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Old 09-20-2011, 02:19 PM   #1
cjp4627
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Default Kettle Drilling Problem

Well Guys,

I just ruined what I was going to use as a MLT in a Countertop Brutus 20 build this week. I read all the stainless soldering threads and being a car guy and an engineer, had little worries about this project. I've done soldering and welding before so I had a decent idea about what was going on.

I started by drilling a hole in the lid so that I could solder in a coupling to use for recirculation. I didn't use any lubricant due to the fears I heard about the hydrocarbon contamination and even though the steel got a bit hot, I had no problems and it turned out perfect once I soldered it.

Now I had some confidence and was going to take the plunge and drill the stainless kettle. I used a punch and marked the hole and started drilling. I again did not use any lubricant but I did use a higher quality step bit and everything went really well until I ran out of steps on the good step bit. This left me at an 11/16" diameter hole so I decided to use the lower quality step bit to finish out to the 7/8" diameter hole I needed. Unfortunately, just as I was about to break through to the 7/8" diameter step, the bit caught a little bit and tore a nice big gouge in my kettle. I was stunned. I've drilled more holes than I can count in sheet metal and I have never seen anything like this. From what I can tell, it was a combination of drill speed, drill bit quality, stainless quality and stress concentrations due to the manufacturing process. You can see in the pictures below, the tear is perfectly linear and it follows the tooling marks around the circumference on the pot.

Once this happened, I decided to do some more research and I found that you can use olive oil as a lubricant and not risk the contamination. So I decided I had already ruined the pot and I might as well try and learn from this so I decided to drill another hole. Everything except the oil was the same. The oil never even began to smoke and indicate too much heat, yet I had the EXACT same results.

At this point I had accepted that I will need to purchase two new kettles (already needed one for the system) but now i have major concerns with trying this same process on one of the economy brew kettles I was eying up with any on the online HB stores. Are this pots going to be any better than this cheapo 4 gallon that I just ruined? Am I doing something wrong that I just can't see?





I appreciate any help you guys can give me. It is very frustrating to have stuff like this happen when it feels like such an easy project to complete.

Caleb

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Old 09-20-2011, 02:29 PM   #2
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Would your silver solder would fill the gap after squeezing it back flat?? If not, JB Water Weld or take it to someone who can weld stainless.

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Old 09-20-2011, 02:37 PM   #3
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IMO, using a step bit on very thin metal is asking for trouble and espeically so with the cheaper bits. A hole saw would have been my choice or a conduit punch. I do not understand the concern over hydrocarbon contamination. Cutting oil and such should wash right off with a little BKF or something similar. Where did you buy that kettle? It appears to be paper thin.

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Old 09-20-2011, 02:41 PM   #4
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Wait.... you can weld and you call that kettle trash now? Just pound it and and weld it up. Unless your going for the bling bling factor. Then ship it to me and I'll use it

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Old 09-20-2011, 02:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catt22 View Post
IMO, using a step bit on very thin metal is asking for trouble and espeically so with the cheaper bits. A hole saw would have been my choice or a conduit punch. I do not understand the concern over hydrocarbon contamination. Cutting oil and such should wash right off with a little BKF or something similar. Where did you buy that kettle? It appears to be paper thin.


+1. Holesaws actually work better and are cheaper. BTW, it looks like you have TWO gouges in there, one on each side of the hole.
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Old 09-20-2011, 03:40 PM   #6
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The problem with that type of metal is the press marks. There's a stress riser at every groove there, ant the metal is thin to begin with.

I agree with everyone else though. Just even it out and solder it. It should be strong enough.

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Old 09-20-2011, 04:40 PM   #7
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I will absolutely not use jb weld on anything that touches my beer. I could teach myself to weld it, I have a tig at my parents house but I can't even get a hole drilled and I've never welded stainless before. As far as solder goes, solder will not reliably hold that joint together. Solder needs an overlapping joint at a minimum to be effective.

I don't have access to a conduit punch but was certainly considering a hole saw. I made the assumption that all the people on here had no problems with the step bit so why should I. I guess that's a lesson learned.

I think the pot came from Walmart. Any idea if the economy brew kettles that can be had for forty bucks (5 gallon) are any heavier?

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Old 09-20-2011, 04:42 PM   #8
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Kegs. Craigslist.

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Old 09-20-2011, 05:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjp4627 View Post
I will absolutely not use jb weld on anything that touches my beer. I could teach myself to weld it, I have a tig at my parents house but I can't even get a hole drilled and I've never welded stainless before. As far as solder goes, solder will not reliably hold that joint together. Solder needs an overlapping joint at a minimum to be effective.

I don't have access to a conduit punch but was certainly considering a hole saw. I made the assumption that all the people on here had no problems with the step bit so why should I. I guess that's a lesson learned.

I think the pot came from Walmart. Any idea if the economy brew kettles that can be had for forty bucks (5 gallon) are any heavier?

I use a aluminum one from Target called Imusu or something along those lines. It cost me $20 and it's soft metal so you can probably put a hole through that with ease. The pot itself is very sturdy, even with 8 gallons of water in it. I was quite surprised when lifting it to do some mashes.

The pot itself is designed for steaming, so it comes with a inner plate with large holes. But get some mesh and solder it onto the inner plate and make the hole just below that and you got a decent semi-effective filter.
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Old 09-20-2011, 05:44 PM   #10
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I've got a 20qt from MoreBeer & it has the same tooling marks in it. I guess this justifies the $$ for the knockout punches. I'm guessing a hole saw may end up doing the same thing.

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