Butcher Shop Progress 20120530

Admin Forms Wired, Intubated and Almost Ready

We’re getting ready to do our next pour of concrete which will seal over the administration section of our on-farm butcher shop. This space will house the inspector’s office, bathroom, laundry, hall and the initial meat cutting room which will later become the smokehouse and hot kitchen.

Stainless Steel Rail Socket and Rod Welded to Rebar

The stainless steel socket shown above will be embedded in the concrete of the arched ceilings. This will allow us to hang our rail system, sky hooks. By embedding the approximately eighty sockets now during the concrete pouring they can be attached to the structural steel of the building and are encased in the mortar matrix. Only a tiny bit of the stainless steel is exposed minimizing corrosion and cleaning concerns. The theory is stainless steel doesn’t corrode but we use acids to clean. Since I don’t like rebuilding, I would like the place to last a thousand years.

By using overhead rails where ever possible we avoid hand cards rolling on the floor where they could pickup dirt and bring it into the cleaner parts of our facility. A little sanitation detail. The stainless steel rail we will use is expensive so we won’t install it all at once but rather over a period of years. To do that I must set all the rail sockets now.

Chiller Truss and Ribs

While waiting on me Will and Ben took down the wooden form trusses for the barrel vault masonry ceiling of the carcass chiller. Shown above is one of the trusses holding up long ribs which in turn held up the 1/4″ masonite sheets that acted as the form for the concrete pour last fall.

Chiller Vault Inside (Note 8′ ladder at far end on right)

The exposed interior vault with the masonite still in place. It’s a beautiful, smooth arc. No bulges despite the tons of liquid stone we poured over it. Yeah! Now it is rock hard. It feels great to climb up on top of the vault’s outside and feel how strong it is.

Those nuts you see protruding through the masonite forms held the stainless steel rail socks in place during the pour. Now we’ll remove them so we can do the next step: remove the masonite and upper knee walls. Then we will see how much grinding and filling will be necessary to finish off the interior.

It is wonderfully cool inside the chiller despite the fact that there is no refrigeration system in place yet. This is because of the insulation, high thermal mass and passive heat pump I designed right into the building. I hope to minimize our energy use through these and other techniques. Refrigeration is one of the highest expenses of a meat processing facility. By designing it to work right from the beginning with the laws of physics I hope to save energy which saves money. That’s good for the environment and our bottom line.

The masonite sheets are 4′ wide and the room is about 19′ long on the inside. That’s as long as our cottage. At 15′ tall the chiller is also 4′ taller than our cottage. Saturn’s dog house was a practice for building the cottage. The cottage was a practice for building the butcher shop. What is the butcher shop practice for you might ask…

The reason for such a tall chiller is that when we slaughter big boars or cattle they need a lot of hanging room. Spot was 12′ long. There must also be space above the rail for refrigeration equipment and air flow. Extra height means passive cooling systems work more efficiently. Heat rises. A 15′ ceiling is barely high enough.

While our focus is getting the meat cutting, the butchering and sausage making, on-farm as soon as possible it is good to be doing these little things that advance the abattoir too with the goal of having slaughter here on-farm by winter. Then Holly and the pigs will no longer need to do their long drive down to Massachusetts when the snows fly.

Outdoors: 73°F/49°F Mostly Sunny & Breezy, Light Rain
Tiny Cottage: 71°F/67°F

Daily Spark: I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize. -Steven Wright

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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6 Responses to Butcher Shop Progress 20120530

  1. charlene bostrom says:

    this is so great to read and see the pics. Hope to come over to see
    this project. I am on Lake Groton for the summer.

  2. Karl says:

    I am so happy to see progress at sugar mtn. Butcher Shop on site before winter that will be wonderful.


  3. David lloyd sutton says:

    Curious, Walter. I used to do mechanical design of lab gadgies when I was the gadget skunk works for Hughes’ Santa Barbara Research IR department . Did a lot of plumbing for exotic gas handling, and pressure and vacuum vessel work with stainless steels and had to have a lot of precision welding done on the stuff. So I know it tends to distort during welding. Never tried or even thought of welding it to other steels! What special things do you need to know or do to join stainless to steel-by-courtesy rebar?

    • What you were doing with the pressure vessels was undoubtedly more precise and complicated than our application for rail hanger sockets. With flat steel welds in a tank there is more problem with distortion. In our case we’re doing small tack welding of rods which is much simpler work. Will used standard mild steel wire in the MIG welder and that worked well without producing any distortion.

      There are two another issues of more concern: after heating stainless steel may be more prone to corrosion and due to a mild galvanic reaction between stainless and mild steel the mild steel may also be a little bit prone to corrosion. NASA’s web site talks about using metals that are close to each other on the galvanic scale to minimize corrosion. In our situation all of the welds are deeply covered with a protective layer of concrete which helps to minimize corrosion due to the alkaline environment. So far some of the welds have been outdoors in our environment for a year with no obvious problems. Hopefully we got it right!

      There are special welding materials for joining stainless steel and there are shielding gases – something we’ll need for some of our future projects when we make shelves, tables and machinery. Tricker stuff for another day.

    • Jim says:

      You can easily weld stainless to regular steel with standard steel welding wire/rods. Good weld penetration never seemed to be a problem for me with my MIG welder.

  4. JohnL says:

    Walter and family, You are a real inspiration. I’m so happy to see progress on the slaughterhouse front. So many people’s lives are enriched just by reading your blog. Your energy certainly energises me although I live thousands of miles away.

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