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Home Workshop > Members > Forum > Projects Area > General > Steel for a mincer plate

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Steel for a mincer plate

Steel for a mincer plate

My local butcher has recently changed hands and now belongs to a farmer that I have done odd bits for before. One of his chaps wants to expand the range of sausage they can make, in particular coarse or chirizo type. The machine is very old (of course I approve of that!) and spares not available. Could I make a couple of plates one with 8mm holes one with 10mm holes? I tried to research for a suitable stainless steel that I could harden, but of course I'm using Machinery's handbook in American grades and the local stockist doesn't understand them. He asked what I wanted it for and was adamant that I shouldn't waste time on different grades as the only acceptable grade for food contact is 316. As far as I know 316 is not hardenable; at least not by any means at my disposal. I duly bought a couple of bits and made the first plate. Now there's a slight issue: looking at standard plates the holes are organised in a series of rows, not circles around the centre. Given that 316 is a b**** to drill and would need several increases in size to get the final result. So a choice: make each hole fully with all the swapping of drills, or use a method of precise re-positioning. Given that I don't have, indeed don't like DRO's on my mill I went for the only reliable option of a rotary table and made 4 staggered circles calculated to maintain the distance between adjacent holes by varying the increment in diameter. Even without all the drill swapping it was a slow process, but I got there. Carefully ground off the burrs by holding a hand stone against it in the lathe. Looked a good finish, so took it down for a trial run; disaster the cutter tore the surface to shreds. Was the plate too thick? was the surface not good enough? I thinned the plate down by 20thou and polished the cutting surface this time finishing by hand in figure of 8 on 600 grit wet and dry on a large CI table. Same result. Doh!

Three possible explanations occur:

The steel stockist is wrong; there is a food grade of stainless other than 316 and it can be hardened.
I'm wrong and 316 stainless can be hardened.
The problem is not with the steel but the hole pattern placing unsatisfactory loads, or perhaps lack of them, on the cutter. (contact area isn't adequate, or constant enough).

Any thoughts would be most welcome.

Nick

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Nick Kempley
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Re: Steel for a mincer plate

Nick,
I think you shouldn't worry too much about hardening the plate. 316 won't harden anyway.
Have you looked at the cutter..It takes two to cut and its no use getting a razor edge on the plate if the knife is b***ered or doesn't touch up to the plate.
On the subject of spares I trust you have seen
http://www.smsfoodequip.com/mincer-spares/
and concluded that you can't mod one of those to suit your machine. They seem cheap enough to experiment on.
Also you should ask questions about the meat mix. Is it just your plate that doesn't work or can your butcher put a little something in the mix to help it along. Engineers might add  oil, Butchers might add fat if you get my drift. Its not exactly rocket science and the the Spanish have been making chorizo for centuries.
Best of luck
Bob D

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Re: Steel for a mincer plate

I used to use an old (very old) Hobart mincer for dog food, the discs were definately hardened and definitely not particularly stainless, although they were somewhat rust retardant. I don't prefess to know the roolz for food processing, but I am sure that 316 is not the "only" permissible grade. 

You need a AISI 4** series (ie martensitic) stainless for hardening
http://www.aksteel.com/markets_products/stainless.aspx

cross referencing that with West Yorks Steel the newer/current BS970 designations seem to follow a similar nomenclature
http://www.westyorkssteel.com/stainless … tions.html

ie 410S21 or 420S29 or 420S37

416 is quoted as free machining, but "410 martensitic stainless steel is a general purpose grade often supplied in the hardened but still machinable condition" and 420 " is available with 3 variations in the carbon content. As a 13% chromium stainless steel it will achieve a high hardness". Unusually, they don't quote the heat treatment regime.

As Bob says, could you not mod or adapt an off the shelf disc?

- Richard -

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Re: Steel for a mincer plate

Thanks guys,

Yes I too had spotted that there are plates available on the web; I'm not even sure some of them need modifying to fit, and at less than half the price I'd have to 'charge' (any payment is in meat)! Why the butcher hasn't managed to find them, I've no idea. Nonetheless the issues remain, even if only from a curiosity point of view.

