How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still

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This guide will teach you how to build a 6 Gallon Kentucky style copper pot still. This size is perfect for anyone interested in home distilling and can be constructed by anyone with a general knowledge of soldering.

If your tired of making the same old boring neutral spirits with your reflux still and are looking to make a tasty traditional rum or whiskey moonshine this still design is for you.

This still plan is more difficult then most other plans. If you’re not up to building it check out these 5 Gallon Copper Stills on Amazon. Can’t beat the price and their well built. When I built mine it took me 30 hours and $200 in materials. The sheet of copper wasn’t cheap but I really enjoyed building my own Pot still.

To get started let’s look at what we’re going to build. Below is a picture of the Pot still we’re going to build. This still was designed by Sherman Owen so a special thanks to him for posting his design and making the video’s I’ve shared.

How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still

You will need the following Materials and Tools:

  • Half Sheet of Copper – 3 ft by 4 ft  ( use 18 gauge copper) Amazon has some reasonable priced copper sheets
  • Roll of Solder – Try to get hold of a roll of 95/5 tin/silver is the best and stay away from anything with cadmium/antimony or lead in it.
  • Rivets – stainless steel or copper
  • 1/4 ” copper tubing – 8 ft should do
  • 1/2 ” copper pipe  – 3 ft
  • 1/2 ” Brass connector (female and male ends )

Tools Required

  • Solder Gun (blow torch) with Mapp Gas
  • Rivet Gun
  • Tin Snips
  • File ( for smoothing out edges and burrs )
  • Hammer
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Compass
  • Pliers

Step by Step Instructions to Build the Pot Still

Step 1 – You will need to trace the below layout on your sheet of copper.

To do this print the layout from this pdf file: 6 Gallon Copper Pot Still Template or if you want a larger still use the 12 Gallon Copper Pot Still Design Plan Template.

This file contains 28 pages that should be printed and assembled these are to size for the 6 Gallon Still. Make sure your printer is set to “print actual size” . For full assembly instructions see the pdf file.

How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still

Step 3 – Trace the shapes onto your sheet of copper with a pencil and then cut out shapes with  your tin snips

Making the Top and Bottom Pans for the Pot Still and Condensor

Step 1 – Start with the Bottom piece. This will be your Bottom pan of the still. Find the center of the circle using a ruler and then using the compass scribe the perimeter of the pan with the compass. This should be set in 1/2 ” from the edge.

Step 2 –  Using a pair of pliers create ruffles along the entire perimeter of the sheet using the scribed line as a guide

Step 3 – Using a hammer ( flat body work hammer works best )  tap the ruffled edge so that it comes to a 90 degree bend.

Step 4 –  Heat the pan with a blow torch you should use Mapp gas not propane. Heat it until it turns a dark red. Work your way around the entire perimeter of the pan. This will remove the work hardening from the copper ( aka the bends and dents).

Step 5 – Get your hammer back out and re work the pan edge so that it is at a perfect 90 degrees to the bottom of the pan.

Step 6 – Get your blow torch back out and heat the entire pan up again to remove the work hardening we just introduced with the hammer. Heating the pan will slightly warp the bottom this can easily be flattened by hand or with a rubber mallet on a smooth flat surface.

Step 7 – Repeat this process for the Top pan and Flake stand

Here is a video that shows the Pan being built

Building the  Frustum For the Pot Still

There are three frustums in this pot still design these include the top, bottom and cap frustum that need to be assembled. Follow the below instructions to do this ( * Note you can also build the flake stand wall following these steps ) :

Step 1 –  Let’s start with the bottom frustum. Place a metal rod in the vice snug it tight, we will use this to shape the copper sheet we cut out for the bottom frustum. Slide the sheet from left to right over the rod while placing downward pressure on the sheet. This action should start to shape the copper sheet into an arc.

Step 2 –  Use the bottom pan as a guide for the necessary curvature of the Frustum by placing it inside the Pan. You should have roughly  a 12 ” overlap on the seam of the Frustum. Clamp the top of the seam in place and mark the bottom overlap while its sitting snugly in the bottom pan.

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Step 3 – Remove bottom pan and clamp bottom of frustum on mark.

Step 4  – Using a ruler and a pencil mark the holes for the rivets along the seam of the Frustum. Space the rivets 1 inch on center along the entire length of the seam.

Step 5 – Drill out holes for rivets and rivet in place.

Check out this video which show’s the process of building the Frustum for the pot still.

Step 6 – Repeat these steps for the top and cap frustum and collar. Keep in mind you will need to drill a hole in the cap frustum before building it for the lyne arm to seat into.

