Monday, July 9, 2012

Indoor Sunburns

Today I close down my current brewing implements for major overhaul! This will be my last brew before I roll out R2-DBrew my new brewing contraption. My final brew? ATOTB#010, a Mexican lager. Cerveza baby!

My brew day was damn hot. You can probably track back my summer brew days by doing a search of me complaining about the heat. But while I was sitting still, milling my beer, sweat was pouring off me like tequila on Mexican new year. That was early in the day too, we had yet to hit maximum heat. My rig was feeling the heat too. Today again I was having valve issues. I made sure to test them ahead of time, and they were firing fine. When it came for them to perform however I got nothing. I ripped open the box and started poking at it with my multi-meter like a kid playing a deranged game of Operation. I really couldn't figure it out. I was getting really erratic measurements. I ended up hard wiring my valves to the power source and it worked for a time. Time enough for me to get through the mash. At this point my only conclusion is that my transformer (120v AC to 12v DC) is overheating. I think that makes sense. I made the transformer by ripping up a old GameCube power cord. Maybe it's not meant to take the Florida heat. I'm going to attempt to get a replacement coil that will switch my current solenoid valves from a 12vDC operation to a 120v AC operation, eliminating the transformer altogether. 

We will still have beer in the end however. The lager is sitting in the garage lagerating as we speak.

Which brings me to the status of R2-DBREW. I've begun tacking and welding things together. I've got the taller half of the frame mostly complete, and the lower half is ready to have some legs put on it. Progress? Maybe 5%. 

Lower level prepared for legs

Upper level ready to be added on to

I learned a few lessons on TIG this past week that I'm going to share. First one:

Heat bends metal. This is pretty self explanatory. I had heard to do small tack welds before going full bore on the thing to avoid warping metal. Well after welding the top of my frame together I picked it up and realized the side pieces had bowed up where I had originally done my welds. I managed to fix it by jamming the entire thing in my vice and hanging my floor jack from it with a set of ratchet straps. From there I was able to get underneath the questionable structure and weld it overhead. The entire time I remembered why I don't do some projects with other people around. Other people would have convinced me that the entire thing was a bad idea. Well, maybe it was, but now it's fixed, and I've emerged unscathed. Secondly...

You can get a sunburn from welding. This one (I feel) is a little less obvious. Obviously you wear the big mad-scientist helmet to prevent the bright spark from damaging your eyes. And obviously you should wear long sleeves and pants to prevent sparks from burning you directly. Well, I was in a white t-shirt and gym shorts. Why? Cause I'm the man that's why. But my wife might argue that. Some might say its because I was an idiot. Well welding with such devices gives off a lot of UV light as well. Lots of UV light equals a sunburn.  Which sat uncomfortably on the inside of my elbows and on the tops of my knees. When I realized the cause I thought to take my shirt off entirely and work on my tan. My coworkers convinced me otherwise. So from here on out, while it's 95+ degrees and humidity in the 80%+, I'm wearing long sleeves and pants.

Any other tips? Let me know! We would like to hear from our readers!

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