Brutus 10 Build: The Frame

This weekend I’ll brew my first batch of beer on the Brutus 10. I don’t expect everything to go perfectly, but after a few tries I’ll get the kinks out.

Now it’s time to share the story of the build and just what the heck I’ve been doing for the past month.

Rather than write a huge post, I’m going to split it up into a series based around different phases of the build, starting with…

The frame

The frame. The backbone of the Brutus. It all starts here.

I decided to make the stand out of stainless steel for its durability, rustproof-ness, and looks. After looking a handful of suppliers I found the best deal through Grainger. I used 1.5″ square stainless tubing with a 0.065″ wall. 42 feet (7 pieces of 6′) cost me $254.

[Click here for the frame dimensions which were adjusted to fit my 15 gallon Blichmann Boilermaker kettles.]

Welding the frame of the Brutus 10

Chris at Generic Cycles TIG welding the stand

Welding the frame is the one part of the project that I outsourced. Given the fact that stainless steel should be TIG welded and that I’m using a gas beam which MUST be airtight, I deferred to a pro.

The cutting and welding was done by Chris Sulfrian at Generic Cycles. He’s no stranger to beer projects. We met through Nick Nunns of TRVE Brewing and Chris is the man behind of the fabrication of Reeb Cycles, an Oskar Blues project.

In short – Chris did an incredible job. The stand is as badass as it is because of him and his skill. I mean, look at these welds:

Brutus 10 gas beam

The beautiful welding job by Chris

Even though I trusted Chris’s welding ability I had to pressure test the gas beam so I could get some sleep at night. Not surprisingly, it passed with flying colors:

Pressure testing the brutus 10 gas beam

The gas beam passes the pressure test

I pressure tested the gas beam using a gas gauge and 3/4″ x 1/2″ reducer so the gauge would thread into the coupling. I plugged the other two couplings by attaching ball valves and putting them in the “off” position.

Then I hooked up my CO2 tank from the kegerator (don’t use propane kids) and cranked it up to about 14 psi which it held for five hours. Since I’ll be running propane at only 0.5 psi, we were in the clear.

Burner mounts

The tricky thing about the BG12 burners is that there is a single mounting hole in the bottom. We could have run a single piece of metal the length of the stand, but to keep it a little cleaner and take advantage of the scrap tubing, we made “L” mounts by running a piece of tubing straight down from the top and then attached another piece at 90°. This piece had a hole drilled into it for the burner and then I simply replaced the mounting screw with a longer one that would go through the 1.5″ tubing.

It worked great, and we didn’t even need to attach a vertical piece for the middle burner since it was part of the original stand design anyways in order to mount the pumps.

Wind shield

We get some gusty days in Denver and since I have pilot lights on the stand I decided to add wind shields. I didn’t have much of an idea for how to attach them but knew that I’d need some sheet metal.

I found a commercial sheet metal fabricator near Denver and got 10 ft. for $30. It was just scraps for them but gold for me.

I let Chris handle the rest. He cut the metal and tack-welded it onto the stand.

Brutus 10 wind shield

Sheet metal was tacked on to form a wind shield


Rather than forming a complete ring, we left the back open to vent the hot gasses. It also left more room for the burner and gas plumbing.

Casters

You need a way of attaching the casters (wheels) to the stand. You could weld a plate to the legs, but an easier way it so use a product from McMaster-Carr called threaded tube inserts. You tap them into the holes in the tubing and they lock into place. Then you simply screw the casters into the inserts. Two of the casters have brakes and two do not. You only need brakes on one end of the stand.

The key with buying the casters and tube inserts is to make sure the threads are the same sizes. I went with 3/8″- 16 threads. Make sure yours match up. Part numbers are below.

Next up

Next I’ll do a post on the gas system.

Below is a part summary for the frame with costs. Note that I included the diamond sheet metal as part of the frame which I use for pump and gas valve covers. You didn’t see it in this post but you will in upcoming ones.

