Making a keg still

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Making a keg still

Postby speedfreaksteve » Mon Jan 08, 2007 12:53 pm

I'm tired of doing 20L at a time so I'm going to turn my 48L SS keg that I have here into a strip run pot still.

I got a good sized copper bowl, now I just need to figure out a way to cut a hole in the top of the keg to closely match the size of the bowl.

I have a reciprocating saw, but I dunno if that is strong enough to cut it that easily. I guess I could try drilling a couple holes in it and see if it will cut with a bi-metal blade.

Also I need to figure out a way to clamp down the upside down bowl to the keg during my runs.

Any suggestions on these two problems?
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Re: Making a keg still

Postby Husker » Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:05 pm

speedfreaksteve
I'm tired of doing 20L at a time so I'm going to turn my 48L SS keg that I have here into a strip run pot still.

I got a good sized copper bowl, now I just need to figure out a way to cut a hole in the top of the keg to closely match the size of the bowl.

I have a reciprocating saw, but I dunno if that is strong enough to cut it that easily. I guess I could try drilling a couple holes in it and see if it will cut with a bi-metal blade.

Also I need to figure out a way to clamp down the upside down bowl to the keg during my runs.

Any suggestions on these two problems?


Use either a angle cutter (small circular grinder), or a plasma cutter. I have learned from experience, if you use a plasma cutter (works great), then be SURE to fill the keg about 2/3 full of water. Otherwise the plasma stainless steel vapors will "stick" to the inside of the keg, discoloring it and are tough to remove. The plasma cutter does make a nice "clean" cut, and you are done in about 2 minutes though.

H.
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Postby pintoshine » Mon Jan 08, 2007 3:18 pm

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Postby rangaz » Mon Jan 08, 2007 3:56 pm

angle grinder (be sure to cut less than you need to because it will not even be close to a circle, then grind it back to the right size), jigsaws with metal blade, plasma, mill piece on a drill etc...
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Postby pintoshine » Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:34 pm

Are you sure that is not a 58liter keg?
Mine is a 15.5 gallon or 58.66 L
Ofcourse I am not one to do anything the traditional way. Ido as little fabrication to the kegs as possible.
I usually get a 6" x 1 1/4" threaded 304 pipe. I cut it in two and weld one on the outlet and I cut a hole and weld the other over the hole. I screw copper reducers to the out put and a ball valve on the other with a 2" x1/4 extension to hold on to my funnel on top the valve.
On the bottom I weld a 3/4 inch half coupler for the drain.
It has taken me a considerable amount of time to learn to tig weld that thin keg stuff but I am getting better.
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Postby olcarguy » Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:37 pm

Your reciprocating saw will do a good job, just take your time, don't rush, use lots of coolant ( kerosene, cutting oil, liquid bacon grease etc. ) Mark the outline of your bowl on the keg, then mark a 1/2 inch smaller circle inside. Drill starting hole for blade and have at it.
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Postby Uncle Remus » Mon Jan 08, 2007 4:40 pm

Steve,

I used a sabre saw with a metal blade. It cut it like cheese, a perfect hole in less than a minute. A keg isn't very thick, it will cut easily.
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Postby pintoshine » Mon Jan 08, 2007 5:01 pm

Image
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I have refined the keg a bit. This is my sixth one this year.
It has my variable 240V 4.5KW control on it.
The owner of this one requested extra long legs. That is what the bolts at the top and bottom are for. This makes it free standing and tall enough to empty into a 5 gallon bucket.
He gets to polish it himself.
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Postby Tater » Mon Jan 08, 2007 5:11 pm

PLEASE READ THIS FORUMS RULES AND THESES Links: http://homedistiller.org and New Distiller Reading Lounge I use a pot still
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Postby Ricky » Mon Jan 08, 2007 5:50 pm

i agree with the use of a plasma cutter if you have access to one. if you use a saber, jig, or reciprocating saw be sure to wear hearing protection. makes an awful lot of racket.
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Postby Red Neck City Boy » Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:29 pm

Here is my solution... works pretty good!

Image

Also, I've cut out the lids of a whole lot of kegs for homebrewers. I've found that an angle grinder with a metal cutting blade will cut through it in about 10 minutes just be sure to finish the edges or you are sure to cut yourself.
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Postby speedfreaksteve » Mon Jan 08, 2007 7:53 pm

Nice but I want something I can clean easily, so I want at least a 5" hole.

