Author Topic: Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot  (Read 575 times)

Offline rednender

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Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot
« on: April 01, 2018, 01:07:43 PM »
I had a local welder weld in a 2" tri clover fitting into my brew pot.  Unfortunately, I probably should have done a bit more research to find a better welder.  I am almost 100% certain the weld isn't sanitary and in addition to this, there seems to be a lot of black scorched stainless filler on the inside of my brew kettle from the weld.  I'll post pictures when I get a chance.

My question, is the weld safe to brew with?  Will it impart any negative flavors and/or hazardous material into my brew.  Is the weld salvageable, such as grinding down the extra build up.  Finally, if the weld is salvageable, what material would be best to use to grind down the build up?  Due to the confined space, I will most likely use a dremel, I am just wondering what the best grinding wheel would be.

Thanks in advance for any insight.

Offline waltsmalt

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Re: Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2018, 08:05:39 PM »
I went through something similar.  I had three new Meg Pots that I had couplers and Tri clover fittings.  I had previously used the welder and his work was flawless.  I recommended him to everyone.  When I picked up the pots, the look good from the outside, but inside the welds were not smooth.  I scrubbed them as much as possible with Bar Keepers friend in an attempt to pasivate them. 

I’ve not brewed close to 20 batches on this system without any problems.  I keep an eye on them, and run PBW through them.  The welds are solid, just not pretty.  The welder said it’s just too tough to weld something that thin.  The welds he did for me a kegs that I was using for pots are amazing and other welders have said so. 

My advice is move forward.  Try to use them and keep an eye on them.  If you want I can try and find the pictures I took of the pots when I got them back.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2018, 09:28:39 PM »
It's a kettle. Sanitary quality welding is not a requirement. However, you do want structurally sound welds that aren't going to leak. As mentioned, welding thin stock is very difficult. It takes only a whisper to burn a hole in the material.
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2018, 12:33:13 AM »
If you have other welders in your area that can/will do this work, possibly you can take your equipment in to them and ask if they can clean it up to your satisfaction. Maybe they have examples of their work you can make a decision with.  Better yet, possibly a local brewery has has work done by one of these local craftsman.


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Offline KellerBrauer

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Re: Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2018, 01:10:58 PM »
I had a local welder weld in a 2" tri clover fitting into my brew pot.  Unfortunately, I probably should have done a bit more research to find a better welder.  I am almost 100% certain the weld isn't sanitary and in addition to this, there seems to be a lot of black scorched stainless filler on the inside of my brew kettle from the weld.  I'll post pictures when I get a chance.

My question, is the weld safe to brew with?  Will it impart any negative flavors and/or hazardous material into my brew.  Is the weld salvageable, such as grinding down the extra build up.  Finally, if the weld is salvageable, what material would be best to use to grind down the build up?  Due to the confined space, I will most likely use a dremel, I am just wondering what the best grinding wheel would be.

Thanks in advance for any insight.

Greetings rednender - what you’re seeing inside your kettle is known in the Stainless Welding World as: “sugar”.  Sugar is that black crusty scale that built up on your kettle and it’s caused from oxidation.  Welding stainless steel, while tricky and difficult, is done through a method known as TIG, which stands for Tungsten Inert Gas.  It’s the inert gas part that your welder did not use effectively when welding your fitting.

You see, in order to properly weld stainless steel, the inert gas is present around the tip of the tungsten while making the weld. This protects the weld itself from becoming sugared.  In all cases where stainless steel is welded, inert gas must be present on the inside of the weld as well.  And that’s where your welder failed.

In order to make a proper weld on a stainless pipe, fitting, kettle, or anything else, the inside of whatever is being welded must not be exposed to oxygen while the weld is being made.  To accomplish this, the welder uses an inert gas, such as Argon, to continually purge the inside of the weld while the weld is in process.

Eliminating sugar after the weld is very difficult.  However, you should be able to get most of it off with your Dremel and a sanding wheel, or disk.  Unfortunately, in your case, it is what it is.  My hope is that the information I have provided will help future brewers who wish to make modifications such as this to their stainless steel.

