I just wanted to share my cooler MLT that I made. It's real cheap and easy to make and works quite well for batch sparge (I recommend bobby_M's no mash out, double sparge method). Also the parts required are super cheap even here in Canada!
48qt cooler with drain plug (does not need a valve) - $19.94 @ WalMart
Copper 1/2" to 1/4" reducer fittings - $0.88 each @ Canadian Tire
1/2" Ball Valve solder fittings - $7.49 @ Canadian Tire
1/2" OD Copper Tubing (only need 3ft or so) - $14.62 for 10ft roll @ Canadian Tire
4" of 1/2" ID Copper Pipe (standard house stuff) - $8 for 6ft @ Canadian Tire
Drill Bit HSS 1/8"
Drill Bit HSS 1/16"
B astard File
Soldering Kit (Torch, Flux, Solder, Emery Paper)
Pipe Cutter (may be able to use saw if very careful not to round it out)
It just turned out that the cooler I bought had a drain hole that fit a 1/2" copper tubing perfectly and very snug. This is the key to the whole design. For me it was also the cheapest. I couldnt find any round or square cooler with a spout for less than $40 so when I saw this cooler at walmart for sub $20 I had to find a way to make it work.
1. Straighten the copper tubing as best as you can. Cut a length that is long enough to go from the inside of the cooler to wherever you want your valve. Do NOT crimp the end or drill the holes yet.
2. Solder your connections to the end of the tubing so it goes something like this:
1/2" tubing to use as collector in MLT - reducer fitting - 1/2" pipe section (2" or so) - ball valve - 1/2" pipe section - reducer fitting - 1/2" tubing to use as "spout"
Make sure to do a proper job by cleaning all the joints first and to use flux.
3. once that is all cooled down properly, insert the collector end (the end that will be inside the cooler) through the drain port from the outside. It will require a bit of force and maybe a little bit of lube might help as well. I just used a little bit of water.
4. (Here you can make a jig out of a wooden block to help drill the holes but if you have patience it is not required) Twist the whole assembly so that the spout is now pointing upwards. Drill the 1/16" holes all the way through the copper tubing on the inside of the cooler being careful not to go through the plastic on the bottom of the cooler. Keep doing this all the way down the tube 1/2" apart.
5. once this is done, continue to drill 1/8" holes in the bottom side of the pipe using the 1/16" holes as pilot holes (guides) for your drill.
6. Once this is done use the file to debur all of the holes so there is no danger of getting cut.
7. Rotate the valve and spout assembly so that it is on it's side.
8. Using pliers, crimp the end of the tube on the inside of the cooler and fold it over on itself.
9. Rotate the valve back to its normal position
10. Try to bend the tubing on the inside so that it is close to the cooler and so it can drain as much liquid as it can. Be careful not to kink the tubing or squash it out too much.
11. Test with hot water for any leaks. Mine didn't leak one drop for over 24 hour leak test full of hot water.
12. Drain the water into a bucket until the flow stops.
13. Close valve and dump the rest of the cooler into a juice pitcher or something to measure the deadspace in your cooler (handy if you use brewing software)
14. Use some paper towels and be sure to wipe the inside of the cooler really well to get any copper shavings out.
NOTE: I did it in this exact order for two reasons.
1. By soldering after it was installed in the cooler I might risk melting parts of the cooler or the drain hole which is my gasket.
2. Possibly by Pre-drilling and folding the end over before pushing through the drain hole it could possibly be out of round or have sharp edges that could affect my seal (the drain hole)
And now for some pictures:
And thats it! A simple cooler (for batch sparging) that can be made very easily and for under $40 CDN. Feel free to ask me any questions or post any criticisims please!
I'm still pretty new to this so you may want to double check this, but I think the holes on the manifold are supposed to be facing down. I don't know if it makes much of a difference; maybe only in efficiency.
I think it looks pretty good though. I love the resourcefulness homebrewers seem to possess.
Actually there are holes on the top and the bottom. (tiny ones in the top and bigger ones on the bottom)
I suppose one could make them only on the bottom but the SS braid type collectors have holes all around the pipe so I am not sure what the effect is.
I have got 82% efficiency out of this MLT and this was using pre-crushed 2-row and the remaining 20% was crushed with a mallet on my basement floor in ziploc bags (before I had my barley crusher) so I am assuming my efficiency will only go up once I get a proper crush going.
Looks nice. You might get a little bit less deadspace without the holes on the top, thanks to a siphon. But, I use a braided hose on mine which leaves me with about 2 quarts of deadspace when I tilt my MLT.
Either way with 82% eff I don't see any reason to adjust it. Great work!!