove the pins that hold the basket together and discard the pulp that is left. The equipment should be washed immediately to avoid stains and difficult-to-clean debris. Allow to air dry and store for next season.