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BBQ beer-keg roaster build
Hey everyone, I'm new to the forum and wanted to share my work-in-progress, which is a BBQ roaster using a beer keg as the drum!

My friend has started roasting coffee using a small convection oven and it has come out pretty good. We are both engineers so we thought it would be a cool project to make a larger scale coffee roaster using some things we had lying around. I figured a BBQ roaster would be easiest since most of the infrastructure is there. I also saw an old beer keg in my shed and this is where it all began:

I removed the keg spear and measured the inner diameter to be 2" exact, so I was able to buy a stainless pipe to use as the shaft. I bought 2 pillow-block bearings off Amazon for $35 and welded up a frame to hold it all together:

I am still learning how to weld so you'll have to excuse the bubblegum.

To turn the keg, I did a lot of research on different motors but didn't want to spend a fortune on a gear-drive motor. I had a spare motor from my clothes dryer which spins at 1750 RPM. I saw here on the forums and other websites that drum roasters run around 50-60RPM. Coincidentally, a bike tire is the right diameter to reduce the RPM of the dryer motor to coffee-roasting speeds! So we got an old bike tire and welded a nut onto the end of the bearing shaft to mount the bike tire to it. Again, not very good with welding:

Here's a cradle I made up for the dryer motor. This will eventually be made properly with metal:
Since I am terrible at welding, we didn't get the nut welded on exactly straight, which means the bike tire wobbles around a bunch. To compensate for it, I made a springboard style motor mount out of wood. I will also make this out of metal now that I can measure the dimensions and know that the design works:

Yesterday I cut a hole in the bottom of the keg so I can start working on the internals :

And here's a video of it running:

That's where I'm at as of today, now I gotta run to the store to pick up a few more parts. Tomorrow I'm picking up some stainless sheet metal and I'll try to make the flights. The dimensions of the keg are about 14" x 11" which I've seen some people roast up to 10lbs with that size.

If you have any questions or want some more specific photos, just ask. I can also give links to any of the parts I've bought and prices. I'll keep updating it as I add more to it. I hope to have the flights in by the end of May and then the bean hopper, dump, cooling tray, and exhaust setup complete by the end of June.

Also, I've never roasted coffee myself, I just enjoy building things. I've done a lot of research on drum roasters so hopefully this thing will work once it's all complete. Please let me know if you think I'm missing anything critical!
Edited by JackH on 05/22/2016 3:10 PM
Very nice! I love the bike wheel to dryer motor. Never thought of using a beer keg.

KKTO Roaster.
Nice looking roaster and great ingenuity! I look forward to seeing more.
Awesome! Can't wait to see more of your progress and results. Don't be so hard on your welds. Better than those who can't weld at all. Keep us posted!
Great work! Especially thinking about the beer keg as being a perfect size for your grill.
No oil on my beans...
Awesome, thanks for the positive responses!

I started working on the vanes and I think I'm going to have to re-think the design. I don't want to weld them to the shell of the keg because I might need to adjust once I get it spinning and see how the beans turn. So my thought was to cut a strip of stainless sheet and weld vanes to it. Here's one strip with a few of them welded in. The top vane isn't holding on very well so I'll probably need to cut a gusset to weld to it for support. There is no center shaft to weld the inner vanes to, but I might consider putting one in if this stacked vane setup doesn't work out. This configuration is a pain in the vane to put together though.

The keg diameter is 11 inches, and the vanes are 2" each, which means 8" of the 11" are made up of vanes and that leaves 3" for a trier and thermocouple in the center.
I've been working on the roaster some more and have finally gotten some bean in there. Black beans though, not coffee beans yet.

First I finished welding up the vanes, which was a pain in the ass because I've never welded before this project. I wanted the vanes to be removable so I could take them out to adjust or add if needed. Originally I wanted 4 "strips" of vanes but after struggling with them I opted for just 2 strips. I might later go back and add the other 2 strips, but this will work for now. Here's a picture of the two strips bolted to the shell of the keg:

I put some plexiglass on the front face and put 4 pounds of beans inside and used the slow motion feature of my iPhone to see how the vanes keep the beans moving. You can watch that here:

You can see the beans are being pushed to the front too much. I'm going to modify the vanes a little to help pull them back from the front. The roaster does a good job of emptying the beans out fast, but right now they are all just accumulating at the front a little more than I want. This was almost 4 pounds, so I feel pretty good that this can roast a good amount once everything is finished.

I also cut the grill door to fit around everything. Forgive the rust, the whole thing will get some good grinding action and then I'll wire-wheel the stainless parts and paint the non-stainless parts.
A little more progress on the front faceplate and wiring up some switches:

I'm not sure how to make the images pop up so you can view them within this browser without having to reduce the file there a way to do that? I see that button to display image from given URL address but it didn't work...could that be because the URL is https? Thanks for any help
Edited by JackH on 07/08/2016 4:39 PM
You will need to check the privacy settings on Google and make sure the images are set to public. I think the share command in Google will let you do this.

You will need to do this for each photo or there may be a way to create an album and set the whole thing to public.

Use the Google "get link" command and post the link here using the img button at the bottom of the screen:

JackH attached the following image:


KKTO Roaster.
RE: Posting direct link to photos in Google Photos.

Google Photos does not seem to allow a direct link to the actual photo file as easy as Picasa did. I have tried posting photos from my Google Photo account and can't seem to get my photos to be properly displayed here.

You can right click on the image in Google Photos and copy image url, but the link is huge and throws this site's formatting way off. A url shortener may help.

You also have to add an image extension ?.jpg to the end of the link.

I will test this when I get home and update/document.

You can also use a different photo hosting site like photobucket.

KKTO Roaster.
Well the link google gives is already shortened it says. I'll just switch to photo bucket for future photos
Hey! I know it was a while ago, but I'm curious how it is going? Does it still work? I thought of buying a new one, something from this list -, but I saw your post, and now I'm curious if I can build it by myself, but I want to be sure that it will work afterward, haha. I don't want to make it and then realize that it won't work or do only a few times. I hope you understand what I mean and will answer my questions as soon as possible. Thanks in advance!
Edited by reesekPal on 11/20/2021 6:27 PM
junkyard-roaster last (logged) visit here was in 2016, just next day after he posted, and never returned... so small chance to read your question.
I would try a PM, maybe his email still works.
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