Curing the Butcher Shop

Cherry Branch in Ice from Mist

Back on the 24th of February we have completed the interior plastering and coves of the bathroom and initial cutter rooms. That represented the first day of the 28 day wait for the concrete to cure so that we’ll be able to do staining and then polyurea sealing of the interior of the work spaces. These two spaces are all we have to polyurea in order to be able to begin installing equipment so that is a major milestone. The end of that cure time is coming up next Tuesday, March 24th. At this point the bathroom is all ground down smooth and we’re about to start grinding the iCutter which will take about a week so the timing is good.

While we’ve been waiting for the plaster (a special concrete mix) to cure on the walls and ceilings of bathroom and iCutter we have been working on plastering the inspector’s office and the hall way which we’re just finishing up this week. It is amazing the difference the plaster makes. It takes the rooms from being very rough structural concrete to finished adobe presentation. The brick arches over the doorways area beautiful touch which I am so glad I took the little bit of time to do. They look right.

You can check out the progress chart on the Butcher Shop Page which shows how much we’ve accomplished in the various areas of work that need completion leading up to beginning meat cutting a.k.a. butchering and sausage making.

I met with the electrician who went over my plans and questions. He was very impressed with all our embedded conduit and construction as well as the architecture. He got it.

I had questions about working with non-ROMEX wire, three-phase power, higher end breakers and it was really good to talk these over with someone who has decades of experience in the electrical trade. We do all our own construction but I do hire in experts for consultation in their fields and for hookups like connecting to the power line transformer, refrigeration, etc.

This week the electric company came by, did their site visit and upgraded our pole transformer so that we’ll have the power we need down the line as we begin using larger motors. We don’t actually use all that much power at our house or on the farm and the overall draw of the butcher shop won’t be much either but there will be instantaneous surges when large motors startup and those would be too much for the older transformer we had.

Will is working on setting strain relief anchors in the walls of iCutter for the electrical cords. These will also support the LED lighting to provide us with lots of good natural quality light while we do meat cutting.

Will has also been working on welding the first stainless steel ‘traveling door’. This is a set of shelves that will block the doorway into the Cave from iCutter. Cave will still be a construction zone so we’ll not want dust from there coming back into the clean butcher shop zones. Later that traveling door will move to the doorway between Cave and Final Cutter, then between Final Cutter and Chiller as we expand towards finishing off the butcher shop. This gives us a cleanly demarcated division between dirty and clean areas.

The other week we moved everything out of the office, which had been temporary storage, so that Ben, Will and I could plaster the inspector’s office and hall.

Meanwhile I’m setting up initial electric. Then the electrician will come back and check my work. If it all looks good then I’ll wire up the rest of the initial part of the building, the sections we’ll need for initial cutting plus some out to other work spaces. The initial area includes the inspector’s office, bathroom, laundry, mechanical room for three-phase conversion, hallway and the all important iCutter where we’ll initially be doing butchering.

Simultaneously with the electric work I am ordering the first equipment such as the bandsaw, grinder, vacuum packager and water heaters. This is a closely related issue. The equipment should start arriving in about four weeks, just as we’re going to be ready to start doing polyurea so it should be ready to install as soon as the spaces are available. We already have the washer and drier for the laundry and the pressure pump as well as the chest freezer and chest refrigerator we’ll initially use before FCB is finished off.

By the time I’m done with electric the others will have the plastering and grinding done in the office and hall so we’ll be ready to start grinding iCutter. The hall and office won’t be getting the polyurea at this time so they’ll only be getting a basic grind while the iCutter will get the full final grind just like the bathroom got in preparation for sealing.

We’ve already ground the bathroom and it came out beautifully! Ben did most of that work with assistance from others as time allowed. He used diamond cup grinders for shaping and taking off larger amounts of material and then special abrasive flap discs for the smoothing. Ceilings, Walls and floor of the bathroom are even and at the right profile to take stain and polyurea.

After the electric I’ll be connecting the PEX distribution water lines for incoming water with it’s filter system and hot water heaters as well as making the final hookup to the septic. I have to make a final decision on the water heaters. Once the PEX is in I can hang the toilet and sinks on the walls and install the shower. Indoor plumbing will come to Vermont just like first world nations – There will even be a shower with hot and cold running water! Modern times!

Meanwhile, back in the metal fab shop Will’s big job is making stainless steel doors, cabinets, tables and shelves for us. The traveling door is a test of a number of techniques. He has been teaching himself welding and metal working over the last few years. We have some very fun little toys such as a stainless steel lunch box and cooler, a stainless steel clipboard box NEMA3 and other fancy things as a result of his learning process. Last fall he built a bending, crimping, creasing and cutting machine that currently takes up most of the final meat cutting room. This machine is big enough to fabricate large things such as the new stainless steel pan he built this fall for the animal transport section of our truck.

We use a lot of stainless steel because it doesn’t rust from acids, cleaning solutions or even when pigs piss on it, which they do every trip in the van. Thus the stainless steel pig pan. Our first stainless steel in the butcher shop was the sockets set in ceilings. We also have stainless steel rebar in the ceiling of the abattoir so that it can take the heavy load of carcasses. Later we’ll be putting in stainless steel rails bolted into the ceiling sockets so that carcasses and carts can be easily moved around via skyhooks.

Once these projects are done I’ll still have the HACCP/PR plan to complete in order to apply for our inspection license and we’ll be doing our dry run with the inspector and our wet run with Cole Ward, the master butcher we trained with.

So the cured countdown is coming to a close. We are all looking forward to March 20th, the first full day of spring when the bathroom cure will be completed. If nothing is standing in my way, I’ll stain soon after. Then a couple of days after staining we can start polyurea coating the interior. We’ll do the bathroom, which needs a good seal, as practice and then do the iCutter. That will seal the concrete, protecting it from acids and making the processing rooms easy to clean so they’re sanitary for meat cutting.

Outdoors: 30°F/-13°F Mostly Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/57°F

Daily Spark: DB Cooper was given a parachute and the money he demanded when he hijacked and robbed a plane over Washington state in 1971. It was only after he jumped that he discovered the real parachute was in the briefcase with the money. -FBI sources released in late 2007.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Curing the Butcher Shop

  1. Martin Hansel says:

    Great to hear of all the progress!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.