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Using a pasta maker to mill grain.

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brown_dog_us

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I'm sorry if this idea has already been shared but...

What if you dropped the rollers in an acid bath (Muratic from HD) and let it pit them a bit? That might make them kind of knobby
 

Revvy

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I'm sorry if this idea has already been shared but...

What if you dropped the rollers in an acid bath (Muratic from HD) and let it pit them a bit? That might make them kind of knobby
Uh..no it hasn't been considered before...so it looks like you might be the one to try it.

This is all about experimentation. :D
 

ballegre

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I'm sorry if this idea has already been shared but...

What if you dropped the rollers in an acid bath (Muratic from HD) and let it pit them a bit? That might make them kind of knobby
Hmmm...what about the etchy stuff that people use on carboys....
 

Revvy

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Hmmm...what about the etchy stuff that people use on carboys....
That's for etching glass, I dunno if it would work on metal...it would be interesting if it would, because then we could create a diamond pattern stencil or something and get some actually control into the shape of the etching...do a grid or a cross hatch or something.
 
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Nostrildamus

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HOLY CRAP!

I'm the OP of this thread and just checked back in to see if this thing got any hits after the initial 10 or so.

It appears that I have created a monster!!!

I tried this out and it seemed to work alright but never took it through to total completion. I motorized mine but cutting the hand crank and filing it into a hex shape and using my drill to drive it. I have never done full batches with it though, only primers.

So it appears that I may very well do my next batch using the idea I once had which has now been refined by the HBT community. Thanks for following up and driving this baby through to completion while I've been off being a busy new dad. Now that I have time to brew again, I AM TOTALLY STOKED!
 

MOSFET

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Or next time a friend gets married, sneak in and tie the rollers to the back of the "just married" car as they pull away.:)
 

givemaboot

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I have a pasta roller downstairs...I have to try this. What setting should i try it on? I have the exact pasta roller mill shown on the first post.
 

MOSFET

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Mine looks like the picture, and is an Atlas model 170. It seems, however, that they all come from the same cookie cutter. Mine has settings 1 through 7. Only 2, 3, or 4 are practical for grain. Try the loosest of these three, which is setting 2, and examine the result. The next tighter one may not pass the grains without extra friction, but with the weight of a couple pounds of grain on top they go through better. (I built a cardboard hopper.) To create friction, either wrap duct or similar tape around the rollers, or mar them up as described. Or, come up with a great idea and share it with us. I did my first couple batches with tape. The first batch I had on a wider setting (2) and the tape remained intact. When I wanted to grind finer, the tape started to shred, which created MOSFET's Duct Tape Ale. This batch, incidentally, is the best all grain batch I've made to date. I'm on my fifth all-pasta roller batch this weekend and I don't plan to use anything else unless it breaks one day. My emergency backup is a pro-style coffee grinder. I guess these roller settings would vary on grain size. I'm using 2 row. Crystal, however, can be a dog, and takes some oomph to crank through. The pasta roller is built like a tank and has taken everything I've given it so far.
 

MOSFET

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Try this picture. Shows the motor and stuff I described above. Note the pasta roller in pieces because the rollers are still at the machine shop. And duct tape in the background. Mmmm.... tasty. When it's back together I'd be happy to videotape a grind.
It's back together and here's an incredibly pixelated video. I streamlined the resolution for internet and Google boxed it some more, but you can still make it out. The machined grooves work, but not as well as sandpaper. But it still crushed one pound per minute. I will put more grooves in it and try again. Today's batch went well. Word of caution: the audio doesn't come out until after about 50 seconds. So if you keep trying to increase the volume until then, you'll get a sudden earful of motor. The video is around 2 minutes.

Pasta Roller For Grain 01-17-09 512kb
 

danbass

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Are you happy with the end product? Would you do it again? I picked up a 60's or 70's pasta maker that seems to have very heavy rollers, and I'm about to be sending it to a machine shop.

