Drilling a Concord Kettle

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shemp

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I purchased an 80 Qt Concord from ebay and am trying to drill a pilot hole about 2 inches from the bottom and am having a ridiculously tough time. 5 broken bits and still not through. All cobalt, slow rpm with firm pressure and cutting oil. I've had no trouble drilling my keggles. What a giant pia. I'm thinking about buying a greenlee punch but I still have to get a starter hole.
 

day_trippr

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What size bit are you trying to use for the pilot hole?

I've drilled a lot of kettles and always use a 3/16" cobalt bit to start (just large enough to follow with a step bit) after center-punching with enough oomph to create a shallow well to hold some cutting oil. Lots of pressure, bit rotation in the 100 rpm range, if the oil smokes cool the bit down before continuing.

At this point you've likely hardened the spot you've been attacking. I'd go up a couple sizes on the bit...

Cheers!
 

ChelisHubby

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If you need a small hole a dremel tool with a small stone will give you a hole to start with!:mug:
 

Bishop

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Same story with the same kettle... took a couple days and numerous bits to get 3 holes in it.
 

beerme70

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I am an airframe mechanic, and have to drill stainless and titanium on a daily basis, so follow these steps. Mark your hole center with a Sharpie. Hit your mark with a good pointy center punch. Use a good quality #30 or 1/8" cobalt drill bit (not one of those p.o.s. gold colored titanium coated ones from Harbor Freight) and drill your pilot hole. I like to use BoeLube, but any good cutting fluid or bee's wax will work, and drill at a medium speed. After your pilot hole is drilled, step it up with a quality Unibit (again, NOT one of those cheap titanium coated ones). If you haven't purchased one, I HIGHLY recommend you get a 13/16 Greenlee punch (and yet again, NOT a cheap Harbor Freight knock-off). On Ebay, one will run you about $60, but worth every penny. I, too, purchased the Concord pots on Ebay, and had no problems punching three holes in them.
 
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shemp

shemp

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I started with a milwaukee 1/16" cobalt bit and battery drill. Went as slow as i could. Never got warm. After breaking all of those, i increased to 3/32. It just doesnt seem to get a "bite". I used the same exact routine on my revereware expensive pot and the 1/16" went through in about 5 seconds. I tried a new spot on the concord a little bit farther from the bottom with the same result. Theres a bulge in the bottom of the kettle wall from a manufacturing process i assume. Maybe that hardens it?? Im hoping my unibit will work to enlarge the hole to get my greenlee in. Im using a 1 3/8 punch for my welded tc ferrules.
 

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Good ol' Harbor freight step bit. I needed it for 2 holes and it worked fine. I think it was like $10 for a 2 pack and I never even used the second one.
I used a couple of the same 2 packs but then Ive also drilled about 15-20 holes with them in 5 kettles so... one was a rebranded concord.. My biggest problems were the drill I was trying to use was just too touchy and fast... once I switched to a drill with a low setting it cut like butter.
 

ChuckS1

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Tungsten carbide hole saw. I can drill a 21mm hole in less than 5 seconds.
I'll second this. Just drilled my Tall Boy kettle with one of these and it went through it like was nothing. The pilot hole, on the other hand, took a while with a 1/8" cobalt drill.
 

day_trippr

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Those T-C hole saws look vicious :eek:
I wouldn't go near one without a drill press.
My Greenlee punch seems saner ;)

Cheers!
 

Bobby_M

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If this looks too dangerous, I'd suggest a hobby like knitting but then those needles could poke an eye out if you're not careful. ;-)

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGfBTlT2ajQ[/ame]
 
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shemp

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This post is specifically in regards to a concorde kettle. My welder was also surprised how difficult this kettle was. Guess it's a pretty poor quality.
 

