Suddenly, it’s March. Until very recently, we’ve still been using Mog’s ancient mixer, which I’m calling Red Dragon. Red Dragon is a classic and proven design, and used within its intended spec is very reliable.
Our standard mix is about 50% too much for the mixer. We could make a smaller mix, but then we’d have more work to do and have to measure two-thirds-bags of cement, which would be horrible.
We got around this by putting the mixer in a sling, so it can take extra mixture. That doesn’t mix efficiently, and the dry materials clump at the back and have to be scraped off. So we mix two-thirds first then add in the extra aggregate and water. While in a sling, the mixer is unstable, and knocking off a big lump of unmixed material can cause it to spin around and empty. At that point, I leap in to try to steady it, and gears and levers fly everywhere and into me, and the whole mixer falls over.
In other words, Red Dragon bites. Treated carefully, it works OK. When I’m tired, which almost never happens after I’ve been working all day in Canberra, mistakes happen.
So we bought Golden Dragon, a shiny but disturbingly flimsy Chinese mixer which is three times the size and half the price of the conventional equivalent. I was hoping to write that this had solved all our problems, but the mixer arrived without a rubber gasket to join the two halves of the mixing bowl – so it has just been in our way.
We got used to Red Dragon, and with great care and the right incantations it was working reliably.
After some weeks, the company sent us a replacement gasket for the new mixer – which had clearly been recycled from a returned unit – not a good sign. So we finished assembling Golden Dragon and hoped for the best.
Our early impressions are that the unit is seriously underpowered. It just gives up and stops. We get a bit further if we set the mixing bowl at a high angle to start with, but not completely upright which makes the whole thing dangerously unstable. Once it’s going, and with quite a liquid mix, we can drop the bowl to a lower angle which improves the mixing.
We can do a whole day’s mix in one go, which is great. With Red Dragon, we decanted into buckets and filled the moulds from there. With Golden Dragon, we have to dump the whole lot into a wheelbarrow, and fill the moulds using a scoop, which is physically easier.
At this stage, we have a problem with cement clumping at the back of the bowl, which we have to scrape off during the mix. This requires bad language.
We had the same problem with Red Dragon, and got around it by fine-tuning the mix sequence. So we’ll keep experimenting and see if we can get the new mixer behaving better.
Red Dragon has been sent back to its cave, though I sense that we’ll bring it back before the end.