Although I don't have exhausted experience with butter churns, it has come to my attention that they just are not all created equal.
While the old fashioned hand crank butter churns are beautiful and nostalgic, I prefer to use an electric butter churn. When all the cows are in milk, it is not unheard of for me to churn as much as ten gallons of cream a week. I would spend a lot of time making butter if I had to do it all by hand!
When I first began looking for an electric churn I found reproductions available at Lehmans and at Hoeggers. However, I could not see spending $280+ for an electric churn if I could find another solution!
I began to look at antique stores and it was not long until I found a 1940-50's era electric churn. I paid $65 for it. The store owner was more than willing for me to plug it in and check it out to make sure that it ran. He was fascinated by the idea that someone would actually make butter from their own raw milk in today's society.
The original electric churn I bought was a Gem Dandy made by Alabama Manufacturing Company in Birmingham, Alabama. It will hold three gallons of cream, but because one
must allow for expansion of the cream (it first changes to whipped cream and then to butter), I only put in 2.5 gallons of cream. This churn served me well for about a year but due to a poor design with the cord, it eventually frayed and broke off. Thinking it was not that big a deal to replace the cord, my husband took it to the shop to repair it. However, he soon found out that due to the way the metal casing was made around the motor, it was not easy to get to the cord to repair it. He and a friend (who likes butter) got together and they still were not able to get the casing off. So, the friend took it to a manufacturing company where someone in the machine shop did us a favor and finally got the darn thing off. The cord was replaced but we knew it would be only a matter of time before we had trouble with it again.
The cord is not secured in any way on this design and the lid screws on to the jar meaning that the cord is twisted around and around every time that it is put on the jar. This particular motor/blade assembly is a Gem Dandy model that came with the jar.
Knowing that I did not want to be without an electric churn should something happen to my original, I began searching for another one in antique stores. We finally found one for $45. (There were always models available for much more, but I refuse to pay the price for them!) Upon closer inspection, it became apparent that it was actually the jar from a Gem Dandy model and the motor/blade assembly from Dixie Maid. The jar was a five gallon jar instead of a three gallon.
This past week the cord on my original churn again became frayed and broke off. Forced to bring out my back up, I soon realized that I like it much better.
The motor/blade assembly does not screw on. This means that the cord is not twisted around and around with each use. In addition, I can actually use it on any size jar or even on a crock if I desire. I also find the blade assembly much easier to clean. In addition, the cord is fitted in such a way that it is clamped and it has an on and off switch, a feature that the other one does not have.
I will get the original churn repaired and use it as a back-up just in case I ever have problems with this one, but for the record, I am much happier with the Dixie Maid churn assembly!
(Note: The churn in the first picture is the preferred churn. The motor assembly and blade just "set" on top of the jar. The second picture is of the freyed cord on the less desirable motor/blade assembly. Because the lid must be screwed on, the cord is twisted round and around every time, causing it to break.)