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Old 02-25-2013, 11:31 AM   #1
brewguyver
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Default If you had a full machine shop, what would you build

Would live to get folks thoughts on this. Trying to think what's the most effective stuff to build - false bottoms and the like are probably easiest, and other expensive-but-not-too-complicated items (e.g. NEMA compliant enclosures for electronics). Other items like cam locks aren't that bad, but they're cheap enough that it might be better just to buy them. What would you build if you had a full shop and only had to buy the raw materials?

Context: Starting Saturday, a buddy of mine will have access to a production machine shop (Http://www.techshop.ws). This includes 3 and 4 axis CNC machines, laser etcher/cutter, water jet, hardcore pipe benders, etc. They also have a few hardcore 3D printers. They even have a full wood shop.

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Old 02-25-2013, 11:52 AM   #2
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I work at home and have a full machine shop in my garage. It becomes a thing like the machanic that never works on his own car. After a long day in the shop trying to make money, the last thing I want to do is spend more time there making hobby parts. The labor cost of making anything one-off is very rarely worth it. If I can buy it for a reasonable price I will.

That said, the last thing I built was a stand for my mill. Making the mill itself is on the top of my list. It's something that has more machined parts than probably anything else in the brewhouse and the existing products have room for improvement.

That project keeps getting pushed back to make room for more brewdays.

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Old 02-25-2013, 12:46 PM   #3
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I'm a machinist at a US Army arsenal that produces large caliber canons. We have every type of machine tool under the sun. Unfortunately I don't have access to many of them for personal use. Even if I did however, I don't think that there are many core pieces of brewing equipment that I could efficiently produce or would even want to make.
The most use I would get out of the tools available would be for decorative items such as tap handles or things that need engraving. This is also coming from a 4 gallon BIAB novice so take my opinions with a grain of salt.
Does the shop have a welder? I can imagine that would be more useful than anything.

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Old 02-25-2013, 01:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snisup View Post
I'm a machinist at a US Army arsenal that . . .
Picatinny? I get a lot of work out of there.




edit to say:
never mind. just saw you're way up by Albany
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Old 02-25-2013, 01:15 PM   #5
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Watervliet:-)

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Old 02-25-2013, 01:50 PM   #6
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Where to even start?

  • A stainless steel open fermenter. I'm using a chest freezer as a fermentation chamber and I always thought it would be cool to have an open fermenter sized to fit it like the wire baskets that come with the freezer. That way it would essentially hang from the frame of the freezer. Then, after krausen falls, open a valve installed in the bottom of the unit to allow it to drain into a carboy placed on the floor of the freezer.
  • I would get so many things welded with triclamps and polished smooth. Perhaps even completely rebuild a pump head to be more like a milk pump/pharmaceutical pump
  • Find a way to make this http://www.brewershardware.com/2-Tri...t-Adapter.html but either welding the element in place so there are no threads exposed to the kettle or redesigning it to use heating elements with bulkhead nuts like a spa element.
  • A mill station like AnOldUR wouldn't be too shabby.

I can't imagine wasting a machine shop's time on something like a false bottom. There are soooo many of them in all kinds of forms.
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Old 02-25-2013, 05:05 PM   #7
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Former machinist with full access for personal use to multiple manual and CNC mills and lathes. There is nothing of significance in my brewery that I made in the shop. There is little that I could have produced at a cost effective rate that is not available commercially at a cheaper price. The exception to that is probably a grain mill if you have access to a reasonable scrap or discard pile.

I did modify a few pieced or fittings from time to time and my familiarity with working with metal allowed me to convert or otherwise modify things like kegs with ease. Much of that was done at home in the garage though.

One caveat to my above statement is the shop I worked in did not do sheet metal work. We subed out any laser or waterjet sheet metal work. We were strictly production milling and lathe work. We also did not have extensive welding capabilities, sure we had the biggest TIG Miller has to offer and a couple of nice MIG units but we did not have the consumables to do sanitary stainless welds and I did not have the skill set to do them either.

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Old 02-27-2013, 11:37 AM   #8
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It's interesting that so many of you had said "grain mill." I look at that and think "complicated/lots of opportunity to screw up." I look at a high end false bottom and think "simple layout, no moving parts - just have to program the machine." That said, I've never done metal work.

I have talked my buddy off the ledge on turning metal - at least the smaller stuff. Type F camlocks are about $4/ea. It wouldn't make sense to build those. If we need 8" TC fittings for fermenter conversions, it might be worth it.

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Old 02-27-2013, 11:45 AM   #9
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I did machine some radius to flat washers to match the curve of my pot for weldless fittings. Profiled with a ball end mill on a Fadal CNC.

(totally not worth the labor and machine time that went into them, but . . . )

.

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Old 02-27-2013, 08:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brewguyver View Post
It's interesting that so many of you had said "grain mill." I look at that and think "complicated/lots of opportunity to screw up." I look at a high end false bottom and think "simple layout, no moving parts - just have to program the machine." That said, I've never done metal work.
it.

A lathe and a drill press or a simple knee mill is all you need to make a mill. They are not as complicated as you might think. Any machine shop is going to have those and even a fair number of home shops and garages have them. I could probably make a simple mill in the garage at home.

Perforated metal is another thing altogether. It is more expensive to purchase than plain sheet metal. If you are planning on starting from plain sheet metal than the best way to make a false bottom would be with a CNC laser. That is a far less common piece of equipment. Your average tool and die shop or job shop is not going to have that in many cases. If a shop does have laser capabilities than they are very likely large bed production units that operate at high volume cutting multiple 4'x8' sheets of metal at a time. I know the laser work we used to subcontract out all had to be done in full sheet quotes or the prices was completely ridiculous. Now one could certainly load up a 3/32" or so drill bit in a cnc mill and program in a pattern but that many holes would take a good bit of cycle time and you would probably go through a couple drill bits at a minimum. Personally I find sheet metal work to be about the most annoying thing in the world. I would much rather be making chips on a lathe.
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