Mills in Alto Aragón - aceitero

El Grado

El Grado is situated a bit besides the main road between L'Ainsa and Barbastro. The mill however is on that road. Coming from the North You will drive down into the Cinca-neighbourhood (beware of the speed camera). Straight on at the roundabout. Pass the gas station (at your left) and look for Bodega del Somontano on the corner of the road (right) leading to Naval and El Grado. The oil mill is next to their car park.

Pictures: 03.I.2012

(1) Floor of the molino aceitero with the instruments. The entrance is at foreground left.

The walls of the entire construction have disap­peared. Only the ground floor (1) can be seen. Luckily most of the equipment is still present (2) and the setup has not changed since the days when the mill was in business.
The equipment, situated deep in the building far away from the entrance, claims only a small part of the floor space. The remaining surface would cer­tainly have housed containers for the end product and storage for fresh olives, but it is hard to believe that both functions would have taken all of the avai­lable space.

(2) left to right: oil pump, hydraulic press, mixer, olive grinder.

Firstly we have the station where the olives were crushed (el torno, right in 2 & 3). In most mills of the wide region the olives were crushed under a huge dishlike stone (the ruello) running on its side (e.g. Buera, Coscojuela de Sobrarbe). Here, however, crushing was done with a pair of conic stones. This type of stones has a larger working surface and causes less friction on the olives.
The stones are truncated and mounted on the same axle (4). A metallic frame ran together with the stones and carried a scraper —for keeping the olives in the path of the stones— and a small spoon which ran in the gutter (4) around the bottom plate. This spoon pushed the mash around and towards the inlet of the mixer.

(3) Other view on the machinery; notice the rail track.

The first steps of the extracting process were high­ly automated. The mash which accumulated in the gutter of the grinder (4) was sucked up by an end­less screw (5) and carried into a mixer, or batidora, for malaxa­tion.

The mixer was delivered by Aznar, Rodes y Albero - constructores from Alcoy (prov. of Alicante)(7).

The company born under this name in 1918 had its roots way back in the foundry Tomás Aznar y hermanos established much earlier in 1830. Part of the Tomás business would in 1896 relocate to Alicante and work under the name Tomás Aznar e hijos (sons instead of brothers). The second name is of José Rodes who owned the oldest foundry (est. 1886) in Alicante. Albero, or in full Francisco Albero Rodes, was a former manager of the foundry.

(4) Grinding station with two conic stones.
(5) Malaxation machine (batidora).

The second tag (7) on the batidora reads
Procedimiento y aparato patentados
Modelo Lety-N°82

Lety means that this is more than a simple batidora (mixer, which can be seen in Buera); it is a batidora-extractora (mixer, extractor) which not only homoge­nizes the olive mash but also extracts 50, up to 80, percent of the oil (). The contraption contains two cham­bers separated by a metal mesh. The first chamber is a heater-mixer. This mixer is surround­ed by a cylinder in which the mash slowly moves upwards. This type of extractor could process up to 1 000 kilos of mash per hour and would in some situations make the use of the press superfluous.

An advertisement of 1953 (6) neatly enumerates all the advantages of the system. Another advert (ABC of 29.III.1962) concludes in one sentence: Mas y mejor aceite y elaboración mas facil y regular, y mucho menos costosa. (more and better oil, easier and cheaper processing). In fact the supplier has such confidence in the advantages of his Lety pro­cess that he only expects payment after the device is in operation and the new owner convinced of the benefits (6).

(6) Huarte advertisement in ABC (27.X.1953).

(7) Tag on the batidora.
(8) Label on the press.

A hydraulic press with its oil pump (2 left) is instal­led next to the mixer. A nametag of the brand is screwed to the head of the press (8). It says
Gabriel Pujol Parés
Garcia Morato, 47

The name of the company is La Maquinista Reusense and presses of the same company were in use in f.e. Banastón and Alquézar.

In some of the pictures (3, 9) a narrow rail track system can be seen. Loads could be moved be­tween the work stations on small trolleys (vagone­tas) (see Angüés). The rail system was built as a star with a turntable in the center (the circle in 9) and with arms radiating to the press, the mixer and the grinder.

When we went back in 2016, the site was cleared of the vegetation and the grinder was removed (9). We were told that the site was for sale and intended for buildings.

(9) The site of the mill in 2016

 José Maria de Soroa — 1947 — Extracción de aceite por el método Acapulco.
Agricultura Año XVI, N°180, p. 199-200.

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