A call to Probat down in Tennessee, an overnight package, $180 and a few hours of tricky labor and we were back up and running.
The machine was making a particular rhythmic throbbing sound just before the part snapped, and after the repair it is still making a similar sound. I am waiting -- half-expecting it to snap off again at any second. I am under a kind of stress that I've never been under in over 15 years of coffee roasting, and it's taking a physical toll.
My knees hurt, especially the left one that I injured an unfortunate butterfly accident*, and my left arm is sore from the shoulder to the elbow, I keep noticing that the back of my neck is sweating when the temperature in my office is cool and comfortable. No, I am not having a heart attack, I know exactly what those feel like, having had a mild one back in 2003. I can't continue like this, but I am very busy and can't afford another day of tearing the roaster apart again. But that is what I must do.
The machine was built back in 1994 and has thousands of hours of roasting time on it (a very conservative estimate is around 25,000 hours), but I worked on another Probat once that was over 75 years old at the time and it is still in operating condition. I can only assume that when we did the repair we didn't do it right. If that shaft is out of alignment by just a tiny amount it could cause another failure.
I can't live with this stress and I have to do something about it. I only hope that when I'm done re-repairing her, she'll be back in top shape and ready to carry me through the next 15 years. She has to, a new machine would run me somewhere around $20,000. She is the heart of my business and I need her!
* the unfortunate butterfly accident: was running out of my office to rescue a batch that was about to get too dark, when my left foot was planted I caught flying movement out of the corner of my left eye -- something that shouldn't happen inside -- I shifted my weight to quickly go the opposite direction and wound up straining it a bit. I thought initially that it might be a bird or a bat. Nope, it was a butterfly.
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