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Old 06-23-2011, 10:26 PM   #1
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Default 15.5 gallon/half barrel eKettle question

I just picked up a 15.5 gallon/half barrel kettle with one 1/2" welded fitting. Now that I have it home I am dreading the drilling for the heating element and temperature probe. I am not too worried about the hole for the probe. What I am concerned about is the 1-1/4" hole, will my Greenlee punch be able to do the job?

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Old 06-23-2011, 10:36 PM   #2
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If it works on a blichmann it will work on a keg, I believe their the same gauge stainless.

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Old 06-23-2011, 10:44 PM   #3
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If it works on a blichmann it will work on a keg, I believe their the same gauge stainless.
I've never seen a Blichmann in person so I'll have to take your word for it. I guess I'll find out one way or the other later tonight.

PS ... Whenever you share your experience and give advice it is always greatly appreciated Wildwest. But I am always so (pleasantly) distracted by your avatar that I have a hard time focusing on your posts. I've probably seen it a thousand times, but it draws me in like a tractor beam every time it's within my field of view.
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Old 06-24-2011, 12:40 AM   #4
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Wow, this keg is bomb proof! In over 30 minutes of drilling I have broke 2 drill bits and created little more than a perceptible dimple in the stainless steel. Any advice would be appreciated.

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Old 06-24-2011, 12:46 AM   #5
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Try a "knockout punch". The linked knockout punch is what I got for my element: Camco #02963 5500W 240VAC ultra low watt density (ULWD) RIPP element...

YMMV and good luck!

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Old 06-24-2011, 12:53 AM   #6
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Use some drilling oil, or vegetable oil, or canola oil. Any oil helps cutting stainless. And don't use to fast RPM's, steady pressure and slower RPM's work better.

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Old 06-24-2011, 02:59 AM   #7
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Are you talking about a greenlee step bit?
If so, you really want to use a knockout punch for this. A step bit will leave a messy hole. Have you read through Kal's site about punching holes in kettles? If not, its really helpful. I've successfully made holes in kettles now using his techniques and I can tell you that it works well.

You'll want to use a step bit to get the initial smaller hole drilled before using the knockout punch. As mentioned, definitely use oil and go with slower RPMs.

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Old 06-24-2011, 03:01 AM   #8
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As usual, I over looked the blatantly obvious, a new bit solved the problem. But ... I can say with absolute certainty that a 1-1/4" Greenlee chassis punch will go through a keggle with surprising ease. Everything is assembled and I am planning a water test tomorrow. If all goes well I'll post some photos of my new baby.

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Old 06-24-2011, 03:04 AM   #9
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You got to be very careful, if you generate to much heat at the drilling spot you'll "work harden" the area and you'll never get that drill through there. Like others have said, it's slow slow, lots of pressure and oil. There's no real substitute for cutting oil, but other oils will do in a pinch. A pilot hole is also a good idea.

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Old 06-24-2011, 03:09 AM   #10
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You got to be very careful, if you generate to much heat at the drilling spot you'll "work harden" the area and you'll never get that drill through there. Like others have said, it's slow slow, lots of pressure and oil. There's no real substitute for cutting oil, but other oils will do in a pinch. A pilot hole is also a good idea.
Dang Pickles! I just checked out your rig and it is sweet as hades!
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