Barrel recouping

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Brant

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So I was gifted a couple French oak barrels (at least that's what I was told). They are 18+ yrs old. I decided to try my hand at recouping. When I took the first one apart, it seems to be in pretty good condition. I was half expecting to find mushrooms growing.

I'm using a belt sander. They are heavily stained so even after taking quite a bit of material away, the wood is still quite dark. BTW, the sawdust smells amazing. Lol

I figured I would do a medium toast but not certain how to tell when to stop the process. I'll probably use my oxy-acetylene torch to toast.

Need some advice... before assembeling and toasting, should I give the staves a good spray down with star-san or some other sanitizer? Because they are so old, I don't want to introduce some nasty mold or fungus that might be hanging around.
 

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Brant

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Well, I'm nearly done. It took a while to sand everything down. Had a couple areas where I removed quite a bit of wood to dig out some pockets where wine got into laminations in the staves. I hope it will work nonetheless. Assembly was a challenge to say the least. More hands the better. I now realize why God blessed me with three kids. It was like herding cats though trying to explain how to help assemble it.

I did my version of a medium toast. It looks darker than medium but it's partly due to the wood being wine stained.

I'm planning to do a sodium carbonate treatment on it followed by a citric acid rinse. I dont know what could've been growing in it over the years and this seems like a good way to help get rid of any unwanted nastiness that might still be hanging around.

After that, I'm planning to use a holding solution on it until I have three kits to fill it. I suppose if I keep holding solution in it for a while it probably won't impart too much oak/toastyness into the wine when I finally add it. I guess I'll have to wait and see.

I hope it seals well and doesn't leak. What a huge waste of time if it does.
 

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TechAdmin

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Hi, they're looking good. Any updates?
 

Brant

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Hi, they're looking good. Any updates?
Well, I attempted to get it to seal. I was on day 3 and was down to a couple drips every few seconds from one of the heads. Everything else was tight. I ran out of time though because I needed to leave town. So I decided to not burden my wife with trying to get it closed up. I pulled the rings and heads and now have it drying out again. Kinda sucks. I'm probably going to let it dry for a couple months before reattempting. I'm also going to wax the edges of the heads where they mate the staves. This is the toughest area to get closed up so I figure some barrel wax might help. I also might try a steam generator at the start next time. Kinda bummed out that I ran out of time. I knew I should've waited but I couldn't help myself.
 

TechAdmin

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I see. Hope they can be used next time already. Confident wax will the do the trick.
 

justsgm

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Well, I'm nearly done. It took a while to sand everything down. Had a couple areas where I removed quite a bit of wood to dig out some pockets where wine got into laminations in the staves. I hope it will work nonetheless. Assembly was a challenge to say the least. More hands the better. I now realize why God blessed me with three kids. It was like herding cats though trying to explain how to help assemble it.

I did my version of a medium toast. It looks darker than medium but it's partly due to the wood being wine stained.

I'm planning to do a sodium carbonate treatment on it followed by a citric acid rinse. I dont know what could've been growing in it over the years and this seems like a good way to help get rid of any unwanted nastiness that might still be hanging around.

After that, I'm planning to use a holding solution on it until I have three kits to fill it. I suppose if I keep holding solution in it for a while it probably won't impart too much oak/toastyness into the wine when I finally add it. I guess I'll have to wait and see.

I hope it seals well and doesn't leak. What a huge waste of time if it does.
What did you use to seal the heads? I've recouped a couple french a few years ago and they are still in use.
 

stickman

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Flour and water paste is usually recommended.
 

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Brant

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Flour and water paste is usually recommended.
Awesome! Thanks for the PDF. I googled the heck out of this trying to determine something to use to get the head to seal. It was so close to sealing after 3 days, I'm certain I could have gotten it there with another day or two. Next time I'll probably do a light scraping with wax over the edges of the head and then use a flour paste in the stave groove (croze).

I didn't use a $400 curved planer. It would've been nice to have. I just used a belt sander and although it took a long time, i think it worked fine. I also did a light char with a oxy-acetylene torch with a rose bud head rather than a wood fire. I didn't trust my judgment on the toast so I leaned on the lighter side. I want a neutral barrel anyway so I was less concerned about low toast and more concerned about over toast. Rather not taste toast then taste like a heavy campfire.
 

Brant

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Flour and water paste is usually recommended.
This was the ticket! Thank you again for the article.

I reassembled the barrel yesterday afternoon. I decided to rub gulf wax over the edges of the head and also used the flour paste in the croze. Sealed up in less than 1 day. Amazing! I did hammer the snot out of the rings during reassembly. I was a little more aggressive than the last time. I don't believe the heads leaked at all. Crazy how quickly it sealed.

I'm looking forward to filling it this spring (March/April). I'm planning to let it soak in a citric acid/kmeta solution until then.
 
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