Cleaning A Portuguese Floor Corker
Posted 23 May 2011 - 07:15 AM
I bought a used Portuguese floor corker at a yard sale over the weekend for $30. It is in great working condition but looks like it sat in a basement or garage for several years. It's dirty. Any tips on how to clean and sanitize the corking mechanism, so I don't coat my corks with grime and insert that into the bottles along with the corks?
The woman I bought it from said you have to soak the corks overnight to make them soft enough for the corker to insert. That can't be right! I'd think that would soften/weaken/ruin the corks, invite mold, and put cruddy water into the wine when they're inserted. What's the right way? It came with no directions.
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Posted 23 May 2011 - 09:24 AM
Don't soak the corks. If they're fresh and dry from the store, insert them fresh and dry. I used to soak my corks in a K-Meta / water solution, just dipping the corks in it before inserting them into the bottles. When I did this, my corker got wet inside the working mechanism, and parts began to gather crud and stick, maybe even rusting a little inside. The corker started shredding a little cork off the cork and inserting cork debris in the bottle as it corked. I'm about to tear it apart or replace it now. It was pointed out to me by SHoffner, while we were bottling, that the corks are pre-sanitized and pre-lubed from the manufacturer, no need to soak.
As for cleaning, I'd just scrub it top to bottom, maybe with a product like PBW, then rinse thoroughly, then sanitize. Let it dry and try corking a few bottles, see how it works. Or do a test run on a couple (empty) bottles just like it is to see how it's working. Worst case scenario, it may need taken apart and cleaned inside, and lubed with a food grade lubricant. But maybe just a good cleaning, sanitizing and drying is all it will need.
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Posted 23 May 2011 - 09:35 AM
If you need to open up the top to clean it, you'll find the plastic jaws and some heavy springs that work with the lever. Be careful not to disconnect these parts as they will be tough to put back together. I would think you could take a garden hose and nozzle to it and even a spritz of detergent (no bleach) to get the grime off. And like Wade said, some food grade lubricant to get the parts functioning smoothly. Just a drop on the points the work against each other is all it should take. Then move the arm up and down several times to get the lube to cover the parts.
If you turn it upside down, you'll also see some parts that move and a metal piece that locks the bottle seat shaft in place. I wouldn't lubricate that shaft since the metal clamp works by friction and adding oil to it could decrease its functionality.
And just get fresh corks and let 'er rip!
Posted 23 May 2011 - 11:02 AM
You probably should take the top off and jaws out to clean this thing up. If they soaked them before its probably pretty messy inside. Its not hard to do, just keep track of the layout so you can put it back together correctly. If its a Portugese corker, it should have bronze jaws which don't need any lubrication between them. I doesn't hurt to put a little food grade grease underneath where they rub but go light, you don't want it getting on the face of the jaws. Check out the pivot points for wear. Many people never lubricate the pin through the lever causing it to seize and wear. When that happens you slowly loose compression and start getting dents in your corks as they get harder to push in. You should be able to find posts on here about wear and maintenance on these corkers.
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