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Old 01-19-2011, 08:02 PM   #1
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Default Cleaning/draining a complete 3 keg brewery

So I'm in the process of building my brewery, I have the kegs, courtesy of New Belgium (15 bucks a pop from their fortcollins brewery!). I'm using a brew troller setup and have everything except the hop and grain additions automated (yes sparge is automated).

I'm using 2x LG 3-MD-HC pumps and one peristaltic pump that I put together with PWM motor control for fly sparge. I'm also using a 40 plate plate chiller from duda diesel. I have one solenoid valve for the water from the faucet and then I have motorized ball valves for the rest of the control valves.

I'm going all SS pipe for this, not tubing, and so everything will be screwed together using fittings, mostly because the compression fittings are so DAMNED expensive, and I can do it this way for much cheaper.

Well I've got most of it built, stand is built, control box is done, code is written and mostly tested. Now I'm to the point where I need to measure out exactly what all fittings I will need and exactly how I want to pipe the thing to get everything like I want it.

So here's the problem. I'm trying to plan this so it's not a royal PITA to clean each time I brew. I plan to recirculate with hot PBW/oxyclean through the system after sucking the grain and pellet hope debris out with a wet/dry vac, then doing a rinse cycle. The issue I seem to be having is how to make sure the system will drain completely after I'm done so I dont have water just sitting in some of the fittings.

For example, the pumps, due to how they are arranged with the 3/4 input with the flow direction perpendicular to the pump drive shaft means there will always be a low spot on the pump head where water will sit no matter where you place it.

Another example is that in many right angle fittings, etc, the middle of the fitting sits lower than the threaded part, allowing water to pool there when you're done.

So I'm trying to come up with a way to make sure that if not all, enough of the water will drain out that it wont cause a problem, or such that what is left in will evaporate without any issues.

So any hints/tips/tricks you guys have for doing that I'd love to hear.

Thanks!

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Old 01-19-2011, 08:31 PM   #2
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I'm not sure about how the pumps would take this...but what about rigging up some sort of air compressor to it? When you're done rinsing everything, you hook up an air hose to one of your ports and blow compressed air through the entire system. Not sure if it would work how I'm thinking...but it's a thought.

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Old 01-19-2011, 09:16 PM   #3
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I'm no expert, but why not just leave the lines filled with water from your tap? You could close off open air access, so the chloramine treated tap water would stay good for quite a while. Of course maybe you have not plumbed it with this in mind. And this assumes your tap water is treated with chloramine.

Folks talk of chlorine soaking being a no-no for stainless, but I doubt your tap water would be a problem.

Now I'm thinking I've missed something and have just put my foot in my mouth.

With my tube in tube CFC, I just let the rinse tap water drain, but there's bound to be water that remains. I put some tin foil over the ends to keep the spiders out.

Most folks use copper/stainless/aluminum, from what I read. Obviously you don't want to have acidic fluids like Star San hanging around for a long time in ... say ... copper.

Is it important to dry our metal gear?

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Old 01-19-2011, 09:52 PM   #4
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I've thought about compressed air, though I dont have a compressor that is oil-less, so I'd blow a little bit of compressor oil through the whole system unless I got a different one.

What I'm afraid of is that leaving water in is a great place to things you dont want to grow, to grow in, and leaving some things in water is a great way to get corrosion, though with the whole thing stainless and the pump heads being ryton or what ever they are, it "shouldnt" be a problem to leave it full of water, minus the fact that I have to push all that water out on the next brew.... which I dont like that idea. I'd like to be able to drain it.

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Old 01-19-2011, 10:44 PM   #5
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If the joint of the 90s are sitting lower than the threads, you could replace them with T's? You could attach the bottomost part of the T to a small piece of tubing and a ball valve that you could open at the end of cleanup to drain the vertical tubing and any tubing sloped towards the 90?

Am I making any sense at all, have another one ey?

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Old 01-19-2011, 10:47 PM   #6
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I push almost every drop of liquid out of my system with CO2... costs a bit, but I have 2 20lb tanks at my disposal. I made a flare->camlock fitting so I could just hook it up to my rig as is. It may not get every last drop out... but I'm happy with it.

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Old 01-20-2011, 04:03 AM   #7
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Yea the T idea had occured to me as well, however if you use it to make the 90 degree turn then you'd have to pretty much drill a whole in the side to be able to drain it or it would have the same issue as the regular 90 turn.... unless they make fittings where they are a 3 way conector with one out on the x axis, one on the Y and one on the Z then that would do it... might have to look into that.


I suppose I could put a very fine one or two micron air filter on the air compressor and then use it... hmm...

I love the C02 idea, too bad I dont have access to something like that.

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Old 01-20-2011, 04:50 AM   #8
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If you have a 3 keg system you better have some access to C02. You could either use C02 or filtered shop air (air compressor).

What about using stainless tubing and flared fittings? That might be cheaper than compression fittings. I'm sure there is a reason why all the breweries have plumbing that can be disassembled and cleaned....

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Old 01-20-2011, 08:39 AM   #9
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Both the flaired and the compression fittings are very expensive. For example, a single compression or flair fitting can cost 20 bucks, but to get that same setup to work with screw fittings they are 4-7 bucks a piece, less than half for the same usage most of the time.

Not sure why I'd better have access to C02 with a 3 keg system... only possible reason I could think of is for a kegerator system or something of the like, but currently I dont have anything like that, I bottle all the beer, and even if I did have korny kegs the C02 bottle is pretty small... but as far as operating the setup... no need for C02 that I can think of, well except this application, but I'd rather use the filtered air compressor air I already have.

I've been trying to brain storm an idea on how to do the piping so that it has a continous downill slant so that the water will all just flow out, though for reasons I've already talked about I dont think I can do that, especially with the pumps.

So far I'm thinking I'll put a fitting to connect the air compressor with an inline filter in a good spot to blow it out so that's one option. I'd like to explore all the options though, even though I'm not sure there may be others, haha.

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Old 01-20-2011, 09:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shushikiary View Post
Both the flaired and the compression fittings are very expensive. For example, a single compression or flair fitting can cost 20 bucks, but to get that same setup to work with screw fittings they are 4-7 bucks a piece, less than half for the same usage most of the time.

...

I've been trying to brain storm an idea on how to do the piping so that it has a continous downill slant so that the water will all just flow out, though for reasons I've already talked about I dont think I can do that, especially with the pumps.
Yeah, but with the flare fittings you can use tube and bend it to the way you want, i.e. no need for more fittings (elbows, etc.) to change directions. The flaring tool might be a killer for that idea unless you can borrow/rent. Have you also factored in the price of stainless pipe vs tube, at the size for a home brewery I have been told you'd have to go with sch 40 pipe to allow it to be threaded (sch 10 or less would leave very little material leftover after threading or something). There is much more material in sch 40 pipe compared to tube and that means more $$$.

You will need to mount your pumps at the low point to get them flooded (unless your not using the usual march/LG/chugger style) so why not put low point drains at the pump inlet and any other low spot.
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