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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > A question about connections
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:02 PM   #1
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Default A question about connections

So, I was looking at fittings and in the process of shopping them out, I saw something I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around. I see a lot of tri-clamp/clover connectors, but they mate to NPT or hose barbs. So I understand the concept of tri-clamp/clover connections, sanitary welds, and smooth polished piping to be that it provides less nooks and crannies for bugs to live in. Here's where I get hung up ... unless your entire system is TC/smooth all the way through, what's the point of doing it part way? Why do these parts even exist? If you have pipe threads, you have nooks and crannies ... so why put a TC on it? Same with a hose barb. Is there something I'm missing here?

Also, unless you're starting to build out to the commercial scale, why bother with TC at all? I would think most home brewers have a small enough set up that clean up isn't too intense and they're doing it after every brew session. So there really shouldn't be a need for it, right?

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Old 04-12-2012, 12:04 AM   #2
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oh... you're no fun at all...

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Old 04-12-2012, 01:03 AM   #3
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Very secure connection that is as fast as a quick connect to open.

Nearly 0% leak rate at the connection.

You can actually get it open to scrub it, and dry it so that mold doesn't form in your precious tube when you cant brew every week.

Very cost effective when compared to comparable size flow channel quick disconnects.

It looks nice.

Its easy to clean.

Availability in multiple sizes from a variety of sources.

Accepted in commercial food applications..IE low risk of poor user satisfaction.

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Old 04-12-2012, 01:25 AM   #4
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The reason, atleast part of the reason is that some parts of a brewery don't need sanitary fittings but need to mate with pipe that does need to be sanitary. For instance I use a hot water hose for backflushing the plate chiller, I don't need sanitary fittings on a garden hose transporting nothing but water, but I do on the heat exchanger. If I remember correctly we have a similar setup at the inlet to the grist hydrater. Also some equipment is only available with threaded fittings, on those connections you are stuck with an adapter but extra care is needed in cleaning for those connections. And yes the ease of use is a huge factor.

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Old 04-12-2012, 02:04 AM   #5
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I actually share the same opinion as the OP. TC is a great standard for a brewery with 50 connections but it is overkill for a homebrewery for the most part. They are more expensive, the gaskets fall on the floor occasionally, they require two hands to connect, and the biggest one I echo is that you eventually hit threaded connections. I guess if you have money to burn and can go ALL sanitary right down to TC/sanitary butterfly valves, go for it. Just putting a few in here and there is a waste of money. In other words, the camlocks provide more value with the ONLY con is the threaded portions. The flow, ease of use, and cost is where it's out.

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Old 04-12-2012, 04:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schmagy View Post
Very cost effective when compared to comparable size flow channel quick disconnects.

It looks nice.

Its easy to clean.
I have to agree with Schmagy on these points.

It's purdy, Fast, and easy to clean.
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Old 04-12-2012, 06:06 PM   #7
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Let me say I didn't ask to be a killjoy, it was more like someone told a joke and I was the only one not laughing. I just didn't get it and was looking for some enlightenment. I get the sinking feeling I'm being a dumbass and there's something I'm just not getting here.

So, I can't argue with aesthetics. They do look cool. I also suppose it starts to be useful if you're piecemealing your way up to a professional level brewery or you're trying to incorporate bits you've scored from a commercial source (breweries, dairies, etc.).

There are still things I don't get here. Are these really that much easier to clean than a cam-lock fitting? My standard way of cleaning has been ...

  1. Soak in hot PBW overnight.
  2. Rinse and air dry
  3. Dip in StarSan right before you use it.
I've never had to scrub anything. Maybe I'm doing it wrong and have just gotten lucky, but I don't see what you'd have to scrub. Then again, I'm all BIAB right now and just moving up to using multi vessels and pumps, so maybe I'll discover I need to scrub somewhere in upgrading? I'm just planning on dissambling things and following the above plan post-upgrade. Then again, I see people talking about scrubbing carboys and I've never had to do that either. PBW is magic for me so far *knocks on wood*

Do cam-locks leak? I have no idea. I would think not, but I'd like to know first hand stories from those with experience.

Also, I get that the TC probably costs the same as cam-locks at equal size, but what in the homebrew realm sized like that? It seems almost everything is 1/2" or less. You might see 3/4" occasionally. The smallest TC is 1", which has a ID a tad larger than a 3/4" NTP. I don't see hosing larger than 5/8" in LHBS or online HB stores. Most pumps are 1/2" outlets. Valves seem to be 1/2" or 3/4". If you need a bigger ID, you're going to have to buy more expensive gear ... which probably means you're doing more a professional setup than homebrewing, right? Are there parts of your system where you'd want really large interconnects like that even on a homebrew level?

Sorry if this all seems retarded, I just want to plan out upgrading wisely.
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Old 04-12-2012, 06:23 PM   #8
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Not being retarded, it's a legitimate question that's open to debate. My original comment was a joke referring to not using 'cool' components.

Bobby nailed it with his response.

Someday I'll be building my 'dream' system and the kettles will most likely be Stouts. The whole system will be TC fittings. Having installed stainless disconnects, cam-locks and TC fittings on systems I have found the ease of use to be in the same order. TC fittings are clumsy. As for hose, your LHBS is not the best source. Silicone hose comes in many sizes, but be prepared to pay the increase in price.

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Old 04-12-2012, 06:23 PM   #9
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Smaller size cam locks work fine I would guess. I've never used them, and you are not having problems.

Tc's are clearly at their best when the user is welding or soldering something like a brew kettle or rims tube or wants to make large jumps in sizes. For example: Going from a 2" rims tube down to a 1/4npt RTD temperature sensor port in one jump.

The cam locks i have seen seem to be more limited arrangement styles and less suited to welded connection.

Triclovers are readily available in low cost configurations where welded connections are desired. IE weld a 2" butt connection on the side or bottom of a kettle for direct connection of your electric element has a cost similar to a NPT nipple.

Systems with all one size and few connection points and no welded connections will see reduced benefit from the TriClover connection. When you need them, everything else is a crude attempt. When they are not needed they become a forcefit to the application, and the benefit is mainly aesthetic which can be important to some people.

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Old 04-12-2012, 06:34 PM   #10
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One debate you'll see is cam-lock I.D. In our tests, the smaller I.D. cam-locks performed just fine. Worrying about cam-lock flow volume is not near as big a deal as it's made out to be.
Another 'issue' that comes up is flow of elbows. The question I have is: when did brewing become a race to the finish?

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