Any efficiency estimates yet?
 

Gonefishing

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I got mine back from machine shop quite a while ago, he wasn't able to knurl them, but threaded them one way then cross threaded which gave the same output. Problem now, I can't remember how I got the damn thing taken apart so I can put it back together.
I haven't read to the end yet so I may find you did get this back togehter, but if not, and it's the same as mine I can help you.
 

MOSFET

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Are you happy with the end product? Would you do it again? I picked up a 60's or 70's pasta maker that seems to have very heavy rollers, and I'm about to be sending it to a machine shop.

Any efficiency estimates yet?
Happy? Yes. Do it again? Only if this one breaks. I use this for all my batches now. This is my fifth consecutive pasta brew and unless it fails I'm sticking with it. But as I implied, there's still room for improvement. Now that I have a real handle on how much extra friction is needed, the next pass on the milling machine should bring it where I really want. Just a few extra grooves.

By the way, I like the previously-mentioned idea of cross-threading. I'm curious to hear results.
 

MOSFET

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You ROCK!!!!!

Looks like we have liftoff on this project. Especially if we get some reports back from successful machinings.

Mos, can you describe the drive shaft for us? What are you using?
From the original handle I hacksawed the last 2 inches or so, connected that to a MIP brass threaded end cap through which I drilled a hole. I drilled two cotter-pin style holes perpendicular to this fitting to hold it and crimped two finish nails in them as holding pins. I screwed the threaded brass cap into a FIP coupler that had a 1/2" female adapter on the other end. I screwed that end into a motor shaft attachment I found at ACE hardware for $5-$7 that is for 1/2" motor shafts. Sorry if this isn't clear. It's a kluge but it works great.

And for the other question on efficiency, today was around 70%. There are factors other than grind that contribute to this. My "juggling pots" sparging method may be to blame. And I was on pasta setting #3. I want to go a little finer to #4, but it was too slow. It will be better when I machine in some more grooves.
 

EvilTOJ

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Ugh, WHY do I read these threads? Now I want to build one, but I'm already swamped with projects and I already have a grain mill!
 

CanuckBrewing

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So ive been following this thread for some time, and went to my local pasta maker store and had a couple of questions. If you are technologically retarded and dont have the access or brains to get your rollers knurled, would a pasta linguine attachment work instead? And if not i saw some other things that i had in mind. They had a hand cranked meat grinder...and also food mill.
Would any of these sub as alternatives, or is it better to stick with the "tried, tested and true" method, that people created in this thread?
Thanks.
 

Revvy

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So ive been following this thread for some time, and went to my local pasta maker store and had a couple of questions. If you are technologically retarded and dont have the access or brains to get your rollers knurled, would a pasta linguine attachment work instead? And if not i saw some other things that i had in mind. They had a hand cranked meat grinder...and also food mill.
Would any of these sub as alternatives, or is it better to stick with the "tried, tested and true" method, that people created in this thread?
Thanks.
If you haven't figured this out, this is an experimental thread...that means pretty much that we're all out on a limb here...In other words, if you have a question about that, the only way you'll know is if you take a bullet in the pursuit of knowldge like the rest of us...And try it for yourself...

:D
 
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Nostrildamus

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I highly, highly doubt that the linguini attachment would do anything except bounce grain around on top of it. If it did happen to drag a grain through it would then have the chance to cut it right in half which is not what we want. I don't believe the gap is adjustable on the linguini side either.

What you need to understand is how a roller mill works. It crushes by compressing the individual grains and thereby pulverized the endosperm. It does not slice and dice the grains otherwise we would all be using food processors.

