Case Study

Black Country Ales: Tank Lining Wooden Fermentation Vats

Black Country Ales
Black Country Ales contacted us to assist with a very interesting project. When the owners of the company had purchased their premises, they inherited three antique fermentation vats that had last been used in 1937. The vats were made from wooden slats bound together with iron rings. The owners wanted to make use of these vintage vats and asked whether we could make them functional again by lining and reinforcing their structure

Challenges

  • The vats were extensively damaged by woodworm and warping, causing the wood to snap and break easily in places.
  • Gaps existed between many of the slats were the timber had shrunk.

Fermentation Vat Before Coating
Fermentation Vat Before Coating
Fermentation Vat After Gap Filling with a flexible Resin Mortar

The vats in their original condition


Solution

We began working on the vats by abrading each one to remove surface contamination and provide an improved mechanical key. We then applied an epoxy primer, which soaked deep into the wood and, once hardened, added to the structural integrity. We used a purpose made resin paste to fill in the gaps between each of the slats.

Once we had completed these preparatory works, we lined the vats with fibreglass laminate using a food grade epoxy resin, which further increased the structural integrity. Finally, we applied several top coats of the food grade epoxy resin in a light grey colour. As a finishing touch, we embedded the original identification plates into the top coats of resin.

Fermentation Vat After Resin Lining
Fermentation Vat After Resin Lining
Refixing Original ID Plaques

The Results

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The three fermentation tanks retained their external style and character, whilst benefitting from a high tech modern lining. Using our extensive knowledge and technical capabilities, we were able to bring them back into operation over one hundred years after they were first built.