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Old 01-16-2013, 03:19 PM   #1
kevreh
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Default Adjustable shelf instead of a pump

I was thinking (ok, daydreaming) about a potential electric brewery on my horizon. When thinking about the design and details, my goal is to keep it as simple as possible. Basically, a two tier system- one level for the kettle with heat elements (higher) and the other level just for mashing (lower). The electric kettle would heat the mash water AND act as a boil kettle.

When thinking about moving water & wort, I started thinking about the typical paths with piping and a pump. Alternatively, I thought that instead of moving hot water and wort with a pump why not use gravity exclusively. Obviously that works initially to dump the hot water into the mash tun, but when done mashing, how do you get the wort back to the HLT for the boil.

So I came to the theory of having the mash tank on a shelf that can be elevated up and down. Either manually or with a motor. The unknown is what is an efficient gear/mechanical system to raise a small (~20"x20") but heavy (70+ lbs) platform. Gears? Worm screw? Pully's? That way, after the mash is done the platform could be raised up above the HLT so gravity could be used to drain the wort back to the HLT pot.

Benefits:

- Simpler design, less plumbing
- Could be cheaper if the cost of the materials/method to raise the shelf are less than the pump and plumbing
- Easier to clean because of less plumbing

Challenges:

- Method to mechanically raise and lower the shelf.
- Hoses or pipes from the HLT pot will have to be flexible or fixed (but removed when the shelf is raised or lowered)

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Old 01-16-2013, 04:08 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by kevreh View Post

Benefits:

- Simpler design, less plumbing
I disagree with this. Less plumbing yes but you have to design and custom make something that can raise and lower 70+ lbs of near or boiling liquid. Pump seems easier and safer to me.

I think you are over thinking this. A pump with quick disconnects is very simple to plumb and cleaning is also pretty damn easy. Not like you have to take the thing apart after each use or anything.
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:30 PM   #3
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Challenges:

- Method to mechanically raise and lower the shelf.
Which is basically everything.

I would love to see this if you can pull it off but it seems like this is anything but simple and whatever you come up with I'd bet it is going to be more expensive than a simple pump. Why not just a 3 tier system that starts with the boil kettle on the top to heat water and then moves below the mashtun to collect the wort and boil.

Like I said, I would like to see it, but it sounds more work than necessary.
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:36 PM   #4
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winch. I too have been pondering this. the best I've come up with is a single platform with a track above and a winch that can move across the length of the platform on the track, to be attatched to whichever vessel needs elevating.

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Old 01-16-2013, 04:59 PM   #5
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Yes, the most simple setup would be a 3 tier system where you put a heating element into the top HLT and also in the bottom BK where your controller can either select between those two or you physically unplug and replug the vessel that needs power and control.

It sounded like you're trying to stick to a 2 vessel system, but you are aware that you have to run a no sparge brewing process right? You might as well just use a BIAB process if you're going to do that and then you just need a winch to remove the bag and you get to stick with one vessel.

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Old 01-16-2013, 05:07 PM   #6
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It sounded like you're trying to stick to a 2 vessel system, but you are aware that you have to run a no sparge brewing process right?
Ah, this is something I did not think of which I guess makes sense as to why you would need three kettles for a three tier system as in my suggestion...
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:49 PM   #7
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Yes, the most simple setup would be a 3 tier system where you put a heating element into the top HLT and also in the bottom BK where your controller can either select between those two or you physically unplug and replug the vessel that needs power and control.

It sounded like you're trying to stick to a 2 vessel system, but you are aware that you have to run a no sparge brewing process right? You might as well just use a BIAB process if you're going to do that and then you just need a winch to remove the bag and you get to stick with one vessel.
Yeah, I wanted to avoid double sets of heating elements with a 3 tier. But you make a good point about using the same controller to select between the "upper" or "lower" vessel. That could even be a simple 2-way switch in the control panel.

Actually, now that I'm returning to all grain I am pretty much using the BIAB method. Unless I do some kind of RIMs or HERMs, once I drop that bag in the mash tun there's no heat up. But that's fine, adding a RIM system can be a future upgrade.
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:58 PM   #8
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winch. I too have been pondering this. the best I've come up with is a single platform with a track above and a winch that can move across the length of the platform on the track, to be attatched to whichever vessel needs elevating.
Yep, a winch (like this one at Harbor Freight: http://www.harborfreight.com/1000-lb...nch-65688.html) is probably easiest. Winch mounted to ceiling or frame, vessel needs hook on each side with a cable to connect them and lift by. If you want to get fancy Harbor Freight also has powered winches too.
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Old 01-16-2013, 06:44 PM   #9
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Nothing says you can't make up a very coarse separation shelf between the low mounted heating element and the bag.

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Old 01-17-2013, 03:36 PM   #10
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Here is a picture of my two tiered solution with one pump:



I heat the mash water in the boil kettle, then transfer that water to the lower mash tun with the pump.

While mashing, I then heat the sparge water and transfer that to the upper sparge tank with the pump.

Then I gravity feed the water from the sparge tank into the mash tun and use the pump to transfer the wort from the mash tun to the boil kettle.

Works pretty well for me.

Casey

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