Southern Matters

Southern Matters

Roy Morris (Clarksville, Florida)


A lull during my visit with Willard Green to Dewey Hall’s place gave an opening for Virgil Herndon and me to ride over to visit with Mr. and Mrs. Roy Morris, who were cooking syrup.  They have a really neat set-up from which I took some lessons.  Their operation is centered on a dedicated syrup shed (Slide 1) and a mechanized Golden No. 2 (Slide 2) nearby.  Of particular note are tractor shut-off switches mounted on either side of the mill (Slide 2).  Although I do not take these pages as a soapbox, safety is the top priority to me.  Ptos are deadly; a tragic accident with a pto-driven cane mill occurred 30 miles south of me in 2001.  Another similar accident occurred in the 2002 season about 15 miles from my hometown.  Although I do not wish to say more, these accidents are a grim reminder of the need for care, even with unmechanized cane mills.

Obviously, Roy and his son put a great deal of thought and effort into mechanizing the mill and I will recount some details here.  The top sprocket (Slide 3) has a custom-fitted sleeve that mounts to the journal, fitting snugly over the top in place of the lever cap.  They also provided a bearing above the sprocket, which is the first I’ve seen done this way.  Although chains have an inherently lower overhang load than do belts, this double bearing must eliminate the load almost entirely.  The chain is adjusted by a spring-loaded idler arm (Slide 4).  The right-angle converter (Slide 5) is the differential from a Toyota truck.  (The teeth of the spider gear were welded in order to make the rear end “positive traction.”)  Note the black tubing, which is for lubricant.  Slide 6 shows a reduction going into the differential.  In the end, this mill operates at 9 rpm (which is the recommendation from an early Golden catalog, but arrived at independently by Roy).  The juice output is about 50 gallons per hour, which is only slightly more than Golden advertised for the mill operating under one horsepower using a sweep.  (Often, the juice output claims made by companies for cane mills do not stand up under scrutiny.)

The juice is coarsely filtered and then pumped (Slide 7) through a sock-type cloth filter (Slide 8).  As described in detail elsewhere, filtration of juice was highly recommended by the extension services during the first part of the recent century, but few modern syrupmakers go to extraordinary means to filter juice.

The kettle is large, requiring six burners (Slide 9), which are operated with 3-4 psi (Slide 10) and provided with an 8-inch dampened flu (Slide 11).


The initial skimming is done without use of a rim (Slide 12) whereas a carefully constructed double-rim system (Slide 13, Slide 14) is used later.  The bottler, not yet in use, is shown in Slide 15.

Many thanks to Roy and other members of his team for the interest that day.  Thanks also to Roy, who followed up with a phone call.