Originally Posted by Gabrew
sounds like some great advice!!! I'll be using a false bottom...which I think will minimize the chances of a stuck lauter.
Any chance of posting some pics of your vacuum-pump set-up?
Sure. Here's a pic of my pump with a bleeder valve and the vacuum gage all mounted on a portable stand which also swivels on the base. The swivel feature is convenient for attaching hoses from just about any direction:
I have a full width false bottom in my MT. It does not completely eliminate the possibility of a stuck sparge, but it's sure better than a screen or manifold IMO. Keep in mind that I'm always pushing the limit with the fast circulation. There's a very fine line between fast and too fast in that regard. OTOH, it's not the end of the world if it does stick. A quick stir and I'm back in business. I could circulate very slowly and avoid the sticking issue completely if I choose, but I feel that the benefits of fast circulation are worth the inconvenience if it happens and I am fully prepared to deal with it if it does. I expect it to happen now and then and it does, but it is absolutely no big deal.
You may wonder what all the plumbing is for on the pump. The answer is that I directed the input and output back around the post in order to make it more compact. I did not like having the pipes extending way out from the base which would make it awkward to handle and more susceptible to damage. It's also partly due to the way the inlet and outlets are configured on the Little Giant pump head. I positioned the pump vertically with the pump head at the lowest level to facilitate priming. I have zero problems priming this pump. The handy dandy handle on top of the upright makes it easy to move around. AFAIK, I'm the only one in North America with a pump set up this way. I kind of like that!
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the flow control valve is a gate valve, not a ball valve as is more commonly used. The gate valve gives me much, much more precise control of the flow, which is critical with my setup. The gate valve is 3-1/2 turns to fully open vs. 1/4 turn for a ball valve. The difference should be obvious. I also use a gate valve on my elevated HLT to precisely control the sparge water flow. Again, I'm in the extreme minority using gate valves, but once you give them a try, I guarantee that you will become a believer too.