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Old 07-12-2010, 10:06 PM   #1
Teromous
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Default New Kettle

I've been in the market for a new brew kettle for some time now, with stuff entered and deleted from my online shopping carts. I've given up on converting a keg...in the rare event that I find a keg online it turns out to either be sold or is being sold in some part of town I don't really want to go.

My options at this point are buying a bling kettle or converting an el-cheapo. I want to know what you guys have been doing who are in a similar situation. I've been looking at stainless steel bayou stock-pots but have read that they are cheaply made and are from China... What brands are you guys converting?

Another thing that is bothering me is cutting the hole for the thermowell and ball valve. I have some DIY experience in making my own kegerator, etc, but I really don't want to spend $100 on a pot and screw it up. I have a drill but don't have access to a drill press at the moment. I'm worried that if I cut a hole straight, but too far left or right on the curve that the ball valve won't seal properly...does that make sense? Any thoughts?



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Old 07-12-2010, 11:32 PM   #2
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I think you're over thinking this. If you get a good step drill, you will get good straight cuts in your kettle. I'll admit the first one was a bit hairy, but I've done several since then with only a cordless drill. The step drill allows you to clean up the burrs from drilling as well by lightly touching the kettle surface with the next size step. A small pilot hole (1/32") will make sure your bit stays centered.

You should be more concerned about placement of the hole. Once you start drilling, you're committed. Measure 2 or three times, because you only get to drill once.

As far as kettles go, I'd have concern drilling into a brand new Blichmann Boilermaker, but my kettles are a stainless turkey fryer pot from Academy and a repurposed 15 gal Keg (Keggle) that I purchased on eBay in 2005 before the crackdown.




Last edited by 3 Dog Brew; 07-12-2010 at 11:33 PM. Reason: grammer
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Old 07-12-2010, 11:38 PM   #3
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I'd drive to the ghetto (I'm assuming where you don't want to go, but where most kegs are sold lol), and buy/ convert a keggle. It will last dang near forever, and will cost a fraction of what a kettle from a HBS would cost. With that said, I understand that a lot of people simply don't have the time/resources to cut the top off of a keg and you'd be forced to buy a kettle.

I think I'd probably buy this one http://www.austinhomebrew.com/product_info.php?cPath=178_33_463&products_id=872. It not only comes with a ball valve and is big enough to make 5 or 10 gallon batches (something you'll begin to loves), but it's got a second port for you to buy a thermometer either with your purchase, or later on down the road (perhaps on ebay where they're half the dang price).

GL, and I'm sure whatever decision you'll make, spending $300 on a pot always sucks.

Also, I don't know where you are in Virginia, but check this out http://lynchburg.craigslist.org/for/1825195348.html.

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Old 07-13-2010, 01:59 AM   #4
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I am sure you have seen all the threads but how can you not like:

http://www.restaurantsupplyhouse.com/servlet/the-55/40-qt.-Medium-Weight/Detail

Its $39! The heavy duty 6mm thick version is 59.

I have a similar one (not sure of the exact thickness) and the thing is like a tank.

Drilling the Al is a piece of cake. These are thick walls. The thing will not ding or dent easily. I seasoned (oxidized) once after the initial cleaning and haven't had to repeat. the heat transfer is great. I rinse and clean with a rag after the boil - no need to soak or scrub. -- I could not be happier.

I have a cheap SS pot that I bought at the local shop that feels and acts like aluminum foil compared to my Al kettle.

3 dog brew is right. The step bits are easy to use. Even my H@rbor Freight version works well. Just remember to leave enough space for the nut or washer on the inside of the pot. the radius of the corner takes up some of that space.

Don't fear the aluminum - I'm sure you can always sell it here if you don't like it.

Jason


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Old 07-13-2010, 03:20 AM   #5
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I spent a lot of time scouring Craigslist for a keg before I scored one. I had to drive an hour to pick it up, but I met a cool homebrewer who gave me a bunch of delicious brew to take with me as well as loaning me his step bit. I got my next keg for free. I just went to a local liquor store and asked if they had any kegs they weren't going to need anymore. He gave me one no problem.

The first hole is a bit scary, but mine worked out fine. I understand your concerns, but the bottom line is that to make anything the first time you have to be willing to make mistakes.

Might as well at least try for a free keg and just do your best (which will more than likely work out great) but know in your mind that if you make a mistake, so what. Mistakes are definitely the best way to learn.

I'm a teacher and unfortunately our culture has wrongly told people that we should learn without making mistakes. Once you accept mistakes as part of the paradigm of learning and doing, you'll have a great time, especially with a cheap keggle. I get such a kick out of my keggle. Cheap, indestructible stainless pot.

Go for it.

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Old 09-07-2010, 07:31 PM   #6
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I spent a lot of time looking for a keg on Craigslist (which was fruitless in Utah) and eventually met a local brewer who happened to have a damaged keg for me to use. I had a buddy cut it off with a plasma (which makes a mess) and brought it to a local welder that came recommended by a homebrew shop who cut the hole and welded in a 1/2" fitting for $20. I marked the placement of the hole away from the holes in the skirt so flames from the burner wouldn't get it, 90 deg from the handles. I can check the height when I get home, but its not so critical welding then going weldless. They did a great job on the weld.

Overall I'm disappointed though--I wish I had just bought a 20gal aluminum pot from a restaurant supply store(Or online here). It takes so damn long to heat the water it doubled my brew day. So the down side is for all the work getting the converted keg together I still don't have something that works well for me.

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Old 09-07-2010, 09:53 PM   #7
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One caution about drilling a stainless pot with a hand drill - you really need someone else to hold the pot steady. I modified a 6 gallon MegaPot (my old brew pot, now only used for heating water) and tried holding the pot with one hand and the drill with the other - well, the bit hung up and the drill twisted sideways, causing a raised lip on one side of the hole. Fortunately, I was able to fix it with a 1/2 inch bolt, two big flat washers and a nut (one washer on inside and one out). I ended up with two bent washers, but the pot looked great. Also, as always with stainless, slow RPM, good steady pressure on the drill, and lots of cutting oil.

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Old 09-07-2010, 10:09 PM   #8
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Post in the craigslist wanted section saying you are looking for a keg. It's free, you might get lucky.

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Old 09-07-2010, 10:33 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwright View Post
I am sure you have seen all the threads but how can you not like:

http://www.restaurantsupplyhouse.com/servlet/the-55/40-qt.-Medium-Weight/Detail

Its $39! The heavy duty 6mm thick version is 59.
I have two of those and love them. Much better than my keggle, which is heavy and not as heat efficient. I can keep a strong boil going even with my burner barely turned on.
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Old 09-07-2010, 10:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeafSmith View Post
One caution about drilling a stainless pot with a hand drill - you really need someone else to hold the pot steady. I modified a 6 gallon MegaPot (my old brew pot, now only used for heating water) and tried holding the pot with one hand and the drill with the other - well, the bit hung up and the drill twisted sideways, causing a raised lip on one side of the hole. Fortunately, I was able to fix it with a 1/2 inch bolt, two big flat washers and a nut (one washer on inside and one out). I ended up with two bent washers, but the pot looked great. Also, as always with stainless, slow RPM, good steady pressure on the drill, and lots of cutting oil.
That's the great thing about a keg, you can sit on it while you drill.


Here's a link to a 10 gallon pot.
http://www.waresdirect.com/products/Restaurant-Supply/UpdateInternational/Stainless-Pot168823


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