The 4** series of steels look interesting, but I have seen them referred to as high-temperature aircraft grades. Sounds expensive and not the sort of thing you could make a cutter plate for £25 and still make a decent profit. Interestingly the site that Bob identifies also list a hardened plate - a distinction I've not seen before - at £35, which presumably means that one of the hardenable stainless grades must be approved for food use, but which one?! In this particular instance worrying about stainless seems slightly academic since the auger is a piece of cast iron! Standards change, and not necessarily for the better (though that's a different debate) though probably does mean that old equipment is OK to one standard, but new has to be to the latest?

When I looked at the cutter the blades looked OK, but like Bob I was concerned that the butcher did the trial dry on the basis that his other plates worked like that. I suppose there is an argument that the machine has to be started before the meat can be put in, but perhaps there is a 'running-in' process for new blades/plates. I would certainly expect a better chance of success with some lubricant.

It is possible that I have gone for too high a hole to material ratio, though it looks fine compared to other plates he has, but leaves the niggling doubt about the merits of the conventional pattern v the circles. I can't quite see how, and at 10mm thick I can't see flex being involved to create relative high spots that the cutter can start to dig into either.

Nick

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Re: Steel for a mincer plate

Morning. Just a thought, don't think I'd want to try your Butchers sausages if his "mix" is ruining your mincer discs so quickly what exactly is he mincing for his sausages. I would have thought that meat is lubricated enough especially as he's probably not using the best cuts.  Don't ever remember seeing any wear on our old "spong" mincer discs and that was used on cooked meat most weeks for years, the discs did look as though they had been cast and then ground flat.
Ashley.

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Re: Steel for a mincer plate

I hate top say this but I have been making sausages for years and my mincer plate is just plain hard carbon steel and yes it will rust but if you keep it clean and put olive oil on it after use it will stay that way.
Now I am sure that it is a hanging offence to use anything but stainless steel but we need a hard cutting corner between the hole and the blade and anything less will not work
Peter

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Re: Steel for a mincer plate

Thanks guys,

Yes I wanted to harden the plate as well, but that's one of the questions: is there a hardenable grade that is food approved? Yes I know the rest of the machine isn't up to scratch, but I don't really want some outbreak coming back anywhere near my door. 316 might survive if it was run in with lubrication first. Does anyone know?

Sadly Ashley these mincers are not like Spong. Not two plates, but one plate and a 4 bladed cutter, which tends to act like a large wood drill given half a chance.

Nick

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Re: Steel for a mincer plate

It's fairly easy to find translation / equivalence tables for different countries' steel grades. Some stockists would hold them, and you can probably find them on-line.

I don't know the rules but I'd have thought it not a problem for repairing an old machine. As far as I can ascertain by analogues, the "food grades", like many new standards, cover all-new work and are not back-dated. I'd guess food-grade really means the steel is not corroded by any of the many natural chemicals in food materials and preparations, and by the catering-trade's powerful detergents.

If it were me, and the original plate was a high-carbon steel, working with a carbon-steel knife and cast-iron auger and machine body, I'd use gauge-plate (oil-hardening), and harden & temper it.

Ideally it ought be ground or polished afterwards to give a smooth surface to aid hygiene, but leaving the entry ends of the holes sharp. It will rust if even if simply  washed, but if also oiled as Peter Coleman suggests, after each use it should be all right - it's not the steel type, but the bacteria in the meat that matter. They are killed by the cooking but will breed if left with sufficient food on a suitable surface. Are your saucepans of "food-grade" aluminium-alloy? I doubt it! The aim here is a surface that works in engineering terms, and is easy to clean thoroughly.

Proper chef's knives were always of high-carbon steel, not stainless, because it was never easy to keep a really sharp edge for long on stainless-steel ones. I don't know if they now use a harden-able alloy.

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Re: Steel for a mincer plate

If stainless was a requirement I'd try 17/4PH

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