Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sentimental Me

My old Pacifica....

I was 20 years old and had never driven into Chicago. I was going to go to Lill Street Gallery to buy my first wheel. So I looked at a map and figured out the most direct route -- across highway 30 and up highway 1. This is where I would insert one of those emoticons with the rolling eyes if it were available in this comment box, because obviously that route was not only ridiculously long, but dangerous as well.

Nevertheless, I arrived and bought the wheel. I stuck it and 500 pounds of stoneware into the trunk and back seat of my '66 Buick Skylark. I went home via the route the Lil Street folks wrote down for me!

When I got home I broke in the wheel by throwing a two quart pitcher (as I remember it, I liked the shape and then went and pulled a too-thin handle for it).

Sometime along in the late eighties or early nineties I bought a new Pacifica. Curious thing though -- I use the old one for throwing and the new one for trimming.

The new one has a system of belts that are nothing more than glorified rubber bands. They consistently break and stretch and don't have enough holding power to continuously throw big pieces.

The old wheel has a serious belt. Of course, over thirty years I've replaced it. I've also replaced the bearings twice, and put a new pedal on it. But it's held up quite well.

I guess I'm overly sentimental about my tools (if you read my "Kiln" piece, you know that about me!).


  1. Looks like we're both doing some late night blogging. I still have a Brent cxc that was 4 years old when i got it in 1980. I bought a shimpo whisper wheel which I use these days, but the old Brent still has it and there's nothing like it. It's the duty of us old fools to be sentimental!

  2. Yeah, late night blogging. It's near midnight and still a while before I shut the kiln down.

    Just think how many pots have grown from my Pacifica and your Brent over the past 30 years.

  3. I have one of those Pacifica GT 400s. I bought it used (about 10 years old I guess) a year ago, and I broke the bands while centering the first piece of clay. Now I have a thin automotive belt on it, but it whines and throws belt dust on the floor. I still haven't been able to find out where to get those polyurethane belts from, or how much they cost. Got any suggestions?

  4. It obviously comes into the same category as My Granfather's Axe....had a new handle...then needed a new blade.....still my Grandfather's Axe!!

    Some tools are just Right.

  5. i even become attached to sponges... how weird is that?

  6. Tropiclay -- the band-style belts --sets of 4-- are still available through Laguna. That doesn't make the arrangement good, but at least its repairable.

    Michèle -- Not weird at all. I'd give a bunch of money to be able to get the sponges that I use to clean up around here. Big, open-celled synthetic as big as a man's fist. They're just not available anymore.

  7. I'm going through the band breakage thing on my Pacifica now. The are sending me a new large pulley to see if that will solve the problem.

  8. I've got an old GT-400, bought four new bands and replaced them after one broke. Those bands were making a racket, but it worked -- until one broke and then another.
    Now, Laguna sent me a new single belt and two pulleys: the big one under the wheelhead and a little one for the motor. But the little didn't fit the shaft on my motor.
    I've got to speak to "Sergio" at Laguna tomorrow. I hope I can get this all fixed soon. My old brent "B" makes a strange bumping noise.