The latest upgrade in the brewery is going to be a work in progress over the next few weekends. I decided that it was time to upgrade the Hot Liquor Tun and Brew Kettle to something a little larger. My current HLT was 9 gallons and at times it required re-filling during a brew day. After acquiring two full-sized (15.5 gallon) Sanke Kegs, I started the first step in my conversion. This will be a multiple step project as there are still a few things left to do. Here’s how I did everything…
To start things off, I created a keg cutting jig (which you can see above). Here is my parts list:
- Angle Grinder
- Two .045 grinding discs
- One 80 grit flap sanding disc
- A piece of 1 1/4″ PVC pipe
- One 1 1/4″ coupler
- Three 5/16″ hex nuts
- One 5/16″ x 12″ threaded rod
The angle grinder support is the 1 1/4″ PVC pipe cut a 1/4″ shy of the keg height. I then added the 1 1/4″ PVC coupler since it fit perfectly in the keg collar with almost no amount of play. As an FYI, there is a tiny lip inside the keg collar, so a 1 1/2″ PVC pipe will NOT work. Next, I put a 3″ piece of the 1 1/4″ PVC pipe on the top side of the coupler. After the pipe was assembled it was time to figure out where to drill the hole to mount the angle grinder. It should be noted that your angle grinder must have a threaded connection on top for this to work. The Porter Cable one (from Lowe’s) has this connection. I sorta winged it by putting the disc on grinder and holding it perpendicular to the cutting surface. I made note where to drill in my PVC pipe and put a 5/16″ hole in the pipe. The jig is pretty self explanatory by looking at the picture, but if you have questions please let me know.
The next step is to cut these tops off. You don’t want to bear down on the grinder as you’ll cut a flat spot in your keg top and possibly shatter the disc. So, you work your way around the keg using light pressure. After the initial scoring, the grinder wheel will ride in the groove. Take it slow as your cutting the top off. It will take a few minutes, but your patience will be rewarded with a nice clean cut. You’ll also get to see some cool sparks, though since it was very sunny outside the camera didn’t pick any of them up. It should go without saying, but wear eye protection and ear protection if it’s too loud. I filled the kegs up with a little water to deaden the sound a bit.
After a quite a few turns around the keg, you’ll end up with a nice round hole. Each keg took me about five minutes to cut. The top of the keg will slide down the PVC pipe. At left, you’ll see the rough unfinished hole. Be very careful as there will be shards of steel and it will cut you. Before using it, you should finish it with a sanding disc on the grinder or a stainless steel file and some sand paper.
I used an 80 grit flap disc and spent a couple minutes hitting the edges. To start, I went around the top of the cut a few times, then the under side of the cut. I finished off the sanding by hitting the inside of the cut edge. This really smoothed it out and it will not cut your arm when you put it in the kettle. So, after about 2o minutes total I’ve completed both kegs. Here is picture of the two finished kegs.
Now, I’m ready for the next step in my keg conversion project… Stay tuned!