John Dacey’s engineering stories

Copper Smith

Working life started as a Copper Smith or termed as a SMITHY back in the day, learning the art of working and annealing copper to form various shapes mostly for the brewing & distilling industry, spinning large sheet copper discs by hand was hard work but rewarding once fitted to copper pots then polishing a real art, along with understanding the song of copper as it is worked into shape.

 Known simply as a Copper in NZ the domed bottom vessel was fitted into a concrete case filled with water then wood fire under would be used for boiling clothes, however my father had a much better use fermenting beer, friends & family would gather around to help bottle Home Brew ,once the sediment had settled they could be heard far away sampling beer to my mother’s tune on the family piano, until one night the well-stocked cellar ( laundry ) downstairs erupted with the sound of exploding beer bottles ,beer flowed under the back door and down the street ,after that it was back to the local & the 6 o’clock swill.

Today at Liquid Processing Equipment, we still work copper to form distilling pots and towers as it has many advantages over other materials, including heat transfer distribution good impact on flavour into distilling spirits, when distilling in copper, the copper reacts on a molecular level with the Sulphur put out by the fermenting yeast. It “cancels-out” the Sulphur taste which would otherwise be bitter and not as smooth.

We no longer block copper by hand today we use CNC copper spinning technology along with computerised welding however you still need an ear for the sound of copper being worked…

Beer and gumboots

Installing a new beer system many years ago with our mechanical engineer was an experience we will not forget in a hurry; we won the contract to supply new bright beer tanks and upgrade with new service lines and beer dispenser system for the bars, the pub in a rural area in Taranaki NZ , was mainly supported by farmers and travelers ,after several days of work we completed the project and enjoyed beer with the locals ,the beer tasted terrible not that anyone complained as the pub was getting busy we asked others what they thought but no one complained, after sampling more beer and extensively checking the beer system we called the brewery and was advised to empty the tank ? what 20,000 L of beer down the drain ??We did so to find the cleaner had left his mop and gumboots inside the 20,000 L SS Bright beer tank bugger no wonder beer was not tasting to good, we changed to another vessel and shouted the bar free beer the cleaner got heaps by the locals for leaving his mop and gumboots in the beer tank.