Author Topic: Digital Cheese Vat with 5 gallon capacity $140 including shipping  (Read 14449 times)

Offline DeepSix

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I have been searching for a reasonable cheese vat solution.  I have seen the contributions from others and they were the inspiration for my version.  To complete my cheese vat, I only needed a couple of things.  The list is below with pictures.  There were only two things that were a challenge, cutting the metal and making sure you follow the wiring diagram.  (It's not that complicated but I have done this stuff before and I screwed it up once.  It just tripped the breaker and made me scratch my head.)

Necessary equipment: All free shipping
Commercial food warmer- $82.99 (I bought the Avantco version from webstaurantstore.com)
Digital temperature controller- $24.99 (Bought from anna758595 on Ebay)
6" hotel pan with Lid- $33 at a local restaurant store

Tools:
Phillips head screwdriver
very small flat head screwdriver
Wire stripper
Wire nuts
8 to 12" of electrical wire (any power chord will do)
Metal saw of some kind (I used a pneumatic cutting wheel I got at Harbor freight for $14)

So here we go:

I started  with one of these-


1)The black dial just pulls off, you can tear off the sticker if you like and remove the two screws on the front.

2)Flip the unit over and remove the six screws that hold on the bottom plate. Just know that you are about to void your warranty!   :)

3)Loosen the two screws that hold the temperature probe in place and remove the clips holding the wires to the existing temperature controller.  Remove the temperature controller-


You're on your own here for the next step... Please don't cut yourself :)
4)Measure the dimensions you need to cut and scribe them in the metal.  You want this to be precise so the controller fits tight and the pressure clips can hold it in place.

I know, it looks ugly but be patient.

This is the temperature controller that will fit in the cutout.  Notice the orange pressure clips on the side.  These will slide towards the faceplate and hold everything in place.

The silver tip is the temperature probe which will be fed up through the unit so it can be placed in the milk or double boiler, depending on your approach.
This unit is programmable and will turn the heating element on and off as necessary.

5) Now I will apologize for the lack of pictures.  I thought I had hardware problems because I didn't have any supporting information so I was a little preoccupied.  I finally figured it out though so instead of pictures, I'll give you a wiring diagram.
Again, please be careful here if you do not have a lot of experience.  It's not that difficult but I don't want anyone to get shocked.

I needed a few extra pieces of wire and wire nuts to make the connections.

Here is the finished product:


You'll notice the hole drilled in the side of the tub for the temperature probe.  This is now sealed with high temperature silicone.

A six inch hotel pan with a lid will fit perfectly and holds almost 5 gallons of milk.



So that is the setup, please let me know if you have questions. 

I hope this is helpful,

Jason


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Offline DeepSix

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Re: Digital Cheese Vat with 5 gallon capacity $140 including shipping
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2011, 03:05:09 AM »
I like this setup because the steel liner doesn't hold any residual heat so as soon as the temperature reaches the desires point, there is very little carry over so you shouldn't overshoot your temperature.

You can put the thermocouple in the double boiler water or in the milk but the strategy is slightly different. If you place the thermocouple in the water, it works bringing the milk temp up to ripen and holding it there.  The only place where it can be a challenge is when you want to bring the temperature up slowly as you cook the curd.  If you set the thermostat to 102 degrees, you are probably going to get there to quickly.  It might be better to bump the temp up a couple of degrees at a time so the element goes on and off as you progress.

If you put the thermocouple in the milk, you can probably pay less attention while warming the milk and get it there a lot faster.  However, you would still need to be very careful through the process of cooking the curd and you probably run a higher risk of overshooting your temperature target.

Thanks,

Jason

Offline Gustav

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Re: Digital Cheese Vat with 5 gallon capacity $140 including shipping
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2011, 09:13:54 AM »
How many litres/gallons does it take?
Melkman se kind.

Offline Boofer

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Re: Digital Cheese Vat with 5 gallon capacity $140 including shipping
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2011, 09:32:23 AM »
DeepSix, very nice how-to.  8)
This is just what a lot of folks here may be looking for. Getting it put together may be a challenge for most, but there are a lot of do-it-yourselfers out there that should eat this up.

Thanks for the link to Webstaurant.com.

A cheese for your contribution to the cause.

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Offline DeepSix

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Re: Digital Cheese Vat with 5 gallon capacity $140 including shipping
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2011, 12:45:51 PM »
Gustav- Here is a good reference table for hotel pan capacity.  (this warmer fits full size pans although one could probably use two half size pans if they wanted to make two smaller batches and play with variables to effect the outcome.)



An 8" deep model does exist but they are hard to find.  This may be the solution I go with because I could put wire racks in the bottom of the double boiler to keep it off the bottom and the pan would stick out the top a couple of inches.  Not really an issue since the water would go most of the way up the sides of the pan. 

