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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Fermenters > Another fermentation chamber build
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Old 07-01-2011, 02:58 PM   #11
commonsenseman
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Keep up the good work, strat. It's looking really nice, I would love to build something like that soon. Tough to keep the temps in my basement below 73-ish this time of year.

Is that your hot water heater in the background on a couple of your pics, or the world's smallest boiler?


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Old 07-01-2011, 03:29 PM   #12
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Had to go back and look to be sure commonsenseman, and the answer is... yes.

The sqared off unit is the boiler, and just behind it and to the left is the hot water tank. It's not quite as small as you think, though the boiler is definitely a little smaller than the one it replaced, since this one doesn't need to contain the domestic hot water coils the old one had...

Thanks for the compliments, by the way. This part is easy to keep clean and neat looking. I'm honestly just a bit nervous about the next couple of steps, and making sure to keep everything neat and tidy when it comes to the insulation and caulking and such.


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Old 07-03-2011, 12:05 PM   #13
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Made some more progress, and of course a couple mistakes, yesterday - this thing is really starting to take shape...



So, I cut down all the plywood and sheathed 3 of the 5 faces of the box I plan to sheathe. I'm using polyurethane construction adhesive and screws to hold everything together - I figure this should make the sheathing nice and tightly sealed and hopefully help keep things nicely insulated... This was where I discovered my first mistake: somehow I goofed on measuring one of the cuts, and the section of sheathing cut for the side of the fridge on the door side of the chamber came out just a bit too short... And crooked. Still scratching my head on how that happened, especially considering that the section for the other side of the door was cut from the same piece and fits almost perfectly... Whatever the case, I'll need to pick up another 2x4 panel of half inch ply to replace the one I botched.

I then started cutting down and installing the insulation in the frame. As you might have spotted in the picture above, I'm using 1" insulation to fit into the 1.5" space inside the framing members - so I cut up a bunch of firring strips out of my leftover plywood to fill up a little of that space, yet leave for the most part 1/2" of dead air between the outside of the insulation and the inside of the plywood sheathing - this should help with the insulation a tiny bit, and also make things fit... Made another mistake with the insulation - it seems I cut one piece to size, then rather than cutting the next piece from the off-cut, I apparently cut the next piece from the good one... Fortunately, I think I've got enough insulation that I shouldn't need to re-buy any to make up for that mistake.

Last up, I made a bit of an interesting discovery that I'm trying to decide on how to address. Check out this pic:



Basically, I've found as things are coming together that the bottom of the fridge is apparently exactly 1" above the frame. The blue insulation I'm using here fits perfectly underneath the fridge. So, I'm trying to decide: once all my insulation cuts are complete, do I glue in (with more of that adhesive) a bunch of off-cuts of the blue insulation on the bottom to fill that gap before I put in the inside layer of insulation, or do I attempt to cut the foiled insulation to size to tuck an inch or two of it under the fridge?

I'm leaning towards the extra layer of blue insulation, if I've got enough; it should bring the foiled insulation just about level with the inside of the fridge, and an extra layer of insulation on the bottom of the chamber, where the carboys will be sitting, should be a good thing.

I'm not going to have any time to work on this today, but with some luck I'll get a little time tomorrow afternoon or evening, so I probably won't have any progress to share until tomorrow night or Tuesday morning...
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Old 07-03-2011, 12:37 PM   #14
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Looking real good. We used to make fun of my dad when he bought his pocket screw jig. He used to get so excited about anything that could be fastened with pocket screws and we just thought he was a geek. Now I understand how cool they really are, simple and very effective (I guess I'm an old geek now).

As far as your insulation gap. I definitely say you add another layer of insulation up to the inside bottom of the fridge elevation. Aside from adding more R-value in the layer that could have the highest delta T (maybe), it will also give you a solid base to seal up against the fridge edge. You want to seal that edge up with silicone BTW (not sure if that was in your plan) in case you have any leaks or spills inside.

Keep up the good work. I keep half-ashing my fermentation control but I should just buck up, get some pocket screws and do something like this.
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Old 07-03-2011, 03:38 PM   #15
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+1 with adding the insulation. Also by adding the insulation would that make the floor even with the for of the fridge.

+1 with sealing with silicon. Help make it air tight and minimize clean up if needed.

Wish I had used pocket screw jig. Makes it look clean and professional.

Awesome build looks great!
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Old 07-03-2011, 04:26 PM   #16
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builds looks great, good inspiration on this one
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Old 07-05-2011, 12:47 PM   #17
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A tiny bit of progress to report, but no pictures this go-round...

I finished cutting down all the blue foam insulation this morning. Those pieces do include a long section to fit as an extra layer on the bottom, to allow the inner insulation layer to be level with the inside of the fridge - this required that I kinda sorta McGuyver together a pair of pieces of insulation in one of my top gaps - I haven't decided yet it that's acceptable or it I'll cut a single piece to size from some other rigid insulation I have from out in my garage. I also test-fit my side panels again and reminded myself that this is supposed to be a case of function before form - the panel on the side of the fridge is definitely cut a little bit wrong, but not disastrously so; so I'm just going to use that one as-is after all.

So, at this point, I've learned two more important lessons. This project is taking far more construction adhesive than I had assumed (finished my first tube this morning, I plan to pick up two more to finish things off). Also, the project will take up more caulking than I had assumed - I've got probably 2/3 of a tube at home, will pick up 2 more of those as well.

Maybe the other thing I've figured is this: this project takes more time than I had figured. I figured I'd knock the thing out in a weekend. Which might have been true, if I'd actually had a full weekend to dedicate to it. Since I do not have that much solid time to block out for it, this project is going to take a while longer than I'd expected.
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Old 07-05-2011, 02:21 PM   #18
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I'm sure it'll all be worth it in the end. When you're beer is brewing at a nice, cool 65 degrees year around, the rest of us suckers will be struggling to stay under 75.
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Old 07-06-2011, 01:16 AM   #19
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OK, now for some more pictures, and more lessons (re)learned...

So, current state of things:


It's definitely taking shape. I've got the top sheathing in place, and all the insulation installed and caulked in on the sheathed walls. Further, I've installed the extra layer of insulation on the bottom. I've got some weight in there right now to help ensure the liquid nails bonds well with the bottom of that insulation. Also, I installed the piece of sheathing on the side of the fridge.

Here's a shot to show the poorly cut nature of that sheathing - it definitely fits adequately, but looks a bit sloppy. Still, function over form and all, and it will certainly function:


Here you can see where the extra layer of insulation fits in there:


So, for lessons (re)learned... This thing eats liquid nails and drinks caulk. I first used a tube of polyuerthane construction adhesive - it had a thick consistency, and seemed to go a ways before running out. I grabbed 2 things of liquid nails - mostly because it was $2 less per tube than the stuff I was using. I already killed one of those with the two pieces of sheathing and 4 pieces of insulation that I installed tonight, so I'm apparently still going to need more. I also went with two tubes of silicon caulk in addition to the 2/3 of a tube I've got. I went through one of those full tubes tonight... And looking at the fit of the new layer I just installed on the bottom, I'm going to be picking up some more of each (liquid nails and caulk) and a can of great stuff to fill the bigger spaces.

So, I'm definitely not going to make any progress tomorrow - I'd expect the next update Thursday night or Friday morning. I'm shaping up to have some time to focus on Saturday too, I wouldn't expect the box build to extend past that. Later this week I think I'll start working on collecting parts for the controller for this beast.
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Old 07-06-2011, 01:55 AM   #20
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Wow that looks great and really gives me an idea of something I now need.


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