Introduction: Barrel Rack!

Picture of Barrel Rack!

Got a 55 gallon whiskey barrel that you want to age your homebrew in, but don't have a way to support it? This is the Instructable for you!

In this Instructable I will share my plans for building a rack to support a full 55 gallon barrel. Barrel sizes are pretty standard, but it's still a good idea to check your measurements.

I will not cover how to weld, but I will mention some useful tips and traps to look out for.

NOTE: a full barrel can weigh between 400 and 500 pounds, so make sure you put it on the rack before filling!

Let's get started!

Step 1: A Word on Safety

Picture of A Word on Safety

Metal work can be dangerous so make sure you take the correct steps to protect yourself!

- Make sure there are no combustible materials in your work area (leaves, cats, dry grass, oils...)

- Keep a fire extinguisher within 25 feet of your work area

- Flame Resistant clothing to protect from becoming the Human Torch

- Heavy Leather welding gloves, no missing or burned digits

- Protective goggles and face protection, gotta keep that modeling job

- Welding hood, don't want to burn those retinas

Chances are good that you'll be doing this work outside, and it can get hot under a welding hood. Stay hydrated fool!

Usually I would recommend a beer before the start of a project, but due to the nature of the work with power tools we'll save that for the end.

Step 2: Design Your Rack

Picture of Design Your Rack

I used a modified version of the double racks you commonly see in breweries. Remember this structure needs to hold a lot of weight so don't skimp on material!

These are the sketches I came up with. I have terrible drawing skills so I used TurboCad ($30-40) to draft this.

This design uses 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" square tube and 1 1/2" x 1/8" flat bar.

Step 3: Gather Your Materials and Tools

For this design i used 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" square tube and 1 1/2" x 1/8" flat bar. You can find these materials at a 'big box' hardware store, but prices will be much cheaper if you can get it from a metal yard.

MATERIAL

(1) 20 stick of 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" square tube: $35

(1) 6' stick of 1/2" x 1/8" flat bar: $5

TOOLS

- MIG welder (I used a Hobart Handler 120)

- Welding table

- 90 degree magnet

- 4 1/2" Angle grinder with cutoff wheel, grinding wheel, and flap wheel

- clamps

- Level

- Pliers

Step 4: Make Your Cuts and Prep for Welding!

Measure and cut your pieces.

CUT LIST

- (2) 45" sections of 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" square tube

- (4) 24" sections of 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" square tube

- (6) 6" sections of 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" square tube

- (4) 3" sections of 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" square tube

-(4) 6"-7" sections of 1 1/2" x 1/8" flat bar

Once the pieces are cut, clean up the edges with a grinding wheel or flap wheel to get rid of those pesky metal burrs. Cleaning and beveling the edges also makes for better welds.

Step 5: Fit and Tack!

Picture of Fit and Tack!

I'm not a welder by trade, and I made the critical error of welding everything all the way out before checking how square it was. The rack ended up being twisted and would not sit squarely on the ground. This resulted in having to cut several welds out, re-fit, and re-weld them. It's way easier to cut a tack weld then a full weld.

I made the 'strong back' (long axis) first, making a square out of the (2) 45" pieces and (2) 6" pieces. Then i built each end around it.

Fit one piece at a time, checking to make sure it's square with the other pieces. A 90 degree magnet is super helpful with this.

Once you've got a piece where you want it, tack all four corners to hold it in place. Check to make sure it's square after the tack welds are made.

Move on to the next piece, wash, rinse, repeat...

When you've got the whole rig assembled with tack welds, and everything is square, get your weld on! It's helpful to alternate between sides to let the welds cool. Too much heat in an area can cause the pieces to 'draw', which will make them out of square.

Once welded out, let the rack cool for a bit. If you weld like I do, you'll probably want to smooth those welds down with the flap wheel.

Step 6: Finished Assembly

Picture of Finished Assembly

This is what the finished product looks like.

Step 7: Load Test!

Picture of Load Test!

Load the barrel onto the rack and have a friend sit on the barrel. Keep your fingers crossed! If you did it right you'll have a sturdy barrel rack for your barrel to sleep in!

Step 8: Have a Beer!

Picture of Have a Beer!

You're done! Good job!

Comments

kakashibatosi (author)2014-08-20

I have a question on barrels, if you happen to know! When brewing in a used barrel, what steps need to be taken to make sure it's safe for beer? I mean to keep the beer from getting infected with bacteria or otherwise. Does the whiskey still in the wood prevent this? Nice 'ible :)

DangerHat (author)kakashibatosi2014-08-20

Great question!

At the very least you need to make sure it doesn't leak. For long time storage (not in use) it wouldn't be a bad idea to fill it with water to help keep the oak from shrinking, causing gaps between the staves.

The barrel we got was from a local brewery who used it to age their barleywine in, so it wasn't direct from the distillery. We ended up boiling a few gallons of water and sloshed it around real good before draining it into a bucket, before we filled it with the beer. We then used StarSan to sanitize the 'bung hole' and surrounding surfaces before we racked into the barrel. Keep in mind, we're not using the barrel to ferment in, only to age in.

kakashibatosi (author)DangerHat2014-08-20

Ah, so not so much a cask ale as a "barrel character" beer. That makes sense. I can only imagine the horror of fermenting in a barrel (in that cleaning up would suck). you're so lucky to get it after a beer brewery, it's gonna add some cool flavors. What kind of beer did you brew? I'm going to throw my guesses in to something dark unless you like the really funky stuff (like re-hopped barrel IPAs).

Did you know somebody at the brewery that got you the barrel, or did they sell it to you (or perhaps you're in a local brew club!)? I definitely don't have space to do something like this, but it's really awesome to see someone else doing it.

Jobar007 (author)kakashibatosi2014-08-20

I would think that whiskey in the barrel (the Devil's cut) would be able to handle any sanitizing needs. A wine barrel or new one? I'm not sure...

DangerHat (author)Jobar0072014-08-20

If the barrel was direct from the distillery, you're probably right...

Bard (author)2014-08-20

I would hate to put out a cumbusting cat being they don't like water and all

seamster (author)2014-08-20

Nice work! Great tip on keeping those combustible cats out of the work area :)

I got a good laugh out of that!

DangerHat (author)seamster2014-08-20

Thanks! Yeah, gotta watch those cats, they're a structure fire waiting to happen =)

Jobar007 (author)2014-08-20

Step 8 should be "Have a homebrew!" ;)

DangerHat (author)Jobar0072014-08-20

+1 for homebrew!

bricobart (author)2014-08-20

Nice idea mate, too bad you're living overseas ;)

I guess your concept is suitable to be transported (barrel inc) with a pallet transporter?

DangerHat (author)bricobart2014-08-20

Sure is! It will fit most pallet jacks/forklifts.

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