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Thread: Barrel Question

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  1. #1
    Bourbonian Of The Year 2013 and Guru
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    Barrel Question

    I know an owner of a package store, who has done several private bottlings from BT. He has the barrels, and has offered them to me. I'm not interested in the whole barrel, but would like the barrel head. Does anyone know what it entails to get the barrel head off of a barrel? Does it need to be sawed? Can you pull it off? Pry it off? tc.? Thank you in advance, for any help any of ya'll might have.
    JOE

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    "Every bottle is its own learning experience." -- Sensei Ox-sama

  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2009 and Virtuoso
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    Re: Barrel Question

    I've seen them two different ways Joe. Sawed off about two inches below the head itself gives a nice three dimensional look to it. I've also seen just the barrel head alone. They're great if you can get the master distiller who made thie whiskey to sign them too before hanging them on the wall.

    One warning.....that aged oak is hard and will eat up a saw blade in short order.

    Randy

  3. #3
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    Re: Barrel Question

    I would think that removing the rings would result in the barrel falling apart; however, you may have to hammer the rings with a cold chisel to get them to move. I would move the middle ring, the second ring from the top (stenciled top) and the top ring in that order. Another option is to take them to the festival and get the cooper at Independant Stave Company (ISC) to take them apart.

    The best option would be to watch the ISC demonstration and ask for advice from the expert.
    Doug

  4. #4
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    Re: Barrel Question

    Disregard my prior suggestion concerning ring removal. The only barrels that I ever worked on were quite old and the wood had dried to such an extent that the rings except those on the ends were very loose. Since your barrels are relatively new, I would wait to do anything and first talk to the ISC cooper. The end rings are probably under a lot of stress. Removing that ring first would release the head. Keeping the other rings in place may minimize stave spring back; however, I would worry about where the ring will go and at what speed when it is pushed off the end. Cutting the barrel as Randy suggested may be the best method.

  5. #5
    Bourbonian Of The Year 2013 and Guru
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    Re: Barrel Question

    Thanks, fellas. So, the barrel head is actually inside (so to speak) the barrel. And it can't be pulled off, unless the staves are spread out wider than the head. Is that right? Or, you saw it off.
    JOE

    Wag more.
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    "Every bottle is its own learning experience." -- Sensei Ox-sama

  6. #6
    Bourbonian of the Year 2010 and Guru
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    Re: Barrel Question

    Quote Originally Posted by smokinjoe View Post
    Thanks, fellas. So, the barrel head is actually inside (so to speak) the barrel. And it can't be pulled off, unless the staves are spread out wider than the head. Is that right? Or, you saw it off.
    Yes, there are notches cut into each end of the stave that the heads fit into. You'll probably need to remove two rings to get the staves to spread enough to release the head.

    I's gladly offer to remove the barrel head in exchange for the remainder of the barrel...you just need to get it to me in Louisville
    2010 Bourbonian of the Year

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  7. #7
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    Re: Barrel Question

    Just get a punch and a hammer and drive the bands off. If you just let the barrel sit around for a few months it will dry out and the middle 3 bands will just fall off. The outer two you will have to drive off. The heads are simply head together by some dowels, you can screw a slat across the back to hold it together. (But I like to leave them au-natural). Some poly on the front and tung oil on the back will preserve it.
    Mike

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  8. #8
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    Re: Barrel Question

    I think everyone has pretty much hit on the answer. The barrel is press fit together ... there is a notch (called a croze) cut in to each end of the barrel after it is charred. The heads are beveled to fit neatly into the croze. The head hoops are installed after the heads are popped into place ... to hold the whole thing together.

    To get it apart, it will take a hammer and cold chizel. Set the barrel head up, and pick a spot on the head hoop... place the chizel just under the bottom edge of the hoop and tap it with the hammer ... rather gently at first ... until the hoop starts to move upward. Then relocate the chizel a few inches around the hoop and continue. Eventually, the hoop will loosen and you can lift it off the barrel. If the barrel is dry enough, you can pry the head out with just the head hoop removed. If it is still too tight, you might also have to remove the quarter hoop.

    Be careful handling the head, because it is just press fit together ... usually with a couple of dowel pins joining each piece ... although some newer barrels use a tongue in groove method ... either way, too much rough handling, and the head will come apart.

    Once you have the head out of the barrel ... put the hoop(s) back on in reverse of how you got them off to keep the barrel from falling apart. For safety and longevity, you might want to affix some sort of strap or slat across the back of the head ... nailing each piece in a couple of places to the strap or slat. A master distiller's signature and a coat of varnish are a nice finishing touch to the front.
    Dave

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  9. #9
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    Thumbs up Re: Barrel Question

    Thanks, all! We'll give it a go.
    JOE

    Wag more.
    Bark less.

    "Every bottle is its own learning experience." -- Sensei Ox-sama

  10. #10
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    Re: Barrel Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Bourbon Geek View Post
    For safety and longevity, you might want to affix some sort of strap or slat across the back of the head ... nailing each piece in a couple of places to the strap or slat.
    Several times now, I've seen barrel heads (usually Makers) go up on ebay. They're quite well finished, and are ususally signed, so they stike me as promotional rather than heads of barrels that sat in a warehouse. How would they keep them together? Straps on the back as well?

 

 

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