Eli Whitney would have been proud!

Trip Start Jan 18, 2013
Trip End Mar 01, 2013

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Where I stayed
Our Winter Home in Arizona City, AZ
What I did
Anderson-Clayton Gin
Anderson-Clayton, Eloy AZ

Flag of United States  , Arizona
Friday, February 8, 2013

8FEB2013 Today we took a side tour to a Gin Mill…. Eloy, AZ

We connected with Greg S. with Anderson Clayton… he's the General Manager for the Arizona Operations…  they run Cotton Gins all over the world, US, India, Asia, New Zealand… etc..

In this case, the gin mill is the equipment to clean cotton and pull the dirt and seeds out of the lint…   Yea, lint is the term for the cotton as it comes off a picker…   The darn machine in the field looks a lot like a combine to me.. yet the word combine is profanity to these guys….  It’s a cotton picker nothing more and nothing less…

The modules (can’t call them a bale) is about 8 ft wide, 8 ft high and 40 ft long…  The truck that moves the module from the field to the gin is like a flat bed tow truck… the bed tilts back onto rollers that run against the ground… 12" in diameter and 3 ft wide…   the floor of the truck bed had what looks like a huge hay elevator built into the floor… the driver engages the track system, and backs into the module…  it scoops under the module and pulls it onto the bed as the truck backs up…   its unloaded the same way in reverse…   

The cotton picker looks like a corn picker… runs down the rows and pulls the lint ball off the plant… picking up some of the dirt, twigs as the machine pulls the cotton lint from the vine…  it then deposits the lint (cotton ball) into a large press that compacts the lint into the module that I mentioned above..   the farmer puts a cover on the module, and paints a number on the end of the module…   part of the number tells the people at the gin who the farmer is and which number of module the farmer is sending in…

At the gin they take the module, put it on a large conveyer and its fed into a set of turning blades that pull the module apart and drop the loose lint into a funnel and then an auger system to the dryer and cleaners…  If the cotton has any moisture in the lint, than the moisture is removed by heating the product…  in our case, with the modules sitting out in the sun the moisture content is below their standards so most of the time the heaters are not used….  Then the lint moves on to a cleaner where the rocks, twigs, branches, bugs are removed from the cotton and its fed by yet another auger and tube to the gin itself…  the gins in this building were built in the 70’s and use the same principle that Eli Whitney used when he invented the machine back in the 1800’s.  

As the cotton travels through the equipment it ends up in another auger/tube again either in the ceiling or through the basement and then into the compactor…  The compactor compresses the cotton and makes a bale, that weighs 500 lbs in about a minute and a half…   the equipment was running at 65% and turning out a 500 lb bale of clean cotton ever 90 seconds…  so I’m guessing that at 100% production rate they’d do a bale every minute..  As we drove into the lot there were at least 50 modules sitting ready for production and on an average day they turn out enough 500 lb bales to fill 7 semi trucks and trailer…   The bailer compresses the cotton into a 2 ft x 4 ft x 4 ft bale, straps it with strapping tape and moves it on to packaging where it’s bagged in a waterproof wrapper….   If we dyed some lint, put it into the machine and ran it through the process, the end product would be bailed in 3-4 minutes based on how fast the machinery was running….  So production here is about 30,000 lbs an hour… 

Each bale has to be numbered and moved to a warehouse where it’s stored and kept until the government gets done with all its tests….  A sample from each field is sent to the USDA for testing…  USDA charges Anderson Clayton (who passes it on to the farmer) to test each sample for bugs, dirt, and then grades the cotton… before it can be sold to a mill to make anything, it has to be tested and graded..  Our government at work… 

Several things impressed me… the speed at which it works…. 3-5 min for the lint to move through the equipment and become cotton as we know it and get baled…  the place was clean as a whistle..   epoxy on the floors… maybe the size of a football field under cover…   the dust in the air isn’t a problem exploding like wheat, rye, or other grain dust…   they do enough maintenance on the equipment during the down time in the summer to run 14 hour days, 7 day weeks when needed during peak harvest times…   The whole place runs with 10 men and someone in the office to weigh in the trucks and loads as they come in… Really an impressive operation….

Out back is a large tube/auger system with at least 20 piles of seed…  this is the seed removed from the lint to make cotton…   the seed has 2 uses…  1 – the best seed is tested and used to plant next years crop, 2 – the seed sells for $370 a ton or dairy feed…   mind you not feed for a feed lot, as its too expensive but feed for the dairy industry as it has all the stuff needed to produce great milk with some supplements added for good measure…   most of the dairy farmers would rather feed cotton seed to the cows than hay…  nothing has to be done to the seed except to put it into the feed trough for the cows to eat…. 
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Marty on

Never thought about haw cotton was processed. How cool! Thank you for sharing.

Gail on

Very cool, sounds like a fun trip. this is much better than slave labor like it used to be. We are at Queen Valley again, we are in phone range.

bob on

another use for the cotton seed is to produce cottonseed oil for cooking and verious things

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