Sconnie12

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This post is specifically in regards to a concorde kettle. My welder was also surprised how difficult this kettle was. Guess it's a pretty poor quality.
That's because Concord uses a really low quality 'stainless steel'. It's actually a lower grade than 200 series with almost no chromium or nickel (the elements that make it not rust).
 

jrodmfish

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This post is specifically in regards to a concorde kettle. My welder was also surprised how difficult this kettle was. Guess it's a pretty poor quality.
I believe these kettles are work hardened from the factory. In my early days, I bought and drilled (several different holes in) 4 concord kettles. I agree it was a bit difficult getting the pilot hole drilled. I was using cheap pilot drill bits and then a step bit and then using a punch, but I've used cheap pilot bits on Blichmann and SSBrewtech with ease.
 

Sconnie12

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I believe these kettles are work hardened from the factory. In my early days, I bought and drilled (several different holes in) 4 concord kettles. I agree it was a bit difficult getting the pilot hole drilled. I was using cheap pilot drill bits and then a step bit and then using a punch, but I've used cheap pilot bits on Blichmann and SSBrewtech with ease.
No, it's because it's not true 304SS like Blichmann and SSBT. It's cheap crappy stainless that is made to mimic 304SS (non-magnetic). One of the properties is it's tougher which is why it's harder to drill.
 

jrodmfish

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No, it's because it's not true 304SS like Blichmann and SSBT. It's cheap crappy stainless that is made to mimic 304SS (non-magnetic). One of the properties is it's tougher which is why it's harder to drill.
Makes sense... Good to know
 
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shemp

shemp

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Just to sum it up, a dremel tool with lots of oil, slow speed, medium to high force, and a small, round diamond grinding wheel worked the best to start the hole. Don't forget to make a small dent (with a screw) as a starter. After that, "normal" methods work fine.

Happy drilling
 

chugger_chump

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Went through this today trying to make a pilot hole in a 25 gallon concord. Broke a few drill bits drilling slow with oil and new dewalt cobalt 1/8 inch bits. I got frustrated and had all but given up. As a last ditch effort, I put the drill on speed 2 (fast) and went full speed with the same cobalt bit; and surprisingly it worked. I also ended up using a spray bottle with water instead of the oil, so I'm not sure how that affected things, but it worked.

Hope this helps somebody else.
 

augiedoggy

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just a followup to earlier comments.. These are not made of inferior or "crappy" stainless as implied above.. Just a different grade of stainless than 304. They are made if jindal stainless which is what the vast majority of regular kitchen stainless pots and pans are made of. It is harder to drill due to the harder content. there has never been any valid reports of the content of these pots causing any faults or shortcomings for homebrewing vs a 304 stainless kettle. everyone likes to use 304 for marketing here but the truth is much of the stainless we use varies... bayou classic for example advertises thier kettles are 304 but they clearly are not as they work with induction and are magnetic.
 
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kh54s10

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Went through this today trying to make a pilot hole in a 25 gallon concord. Broke a few drill bits drilling slow with oil and new dewalt cobalt 1/8 inch bits. I got frustrated and had all but given up. As a last ditch effort, I put the drill on speed 2 (fast) and went full speed with the same cobalt bit; and surprisingly it worked. I also ended up using a spray bottle with water instead of the oil, so I'm not sure how that affected things, but it worked.

Hope this helps somebody else.
The high speed and water may have worked but for others, be cautious of even trying this. In most cases that will heat and harden the steel even more.

I would suggest this only as a last resort.
 

sicktght311

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Had the same issue with my concord kettles. I ended up using a Harbor Freight Step bit WITHOUT a pilot hole. Just a good center punch, and time and cutting oil. Once the first puncture through the kettle happens, the rest shaves right off with no issues. I will say, for as hard as the Concord Kettles are, they're also very resilient and dont bend. My HLT and BK are concord, but I picked up a Gas One kettle that i use as a Mash Tun, and using the same step bit, the metal bent inward quite a bit in the drilling process. Took a few passes on either side of the kettle to get a flat clean hole for my recirculation port
 
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