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Old 03-17-2011, 12:53 AM   #1
DrunkTank
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Default Scrap and Junk Brew Tower Build

Hi everyone, i want to start by thanking everyone who has posted before me, these forums have been a wealth of information and ideas. On that note i thought it would be fun to share my essentially free brew tower build. One of the many benefits of home brewing is the potential cost savings that it may bring over buying ever increasingly expensive commercial beer, i say potential however because there has hardly been a week since i started brewing that i haven't bought something to improve or augment the brewing process. In an attempt to go to a 10g system (and hopefully be more economical in doing so) my cheapo ways are going to take advantage of some scrap and junk to build my tower. Everything except the high-temp paint ($5 a can) was lying around in my backyard. Also i should point out the burners and hardware and pump should run about $150 in addition to the tower, still not bad for a total project cost. also if you dont have a mash tun or kettles thats obviously gonna cost you extra.

I have been trying to decide for some time what type of tower to build, e.g. gravity, pumps, electric, gas, etc. and have decided on a combination of a gravity fed and pump assisted tower. In addition to cheap I am infinitely lazy...that weighed heavily on the decision. There will be two burners, one for dedicated hot water tank (mash, sparge water) and a second for boil. It will be a cooler converted mash tun with a custom built sparge arm (still in design). the pump itself will only come in contact with pre-boil non-wort water as it is fed to the mash and sparge so cleanup will be simple - just hose off the kettle and cooler...infinitely lazy.

This is what i came up with.









The list of materials:
1 sheet plywood, in my case a few scrap pieces
3 8' 2x4's
1 7'x1.25" steel chain link fence pole
~ 25 2" deck screws
1-2 cans high temp grill paint


List of tools:
drill
screws
1.5 inch bit for drilling holes
saw that will cut plywood and 2x4
Gorilla glue

Cut parts to size:
Base board: 48x24x.5"
Mash tun boar: 26x16x.5"
4 tall posts: 48"
2 short posts: 25"
2 long poles: 20"
2 short poles: 17"
Bore holes in the posts:
2 tall posts get 2 holes each, one at 12" and another at 24"
the other 2 tall posts get only 1 hole each at 12"
the short posts get a hole at 24"
I used a 1.5 inch drill bit for the holes
you will also want to rip some small strips of the leftover plywood to make the supporting "tie" boards that will solidify the legs and hold the poles in place.











Once everything is cut i measured the placement on the bottom board then traced the outline of each leg where it would be installed. i then pre-drilled holes in the board, turned it upside down and supported it on a table, added glue to the legs, and screwed them in place. probably a better way of doing it. turn it back over. To attach the poles, start with the top two (@ 24") and screw on one tie board on the outside of the short posts then slide the long poles in until they hit the tie board. at this point use your level and if your drilling sucks like mine, some small pieces of wood, i used some old cedar shakes designed for just this type of thing, to make sure the poles are perfectly level. glue them in place. screw on the other tie plate to secure the poles in place. repeat for the other two bottom poles.

cut more tie boards to hold the top of the tall post together, then screw them in place. screw on the top mash tun board.



Wait until it drys and paint the whole thing with grill paint, it is resistant to 2000'. it may be overkill but were talking 150,000 btus per burner on a wood structure, the whole damn thing is getting coated - takes 2 cans apparently.




That's as far as i have gotten today. I will post more photos when i get the burners and such in place.

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Old 03-17-2011, 01:57 AM   #2
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I would be very concerned about the thin wall horizontal metal tubes losing strength when subjected to high temperatures. I would not trust them at all. Keep in mind that the kettles often weigh as much as 130 lbs when boiling 13.5 gallons of wort etc. That's a lot of weight!

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Old 03-17-2011, 02:49 PM   #3
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i had worried about that as well, but it is coated in 2000'F resistant paint, will never come into direct contact with the flame, and they are really short so im giving it a go. if it falls apart, then we all have good reason for spending money on a real tower!

if this fails, how would you feel about those steel T bar fence posts? the thin green ones with the little barbs on them.

http://www.top-fence.com/Boyang-Fenc...st_U_Post_.jpg

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Old 03-17-2011, 04:01 PM   #4
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High temp paint doesn't block heat, it's simply ably to withstand high temps without discoloring or peeling off. The steel underneath the paint will get just as hot as if there was no paint on it. While theres a chance the tubes will hold up, I wouldn't risk it myself. Being dowsed in 12 gal of boiling liquid is way beyond just a bad brew day.

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Old 03-17-2011, 04:35 PM   #5
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^^^ What he said! ^^^

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Old 03-17-2011, 04:37 PM   #6
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On top of the potential failure of the metal tubes, the wood uprights are destined for trouble as well. 60-90 minutes of boil, plus time to get to strike temps equals a lot of heat to the surrounding wood. Hi-temp paint simply looks good after heat, not protects from it!

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Old 03-17-2011, 04:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JuanMoore View Post
High temp paint doesn't block heat, it's simply ably to withstand high temps without discoloring or peeling off. The steel underneath the paint will get just as hot as if there was no paint on it. While theres a chance the tubes will hold up, I wouldn't risk it myself. Being dowsed in 12 gal of boiling liquid is way beyond just a bad brew day.
I agree with this. Also, you have no lateral support. Add 2 diagonal pieces to give your structure some sidesway support
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Old 03-17-2011, 06:51 PM   #8
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All of the above. What I was attempting to get across was that steel loses a great deal of it's strength when heated to high temperatures. The main problem is that there may be little advance warning of a catastrophic failure. The tubing will be subjected to more heat than you may realize. Propane burns very hot and the tubes will be close enough to the burners that they could easily get red hot and weaken. It's the sudden failure with no visual advance warning thing that you want to avoid the most with this sort of thing. I also agree that some additional lateral support would be a good idean. You'll have a lot of weight on that rig at one point or another.

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Old 03-17-2011, 09:01 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the advice. I can stand on the thing so I'm not to worried about its strength and while it may not look solid it does not bend or flex in the slightest, glued and screwed.

If there is a concern it is with the metal getting heat fatigue and failing. i am using these banjo BG10 burners: http://www.cookware.com/Bayou-Classic-BG10-BAY1112.html. they are pretty small, and will be mounted almost even with the support poles, so how much heat would really be radiating sideways? i am thinking if this is a problem why not just build a heat shield around the burner (just like what comes on the Kick-a-banjo burner for example) guaranteeing a vertical distribution of heat?

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Old 03-19-2011, 11:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrunkTank View Post
I can stand on the thing so I'm not to worried about its strength
I should hope you can stand on it since the weight it will be subjected to is likely more than an average man weighs. For my average brew session I'll have ~160# of water, 25# of grain, and 3 keggles @ #20 each for a total weight of 245 pounds.

Quote:
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If there is a concern it is with the metal getting heat fatigue and failing.
Yes, that's exactly the concern. I'm sure the stand could hold the weight and then some at ambient temps, but those burners (the same ones I use) will likely heat the steel up several hundred degrees, which combined with the weight could cause a failure. The burners need to be mounted several inches below the keggle in order to function properly, not even with the supports. A heat sheild is a good idea, but a lot of heat (and even flames if turned up) will still deflect off the bottom of the keggle toward whatever is supporting it.

Like I said, it may work, but do you really want to chance third degree burns on the lower half of your body from a failure? It looks great, and I'm all for using materials on hand, but you may want to think of a way to beef up the support a little. At the very least, be ready to jump far out of the way if something does go wrong.
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