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JohninWV

Leaky Barrels

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I didn't know where to put this....

I have (1) 53 gallon whiskey barrel that is still leaking. I soaked it with water for 2 days prior to filling to swell it up, dumped it and filled it up with bourbon.

After a month, it started leaking between the staves. It's still leaking. It's not too much, but it's wet to the touch.

Anything I can do to stop it? I heard of some people rubbing flour on the outside, but I was looking for suggestions from other folks with experience.

Thanks.

John

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Hi John,

Leaking is never good... was this a used barrel? If so, you may have titrates between the staves or, if it dried out completely, it could have become deformed. Rubbing flour on the outside won't do anything to fix the problem. Ideally, you'd have take the bourbon out and have a professional separate the staves and figure out what's going on but that's not usually cost-effective. If the leak appears to be a hole rather than a slit, you can hammer in an oak cone (they're about 1.5cm long) and can be found at most wine supply shops or from a cooper--I have some I can send you, if you'd like. There are also chemical sealants that some people apply on the outside but, as someone who sells barrels and oak products, I can't recommend that because they may have an adverse effect on your bourbon.

If you can live with the loss of bourbon, that's probably your best bet. If not, I'd suggest moving the bourbon to another barrel. Sorry--I wish I could have been of more help.

Robert

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you can try tapping the bands a little tighter near your leak by using a block of hardwood and a mallet. This has worked for us in a pinch before but will only fix the problem if it's a leak between staves. Recommend this as a last effort.

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I didn't know where to put this....

I have (1) 53 gallon whiskey barrel that is still leaking. I soaked it with water for 2 days prior to filling to swell it up, dumped it and filled it up with bourbon.

After a month, it started leaking between the staves. It's still leaking. It's not too much, but it's wet to the touch.

Anything I can do to stop it? I heard of some people rubbing flour on the outside, but I was looking for suggestions from other folks with experience.

Thanks.

John

It depends on where it's leaking and all remedies have their risks. One old method is to take a thick envelope (somewhere between regular thickness and card stock, if you can get it) and use a dulled chisel to carefully and evenly jam a single layer of the envelope in between the staves. Of course, this will not help if the leak is a pin hole. Either a wood cone (as previously suggested) or drilling the pin hole out and hammering in a wood bung can work too in case of a pinhole leak. In the end, if you can rotate the barrel to find the leak and see that it's coming from a single spot, you can rotate the barrel so that the leak is on top so the liquid can't leak out. Good luck.

CT

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If the leak is a along the stave joints and not just a pin hole, then tightning the hoops should fix it. It is easy to do. Use the type of wide chisel brickies use to cut blocks. Blunt it so it won't cut into the hoop. Use a hammer a bit bigger than a carpenter uses and slowly work your way around the hoops to belt them on a bit further.

If you don't have a suitable chisel, a piece of steel about 3 inches wide, 3/8 thick and about 7 inches long will work nearly as well.

PeteB

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Hi John,

Everyone else has the right idea, I would try tapping the hoops down first and see if that does the trick, if that doesn't work try pounding a thin cedar wedge in between the staves. If it's a visible worm hole or if you decide to disassemble the barrel, an oak spile (tapped into the drilled out worm hole) will work wonders. A spile is basically a glorified fat tooth pick. One other idea if you disassemble the barrel is to put flagging (AKA: cat-tails, bull rushes) in between the staves, they swell up tremendously and should work great.

~Heidi

Black Swan Cooperage, LLC

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Guest tom

Lots of great ideas here. Thanks folks!

Take a hoop driver and a hammer and drive them down. Also get cat tail fibers for packing in between the staves.

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I'd try duct tape and some zip ties. You can damn near fix anything with these two simple items.

Don

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Don, being less talented in repair, I add "Marshmellow Fluff" to my must have tool chest. With those three items I think you could raise the Titanic.

Cheers, Bob

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Don, being less talented in repair, I add "Marshmellow Fluff" to my must have tool chest. With those three items I think you could raise the Titanic.

Cheers, Bob

i sure like to know more about the utility of marshmellow fluff...

Thanks Bob!

-Scott

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well nobody has mentioned sheet rock screws. I have one in about everything I cob together at the house. although duct tape even works on fixing leaks (temporary)on your canoe when fishing. My friend used to call it "Millright on a roll". back to the grind!

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