Assembling All The Parts

  • Its time to assemble all the pieces to make the pot still.
  • Step 1 – Take the bottom pan and slide the bottom frustum inside the pan.How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still
  • Step 2 – Rivet bottom pan in place.
  • Step 3 – Repeat these steps for the top pan and cap frustum ( see photo’s for more detail )
  • Step 4 – Slide the Lyne Arm through the hole you made in the top frustum and rivet into place
  • How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still
  • How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still
  • Step 5 –  Rivet collar to top frustum
  • How To Build A Submarine Moonshine StillHow To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still
  • Step 6  – Assemble top and bottom frustum this is essentially the boiler of the pot still.How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still
  • Step 7 – Solder all joints, make sure you don’t solder the head of the still to the boiler as this needs to remain in two pieces so that we can clean the still after it’s used.

10 DIY Moonshine Still Plans (and 6 Moonshine Recipes to Try)

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Do you find the art of moonshining interesting? Have you ever wondered how moonshiners make their stills and delicious products?

Well, I’m going to bring you some of the internet’s options for moonshine still plans, ideas, and also a few moonshine recipes.

However, it’s important to remember, you must have a license to make moonshine. If you don’t, you could have serious legal troubles. If incorrectly prepared, it could be poisonous, so please see this article for informational purposes only.

With this in mind, here’s the information you’ve been looking for when admiring the art of moonshining:

How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still

1. How Moonshine Works

How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still

This is an informative article that gives you all the in’s and out’s of how to make moonshine and how the process works.

Though the graphic isn’t as detailed as some plans, it’ll give you a general idea of how a still can be put together to create the product.

2. Historical Moonshine Stills

How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still

Are you into the history of moonshining? You’ll find this article interesting. It shows you historical moonshine stills for different types of liquors.

It’s fascinating to see what the old-timers used to make their product. You can also see how the stills varied based upon whether you were making whiskey or vodka, rum, or gin. There’s a great deal of know-how that had to go into the process for producing each.

3. Popcorn Sutton’s Moonshine Still

How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still

If you’ve watched the show ‘Moonshiners’, you’ve probably heard the name, Popcorn Sutton. He was a backwoods celebrity known for the fantastic moonshine he created for many years.

Though this still doesn’t come with plans, you can have an up-close look at how he designed this still. The still pictured has since been sold for approximately $15,000.

4. The Reflux Still

How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still

If you’re looking for detailed still plans, this could be it. This still is known as a Boka Reflux still. According to public opinion, it’s a great still for beginners because it’s easy to build at home.

This tutorial gives a detailed materials list and instructions to walk you through each step of the process. If you’ve filed the proper paperwork and have the government’s permission to distill liquor, this could be your starting point.

5. The Pressure Cooker Rum Distillery

How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still

Do you enjoy rum? If the answer is yes, you’ll love the idea of this homemade still. It uses a pressure cooker.

Still Types and Techniques

How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still

When the cap of foam has disappeared, mash is ready to distill. The moonshiner can tell how far along the fermentation process has gone by feeling the foam or “breaking up the cap.” Virginia Blue Ridge, circa 1970s.

The Turnip Still

Named for its squatty turnip-shaped boiler (often called the “pot”), the turnip still dates back centuries.  In the Blue Ridge it was used into the 1930s, but few, if any, area bootleggers today have ever seen a turnip still in operation.

  American turnip boilers were traditionally made of copper sheets hammered into shape and riveted and soldered together.  Making such boilers, the caps, and the coiled copper “worm” condensers in the old styles calls for skilled metalwork.

In producing whiskey with a turnip still, mash barrels or wooden boxes are filled with some recipe of ground grain (such as corn, rye, or wheat), water, barley malt (or ground sprouted corn), yeast, and/or sugar.

  During fermentation of the mash, yeasts eat sugar and excrete alcohol.  Depending upon the outside temperature and the amount of yeast and sugar added, the fermentation process in the barrels takes three or four days or more.

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  Corn mash in cool weather may take up to two weeks to ferment.

How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still

Joel Quinn and his family posed at their mountain still site during the Depression. The turnip-style boiler sits directly behind the mash barrel in the foreground. The flake stand, the box on the right, is filled with water and holds the copper worm in which the alcohol condenses. Franklin County, Virginia, circa 1930.

A foam, called the “cap,” forms during fermentation.  When the cap disappears, the remaining sour mixture, called “beer,” measures between 6% and 12% alcohol.  (This concoction is quite different from store-bought beer, but some people do drink it.)  The beer is poured into the turnip-shaped “pot,” and the distiller starts his fire.