This pan is 8" deep and has a capacity of 30.5qt so it would easily work 7 gallons.  It is $127 at eTundra.com which is expensive but if you need extra capacity, it would do the trick. 



Boofer- I know it is a little intimidating but it should be really straight forward with the wiring diagram.  Cutting the metal was the only challenging thing and I just used what I had on hand.  If anyone out there knows a good way to cut metal like this cheaply and more easily, I'd love to hear it.

Thanks,

Jason

Thanks,

Jason
« Last Edit: June 29, 2011, 01:12:40 PM by DeepSix »


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Offline DeepSix

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Re: Digital Cheese Vat with 5 gallon capacity $140 including shipping
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2011, 12:55:08 PM »
I also realized that if you are going to fill these pans to absolute capacity, you probably want some kind of "domed full size hotel pan lid." there are lots of versions but the flat lid sits slightly recessed into the top of the vat so it could keep you from reaching full capacity.


There are also plastic versions with an opening on the end and steel like this one that are hinged in the middle.

Offline Chris_Abrahamson

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Re: Digital Cheese Vat with 5 gallon capacity $140 including shipping
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2011, 01:33:05 PM »
Very nice, indeed!  Have you tried it out yet? 

Chris

Offline DeepSix

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Re: Digital Cheese Vat with 5 gallon capacity $140 including shipping
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2011, 03:54:23 PM »
Have not made a batch yet but I did run a calibration test, plotting the temperatures over time.  I'll post it soon but I need to graph out the results.

Jason

Offline Boofer

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Re: Digital Cheese Vat with 5 gallon capacity $140 including shipping
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2011, 05:52:10 PM »
Boofer- I know it is a little intimidating but it should be really straight forward with the wiring diagram.  Cutting the metal was the only challenging thing and I just used what I had on hand.  If anyone out there knows a good way to cut metal like this cheaply and more easily, I'd love to hear it.
Several years ago I had three 15 gallon beer kegs cut for a brewing system. When I tried to do a little additional trimming after getting them home I found out how difficult stainless steel was to deal with. Sorry, I don't have any better ideas for how to do that now.

As it was, the guy that initially did the job used an ox-acetylene torch, I believe.

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Offline ArnaudForestier

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Re: Digital Cheese Vat with 5 gallon capacity $140 including shipping
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2011, 06:27:46 PM »
Boof, same here.  I welded the brewstand (mild steel), and I had a welder skilled in food-grade stainless do my kegs.  He used a plasma cutter.  Not cheap, but clean.
- Paul


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Offline DeepSix

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Re: Digital Cheese Vat with 5 gallon capacity $140 including shipping
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2011, 06:34:43 PM »
I have a an air compressor and I bought one of these cut off wheels for something a long time ago:  around $12


It really was very simple.  I just scribed the lines I wanted to cut and started cutting in the middle.  Then I worked it into the corners to get a clean angle.  Once I decided to use this tool, it only took me about 10 minutes.

Jason

Offline zenith1

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Re: Digital Cheese Vat with 5 gallon capacity $140 including shipping
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2011, 07:20:28 PM »
nice work Jason. I look forward to reading through the data when you get time to post it. Dremel makes a nice little cut off wheel that would handle that task easily.
Keith

Offline Tiddlypom

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Re: Digital Cheese Vat with 5 gallon capacity $140 including shipping
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2011, 08:26:40 PM »
Interesting instructions here, thank you. I recently bought one of those little controllers, exactly the same, and currently my father (who is electronically capable where I am not!) is putting together the wiring for me.

Here in Australia it needs an earth wire included, and mine is being fitted into a separate box rather than directly into the equipment as shown here, with two sockets fitted one for 'heating' and one for 'cooling' apparatus. This means it can be used either for heating, eg my slow cooker, (I'm looking forward to playing with sous vide cookery) or for cooling, to bring a cheese cave to an appropriate temperature - currently mine is a corner of my other half's wine fridge but I anticipate outgrowing that and needing to find a cheap 2nd hand fridge somewhere to use with this gadget. I'm sure I thought of a couple of other potential uses too but can't recall them right now...

Hopefully in a few days I will have it back completed and can post pictures.

Offline smilingcalico

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Re: Digital Cheese Vat with 5 gallon capacity $140 including shipping
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2011, 08:27:54 PM »
A cheese not only for your ingenuity, but for your great documentation!
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Offline dthelmers

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Re: Digital Cheese Vat with 5 gallon capacity $140 including shipping
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2011, 09:28:27 PM »
My company uses stainless steel a lot. This saw will cut it:
http://www.harborfreight.com/high-speed-metal-saw-91753.html
From Harbor Freight.
Adjust the air supply to slow it down a bit, use oil on the blade when cutting.
Dave in CT
Dave in CT