Author Topic: Utility Sink Vat  (Read 2624 times)

Offline Mike Richards

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Re: Utility Sink Vat
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2013, 10:39:03 AM »
I still need to insulate the vat, which might decrease the time a little (though I'm not sure it will do much--most of the time the milk is below room temperature and insulating will actually prevent heat from entering the milk from the surrounding air).  I'll be working on that tonight and will try to report on what affect, if any, it has when I make cheese again this Friday.  The best way to speed up the heating, with my design, would be to add another heating pad.  The problem, then, is how many amps can your circuit take?  I'm pretty close to the limit on mine with 1180 W.

Unless you are making really big sous vide meal, this might be overkill.  The 4 gallons isn't very deep in this sink and, from what I understand, sous vide should have the food pretty well submerged.
If only I could make cheese as well as I grow a mustache...

Offline BobE102330

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Re: Utility Sink Vat
« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2013, 10:52:57 AM »
Tom,

I think you would get faster heating times if you enclosed the sink in an insulated box and heated with the insulated top on.  (Mike, I think you'll gain more from keeping all the heat generated in proximity of the vat than you would from allowing room temp air to circulate.) You could also add more heaters, on a separate SSR with a switch to set for sous vide or cheese making.  All heaters on for sous vide, some heaters on for cheese.  As long as you don't have anything else on the circuit you can go to 1800W on a 15A circuit or 2400W on a 20A circuit.  Most hair dryers these days are pushing 1800W.

My concept for insulating the vat is to build a box similar to a vanity around the sink with foil lined insulation facing the heat, but not in contact with the heaters.  Reflect as much radiant heat back as possible, minimize air circulation.  I'd raise the bottom insulation to within a few inches of the sink and allow the drain to penetrate. 

There's my two cents if you think its worth that much.  ;)

Offline Mike Richards

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Re: Utility Sink Vat
« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2013, 11:33:41 AM »
Thanks for your thoughts, Bob.  I'm getting some of the radiant heat insulating bubble wrap today.  I'll start by just wrapping the stuff around the sides and see what happens.  A boxed enclosure with no contact would experience less heat transfer, but if I can be satisfied with just wrapping it, that'll be easier.  I don't have a specific plan on insulating the bottom.  I need to see how doing so increases the temperature of the elements.  I don't think it will make a big difference, but I'm hesitant to just through some insulation on them without watching them pretty closely.
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Offline BobE102330

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Re: Utility Sink Vat
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2013, 12:02:19 PM »
At first I thought of melting plastic, then realized that it is a specific product. Leave some space between the heating elements and the wrap, otherwise the foil layer will conduct heat and potentially melt the bubbles.

http://www.energyvanguard.com/blog-building-science-HERS-BPI/bid/29497/The-Foil-Faced-Bubble-Wrap-Sham-Understanding-Radiant-Barriers

Offline Tom Turophile / CheeseStud

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Re: Utility Sink Vat
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2013, 12:14:31 PM »
Absolutely something this size would be overkill for SV; I would downsize this unit if I wanted to do both.  Using those heating pads/strips is something that I haven't seen.  I've only seen ones using cheap immersion heaters -- which wouldn't work for cheesemaking, unless you use the double-boiler method.
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Offline Mike Richards

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Re: Utility Sink Vat
« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2013, 12:58:28 PM »
Bob--I'm not worried about the bubbles around the side melting because the temperature on the side doesn't ever get above the milk temperature, which should remain below the melting temperature of the plastic.  I wouldn't want to put this stuff on the bottom without spacers because the elements might melt it. 

I read the article.  It was interesting to see the author's thoughts and the comments by the other readers.  The advertised benefit for home insulation is a reduction in radiant heat loss/gain.  I'm less worried about radiant heat loss than I am about loss to the air through free convection, though wrapping the vat with a few layers of the bubble wrap should reduce both as each set of bubble presents an air layer through which the heat must transfer.

Tom--the heating pads are cool, but they are a lot more expensive than an immersion heater in terms of price per watt.  http://www.omega.com/ppt/pptsc.asp?ref=SRFR_SRFG  The $22 at the top is the price for a tiny one, scroll down to see what you can get and examples of how much they cost.
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Offline Tom Turophile / CheeseStud

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Re: Utility Sink Vat
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2013, 01:13:45 PM »
Thanks -- I had meant to ask you about the cost.
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Offline Mike Richards

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Re: Utility Sink Vat
« Reply #22 on: April 19, 2013, 04:25:00 PM »
It's taken me a long time to report on this.  I've used the vat a number of times now.  I make a little progress in improving it now and then.  I did get the silicone rubber.  It worked well, though I think I'd getting something a little thinner next time--1/8" was a little thick.  After trying a few different options, a friend at work suggested what appears to be a great solution to the draining issue: a sheet of perforated stainless steel.

[img width= height= alt=perforated stainless steel holding curd while allowing whey to drain.]https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/603849_326762490782531_1720286891_n.jpg[/img]

[img width= height= alt=ditto]https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/563610_326762494115864_875634848_n.jpg[/img]

I push the sheet down on one side of the vat and then slide it across the bottom, pushing the curd away from the drain.  Then, I tilt the sheet up (from the position shown) and pull the drain.  The whey drains, the curd stays.  I'm pleased with it, though I've only used it once so far.
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Offline CheeWilly

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Re: Utility Sink Vat
« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2013, 11:01:19 PM »
Mike,
You could use the spray foam insulation that is used to fill cracks to insulate the sink.  I would only do the sides if you o use it and would stay away from the bottom where the heating elements are so you can change them out if needed.  The foam will take some technique to smooth it out, but it is very doable.
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Offline Mike Richards

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Re: Utility Sink Vat
« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2013, 11:10:49 PM »
Thanks for the thought--at some point I hope to add elements to the sides as well so I can do larger batches.  I think I can do about 8 gallons with my current set up, but will need more heating elements to get larger batches up to temp fast enough.  Because of that, I don't want to put any permanent insulation on the sides...
If only I could make cheese as well as I grow a mustache...

Offline High Altitude

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Re: Utility Sink Vat
« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2013, 01:34:04 PM »
That looks awesome Mike!  Glad to see your efforts in this VAT fine-tuning process are working :-).  Great job, and I look forward to seeing your LARGE cheeses in the future.  Mine will remain in the 2 lb range I'm afraid...but at least I get to make them more often that way!
Have some (homemade) wine with that cheese!

Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Utility Sink Vat
« Reply #26 on: May 17, 2013, 09:36:42 PM »
When I first saw the pictures, I thought that was a steel screen. inside, I was screaming in terror. My life had been ruined.

Then I read it was perforated steel. I breathed a deep sigh of relief, and things returned to normal. All is well.

That's similar to how we retrieve curd, only instead of a steel sheet we use the cheesecloth and a thin piece of spring steel.

Nice looking setup, hope it works well for you.

Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser

Offline Mike Richards

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Re: Utility Sink Vat
« Reply #27 on: May 19, 2013, 03:15:42 PM »
Thanks, guys.  Alp--I had initially envisioned making a steel frame and putting cheese cloth over it, but a friend of mine asked, "why don't you just use perforated stainless?"  To which I replied, "They make perforated stainless sheet?"  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to make any cheese for a few weeks now, and won't be able to until August.  I look forward to getting back into it.
If only I could make cheese as well as I grow a mustache...