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Copper Moonshine Still (?)

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Posted 6 years ago


(4 items)

Can anyone tell me if this is really a moonshine still? I picked this up recently and I've been told it's the boiler part of a small moonshine still. It has one opening with a removable copper cap that's 1.25" diameter, and a small threaded tube that extends from the other side. The unit is sealed otherwise, and stands 8" tall and 9.5" in diameter. The springs on the cap side act as a pressure relief valve by letting excess steam out without the cap coming off. Thanks for looking, and for any information!

Mystery Solved


  1. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 6 years ago
    Yes, No & Maybe. I think I made that as clear as mud! I wouldn't want anyone to think I was involved with anything unusual..........however it doesn't look anything like a still that I ever happened to see. The fittings are wrong. The hex nut is not old by any means. It may have been replaced. I would sooner think it was used as an evaporator. The threaded rod looks like a heat sensor where you would screw on a pressure gauge. Similar to a pressure cooker. I have no idea where it came from but it sure looks neat. Did you find it near anywhere that maple trees grow?
  2. Guinness12, 6 years ago
    fhrjr2 - many thanks for the comments and observations. I hadn't picked up on the hex nut age. Yup, it was at an auction near us in upstate NY, in maple tree country. So you're thinking it might be a small maple syrup evaporator?
  3. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 6 years ago
    As a native Vermonter I have to say I never saw anyone put gas in a copper container. Tin was for gas and solvents. In New England, copper evaporators were used to make maple syrup. Big ones in a sugar house and little ones for Mom to make her own at home.

    It may or may not be an evaporator but that was the direction I was going. In that we now know where it was found a couple more things come to mind but still don't fit. Corn liquor squeezing made in the silo. Doesn't fit this item. Hard cider. Well that ferments better in a wooden barrel but copper would work. The size of this unit wouldn't yield much to drink. It would give a decent yield for a home user making maple syrup. Everything is stainless steel now but when I was a kid (I'm older than dirt) everyone used copper. We didn't even have indoor plumbing or electricity let along stainless steel.

    Ahhh! The good old days. How did we live through it.
  4. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 6 years ago
    Rob: you are right in a modern way. I can only assume you never lived in New England so you have no idea . If you take the time to research syrup evaporators you will find the design progressed. No one said it was a good design. Most homemade items are functional but not practicable. If it worked you used it.
  5. Guinness12, 6 years ago
    I want to thank everyone who contributed their ideas. Very helpful!!!!!
  6. Guinness12, 6 years ago
    scottscuff - thanks for the observations. The short tube doesn't run to the bottom. It goes through the top of the lid, and that's it (it's just about flush with the bottom of the lid). I'm inclined to think the container isn't used to carry anything, due to (as you and others have said) the lack of a carry handle, and the fact that the bottom has a flush seam. All of the liquid carrying cans I've ever used or seen have a lip on the bottom so that you can hold and tip the can. The flat bottom leads me to believe that it was designed for heating, either on a stove or a fire.

    Also, someone speculated that the small tube might have been used to thread a handle to it. I don't think that's right, simply because it wouldn't be structurally sound enough to carry the weight of the container/liquid (especially soldering copper to copper), and it's hollow.
  7. Guinness12, 6 years ago
    That makes perfect sense, and I love the thought that this would have been from a still.
  8. Guinness12, 6 years ago
    I can't argue about the proper metal for carrying gas or kerosene, but I'd suspect that brass or galvanized steel would be more appropriate.

    I just can't see how this would make a good vessel for regularly carrying liquids. It holds 2 gallons, so it should have a handle, and doesn't. It wasn't built as an on-board gas tank because it has no tube going to the bottom, and no way to attach one. The spring design isn't very handy for removing and replacing the cap, so that looks like a better pressure relief valve and opening to infrequently fill and empty.

    As for the size of the container as a still, this is rural farm country. Any still from these parts was most likely used to make small batches of shine for family and some close friends, rather than large quantities for sale and distribution.

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