As the Pig Turns

December 14th, 2011

Techno-Hog Rumbling to Life

The pig project is going to take a big leap today, assuming the motor arrives. I’m going to mount it on the supports. The bearings aren’t here yet, so I can’t machine the spit ends to fit them.

I don’t have a link to the motor I bought. I think Grainger discontinued it. But I can show you one just like it, except for the speed. Imagine this motor, running at 6 RPM with 250 inch-pounds of torque.


Naturally, I did not spend that much. Knock 80% off that figure.

I didn’t want the angled shaft, but now that it’s on the way, I think it’s the best choice. It’s easy to build a platform parallel to the spit support, which is what an angled shaft requires. A straight shaft means a platform which is perpendicular to the support, and that means welding.

I have to figure out what to do for a charcoal pan. I’m thinking I may just get a cheap galvanized sheet and bend the sides up. I know some people moan about zinc fumes being released, but Val Prieto uses galvanized, and so far, nobody important has died. I’ve also noticed that Lodge makes a chimney starter from galvanized, and it’s also common in barbecue stuff in England.

I would be perfectly happy to use bare steel, but it’s not like it falls from trees.

I’m a little nervous about achieving success. I’m researching to make sure it’s okay to roast a pig without an enclosure. I can recall three rotisserie pigs cooked at Mancamp. One was turned by hand, and it sat in a makeshift oven built from stacked cinderblocks. The oven had plywood on top to hold in heat. The advantage there was that in addition to heat from below, the pig got a nice 200-degree sauna. The other two pigs were not enclosed to any great extent.

I guess I’m worried about nothing. The Mancamp pigs were fine. Here’s a video of two Filipina ladies roasting a pig, and you can see it’s out in the open. If I had two ladies like that, I wouldn’t need a motor.

I had concerns about the spit speed, but I’ve learned that some rotisseries turn at much higher rates.

The new lathe will be here on Monday. I’m tooling up. I’m a little annoyed, because I thought I picked the best one, and I just found out it may lack a nice feature. In the past, small Asian lathes had metric screws on the compounds and crossfeeds, and they were marked with inaccurate imperial graduations. I believe the idea is that they pretended one inch is 25 millimeters, whereas it’s actually 25.4. So I guess you get a movement of 25 millimeters when you want one inch. Or maybe I have it backward. Anyway, Micromark claims it has the only lathes with “true inch” wheels and screws.

It shouldn’t matter much, since the final dimensioning is never done with wheels, but it’s irritating.

I don’t know if it’s possible to make a really accurate screw on my own lathe. I guess it should be, but I have a feeling it’s not easy to make one that works easily but doesn’t have tons of backlash.

I better get myself to the store. I have to make sure I have a pig by next weekend. I still haven’t decided what to put in it.

This should be a good time. It will be an interesting mix of Christians and highly tolerant backsliders. I think we’ll get along, as long as the food is okay.

4 Responses to “As the Pig Turns”

  1. Randy Rager Says:

    Speaking of food, I made 4.5 lbs of “kosher” (non-pork but definitely not blessed by a Rabbi) Ritterberger today working from the breakfast sausage recipe you posted.
    I’m omitting the paprika and chipotle powder from the next batch. Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly delicious, but it overwhelms the sage, which I doubled. It came out tasting closer to chorizo than breakfast sausage.

  2. Steve H. Says:

    It’s starting to seem like just about every kind of sausage is good, as long as you don’t use the horrifying ingredients commercial makers use.

  3. Randy Rager Says:

    I’m with you on that.
    Still haven’t gotten off my fat behind and made that hot chicken sausage I want to keep as a freezable ingredient for Pad Thai. It sure would be nice to have several pounds in the freezer for whenever I get the urge.

  4. Jeff Says:

    “I have to figure out what to do for a charcoal pan. I’m thinking I may just get a cheap galvanized sheet and bend the sides up.”

    If the zinc is a real problem (perceived or not), why not line the charcoal pan with something like wet clay and dry it out? You could pre-mix in sawdust while it’s wet and make it an insulating clay. A protective barrier that doubles as a thermal shield; that should smooth any ruffled feathers.

    Hope this helps,