My 5kg USRC Roaster, I took the the plunge

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.

#1: Post by Milligan »

After searching for 6-8 months, talking to numerous manufacturers, seeing demonstrations, and browsing classifieds/eBay/facebook/coffeetec/forums/you-name-it I found the type of roaster I've been looking for at a fair price and somewhat close to home. A few weeks back I got a chance to take a seminar with Dan with US Roaster Corp that included a live demonstration and up-close inspection of their 1lb and 5kilo machines. It was a great seminar and I'd recommend anyone to check them out if given a chance. I liked the over built nature, the attention to detail, the quality of the welding and tooling, the inclusion of common easily sourced parts, and the classic design. I spoke with them about going with a 3kilo machine and the price was more than fair for the worksmanship.

I struggled with saving money and going with an imported machine. It is hard to justify the price of new roasters when starting off so I figured something of this size would be unobtainium until further down the road. I was also in talks with Diedrich for their DR3 but they had a 7month lead time with a healthy deposit needed upfront. Long time to lock up funding. I looked at Coffeetec as well but the prices keep going up when I start to figure crating and shipping (add another 2-3k.). I was really close to buying a BC5 or BC8 but with sales tax and shipping figured in then I was kissing the heels of getting a used US-based machine. It kept ringing in my ear that I wanted the roaster to be a focal point of my roastery/cafe and the midwestern area I will be serving very much values US-made products and so do I (no knock at all to imported roasters.)

Finally, this one popped up on Facebook and we came to terms on the deal. I traveled over with a small trailer and an SUV full of tools, cribbing, straps, and plywood. The owners were incredibly nice and helpful. The roaster is roughly 6-7 years old and hardly used. They bought the cafe with the roaster but had no intention of using it. The cafe owner before them bought it for their son to roast for the cafe. They only used it to roast coffee for use at their cafe. It was overkill for one cafe's worth of coffee hence it was used very little.

I was able to test it. All electronics work well and it is pretty clean. I'll be tinkering on it in my shop a bit before it gets any use. It needs a temp probe for use with Artisan, an air flow/pressure gauge, an exhaust temp probe, a new gas gauge, and a full detail. I'm sure I'll come up with a lot of stuff to outfit it with before I finally put it into service.

I'll update this thread as I unload it and detail the improvements I make to it. Maybe one of these days I'll actually roast come coffee on it too. It is quite a departure from my Ikawa that is for sure. :shock:

User avatar
Supporter ♡

#2: Post by hankua »

Congratulations on the nice find! :D

User avatar
Supporter ★

#3: Post by Almico »

Most excellent. Dan makes a very nice machine. Now the fun part, getting to know each other.

Milligan (original poster)

#4: Post by Milligan (original poster) »

Almico wrote:Most excellent. Dan makes a very nice machine. Now the fun part, getting to know each other.
Yes, he's a great guy and was a joy to talk to. I have a new appreciation for folks that move these roasters on their own. I bet it was a process getting your drum roaster moved into position.
hankua wrote:Congratulations on the nice find! :D

Milligan (original poster)

#5: Post by Milligan (original poster) »

I was able to get it unloaded today. I didn't have time to get it off the trailer the day I bought it. I backed it into the garage and shut the door on it for another day.

The thing weighs roughly 750lbs so it will go where it wants to if I wasn't careful. I jacked it up and used some furniture dollys to move it around. Nothing fancy. To ease the angle on the ramp I let air out of the tires on the trailer and built an extension on the trailer ramp. The roaster will be parked in my garage until I finalize the deal on my store front. Luckily I have a sub panel near so I can still tinker on it before it is ready to move into its final position.

I clamped the 4x8 sheet to the trailer and used 2x12s to extend the ramp. I screwed the OSB to the 2x12s and cribbed the rear of the trailer to prevent it from putting too much upward pressure on the hitch. I've seen the trailer ball pop out before on other people's vehicles, I'd not like to experience that.

With the roaster safely off I can spend a few days cleaning it and getting my plan ready for a few modifications. Initially I wasn't a big fan of the brown, but it looks pretty good in person. I think I'd like black more with the copper wrap though.

Team HB

#6: Post by baldheadracing »

Nice roaster!

