Oil Press – Cage Maintenance

Maintenance of the oil press cage is important in keeping oil residuals down, proteins up, foots down, and overall product quality high. The cage is a fairly simple looking part of the press and tends to get neglected. Maintenance of the cage is normally done at about half the rate of the screw and choke assemblies of the rest of the oil press. Typically, the choke and screws are replaced at 4000 to 6000 hours, depending on the type of product being run through the press and the cleanliness of the ingredient. This translates into 8000 to 12000 hours for the cage parts.

The one part that might require changing more frequently are the knife bars. Knife bars run the full length of the cage, top and bottom. They straddle the gaps between the screws and break up the product in the dead spots, to prevent it from solidifying and plugging the press. Since they are exposed to the constant flow of product, they tend to wear out faster. They can also be damaged by any foreign material that gets in the press. Worn knife bars can reduce production and excessive wear can even cause the press to plug up. Check the knife bars for wear every 1000 hours. You should keep a new set on hand and use the new ones to compare against what is in the press to determine the amount of wear. The frame work of the press can also wear out but is usually more in the 20000 hour range.


The main parts that will need replacing are the cage bars and spacers or shims. As I said before, this will be some time after the 10000 to 12000 hours. One indication that the cage bars need to be changed is a noticeable increase in the amount of foots coming from the cage during operation. Remember that excessive foots can be caused by the high moisture of soybeans or over feeding, and possibly worn out cage bars. So eliminate any of these as a possible cause before changing the cage bars.

Another indication of a need for change is grooving or cupping of the bars on the inside of the cage. The cage is divided into sections as far as the bars go and are spaced tighter from the inlet towards the outlet or choke end of the press. The first chamber is called the vented chamber. Besides being a larger diameter, it is spaced the loosest of the whole cage. This chamber does not see much pressure and is rare if it ever needs to be replaced.

However, some of the other chambers may need replacement as well. You can contact your service technician if you have any questions. This operation can be a bit overwhelming at first but as you get involved, as well as your service technician; it can become a lot easier. Each bar has a beveled side that is directional, and requires four spacers each. You just need to pay attention to how things come apart so you are able to put it back together the same way. Especially make sure you get the correct shim width in the correct chamber.

Remember that you can always call Insta-Pro if you have questions. Bill Jensen is the best person to contact if you have a question regarding the press. You can also schedule your maintenance and for a fee, an Insta-Pro technician can come out and help. This is a good idea to do the first time and see how it’s done correctly, and then you can have a follow up visit from our Start Up Manager, Ray Goodwin, a part of the Service Plus Program. For more information, click here.


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