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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > A couple DIY questions
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Old 12-11-2010, 04:08 AM   #1
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Default A couple DIY questions

I have a friend who is trading me a 5 gallon rubbermaid cooler for a few home brews. I am going to make this my MLT and try a batch of all grain for my next brew. My first question is this

I want to get a good valve and hardware to go through the cooler and I see them online at the various homebrew supply stores. These are usually stainless and cost a bit of $$ (sorry to sound cheap but this has been a rough year). Is there a real reason why I wouldn't go to the local Homedepot and buy what I need in brass? I plan on putting a valve in my boil kettle as well so I don't have to lift & pour any more.

The other thing I am looking at is the false bottom for the MLT. Has anybody made one of these instead of buying them? If so, what did you use?

Thanks for any & all suggestions!

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Old 12-11-2010, 04:13 AM   #2
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5g is not big enough for a 5g batch of beer. You really want the 10g cooler. See this.

Brass is fine, but really it is hard to build this from parts at home depot. www. bargainfittings.com has what you need, and it isn't that expensive.

false bottom: For cheap, just use a braid pulled off a toilet supply line. It's about $6 and works great. Lots of threads detailing this kind of build.

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Old 12-11-2010, 04:31 AM   #3
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I know that a 5 gallon MLT is border line for 5 gallon batches but that's what's available so that's what I'll have for now. Some day when Murphy quits screwing with me I'll get a larger cooler and this one can be my hot liquor tank.

I have thought about the braided line and that's a fall back if I can't figure out a inexpensive false bottom. Just so you know, almost all of the "braided" tank supply and faucet lines aren't stainless anymore - they're plastic made to look like stainless...

By the way, here's a link to a mash volume calculator (towards the bottom of the page) http://www.rackers.org/calcs.shtml

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Old 12-11-2010, 06:21 AM   #4
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5 gallons is fine unless you plan on doing mega sized beer. The link has it listed at 1.25 qt/lb as well. You can go even higher with a 1.00 qt/lb ratio. I pull mid 80% and can get a 1.070 beer quite handily.

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Old 12-11-2010, 06:21 AM   #5
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Just go to home depot and get your fixings to convert the cooler to MLT

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Old 12-11-2010, 12:44 PM   #6
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IMO

I am going to bring up a few points that get skipped over when these sort of things come up...

1. What is your BK made from? Aluminum, SS or other? The reason I ask is because IF it is aluminum you probably do not want to use brass fittings, due to corrosion issues associated with mixing metals.

2. Home Depot valves do NOT normally come in 1/2 inch. I was only able to find 3/8 inch when I was looking. While you can get 1/2 barbs in 3/8, it is kind of a PITA to engineer.

3. The toilet braid can be pretty easily found in SS still, you just need to look for them. I will tell you 1/2 fits these MUCH better than 3/8 and works as well as a false bottom.

4. What type of tubing are you going to use? the clear vinyl is really not rated for the temps you will be using so you will probably want silicone. Silicone tubing is almost impossible to source locally in most cases. This means an online order anyways.

5. How are you planning on attaching said tubing? You will want quick disconnects. More online ordering.

6. You also need to clean the brass in hydrogen peroxide and vinegar solution to remove lead.

7. Overhead. This is over looked all the time. You burn gas and time heading to Home Depot. If you are like me this will not be done in less than 2 trips.

8. Total savings. You will only be saving a tiny bit of money by using brass. I would guess about $10 in total.

So having been down the road that you are looking down and having a ball valve and braid that is sitting in my garage gathering dust I am going to shamelessly plug bargainfittings.com as well. You get ALL SS for just a little more and there is no guess work/engineering involved. AND there is flat rate shipping so that side is cheap as well.

BTW use the braid, love the braid, it is your friend. The braid is going to be cheaper than a false bottom.

GL!

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Old 12-11-2010, 04:14 PM   #7
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Thanks all and an extra thanks to Zamial - I really appreciate the why's and not just the do's.

My kettle is stainless so electrolysis should not be an issue. I definitely don't like the idea of lead anywhere but I figured with all our regulations, fittings that are made for potable water would not be allowed to contain lead - not true???

I was leaning towards a false bottom vs. a braid because I keep reading about stuck sparges. That seems to happen less for folks using the false bottom. Any thoughts on that issue?

Thanks for the pointer on the silicone tubing - I would have missed that one. Since the highest temperature it should see is what comes out of the MLT (kettle gets chilled with IC before draining), is that really to high for the regular vinyl tubing?

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Old 12-11-2010, 04:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryC View Post
Thanks all and an extra thanks to Zamial - I really appreciate the why's and not just the do's.

My kettle is stainless so electrolysis should not be an issue. I definitely don't like the idea of lead anywhere but I figured with all our regulations, fittings that are made for potable water would not be allowed to contain lead - not true???

I was leaning towards a false bottom vs. a braid because I keep reading about stuck sparges. That seems to happen less for folks using the false bottom. Any thoughts on that issue?

Thanks for the pointer on the silicone tubing - I would have missed that one. Since the highest temperature it should see is what comes out of the MLT (kettle gets chilled with IC before draining), is that really to high for the regular vinyl tubing?
I use silicone now, and it is far better than vinyl. But for about a year I did use the reinforced vinyl that you can get from the big hardware stores, and it works fine. The major annoyance was that it is very inflexible when cold. I suggest giving it a try if you are on a tight budget.

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Old 12-11-2010, 04:59 PM   #9
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Here's an additional question after looking at the bargain fittings site. They offer a two piece valve and a three piece valve - what is the difference (besides one more piece )

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Old 12-11-2010, 09:14 PM   #10
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All brass fittings contain lead, as far as I know...The vinegar and hydrogen peroxide cleaning removes the surface lead...and water is different from wort and beer...


Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryC View Post
I was leaning towards a false bottom vs. a braid because I keep reading about stuck sparges. That seems to happen less for folks using the false bottom. Any thoughts on that issue?
Stuck sparges are pretty rare. The braid may get stuck but so can a FB. I think it has to due with the crush mostly and the lack of rice hulls if they are needed. If you happen to get a stuck sparge with a braid you can use a stick and move it around at least; if it happens on a FB what are you going to do? swear alot I would imagine...

I have had no issues with the braid and only switched to a FB because I made it from a cut top of the keggle so it was extra and there. FB are not cheap to buy... you would also need a dip tube. If not for the keggle I would STILL be using a braid. IMO the main point of braid vs. FB boils down to: batch sparge or fly sparge? One day I may try to fly but I am happy with the batch sparging at this point...I have LOTS of other things to work on before that lol.


Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryC View Post
Thanks for the pointer on the silicone tubing - I would have missed that one. Since the highest temperature it should see is what comes out of the MLT (kettle gets chilled with IC before draining), is that really to high for the regular vinyl tubing?
Vinyl tubing will work but not all that well. Your IC has that vinyl tubing connected to it. I bet it gets clear and really "soft" I personally think it is not advisable to pass hot liquid that people will consume through it to save $5...lol


I am not telling you what you should do but looking back at MY wasted money on fittings sux. The 3 piece are easier to clean because they have more parts. I have all 2 piece but 3 are a little nicer.

Are you going to upgrade to keggles and pump? maybe a brew stand "down the road" or are you happy on the stove? If you plan on ANY upgrading you will want SS 1/2 fittings because that is the "standard" that most people use and when you do get a keggle you have the parts or at least can use what you have.
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