Good luck!
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Offline Phil_M

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Re: Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2018, 03:59:00 PM »
From my understanding, sugaring means that oxygen has penetrated the metal. Grinding will remove the sugaring, but the weld metal is still contaminated and will be prone to corrosion.

I've also recently learned that many who weld coming from the automotive side (A small speed shop, not a dealer or high end shop for example) don't know about the need to back purge stainless. I know of a couple local guys who'll weld stainless exhaust this way, usually leading to issues down the road.

That all being said, I am not a welder, but I do own a TIG machine that I've been learning on. FWIW, to back purge you need either a second argon bottle or a VERY expensive ($300+ unless you want chinesium) dual flow regulator. If you welder doesn't regularly weld stainless, they may not have this extra equipment. (But I'd have to imagine any decent shop will have more than one bottle of argon around...)
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

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Offline rednender

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Re: Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2018, 04:54:34 PM »
I had a local welder weld in a 2" tri clover fitting into my brew pot.  Unfortunately, I probably should have done a bit more research to find a better welder.  I am almost 100% certain the weld isn't sanitary and in addition to this, there seems to be a lot of black scorched stainless filler on the inside of my brew kettle from the weld.  I'll post pictures when I get a chance.

My question, is the weld safe to brew with?  Will it impart any negative flavors and/or hazardous material into my brew.  Is the weld salvageable, such as grinding down the extra build up.  Finally, if the weld is salvageable, what material would be best to use to grind down the build up?  Due to the confined space, I will most likely use a dremel, I am just wondering what the best grinding wheel would be.

Thanks in advance for any insight.

Greetings rednender - what you’re seeing inside your kettle is known in the Stainless Welding World as: “sugar”.  Sugar is that black crusty scale that built up on your kettle and it’s caused from oxidation.  Welding stainless steel, while tricky and difficult, is done through a method known as TIG, which stands for Tungsten Inert Gas.  It’s the inert gas part that your welder did not use effectively when welding your fitting.

You see, in order to properly weld stainless steel, the inert gas is present around the tip of the tungsten while making the weld. This protects the weld itself from becoming sugared.  In all cases where stainless steel is welded, inert gas must be present on the inside of the weld as well.  And that’s where your welder failed.

In order to make a proper weld on a stainless pipe, fitting, kettle, or anything else, the inside of whatever is being welded must not be exposed to oxygen while the weld is being made.  To accomplish this, the welder uses an inert gas, such as Argon, to continually purge the inside of the weld while the weld is in process.

Eliminating sugar after the weld is very difficult.  However, you should be able to get most of it off with your Dremel and a sanding wheel, or disk.  Unfortunately, in your case, it is what it is.  My hope is that the information I have provided will help future brewers who wish to make modifications such as this to their stainless steel.

Good luck!

One final question, just for my own peace of mind.  Will the "Sugar" harm the wort at all?
« Last Edit: April 02, 2018, 06:08:05 PM by rednender »

Offline KellerBrauer

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Re: Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2018, 08:51:29 PM »
Greetings rednender - the sugar itself should not harm the wort.  However, it will harbor bacteria that could cause problems if you cool your wort in this kettle. If this kettle is used strictly for boiling and you cool your wort via an external means (I.e. plate cooler), you should be okay.

Phil_M is accurate in their assessment.  Unless the welder has the equipment to purge and weld siamotainously, they will not be able to privide a proper stainless steel weld.

Good luck!

Edit: Phil_M is also correct in their assessment that the metal has been contaminated and will be difficult to impossible to remove and it will begin to rust.  So, care should be taken to clean the area well after each use and dry the area as best as possible. This will only help.

Lastly, for future reference, any time welding is needed on stainless steel, check to make sure the welder is capable is making a “Food Grade Weld”.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2018, 09:12:25 PM by KellerBrauer »
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2018, 09:19:47 PM »
However, it will harbor bacteria that could cause problems if you cool your wort in this kettle. If this kettle is used strictly for boiling and you cool your wort via an external means (I.e. plate cooler), you should be okay.