Part summary

  • 42 ft. of 1.5″ stainless steel square tubing (Grainger part #4YUJ7) – $254
  • 10 ft. stainless steel 20 gauge sheet metal for wind shields (sourced locally) – $30
  • 12″x24″ diamond textured sheet for pump and valve shields (Grainger part #9077K123) – $50
  • Caster with brake x 2 (McMaster-Carr part #2834T28) – $20
  • Caster without brake x 2 (McMaster-Carr part #2834T13) – $10
  • Threaded tube insert x 4 (McMaster-Carr part #60945K21) – $28
  • Labor for cutting, TIG welding, and fabricating wind shields + pump shield – $400
  • Total stand cost including labor: $788

About Billy Broas


He is the founder of The Homebrew Academy, a BJCP beer judge, and the homebrewing expert on the Rocky Mountain PBS television show Colorado Brews. He lives in the fine beer town of Denver, Colorado.

Comments

  1. Very nice, Billy. I have to admit that I am more than a little jealous. I’m sure this is much more pricy than I would be ever able to swing with SHMBO.

  2. Jake Bublitz says:

    Billy this is a great looking build. I am new to brewing but I do some fabricating and have some tubing laying around. I do have some SS 1.5×1.5x.0625 and I am wondering how yours is holding up? I have some 2×2 steel as well, be interested to see what you say

    • The stand is a rock so I don’t think you will need to go with the 2×2. Maybe if you were doing 30 gallon batches that’d be a good idea, but I still think you’d be ok with the 1.5″ if it were built and welded correctly.

  3. Hey Billy,

    Thanks for posting about your build. Very informative and helps me with my build. I bought a 2-tier stand theat needs the finishing touches like casters, automation, pump, etc.

    I notice the casters you bought are rated for 100 lbs. Doing some simple math, 45 gallons of water (I know mash is not 100% water, but I am using a higher weight to increase safety factor and make sure nothing breaks in the middle of brewing and no time in brewing will you have all three pots full…but again being safe and want nothing failing), weighs in at 375.75 lbs. Which gives you 24.25 lbs of spare ‘weight capacity’. Have you had any issues with the casters?

    If you were doing again, would you go with a higher load caster? What about going with one of the casters like McMaster Carr 2484T111 which has an expander on the sleeve option that adjusts to the leg of the stand?

    • Billy Broas says:

      Hey Shaun, I haven’t had any problems at all with the casters. They roll the stand around like a breeze and the threaded inserts are really nice too. I did the math when I bought them and since I’ll never have anywhere near full capacity in all three kettles, I’m fine with how they’re rated.

  4. Billy,

    I’m in the process of sourcing all the parts for an identical build. I don’t see in your list what you used (round stainless tubing?) for attaching the gas valves. What size hole did you dill in the gas beam? The 2nd pic on this page w/the caption “The beautiful welding job by Chris” is the area I’m inquiring about.

    • Billy Broas says:

      Hey Jerry, what you’re looking at in that picture is 1/2″ SS coupling. I bought it here: http://bit.ly/1cSnDmd. A 2″ long piece of 1/2″ black pipe connects the coupling to the valve. Chris drilled the holes in the gas beam just large enough to fit the coupling and weld it.

  5. I’m trying to finalize some frame dimensions and I’m wondering what the vertical and horizontal size of your burner mounts are.

    • Billy Broas says:

      Robin, here are the dimensions: http://homebrewacademy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/brutus-10-dimensions.jpg. All of the square tubing is 1.5″. Keep in mind I sized the stand specifically for 15 gallon Blichmann Boilermakers, so if you’re using different kettles your dimensions will be different.

      • The burner mounts aren’t shown in that diagram. I noticed in the gas post you said your burners were 3″ from the kettles. I was thinking about making the vertical piece 6″. According to tejassmokers the bg12 is 2 1/2 ” tall, so that would put the burner 3 1/2″ below the kettle. I took your advice and added 6″ to the depth of the stand so I made the horizontal part 10″, which would be a little over half the size of the frame. Sound right to you?

        Thanks for the help, your build is a real inspiration.

        • Billy Broas says:

          Ah sorry about that I forgot we decided on those mounts after the initial drawings. That vertical piece is 6.5″. I originally had the burners 4″ away from kettles, then I moved them to 3″ by using a 1″ rubber stopper with a hole drilled though the middle for the bolt. I wanted to give myself wiggle enough room to move the burners closer which is much easier than moving them further away. Glad the build has helped!

  6. Ben Vronko says:

    Great write-ups, I can’t wait to have enough money to start this project. You should put links to the next and previous sections of the tutorial.

Speak Your Mind

*