Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Silver Nugget and the Little Ark

I'm putting these two grinders together because they both grind so similarly. They look nothing alike on the outside, but it's what's inside that counts. 
Both the Nugget and Little Ark, because of their stones, produce a fine flour. But there's a price to pay for that finely ground flour. These grinders are harder turning, requiring 11 lbs of pressure on the handle. It's a lot of work to turn these grinders for a long period of time. By the time I had finished grinding 10 cups of wheat with these grinders I felt like I had a new set of muscles. 
The ten cup grind test took me 47 minutes with the Little Ark and 43 minutes with the Silver Nugget with the stone spacing set at 0.005 inch. I ask the wife and Tammy, a fellow employee, to see how long they could crank it at one time. Five minutes was about it and then they were done.  My feelings are that this is not a good grinder for the average woman or child, or especially for someone who is aged, as the Nugget or Little Ark do require a big effort to produce enough flour to make a four loaf batch of bread.
  
A negative point: I didn't like the grooved knob on the Nugget. I can only guess they put grooves in it so the knob could be the more easily grasped. However, because of a lack of bearing surface between the knob and handle, it's easier to let the knob turn in your hand than to force the bolt to rotate between the knob and the handle. When this happens the grooves in the knob rotating in the hand get the skin sore much more quickly than if it was a smooth knob. The Little Ark's knob doesn't rotate easily where it attaches to the handle, either. But as its knob is round and smooth it's much less of a bother. A soft, cloth work glove would solve this problem with both grinders.
     
Like the Country Living Mill, both these grinders can be motorized. It would take quite a bit of trouble to do this, however, as there needs to be an idler pulley between the motor and grinder. Going straight from the motor to the grinder would turn the grinder far too fast. They recommend the grinder not turn faster than 120 RPM, or even slower. The makers of the Little Ark sell a kit for this purpose, but you must furnish your own motor. Both the Little Ark and the Nugget have long bushings for their bearings. These bushings can't be as durable as the ball bearings in the Country Living Mill. I've talked with a couple of different people who have motorized them. They say after years of use the drive shaft still sits tightly in the bushing. So, it must be good enough.
     
The Nugget grinds about 33% faster than the Little Ark because of an improved feed mechanism which is also reflected in the Nugget's price. Me, every time, I'd go with the grinder that ground more quickly. There is so much work involved in producing flour from these grinders that it would be worth the extra $40 dollars to have a grinder that made flour a little quicker. In my opinion, the Nugget looks a little better built--especially the Sunshine Nugget with its Country Living Mill like powder coat. The Little Ark and the Nugget are made by two different companies just blocks from each other here in the USA.

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