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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > HLT, MLT, and BK appendages, doo-dads, and accesories.
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Old 09-05-2007, 08:18 PM   #1
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Default HLT, MLT, and BK appendages, doo-dads, and accesories.

I've been researching and thinking about how to setup my 3-keg brewstand for way too long and I'm almost there. This thread is a way for me to document my thought process for those who might be thinking the same thing and to solicite feedback if you have any. It's a long post so I don't blame you if you skip it.

I have the kegs, burners and March 809. I know I'm going single tier, direct fired MLT with a constant recirc'd mash and for now will use a CFC. I've decided on brass "coolant" QD's from Mcmaster instead of hard plumbing, I scored three stainless 3-piece ball valves for $10 each... Well on my way right?

Ok, not so fast. I want:
1. A dip-tubed drain on each vessel (no brainer). I'll use a 1/2"MPT to 5/8" tube compression fitting on the inside for this.
2. A sight glass on every vessel. I'm planning on using cut down 3/8" racking canes shoved into a compression fitting for this. I don't like the idea of Teeing this off my drain bulkhead. It's silly to have to cap off the tube to maintain siphon.
3. I want a probe thermometer in each vessel. Obviously I'm mostly concerned with an accurate mash temp. I have 6 thermos available at the moment: 3 Tel-Tru 3" face, 20-240F with 1/2" NPT and 6" probe:


and 3 Trend 2" face, 50-300F, 2.5" probe, 1/4" NPT on the back.


I've ordered all my fittings that will be welded into each vessel, actually more than I'll use just for flexibility. I like designing things with the parts in my hands rather than on paper but my initial ideas are as follows:

Option 1
a. 1/2" coupling for the drain bulkheads, close nipple, ball valve, male disconnect.
b. 1/4" Tee into which threads the 2" probe thermos into the front and the compression fitting for the sight glass on the branch leg.
Pros: Two welds per, nice and clean and compact.
Cons: the 1/4" NPT thermo probe won't penetrate into the vessel far enough to be accurate.

Option 2
a. 1/2" Tee welding for the bulkhead with the branch to the side. On the front, insert 1/2" probe thermo. On the side leg, close nipple to ball valve.
b. 1/4" NPT elbow welded in for the site glass.
Pros: two welds, still compact.
Cons: temps are measured inside the diptube. In the case of the MLT, it will read higher than the overall mash temp.

Option 3
a. 1/2" coupling welded for bulkhead drain, close nipple, ball valve, male discon.
b. 1/2" Tee welded with branch "up" for thermo and sight. 6" probe thermo in the end, compression for sight glass on the branch.
Pros: temp probe makes it into the vessel by at least 4.5". Still two welds per.

Option 4 - everything on its own bulkhead
a. 1/2" coupling for the drain.
b. 1/2" coupling for the thermo.
c. 1/4" elbow for the sight glass.
Pros: Most compact, most flexible.
Cons. Most expensive, 3 welds per.

Thinking, thinking.. but not brewing.

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Old 09-05-2007, 09:14 PM   #2
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I'd go for option 3 or 4, but really you only need the 6" probe on the MLT. You can use a bushing for the shorter thermos if you decide to use those on the HLT and BK. I think, with all the thinking you've been doing, that you'll end up with one helluva nice rig.

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Old 09-05-2007, 09:23 PM   #3
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I think that a sight glass on a mash tun and a thermometer on a boil kettle would COMPLETELY useless. I also think that a sight glass on a boil kettle wouldn't be very useful. If it's not there to serve any useful purpose, it's just something that can break and screw up your brew day.

I think you'd also want a full coupling for your drain valves if you want to attach dip tubes.

On my HLT, I have a full coupling and a half coupling welded on. The full coupling is for my drain valve. Into the half coupling I have a close nipple and a tee to take care of my thermometer and sight glass.

My BK only has a full coupling welded on for my drain valve.

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Old 09-05-2007, 09:33 PM   #4
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I have to go with 4.
I have T's and and I hate it.
My thermo probe is too short and so I have to stir.
I realize that you have a strategy for that, but beer feng-shui dicates, "Everything on its own bulkhead."

I'm a freak like that. Those T's just stare at me and taunt me.

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Old 09-05-2007, 09:54 PM   #5
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You done a lot of thinking. I don't like having thermos in my mash, so I can stir when needed. I've got a similar setup and I've not done it yet, but I plan on putting a thermo on the intake and outlet of the recirculation part of the mash so I can better monitor the mash temp.
I've got a T on my drain and my sight tube coming off of it...not ideal but it works and I'm cheap...I also use duct tape and bailing wire everytime I brew

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Old 09-05-2007, 11:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lustreking
I think that a sight glass on a mash tun and a thermometer on a boil kettle would COMPLETELY useless. I also think that a sight glass on a boil kettle wouldn't be very useful. If it's not there to serve any useful purpose, it's just something that can break and screw up your brew day.
It depends - you've gotta think outside your own equipment and how you use it.

I've got a sight glass on my MLT because it's direct fired and I fill it with a water hose. It's nice to be able to measure while I fill it. I don't have a thermo on the BK, but I would want one if I used an IC or recirculated my CFC back into it. I also don't have a sight glass on the BK, but I understand why some people would want one - to know their pre- and post-boil volumes for accurately determing efficiency, etc.
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Old 09-06-2007, 12:07 AM   #7
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Option 3. I'd have an isolation valve for the sight glass, or use a different material. Teflon or poly tubing.

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Old 09-06-2007, 12:09 AM   #8
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You may want to rethink the racking can for a sight tube, I tried it and at high temps a racking cane gets soft and distorts. This is what I used 8585K11 from McMaster Carr.

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Old 09-06-2007, 03:27 AM   #9
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Aren't racking canes polycarbonate? Man, what did you pay in shipping for an 8-ft length? I might actually go pick it up since they're pretty local.

I don't agree that a sight tube on the MLT is useless. As mentioned, I can fill the MLT directly and heat mash water in there. No reason to heat two vessels until necessary.

Also, a thermo on the BK is useful for a couple reasons. To give you a hint as to when the wort is about to boil without peering in. The more important reason is when I'm doing recirculated cooling during the summer. I want to know when I'm hitting sub DMS temps. I also want to make all three vessels convertible between applications if I ever decide to unload them (long shot). Overall we're talking about $20 extra for shiny dials.

I'm leaning towards option 4 also but I wonder what the welder is gonna bang me for that one, nine welds vs. 6.

Hmm, putting an emergency shutoff on each sight glass? Dang.. another 3 stainless valves... I think I'd rather risk losing a batch.

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Old 09-06-2007, 02:09 PM   #10
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I think you will find that metal compression fittings can cause small cracks in hard racking cane. Plastic ferrules would be a better choice is that's what you decide to use. I personally like teflon tubing. It's clear enough to use for a sight glass.

Shut off valves don't need to be SS, there is nothing wrong with brass if it's cheaper. And you can use 1/4" O.D. as well.

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