I don’t know when it was, exactly, or even approximately, that Dad replaced the squeeze board on the old cider mill. By “squeeze board” I mean the round disc of wood that is pressed down against the ground apples to force the juice out of the pulp. I believe it was after 1971, the last year we used the mill together, and before 1982, which was when I rebuilt the frame and main box. What really matters, in this brief accounting, is that while I may not be able to give an accurate report of when the piece was made, I can quite accurately say that its last date of use was August 22, 2012.
The three-quarter inch plywood that Dad used had functioned satisfactorily for many years but when I used the press last Wednesday evening, I finished its tenure of service. As I turned the long steel threaded shaft that forces the piece down against the pulp, it broke. Not just chipped on an edge or gave slightly, it broke.
I would be considerably less than honest to say it was a surprise. The layers of the plywood had started to separate several years ago. It was only the fact that it has been used so little for the last several years that it lasted this long. I’d thought “I should replace that press piece” at least five years ago. But, like a lot of other humans, I waited until it was no longer usable. In fact, I waited until it made the whole cider mill unusable before I took the time to replace it.
At least I’m doing it right, though. Instead of a rough piece of plywood fastened under a decaying piece of poplar, there’ll be a very smooth piece of hard maple mounted under a cross brace of two more layers of hard maple. It won’t turn the whole thing into a completely remade cider mill, but the press unit is going to have a mighty fine squeeze board.
Whether you’re talking about mills or marriages, or a whole lot of other things, fixing one part is a start to things working better.