To me if I can't get things extremely clean then it's not worth doing.
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Postby Rudi » Tue Jan 09, 2007 4:06 am

I just recently cut the top out of my keg the sabre saw wouldnt cut a tight enough circle wanted to go in a straight line my metal blade may have been too thick. I ended up using an angle grinder with one of those 1mm thick metal cutoff wheels just went nice and slow and finished with a round file.used a stainless bowl and sink drain 8 bolts 1/4" by 1 " drilled 3/16 holes ran a 1/4 tap through used some ptfe tape on the thread srewed the bolts in from the inside and put nuts on the out side got them as tight as i could then used the old mudguard washers and wingnuts to grab the lip of the bowl and a gasket paper gasket 1 run no leaks :)
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Postby junkyard dawg » Tue Jan 09, 2007 7:48 am

That triclamp is a good simple way to attach the column, but I'd only do it if you run a waterbath or steam jacket. its easy to keep spotless.

even better maybe welding a half a stainless 2" nipple to the neck of the keg.
Then a threaded copper union on the column connects with no gaskets and zero leaks.
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Postby Fretman124 » Tue Jan 09, 2007 11:59 am

I used an angle grinder with the very thin cutoff discs. Put the bowl on top, centered it, made a mark. Made another mark 1/2" inside of that and cut. Took 15 minutes, including chucking a small grinder wheel in the drill and smoothing it out. use ear protection because is very loud, high rrequency sound. I have a 7 " hole in the top of the keg, now. I drilled 8 11/32" holes spaced equally around the big hole and installed 5/16" stainless bolts with jam nuts. Got some large fender washers, bent them in half and use wing nuts to hold the bowl on with a cork gasket.

Look at the thread "built it myself" for pics
Last edited by Fretman124 on Wed Jan 10, 2007 7:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby speedfreaksteve » Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:54 pm

Fretman, that's exactly the type of setup I'd like to go with.

How are those bolts attached that the wingnuts connect to? I can't imagine that they're not wedged in somehow so they don't move.
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Postby fahdoul » Tue Jan 09, 2007 8:55 pm

The slickest keg conversion I've seen was the one on a recent thread that used a 4" triclamp ferrule welded to the keg top.

Rugged, big enough hole to get an arm inside, quick and easy to open and close, and absolutely leakproof.
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Postby Froggy » Tue Jan 09, 2007 10:39 pm

This place has an 8" clamp but no 8" ferrule:

http://www.stpats.com/sanitaryfittings.htm
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Postby Rudi » Wed Jan 10, 2007 1:06 pm

check out lhcb's thread here it is (pic) thats how i did mine he has a good description
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Postby Fretman124 » Wed Jan 10, 2007 9:22 pm

[quotw]]Fretman, that's exactly the type of setup I'd like to go with.

How are those bolts attached that the wingnuts connect to? I can't imagine that they're not wedged in somehow so they don't move.[/quote]

I went to Ace hardware and picked up the 5/16" bolts and got "jam" nuts or "thin" nuts....(all stainless) can't remeber what they are called. They are half-height nuts, i.e., half as thick as regular nuts. I drilled the hole 1/32" bigger than the bolts. Makes the bolt slide in easier. put the jam nuts on and then crank them down. They wontt move after that. Being stainless, you can put a serious crank on them
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Postby stil_chillin » Fri Jan 19, 2007 6:37 pm

I used two kegs. the first one i cut like a 9 inch round hole out of the top. the second one i cut like a 12 inch hole in. i used the 12 inch top for the lid on the keg with the 9 inch hole, the keg that i cut the 12 inch hole in i cut the top off and use for cooking my mash. if you take a 1 1/2 slip coupling you can soldier it in the hole of the 12 inch lid. from there you can adapt it with any size fittings. i went from the 1 1/2 pipe with a 2 inch reducer. i have a pot still "head" and a reflux still "head" that i can just switch back and forth.
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my reflux column
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my pot still head
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the pot still in action
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Postby stoker » Sat Jan 20, 2007 12:35 am

phoe, that's a huge condensor on your reflux still, is that a coil in there?
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Postby Rudi » Sat Jan 20, 2007 12:38 am

My guess is its a liebig but cant see the top of it?
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Postby stil_chillin » Sat Jan 20, 2007 5:44 am

It is a liebig on the reflux, it was originally built as a internal reflux but i was not happy with the lack of control
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so i cut the condenser off turned it upside down and added a couple valves and it works like a charm, always looking for a better mouse trap :lol:
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