To get a pasta machine to pull grain between the rollers one must alter the surface of the rollers so that they are knurled or rough in some manner so that a frictious surface is provided. I did not knurl my rollers. I simply took a dremel and a grinding disk and ground centimeter wide sections of the roller while holding the disk at a 45 degree angle to the roller and hand cranking the pasta machine so that I could cover it on all sides. Once a revolution of the roller was complete, I switched the dremel's angle to a -45 degree angle, or a 315 degree angle and completed another revolution. I did this for both rollers giving them a herring bone appearance. I'm happy to say that it works extremely well without any top pressure on the grain. I can drop one or two grains on there and it pulls them through right away.

If you want to motorize your mill you are going to have to get into some permanent alteration anyhow (like cutting off the hand crank and grinding it to fit into a drill) so either stay away from attempting this or be prepared to get your hands dirty.

Something you should realize when it comes to these experimental and DIY projects is that these are not necessarily easy and cheap solutions for everyone. Just because it was a piece of cake for me might not make it easy for you. It all depends on your level of DIY experience, the tools you own and the willingness to DIY. Sometimes it is just easier to order a Barley Crusher. No shame in that... hell, I'd love one. What might be cheap for some may cost you a bundle in tools and time.

Hope this all helps you in making your decision.
 
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Nostrildamus

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I started building a simple box style hopper for my mill today. Looks like it will hold around 15 pounds of grain in a single go. I had a bunch of 1/2" plywood around that I had used to build some shelves. Went out yesterday and bought a new B&D laser sight circular saw because despite having built houses for years, I'm **** when it comes to cutting a straight line without one.

I can't wait to swing this mill into full batch action in the next couple of weeks. I'm going to throw caution to the wind and crush till I'm so scared I nearly brown my trousers and see what sort of efficiency I can pull out of a $35 investment.

I'll post my results, good or bad.
 
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Nostrildamus

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And here's the finished product:



The crush selector:



The opposite side has the crank exposed:



And I put an angled bottom in so that the grain falls into the rollers:



What can't be seen is an additional box built underneath the rollers which guides the crushed grain past the baseboard and into the bucket. I tried it out and it works like a charm. The baseboard even supports my drill so I can always have one hand free.
 

brown_dog_us

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I thought I would add my pasta mill:


I have a whopping $0 in this baby!

The hardest part was "roughing up" the smooth rollers so the grain would feed through. I tried an acid bath and that didn't work. I ended up closing the gap on the rollers all the way down and scaring them with a drill bit. I used a 1/8th inch bit and just went back and fourth and let it score lines across the rollers. It worked perfectly and took maybe 3 minutes.

Here is a pic of the rollers:


I know pretty blurry, but you can see the scoring on the rollers.

I ran 2 cups of grain through on the middle setting and this is what I got:



It crushed them pretty good. The whole pieces you see are actually just husks with out anything inside.

This worked really well and is worth a shot for anyone looking for a really cheap mill. I'll post back some efficiency numbers after I brew.
 

brown_dog_us

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It's not motorized yet. I need to cut the crank arm off just after it comes out of the mill and hook that up to my drill. I'll bet I remember where my hack saw is while I hand grind 10 lbs. of grain.
 

brown_dog_us

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I brewed with pasta mill crushed grain today and got 86% efficiency per beersmith. I usually get 70-75% efficiency using LHBS of internet supplier crushed grains, so the pasta mill is a big improvement. If anyone has a pasta roller laying around the house collecting dust and they want to mill their own grains they should give it a try. Close the roller gap all the way closed and walk the the drill bit back and fourth across the rollers. This will score the rollers and give the mill the friction it needs to pull the grain through.
 
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Nostrildamus

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Nice work Brown Dog... I can't wait to see what sort of efficiency I get on a full batch grind. How tight did you close your rollers down to get that crush?
 

brown_dog_us

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Thanks, I set it on "2" and ran all the grain through. I inspected it thoroughly and noticed a few grains that were barely crushed so I sent it through again on the same setting. On my pasta mill 1 is the largest gap and 5 is the smallest. I had a fair amount of flour in my crush and I might have been worried if I was fly sparging, but it went great batch sparging. I would have been floored to get 75%.
 

