Hey everyone! So, I've recently started building out my new brewstand to replace my ancient, fantastically ghetto 2-tier I've been brewing on for the last long while. I plan on documenting the process here, as well as highlighting a few of my thoughts along the way!
The reason why I'm trying something new:
So, for starters, with this stand I first identified a handful of elements I wanted to incorporate for v2:
- I'm 6'5" tall, and thus, can work fairly high up
- Optimized for keggles
- I want the keggles to be stored inside the stand itself
- The stand should convert into a work-bench when it's not used for brewing
- I want the heat to be able to escape out the back easily so my valves don't go nuclear.
- Easily movable, without a gigantic foot-print
- Adjustable height burners
- Super sturdy
So, with these considerations in mind, I began the hunt for the perfect brewstand build around the forums. But, of course, I never found it. So, I decided to try and design my own.
Oh, and first, another list of important factors to consider:
Phase 1 : "Holy crap SketchUp is a PITA"
- I have no idea how to weld, but, might as well learn sometime
- I have a bunch of wood-working tools, and am generally capable of finding a half-assed solution to most engineering problems
- I've never used SketchUp or other rendering software before
Given my obsessive nature, before I bought any materials at all, I wanted a 100% guarantee that I was doing the right thing. So, as part of the planning phase, I promised myself that I'd come away with a single cut-list (for the metal shop) that would absolutely give me the final materials I needed to complete the project.
I took probably 3 stabs at drawing the thing on paper, but every time I'd think of a small tweak, I'd have to redesign the entire project, and I was also having a hard time redoing the cut calculations after every change. So, I decided to try out SketchUp.
2 weeks later, I can finally use SketchUp pretty effectively, and had finalized my designs as seen below.
At this point, I'm happy with the general design, although there are two things I don't know how I'll deal with: The gussets, and how in the hell I'll mount the burners. I figured I'll cross that bridge when I get there.
Materials summary so far:
Phase 2 : "Getting ready"
- 1.5"x1.5" by 1/8" thick steel tubing for the core frame itself
- 1/8" inch diamond plate for the bottom
For me, buying metal was a seriously intimidating process. After the lumber-yard experiences of my youth, I figured everyone would be an unhelpful ******* - totally not so. I found the Metal Supermarket
and these guys were awesome. They can also do machine-measured non-mitered cuts (they did all of mine for $30 total). So, I took my cut list, and 1 hour later, I had all my stock (plus some cut-offs to practice on).
The next big challenge was learning how to weld on a super cheap Harbor Freight 90 amp flux-core welder
. With all the complaining everyone did about how cheap it was I expected the worst, but honestly, I'm happy with my results thus far.
So, after tons of Youtube I took my first stabs at figuring out how to lay down a bead on my test metal. It took me a few hours (and the entire spool of garbage flux-wire that comes with the welder), but I managed to get a pretty solid hang on it! My welds were penetrating all the way through (which I checked by cutting the metal on my miter-saw-equipped-with-an-abrasive-blade), and while they weren't pretty, they were pretty strong.
Phase 3 : "Making the frame"
At this point, I was ready to begin the process of tacking and welding the square bottom portion of my design.
As you may notice above, my initial tacks were super weak due to the long stick-out I had at first. I learned that lesson pretty quickly. I also made sure to alternate welds to opposite sides of the frame in order to keep it square (something that worked super well, as my final frame was almost perfectly square).
After making the bottom square, the next step was welding the vertical legs to each corner. And then, after that, to weld the horisontal cross-beams.
The next step was to bring the front and back sides together, and thus, secure the overal squareness of the entire structure.
And the final part of the frame was to weld on each of the top supports, which I did by using 90-degree magnets.
Phase 4 : "Mounting the burners"
So, per my requirements, I needed a simple means of mounting my burners in a way that was adjustable. After a bit of pondering, I decided that a single large rectangular structure that supported the burners by pinching them in place was the right approach. So, I took some measurements, and headed back to the Metal Supermarket to buy some 1.5"x1.5" by 1/8" thick angle iron.
Below is the result of my frame welds.
I then went to Home Depot, picked up a piece of pre-drilled steel, a couple metal pull-pins, and affixed the system to the main frame. To be honest, this worked better than I even anticipated. The burners are super secure, they are easy to move, and generally awesome.
So, this is where I'm at currently. The next steps will be to attach the gussets (to support the keggles sitting on top), and then to make some decisions on how I'll mount the gas lines and pumps. Of course, I also need to mount the casters, then clean off the oil and paint the thing. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I'm super excited to get it there!