Perhaps you'll enjoy/appreciate this video of Tom of Sweet Maria's moving his 5kg (8 minutes long):
-"Good quality brings happiness as you use it" - Nobuho Miya, Kamasada

Milligan (original poster)

#7: Post by Milligan (original poster) »

So the story goes that the original owner bought the unit for his son to learn to roast and provide coffee for the cafe. Sadly, it is evident that whoever operated and maintained the roaster didn't put their own hard earned money into the machine due to the lack of vent cleaning. I really can't imagine anyone spending this kind of money on a roaster and then fail to keep the exhaust clean.

Above are a couple of pics of the chaff collector and exhaust exit tube. Obviously I'll be cleaning those out and tearing the unit down as much as I can to do a full clean. It is about a 1/4in of junk. I'm hoping I can find some kind of flue pipe sweep tool for a power drill or something to make cleaning faster.

It is definitely a "seasoned" drum. Hopefully someone experienced with drum roasters can tell me if this should be cleaned or just use it as is. I didn't see any evidence of a drum fire in the roaster. The drum spun true. No paint scorch on the chaff collector (I've seen collectors with scorched paint before.) No soot or paint damage on any interior surface. But I'm unsure if the inside is supposed to be that black. USRC makes a quenching kit for these roasters so I may be tempted to install that.

Panel is complete other than a missing label for the cooling arm buttons.

I noticed this supply line gas gauge doesn't zero out. I assume I'll need to buy another one. Any recommendations on quality gauges? I'd like to buy something nice and not have to mess with it much again.

I haven't had enough time with the machine to know if this gauge is accurate or not yet. I may go ahead and swap it to a gauge that matches whatever I get to replace the supply side gauge.

I believe the previous owner installed a temp probe on the upper eye glass mount hole but I'm not sure that is the best location. That probe uses a discontinued iPad connector so I'll need a new probe. Also the trier handle and drum bypass tray handle are wooden but haven't been kept oiled. I'll bring the character back to those pieces.

Milligan (original poster)

#8: Post by Milligan (original poster) »

A few questions I have as I'm digging into this:
  • I'll likely use artisan for data logging. Is there anyway to interface with a iPad? What temp probes are folks using to connect to an iPad or should I use a laptop? I have an old MacBook that I could use instead if needed. I've seen the phidgets but just want to make sure I'm getting the latest and greatest.
  • Quality gas gauges for the supply side?
  • Flue pipe brush? I need something pretty powerful to get that junk off. I'l probably go to Menards or so and see what they have. I've never dealt with soot in a flue pipe before.
  • Preparing the interior of the drum for first roast? Just run it or is there a way to condition a drum that has set awhile?
  • Polish/clean the copper wrap or leave the patina? I'm leaning toward leaving the patina.
Having only used an Ikawa and hobbyist roasters before this one, I am pretty smitten by it. It is a heavy, well built beast. A lot to learn.

Milligan (original poster)

#9: Post by Milligan (original poster) »

baldheadracing wrote:Nice roaster!

Perhaps you'll enjoy/appreciate this video of Tom of Sweet Maria's moving his 5kg (8 minutes long):
Thanks for the link! I'll check it out. The combination of weighing way more than a couple of guys can throw around, a lot of the weight being at the top, and the machine being relatively narrow created some butt clinching moments without "proper" gear. Dan from USRC had a wide body frame with caster wheels welded to his demonstration 5kg roaster when I saw it. I can see why!

I thought of trying to palletize it and then move it with my tractor but didn't have anyway to load it that way at the cafe. It was a fun puzzle to solve none-the-less.

User avatar
Supporter ♡

#10: Post by hankua »

Cleaning chemicals people use are Cafiza, Oxiclean, and I've even tried some dollar store Totally Awesome. For cleaning the inside of the drum, my Taiwanese Feima dealer recommended using un-roasted green coffee. Unless your going to pull the drum out, I'd not use any chemicals inside it.

Maybe the gas system could use some cleaning before the first start-up or startup then see what needs service? You need the electronics on the gas trane to operate normally for start-ups and on/off's. The gauges may still be OK, they could be swapped around; easy to find them on Ebay/Amazon even Dwyer's.