This project has been a long time in the works, as I sporadically get time to work on it. But I've made some good progress recently, so I thought I'd throw together a build log on it
I started working on the concept seriously some time ago, drawing up plans in Sketchup (which I could drag up, if anyone was interested). I initially decided on using keggles, with enough 'overkill' built into the frame to support a move to larger pots if the opportunity should present itself. This necessitated the use of diagonal supports in the frame to allow for both small and large kettles. Since I didn't want to worry overmuch on structural stability, and since I wanted to NOT worry about expandability, I decided to go with 2x2 11ga mild steel welded construction.
Note, that while I had taken a local community college course on Oxy/Acetylene welding and stick welding for fun and games a few years ago, I hadn't actually done any welding in a few years. Partially since I hadn't had a project big enough to call for buying a welder, and partially since I knew that whatever welder I bought would need to be small enough to not trip the 15A breaker that would be feeding it. Yeah, 15A. So I bought a teensy 90A stick welder, a bunch of 1013 3/16 rods, and told myself that this would be a good 'learning opportunity'.
Here's a pic of the steel cut to size and mitered as needed:
The frame was made by creating a 2'x6' rectangle of mitered steel, which can be seen here in the process of welding, below. At this point I was still re-discovering the art of the stick, and grinding out most of my welds around 4 times. I coooould have just left some nasty, scabby welds on there, but nooooo, I wanted pretty
welds! Halfway through the frame, I blew out my POS grinder I had bought years ago and upgraded to a Dewalt. Grinding now progressed 5x faster, so work progressed about 5x faster
. I also switched over to 1011 rods, which had much, MUCH better penetration. As I learned the hard way, 6013 is for noobs! 6011 FTW!
A duplicate rectangular frame was then made by clamping the steel parts to the first frame. The legs were tack welded to one frame, and the castors drilled, tapped, and mounted. My first time using a tap and die set, very cool! Realizing that you can punch holes in metal and put screws into them kinda opens your mind up a bit
The stand was then flipped over and the second rectangle tack welded to the legs. The legs were oh-so-gently adjusted to square via a rubber mallet at this point.
It was at this point I had a moment of clarity, and realized that I didn't want keggles, as easy as they would make this build (from a materials purchasing standpoint). I wanted it to be BIG. BIG enough, that if I was going to go bigger, I might as well go pro. So I scrapped the diagonal supports and bought the Jarhill 96 QT pots (as documented in this thread
I also had been waffling on whether I should just paint over the existing mill scale, or grind it all off. I'd encountered some real difficulty in getting it off with 'stripper' pads and wire wheels, so I was about ready to throw in the towl and just paint over damned stuff. But then, on a whim I tried a 36grit flap disc....Viola! 5 hours of grinding later:
The cross-beams are just loose fit at this point. By this point I was actually putting down some decent weld beads and didn't really need to grind much out. Amazing how much faster you can weld if you don't need to grind it out and re-do it 3 times! After welding the cross-beams in and cleaning them up, I had this:
But, I am not ignorant to the evils of mixing mild steel, heat, and water. So painted it shall be! And not just regular BBQ paint, oh no. That's not good enough for Overkill. Only VHT Header paint will do:
Of course, it was only after
applying the paint that I realized it would be such a PITA to cure. I proceeded to burn through a propane torch fuel canister doing 3 passes on the frame--very light, middle of the flame, and right on the inner flame bud. Deciding that probably qualified well as the 1st cure at 250ºF, but still not satisfied, I came up with this high tech solution:
Combined with a IR gun thermometer and a quick hand on the propane valve, I was able to keep the temp over the burner within 25ºF of the target 400ºF, cooking for 30 minutes, then relocating to the next section. Except for once. It got to 550ºF before I caught it. But we shall not speak of this.
And that's where I'm at! Hope you like the shiny
Future work to come:
1. Finish cure (2 sections)
2. Fabricate and mount pump shrouds (3 pump configuration--way less valves and mess that way).
3. Determine final burner mounting position
3a. Get convinced to install a REAL electrical circuit to the garage and go electric (and get a bigger welder)
4. Design and fab control cabinet (I'm an electrical engineer...Something I know how to do!).
5. Load test the stand with pots full. Not really worried, but you can never be too safe...
6. Order bulkheads/fittings/false bottom/valves etc etc etc
7. Actually install them.
8. The other bazillion things I'm sure I'm missing.
Of course this will be competing with my project to turn 2, 40 gallon dairy collectors into fermenters, and a small side project to make my ferm chamber temp control wiring look 'professional' (official threads yet to come
). But I'll update as I can!