Sunday, December 06, 2020

Almost A Cotton Gin

... it just needs a crank handle and some gears.

Yesterday, I bought the materials and did about 80% of the construction necessary to have a working cotton gin.

8' of 2x3, 4' of 2" diameter dowel rod, 10' of 3/32 braided wire, a turnbuckle and two wire rope eyelet kits.

I had odd bits of 2x4 at home which I used as the base as well as plenty of wood screws and other hardware for assembly.

A cotton gin is an ingeniously simple device. There are two rollers pressed together in a frame which are rotated. Raw cotton is fed into the rollers. The rollers strip off the lint and leave the seed behind. Since I just wanted the job done, I made a very crude gin and paid no attention to aesthetics.

I used a circular saw to make most of my cuts, so the measurements and angles were very rough.

The frame is a pair of 2x3s spaced 2" apart so the rollers can fit between them. A piece of 2x3 was cut down to 2x2, more or less, to act as a rest for the rollers. Some scrap 2x4s were the base.
Very close to being done. A notched 2x3 at the top presses the rollers together with the help of the cable and the turnbuckle. Some screw hooks I had laying around hold on to the wire. I haven't done the second eyelet on the cable nor installed the turnbuckle yet.

When I had the rollers in the frame, I brought out some of my raw cotton and tried the gizmo. It didn't grab the cotton lint if I only turned one roller. If I turned them both at the same time, it did. I was beginning to wonder if my rollers were too smooth, but that wasn't the case. Apply some pressure and turn them both and it worked fine.

To turn them both, I could either put hand cranks on both of them and do two-handed rotating or I could put gears on one end so they rotate together. I'm going to opt for the gears. I want to be able to feed the cotton into the gin with one hand and rotate with the other. I have hundreds of cotton locs* and I can't imagine feeding one into the gin, grabbing the handles, starting to turn them, watching the loc fall out of the rollers, picking it up, trying to put it back in, grabbing the handles, watching it fall again, grabbing it, feeding it, rolling, grabbing, feeding, rolling, losing my temper and then going a few doors down to yell at one of our neighbors, finally giving him a piece of my mind because he really is a pain sometimes.

No, in the interest of neighborhood harmony, gears are the best choice. I've never used gears in any of my contraptions, so this should be hours of frustrating fun. Unfortunately, the places that might carry the gears I need won't be open until Monday, so it looks like I'll have to find something else to occupy my time today.

Sigh. And we were so close!

Hmmm. Maybe I could make some gears out of scrap plywood ... 

Update: I'm going to make the gears myself, using a template generated at the link above. That way, they will be exactly the size I want and if they don't work, I can resize them and make some more.

* - A locule is a cavity in the boll. My bolls have 4 or 5 locules each. Inside of the locule is a loc, which is the fruit of the cotton. Each of my locs will have 4-7 seeds.


Mostly Nothing said...

making your own gears is really cool.

Do you suppose that this is the web site Eli used?

ligneus said...

K T Cat said...

ligneus, I just bought the book. Looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the tip.

MN, don't be silly. Back in the day, Eli Whitney used a GeoCities site.