Z28tt's DIY Stainless Fermenter from Furnace

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z28tt

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My folks just had their natural gas furnace replaced. The old Lennox HM30 (hardly old, just 10 years!) had a 32 gallon stainless steel tank. Perfect for a DIY stainless fermenter! Naturally, I asked to keep it.



Yesterday I picked it up, and stripped it down. There's good foam insulation (mash tun possibility?) too. The burner assy was at the top, with a coiled exhaust pipe running through the tank. The plasma cutter made quick work of cutting the top off and removing the burn chamber from the lid. I cut the coiled pipe out with the sawzall.









The cuts got deburred with the angle grinder. It's also time to get a back gas kit for the TIG to patch up the extra holes in the lid, and at the bottom.

Biggest question now is how to create a seal? The stainless measures .059" thick, which is most likely 16ga that's been spun thinner. I've got a harbor Freight bead roller (bend a flat flange?), but I really doubt it'll have enough beef to bend this.





Not sure what I'll do for valves yet, but since I'm welding in the patches, I might as well weld in fittings for whatever's needed.

I can't wait to stop using carboys.

Any suggestions? Possibilities?
 

Leadpencil

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Looks great, perhaps you could sacrifice a corny keg for the top.
I would leave all the threaded holes for future use.
 

ScubaSteve

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What was the coil made from? I'd hold onto that.

You could either make a kettle or fermenter with it. If you expect it to hold pressure I hope you are a very skilled welder.
 

grathan

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I wonder what the welds look like inside. Perhaps cleaning with an agitated bath.
 

Gartywood

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There aren't many of those Lennox Completeheats left in service the product was a total failure. The biggest problem is the tanks developing leaks, but it looks like you have the tools to deal with that.
 
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z28tt

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It looks like all the parts are stainless - tank, burn chamber, and hx tube. The tank is magnetic, so I'm assuming the less expensive 400 series stainless, or work hardened 304.

We'll see how far I get trying to roll a flange with my Harbor Freight tube beader set. It says 18ga for mild steel, but I added a 1/2" thick strap right behind the roller to beef it up. I might have to get some steel, and turn some mandrels.

JMESanitary.com has butt weld stainless 1.5" tri clamp fittings for under $10ea, so I'll get some this week. Have to get valves (thinking 1.5" butterfly for the trub dump) and come up with a racking arm setup too, but that could always be down the road.

For the back gas purge, I'll be going cheap with a Y after the regulator and some aluminum foil. The solar flux paste isn't for use with food, so back purge it is.

The welds inside look OK. I may try to polish them out. I'll see if I can get some Nitric Acid and HF to pickle the tank after I'm done welding.

My parents neighborhood all had the Lennox CompleteHeat systems in their new construction around 2001. I'd say 75% have been replaced by now, but ya can't beat a free stainless tank! :) We gave the board & blower assy to a neighbor to keep as spares.

Thanks for the comments. Fun project!
 

bradjoiner

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I hate to be the nay sayer here, but I don't think there is enough of an angle to dump yeast out of the bottom of that. Every thing I have ever read recommends a sixty degree slope or else the yeast wont slide.

Quick search. It is talked about here
 

patthebrewer

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And yet people convert sankey kegs ( upside down) as fermenters with bottom drains....seems to work...even though there was less angle than my 60 degree conical's cone. Very creative use of a boiler, can wait to see how it turns out. Also that coil looks like it could be used in the "distilling industry";)
 

bradjoiner

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That is the problem and why I posted the link many people are not able to dump there sanke fermenters off completely. I have a sanke fermenter and know what the inside looks like when I clean it. He will definitely be able to dump a cup or so for cleaning, but will probably not be able to dump the yeast out enough to significantly clear the beer.
 
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z28tt

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I wonder if I could spray on a dry film lubricant (non-stick teflon?) surface to the bottom, and allow the yeast to slide better. MSC has bondable teflon sheets, but I'm not getting the 2'x2' sheet for $100.

Another option could be a cone insert in the tank? ID of the tank is 18". If I fabbed a 60° cone with a 1.5" bottom hole to mate with the dump valve opening, I figure the yeast would settle and slide, and I could just drop this in. Shouldn't be a big deal if there's a little gap along the sides. Worth trying? I'll search the forum. Someone must have tried it!

BTW - The harbor freight tool worked to flange the lid!
 

patthebrewer

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If your just looking to harvest the yeast from the dump valve I'd say you will get enough. If your talking cleaning issues after fermentation, The the easist thing you could do, that will COMPLETELY clean, would be to attach a CIP spray ball, and drain everthing out the bottom. After all you won't want to be moving that thing around that much anyway to clean it.

As far as clearing the beer, I actually ferment in a Stout Tanks conical, and racking port is always above the dump valve for a reason. The yeast and trub do settle, and you draw from above the bottom of the fermenter, thats all he need to do here, mount his racking port above the level of the trub. Beer will clear even in a carboy, and will clear futher with aging.
 
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