I searched and searched for some good information on converting an old surge cow milker into a goat milking machine. I have not been able to find much info so I'm going to share what I learned on my own. First we adverstised on a free local site that we were looking for old cow milking equipment. You can also find them for a decent price on eBay or other such auction sites. Lucky for us we were contacted right away by someone who lives less than 8 miles away. We went to see what they had. They had several old surge buckets and a pipeline with a vacuum pump. None of this equipment had been used in many many years, like at least 20 years. So we took the best looking surge bucket with pulsator for $50. We weren't interested in the barn set up with the pipeline but the guy said he had a portable vacuum pump that borrowed to a neighbor but that it wasn't being used anymore and he could get it back. So he did and it was a sad looking rusted out old thing from the 1940s. It appeared to work so we took it home for $100. But let me say this is not what I pictured when I was told "portable".
Now we had to get new hoses and inflations. I don't know if it was the best deal but I got a conversion kit from Hamby Dairy online for $150. It doesn't seem like I got much for my $150 but this stuff is expensive. I got two clear shells, inflations, milk hoses, air hoses, shut off valves, and the claws. I searched the internet endlessly trying to figure out what a claw was and what its purpose was. I never found anything but from using it the best I can figure out is that it has something to do with pushing the milk through the hose and preventing it from going back into the inflation. I also am glad I went with the clear inflations and hoses. It really helps to be able to see how much milk is going through. Although the goats tell me when they are almost done, it must get uncomfortable because they start kicking it off. I also had to buy a vacuum gauge just to make sure there wasn't too much suction.
Now we had everything we needed and had to figure out how it works. Mike cleaned everything all up and even painted the vacuum pump. It looks like brand new now. He also built me a very nice milk stand, saving us a ton of money on an actual stanchion. When we hooked everything up we had suction but the pulsator was not working. After some failed attempts to "fix" it on our own, we finally took it to someone who knew what they were doing. Its a local dairy supply for cows but they knew how to get us going. They were very helpful with information and didn't charge us a penny. Now my milk machine runs like a dream!
From the information I gathered the suction needs to be between 10-12 for goats and the pulsator at about 90 beats per minute. All in all we spent $300 and got an old but fully operational milking system. Everything seems to be going smoothly now and it saves my hands a lot of work. I took some pictures to share of the operation. I'm by no means an expert but if anyone has any questions I'll be happy to try and answer them.