PintOfBitter

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Hey your idea of ramming a drill bit between the closed rollers sounds really smart. I just finished my pasta maker mill, but took apart the whole thing and ground lengthwise grooves with a dremel and cutoff wheel. Took forever to get all the steel/abrasive dust cleaned out of all the nooks and crannies. I figure any amount of steel dust would be a sure way to make 5 gallons of rusty tasting brew.

My end product looks quite a bit like yours. Works great, can't wait to brew with it.

FWIW, I used the "Craft Pasta Machine" sold for clay at Hobby Lobby. With a 40% off coupon from their website, it was right around $15.00.
 

TerapinChef

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I ended up doing about the same thing as PoB. Hung my dremmel off the edge of the workbench with the cutoff wheels I use for my kegs hooked up, and used the edge of the wood to guide a nice straight line. It looks like poo. I did, however, just remember that I have a friend who's father owns a metal cutting shop. I'm wondering if I can get him to cut me aluminum billets to look like a monster mill for my pasta rollers to sit in. If this is true, and works, I'll probably buy another pasta roller and actually take the time to get it to a gun shop and see if they will knurl it for me. While researching grain mills (looking through the Northern brewer in the bathroom) I noticed that their rollers are cold rolled steel, not stainless. Hmmm....could our mills be better than theirs...and cheaper? Where does the $150 price tag come from?
 

brown_dog_us

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I've used the pasta mill on 5 batches now and it's working perfect. I'm averaging 84% efficiency and I haven't had a stuck sparge. I use an old 3/8 inch paddle bit and my drill to motorize the mill and it is super easy. The drill bit fit perfectly into the slot where the hand crank normally goes.

If I built another one of these I think I could have it modified and ready in less than 2 hours! The hardest part is building the hopper and base
 

brown_dog_us

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It's really easy. The first step is locating a cheap pasta maker. Are you married? If so you probably got one as a wedding present.
 

RedIrocZ-28

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Looks like I know what I am doing tomorrow!

I have been searching high and low for a set of knurled bike pegs, which incidentally I think could be used in place of these rollers that you guys are having a hard time knurling. Found them for $8 on amazon.com.
 

illnastyimpreza

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holly **** this is awesome ! I totaly bought this pasta maker to actually make pasta with a few months back..... The pasta tasted like store bought, so I gave up. Now I have an actual use for the freakin thing !


I'll have to hit you guys back once I get into all grain....I'm still waiting for my GF to finish my bag so I can try brew in a bag :)
 

Philsc

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This is the thread that lured me to join this site.

I have a pasta roller. Bought it, funnily enough, at an art supplies shop. The Bay didn't have one, Sears didn't have one. The kitchen supplies stores were selling them for over $100 - at that price I might as well get a dedicated grain mill. I was beginning to give up and nipped into the art supplies store next to the art college in dowtown Toronto and they had two.

Now, the problem is knurling them. Most people on this site are very tool savvy. I bought a hammer once, but returned it because it didn't come with instructions. I'll have to ask my neighbour if he can knurl for me. I've never asked someone to knurl before. I'm a bit nervous.

I phoned a couple of machine shops and they come out at $200 - 300 for a knurl!

I've got a couple of questions for the pioneers of this brewing technology:

1. I saw an italian site which was, thankfully, translated here:

Bodensatz Brewing - The Beer Site

There's a beautiful knurl on those rollers, but it also states that the walls of the rollers are quite thin. It looks like some of you guys have been mercilessly brutal to those rollers. Have you gone through the stainless steel and hit something else or were the Italians worrying over nothing?

2. Nostrildamus - Just to confirm, when you say you held the disk at a 45 degree then -45 degree angle to the roller, do you mean you're sanding Xs into the rollers? Could we have a photo of your knurl?