I'm not sure that is true. While there could be contaminants and organisms harbored in the kettle between brew days, those critters will be killed during the subsequent boil. Cooling the wort in the kettle should have no detriment.
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Offline rednender

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Re: Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2018, 12:43:47 AM »
Thanks everyone. I’ll continue to use the kettle as is after a good cleaning of course. I’m not worried about infections as I use a plate chiller.  The weld looks and feels structurally good; it just doesn’t look pretty :).

Offline soymateofeo

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Re: Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2018, 05:33:53 AM »
that's a bummer. when I add bulkheads to thin stainless, I prefer weldless fittings.  I know it is too late but in the future, it might help.  I also bought a crappy Chinese fermenter off of ebay for cheap ... epic fail. the damn welds leaked and getting a refund was damn near impossible. I learned a lesson with my wallet. 

Offline Phil_M

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Re: Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2018, 10:38:35 AM »
The weld looks and feels structurally good; it just doesn’t look pretty :).

Then just grind and smooth it as best you can and keep an eye out for rust. I've certainly done enough grinding on my welds to know what that's like...

I've seen some pretty poor welds on even high end brewing gear. My MoreBeer tippy dump (which I bought used) has everything from cold welds, hot welds, welds more crooked than a Virginia rail fence, all the way to welds that got too hot allowing the stainless to rust a bit now.
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

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Offline rednender

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Re: Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2018, 12:46:00 PM »
that's a bummer. when I add bulkheads to thin stainless, I prefer weldless fittings.  I know it is too late but in the future, it might help.  I also bought a crappy Chinese fermenter off of ebay for cheap ... epic fail. the damn welds leaked and getting a refund was damn near impossible. I learned a lesson with my wallet.

That was my original intention.  I was putting in a weld-less tri clover fitting.  The instructions stated the fitting would work for a 1-7/8" to 2" hole.  I punched a 2" hole using a knock out punch (finding a 1-7/8" knock out for SS proved more difficult.)  I was reluctant to use a hole saw as I was widening an already existing hole.  In hind sight, I should have just used a hole saw.  The 2" hole proved to be slightly too large for the weldless fitting, where a 1 7/8" hole probably would have been perfect (lesson learned).  I have another kettle I'll be doing the same thing to down the road.  Next time, I'll use a hole saw.

Just glad to hear that there isn't anything major to be concerned about with the kettle or the weld.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2018, 02:42:31 PM »
One of my club members has been employing silver-soldering with stainless fittings for his stainless vessels. He says there are special fittings that are intended for this use and they work well. Of course, proper surface prep and fluxing is required along with the proper silver solder.

Since the temperature of your kettle can't exceed about 212F, its never close to a temperature where the solder could melt again. If I ever consider upgrading my kettle, silver soldering will be under consideration.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2018, 07:09:19 PM by mabrungard »
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Offline rednender

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Re: Poor Weld Job in Brew Pot
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2018, 05:20:25 PM »
One of my club members has been employing silver-soldering with stainless fittings for his stainless vessels. He says there are special fittings that are intended for this use and then work well. Of course, proper surface prep and fluxing is required along with the proper silver solder.

Since the temperature of your kettle can't exceed about 212F, its never close to a temperature where the solder could melt again. If I ever consider upgrading my kettle, silver soldering will be under consideration.

This is some great advice.  I've been looking into this technique and it looks like it creates a clean finish (as good as TIG), a solid connection, and is food safe.

I might need to find some stainless steel to practice on.  I like the idea of being able to attach my own permanent fittings and bulk heads.  I don't like being dependent on someone else for things like this, because usually, they don't have the same standards as me.  With the entry cost to TIG welding and also needing to teach myself or take classes on TIG welding, it's been a pipe-dream to consider.  Silver soldering looks like a relatively cheap and easy skill to learn with great results.