The mash is stirred while it heats.  When the temperature approaches the boiling point of alcohol (173°F), the metal top to the still, also called the “cap,” is secured onto the pot.  A constant cooking temperature is vital.  If the fire is too hot, the mash may scorch, or it may “puke” into the cap and run into the worm.

How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still

Alcohol-laden steam condenses in the water-cooled worm and flows into a bucket from the “money piece.” Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, circa 1960s.

The coiled copper worm sits in the “flake stand,” a box of cool water.  The steaming alcohol vapors move from the boiler, through the cap, and into the worm.  The vapors then condense back into liquid form and trickle out the “money piece,” the end of the worm sticking out the bottom of the flake stand.  The moonshine is caught in a jar, jug, or bucket.

The alcohol from a first “run” through the still is a rough-tasting product called “singlings.”  A second run of the singlings mellows the taste.  The moonshiner then “proofs” his whiskey, mixing weak and strong liquor to get the desired strength.  To remove any impurities, the whiskey is poured through hardwood ashes or a felt filter.

How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still

When run in the blackpot style, the large submarine still eliminates the need for mash barrels or boxes. Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, circa 1960s.

The Blackpot Submarine Still
The submarine-type still was in use by the 1920s, and in a few years it became the moonshiner’s favorite.  Nailed together from boards and sheets of metal (usually galvanized steel, but sometimes copper or stainless steel), the submarine still is easily made.

  A large submarine pot (or “boiler”) can hold 800 or more gallons of mash, far more than a turnip still.

  The general principle of distilling–boiling fermented mash to release the alcohol in steam form and then cooling the steam back into a liquid–is the same for the submarine still as it is for the turnip still.

However, in operating a submarine still in the modern “blackpot” method, the moonshiner mixes the ingredients for the mash directly in the boiler.

  A typical mash recipe for an 800-gallon blackpot still includes 50 pounds of rye meal, 50 pounds of barley meal, 800 pounds of sugar, and water.

  Two 80-pound sacks of wheat bran are poured on top of the mixture to hold in the heat of fermentation.

How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still

The operators of this small submarine still placed a rock on top of the cap to keep the steam from pushing off the cap and escaping. If a cap blows off or a boiler bursts, nearby still hands can be scalded by the steam and flying mash. Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, circa 1960s.

After the mash has fermented into “beer,” the bootlegger heats the boiler, usually with gas or oil burners, and stirs the mash.  When the mash approaches distillation temperature, the cap is secured atop the boiler with a chain, wire, or weight.

  The alcohol vapors travel from the boiler through the cap and into a “doubler” (also called a  “thumper”), a barrel which has been filled with weak whiskey or mash beer.  The alcohol vapors from the boiler heat the beer in the doubler.

  Thus the alcohol originally contained in the still goes through a second distillation, smoothing the taste of the liquor and saving the moonshiner the time and labor of running “singlings” through the still again.

  From the doubler the alcohol vapor runs into the traditional water-cooled worm, condenses, and flows as a liquid out the money piece.  (In rare instances well-cleaned car radiators have served as condensers rather than worms.)

How To Build A Submarine Moonshine Still

By what I have seen, the making is quite easy and cheap: you make two sides of wood and bind them together by a sheet of iron, nailed around the wooden sides. No copper lining on the inside: the wash is supposed to wet the wood, that subsequently swells and closes all … via

How is a submarine still made?

Nailed together from boards and sheets of metal (usually galvanized steel, but sometimes copper or stainless steel), the submarine still is easily made. A large submarine pot (or “boiler”) can hold 800 or more gallons of mash, far more than a turnip still. via

How much moonshine will a 5 gallon still make?

A 5 gallon run will yield 1-2 gallons of alcohol. A 8 gallon run will yield 1.5-3 gallons of alcohol. A 10 gallon run will yield 2-4 gallons of alcohol. via

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How thick does copper have to be for a still?

  • Half Sheet of Copper – 3 ft by 4 ft ( use 18 gauge copper) Amazon has some reasonable priced copper sheets.
  • Roll of Solder – Try to get hold of a roll of 95/5 tin/silver is the best and stay away from anything with cadmium/antimony or lead in it.
  • via

    How much does it cost to build a moonshine still?

    The task force estimated the equipment and materials to make the moonshine around $2,000. The copper still is worth between $700 and $1,200. It costs around $8 per gallon for the sugar and wheat to make the moonshine. via

    Why doesn't a submarine still leak?

    The pressure outside a submerged sub is greater than inside, so if it sprang a leak, water would go in rather than air going out. The pressure hull itself is a hundred percent sealed. It is 15mm of welded steel after all. The hatches have rubber seals and do not leak either. via

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