3. Mosfet - did those little Xs work before you got the lines?

I may do the drill bit up against the rollers as per Brown Dog's method (whatever's easiest for my neighbour). Although, I'll ask at the locksmith if they can help me out.

This is an amazing thread - cutting edge. Thanks so much.
You may just have saved an incipient brewing career.

Phil
 

MOSFET

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3. Mosfet - did those little Xs work before you got the lines?



Phil
No, my Xs weren't deep enough. What worked well was milling horizontal lines. After the machine shop did a few lines it was improved, but it was only really good after I machined a few more, but deeper. Definitely be careful because the rollers are hollow! Since few people can access a milling machine, the other suggestions using drill bits, etc. seem more practical. Another thought I had but did not implement was somehow fastening a piece of metal screen wrapped around each roller. I tried plastic screen but it ripped apart. In the meantime I machined the lines. Good luck. Just finished my 9th pasta roller brew yesterday. Love it.
 

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I didn't even come close to cutting through, and on closer inspection after removing the rollers, they're not as thin as I thought they would be. Stilll going to talk to a gunsmith, just waiting for someone to get me in touch with one. I know a few people who know gunsmiths and I was hoping to use one of them.
 

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This is the thread that lured me to join this site.

I have a pasta roller. Bought it, funnily enough, at an art supplies shop. The Bay didn't have one, Sears didn't have one. The kitchen supplies stores were selling them for over $100 - at that price I might as well get a dedicated grain mill. I was beginning to give up and nipped into the art supplies store next to the art college in dowtown Toronto and they had two.

Now, the problem is knurling them. Most people on this site are very tool savvy. I bought a hammer once, but returned it because it didn't come with instructions. I'll have to ask my neighbour if he can knurl for me. I've never asked someone to knurl before. I'm a bit nervous.

I phoned a couple of machine shops and they come out at $200 - 300 for a knurl!

I've got a couple of questions for the pioneers of this brewing technology:

1. I saw an italian site which was, thankfully, translated here:

Bodensatz Brewing - The Beer Site

There's a beautiful knurl on those rollers, but it also states that the walls of the rollers are quite thin. It looks like some of you guys have been mercilessly brutal to those rollers. Have you gone through the stainless steel and hit something else or were the Italians worrying over nothing?

2. Nostrildamus - Just to confirm, when you say you held the disk at a 45 degree then -45 degree angle to the roller, do you mean you're sanding Xs into the rollers? Could we have a photo of your knurl?

3. Mosfet - did those little Xs work before you got the lines?

I may do the drill bit up against the rollers as per Brown Dog's method (whatever's easiest for my neighbour). Although, I'll ask at the locksmith if they can help me out.

This is an amazing thread - cutting edge. Thanks so much.
You may just have saved an incipient brewing career.

Phil
That is quite expensive for a knurl. I set it up on a lathe at work and it was not hard to do. Still, a wood lathe would not work, because the tool rest is not nearly sturdy enough, nor provide enough pressure, and the lathe itself spins many times too fast on lowest setting.

I like the dremel texture and drill bit approach. Hey, if it works, right?

I built a crusher at work out of scrap stuff and it's nearly complete, but if I'd known about this, I may not have built it from scratch. Well, I have the plans drawn up now, so I might still make another one for a friend anyway.

The knurl tool I used at work did put a texture on the rollers, but it was still too fine to be useful. The grains were not pulled in very well. It's not currently geared for both rollers to roll, so I'm looking to purchase a couple of gears and add them to it. That should do it.
 

RedIrocZ-28

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THe one I bought will definitely not crush without a knurl on the "drums" I don't think. After cutting the handle off and attaching it to my variable speed drill I can tell its going to be dificult to crush all the grain without some texture on the rollers. So, I contacted my buddy who said he will knurl them for "beer". I said deal!

:D

So... I am going to have to figure out how to disassemble the side that has the adjuster knob on it. Anyone??? I can't seem to figure it out.
 
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