My page on putting together a surge bucket milker seems to have become pretty popular and the page itself is getting pretty full, so I wanted to start another page on my site here for some additional info and options for people that are looking for alternative parts before building their milker or for people who want to upgrade the parts of their current milker. If you’ve come here from a web search, then please check out my original page here for a good starting point, otherwise please read on.
The surge bucket that I use in my current milking setup works great for a milking machine but I admit that it can be a little awkward. The bucket is very wide and cumbersome. Newer milking machine buckets are taller and shaped like the milk cans that we have always pictured fresh milk being stored in. Most of these taller milk buckets will hold 30 to 70 lbs of milk. If you are looking for one of these types of milkers, many are available. Some come in stainless steel and there are even plastic versions. Most dairy equipment supply companies carry an assortment of these milk buckets. A company called DeLaval, a big name in the dairy equipment industry, makes milking machine buckets or at least they used it. The DeLaval bucket seems to be one of main alternatives for those looking to build a milker. I see many people trying to decide between a DeLaval setup or a Surge setup. I do not have a Delaval setup so I can not go into detail but these buckets are available used on ebay or DeLaval portable milking machine setups are also available but I believe these are hard to come by, at least in the US and they may also be expensive. If you do go for a DeLaval, remember that you must also get a matching DeLaval lid to fit the bucket as surge bucket lids do not fit the DeLaval or newer style of buckets.
The Mastercool 90066-A Vacuum Pump that I use in my set-up is a 1/4hp 6 CFM vacuum pump. It is really intended for HVAC purposes but it is the least expensive vacuum pump that pulls 6 CFM and it works great for a budget milking machine. That being said, some people may want to upgrade their pump or start out with a better pump for the long term. This Mastercool pump has lasted me 2 seasons so far. I keep it in my home, not out in the goat shelter, exposed to temperature extremes. I think that helps its longevity but I have heard that they are not as reliable as other vacuum pump brands. For those looking for a better quality pump, there are Gast oil-less pumps. Now these Gast pumps are much more expensive than the pump I use but they are oil-less, of higher quality and supposedly last longer. They are also supposedly quieter. I can not confirm this as I do not have one. If you are looking to buy one of these Gast brand pumps, it is recommended that you look for a 1/2 hp to 3/4 hp pump. Some retailers sell them online and one can always find used ones on eBay. Wherever you by from, make sure the pump produces at least 6 CFMs. During my initial research for putting together a milk machine and even looking around now, I have found it very difficult to find the CFM rating for the Gast or many other pumps. The Mastercool-style pumps, regardless of brand, seem to be the ones that most clearly state the CFM. You can not always count on the horsepower(hp) as a good measure for what the CFM of a pump will be. As stated, my pump is a 1/4 hp 6 CFM pump but I have found Gast pumps that are 1/4 hp and only 4 CFM. One needs at least 6 CFM to run a milking machine properly. That’s why I recommend that if you get another style of pump, go for the highest horsepower that you can afford, with a minimum of 1/2 horsepower. This should assure that you will have enough CFM to run one or 2 sets of inflations if you wanted to milk two goats or sheep at the same time, although I think the Mastercool vacuum pump does provide enough suction for this as well.
Now I’m sure you’ve come to this site because you want to build your own milking machine in order to save money and you’ve seen that the already assembled milking machines were too expensive. I believe going the Surge Milker route is still the least expensive option. I spent less than $500 putting my machine together a few years ago but that involved getting all the parts here and there and putting them all together. It actually took me a few months with troubleshooting and everything. For someone that is looking to spend just a bit more for a little less work, I have found that the Parts Dept Online sells a One Goat/Sheep bucket milker with all hoses, lid and pulsator for $400 at the time of this writing. That does not include shipping of course. All this setup would require is for you to add your Mastercool 90066-A Vacuum Pump and you would be ready to go. You’d pay a slight premium for the already assembled unit, as opposed to finding parts for the Surge milker, which isn’t that hard, but you pay for the convenience I suppose. I think one could have this setup for about $650.
I plan on adding more to this page and my site in general so please check back for more info and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you need to come back to my original milking machine page, just type this easy to remember link into your browser: www.diymilkingmachines.com
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