Friday, July 13, 2007

several trips in one, part three

this is the final post in the series recapping my recent ventures. it's mostly an update on the ongoing project i'm undertaking in building a roaster. since my father in law is the hands on expert with his engineering background and know-how, and since he summers in indiana and i live in texas, it's important for me to check in regularly and see how the project is progressing and help answer as many questions as possible as we're (he's) building the thing we come up with.

so it was a great chance to visit the roaster to be at the tail end of our trip and see what's up first hand. included are some pics of the

since most of the stuff for the roaster are either displaced, disused or otherwise raw materiel, the cost thus far has been negligible. absolutely nothing yet has been special ordered, including the steel for the drum and chaff cyclone (that will soon change), and is being constructed of "junk" parts: a used gas stove; a thrown out fan; a rotisserie motor; etc. thank you, mostly, purdue university junkyard!
this will not be a roaster that wins any awards for aesthetics. sure, it will have some shiny parts on the outside. but anyone who notices that the external housing for a chaff collector, for example, is a used beer keg, or used gas stove burners, will get the idea of what we're going for here: functionality over beauty.

a lot of this stuff has been compiled doing basic internet research. thank you google. i have not been able to get a hold of actual roaster diagrams, which would help us immensely (if anyone has them in pdf, that would be amazingly cool). and some bits and pieces may or may not have actual uses when it's all said and done--an electronic "sequencer" that can execute multiple commands based on certain pre-set parameters (perhaps can be tied to temp sensors and sequenced to aid in pre-heating and cool down operations); or pieces of metal sheeting that may/may not be used as baffles to differently distribute heat from the burners.

as i mentioned, the need for special order materials will be showing up soon and that's where the (relative) expense will come in. but even still, when i look at the costs of having a roaster built by, say, a roaster building company, i am making out like a bandit in terms of costs saved. the good news about that is that normally one could say, "you get what you pay for" as far as building something so technically precise out of junkyard parts. as i've mentioned in previous posts, though, my father in law more than makes up for that otherwise deficiency with his technical and mechanical expertise. i am supremely confident in his ability to execute in the shop the plan we hatch on the drawing board.

obviously, there is still a ton more work ahead than is behind. but the broad skeleton is forming nicely and i am told the meat on the bones and the final touches will be done by late september/early october. and i can't wait.

thanks to everyone who has contributed opinions/wish-list items so far. keep the suggestions coming and again, if you have actual technical manuals you wouldn't mind forwarding to me, feel free.

thus, having spent a day and a half in the shop going over what has been done so far and talking about where to go from here, i left indiana comfortable in the knowledge that brown will soon have a very cool piece of home-cooked equipment that will look none-too-appealing, but will definitely pull its weight technically and volume wise. i arrived back in san antonio having taken a whilrwind trip through lots of coffee events and returned all the richer for it and ready to keep building this tiny, fledgling coffee company into its next stages and beyond.



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