We thought we were done with our temperer problems when we fixed the compressor thermal overload protector near the end of December. Boy were we wrong. The tempering machine, a Selmi Top, worked for all of two and half days before it stopped pumping chocolate out of its top nozzle. At first, we thought maybe there was just a chocolate blockage in some of its internal pipes, so we tried disassembling the machine a bit and cleaning everything out. Unfortunately, that didn’t resolve the problem and we had to start using our smaller, back up tempering machine which really hurt our production.
After verifying a few simple things (no blockage, motor spinning the right direction), we disassembled the machine a bit more and looked more close at the different parts. Here’s the auger (thank you, Archimedes!) that drives the chocolate up the column and, ultimately, out of the nozzle:
We couldn’t see anything obviously wrong with the auger and we were starting to get pretty confused. That’s when we noticed some suspicious marks near the bottom but we weren’t sure what they meant:
Fortunately, we’d been talking with Sean at Tomric (the US representative for Selmi) and he was hugely helpful. He forwarded our pictures on to Italy where one of Selmi’s engineer recognized those marks as a broken weld. Apparently, the screw is held to the center shaft by a single weld and that weld had broken, allowing the shaft to spin without turning the screw. We quickly found our way to Kevin at Standard Metal Products and he got the auger repaired quickly. After a thorough cleaning and popping it back into the machine, the chocolate was flowing again:
Since we had to use our less efficient machine for a week or two, we’ve fallen behind so now we just need to play a little catch up and make a lot of chocolate!