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Old 08-31-2010, 07:05 PM   #1
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Default DIY 2-Tier AG brewstand build

As always: thanks to the members of this community who take the time to share so many great ideas (and some not so great ones), post images and links and tell us about your successes and failures.

This project started for me almost a year ago, and I have spent countless hours pouring over the forums looking for ideas and inspiration. The setup is not yet complete, but with any luck I may be able to brew up my first AG batch on the new setup within the week. But, before I put the finishing touches together I figured I would go ahead and start this build thread. Comments are encouraged: if you see something you like, or if it looks like I am heading down the wrong path, let me know...I will continue to post more images over the next week as I try and get to the first brew day. Thanks for looking.

Here is the old workshop space before being converted into the brew space:


And after being cleaned up...this is one side of an old 10x12 shed in the back yard:

a blank slate...


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Old 08-31-2010, 07:22 PM   #2
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I consider myself to be a handy guy, and with a reasonable collection of tools and my modest workshop setup I can tackle most backyard DIY projects. That being said, I don't have any welding equipment, or experience (or $$ to buy welding equipment). I decided to spend my money on other parts of the brew setup and build the stand of wood.

Thanks to Scuba Steve who's wood brew stand was inspiration for my first attempt.

Here is what it looked like put together:

Decided not to apply a finish, mostly because I am lazy and I wanted to keep the progress going towards brew day.

I am going to be using 23-tip jet burners, so I figured I would need some sort of protection for the wood. I picked up some flashing at the box store and made a little jig to bend the stuff to conform to my setup.


Here is the flashing bent and installed on one of the top rails of the stand:


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Old 08-31-2010, 07:29 PM   #3
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With the flashing installed, I was ready to install the rails that the kettles would sit on. We are very fortunate to have a huge scrap metal yard here in town with tons of stuff that would lend itself to DIY brew projects. After picking through a few bins, I found these BURLY tubular steel pieces that looked like they would make good supports for the kettles. I measured, marked and cut them to size using a cutoff wheel on the angle grinder:



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Old 08-31-2010, 08:25 PM   #4
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You can see the 23 tip jet burners in the last post.

My previous setup was propane, but I was tired of re-filling those tanks and wanted to take advantage of the natural gas that was only 15-feet away from the brew shed. I decided to use the 23-tip jet burners because they were the most affordable and looked impressive on videos posted by other members.

Here is a shot of all the misc. plumbing pieces used for the burner manifold:


I installed a "T" in the 3/4" gas line that was feeding the hot water heater in the house, and added a shut-off valve. The gas then goes through a 3/4 heavy-duty hose out to the brew shed about 15 feet away from the house. The hose is only left hooked up when the gas is being used. On the brew shed side of the setup the hose attaches to a length of 3/4" black pipe which runs over to the brew stand. At the brew stand, I have another shut-off valve for the main feed, and 3/4" black pipe to feed three burners. From the 3/4" main supply on the brew stand there are three "T" fittings which reduce down to 1/2" with a shutoff/control valve for each burner. The pipe is all secured to the wood frame and easily holds up the heavy burners.



Here is a shot with the kettle sitting on the rails with burner below:


With this setup, the bottom of the kettles were about 5 inches from the burners.
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:39 PM   #5
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So, at this point there is still lots to do before I can brew, but it was finally time to fire this thing up and see what she could do. SWMBO was a little nervous for some reason and wanted to call in a plumber to make sure I did everything correct. After double and triple checking all the pipe and fittings AND getting a fire extinguisher for the brew shed SWMBO reluctantly gave me her blessing and then left the scene. "Will the insurance company cover us if you burn down the shed or house?" I don't know the answer to that question, and don't recommend anyone do anything I may or may not have done with natural gas.

I don't actually have any pictures of the first burn test, but the bottom line is that this setup makes some serious heat! Getting the gas safely from the house to the burners was successful.

Unfortunately, the wood and flimsy flashing on the brew stand were no match for the 23-tip jet burner, even at half throttle. After about 15 minutes, I was forced to abandon the test due to the flashing starting to melt, and some charring on the wood:






So...it was back to the drawing board to figure out a way to better protect the wood from the fire. I had all ready purchased and installed two sheets of hardi-backer on the exposed studs behind the brew stand to as not to catch the brew shed on fire, but wrapping the brew stand in that stuff would be a little more challenging...
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Old 08-31-2010, 08:47 PM   #6
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I think I would go back to the scrapyard and find some more steel and remake your stand out of that.
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:03 PM   #7
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The next day I went back out to the scrap metal yard to look for some steel plating that I could use to protect the brew stand from the flames. I had even decided that maybe I would buy a small sheet of scrap steel and have a welder cut two holes in it, a little smaller than the diameter of the keggles.

While wondering around the scrap yard I stumbled upon a heavy duty steel ladder / scaffold piece of scrap and after some head scratching decided I would try something completely different. The piece was about 10 feet long and weighed 106 pounds (but sold for only 20 cents / lb.)!! I loaded it up and carted it home to be chopped up and used as a new top for the brew stand.

Here it is in the backyard over two saw horses with mystery keg:

I forgot my tape measure at the scrap yard, and was stoked to find out that this thing was the perfect size for supporting the kettles over the burners.

Using a cutoff wheel on the angle grinder, I cut the beast down to length. Then I cut two 2x6 pieces to fit the width of the steel frame, which would support the thing on top of the brew stand. I removed the old horizontal pieces from the brew stand, and bolted the two 2x6 pieces in place:

I replaced the burners and made some small adjustments to the piping to accommodate the new spacing for the kettles on the stand and things were starting to look good.


So, now its a hybrid wood/steel brew sculpture: DIY 2-tier AG brewstand MK2

Reason: add one more image
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:22 PM   #8
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After everything was re-assembled I hooked up the gas and filled one of the kettles with 5 gal of water for fire test #2:


The burners were now a little lower compared to the previous version, but the flames seemed to be reaching the kettle just fine:


As with the previous setup I was a little concerned about the valve handle and thermometer dial getting hot, so I placed a piece of steel diamond-plate in the front as a shield which seemed to work fine. I also tried some small scraps of the hardi-backer to see if that would make any difference. After 20 minutes at about 1/2 throttle, the water temp had increased 100 degrees F and the valve handle was still cool enough to touch with bare hands

So far so good



In the next few days I will update the thread with images from the installation of an exhaust fan, installation of the pump and plumbing, making the copper immersion chiller, and hot-water trials before brew day. Thanks for any comments, suggestions, ideas...Cheers
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:44 PM   #9
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Looking pretty sweet...subscribed.
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Old 08-31-2010, 10:56 PM   #10
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looking awesome! keep us posted!


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