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Old 06-12-2012, 07:43 PM   #1
TripelThreat
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Default Cooler Bulkhead for Heat Element? Help!

I've decided to transition to all-grain brewing, and I've settled on the use electric heat instead of gas.

The first project I'm tackling is the construction of my HLT. I decided to use a 10gal Igloo round cooler. I've seen a few projects where folks have install the heater vertially through the bottom of the cooler, such that it sticks straight up. Example:



I'm not a big fan of this design, as you have to maintain a pretty high water level to avoid damaging the element. My goal is to be able to automating the mashing process, so I'd like to eliminate that variable if possible by keeping the element lower.

I would rather install my element through the side of the cooler. This makes the bulkhead design a little more challenging since we're working with a concave surface. Most of the bottom-installed setups I've seen don't actually use a bulkhead. They just screw the element threads right through the plastic cooler and use chemical sealants. I'd really prefer something a little more serviceable, and I'd like to avoid putting sealants in contact with my water.

Has anyone constructed a bulkhead to use a heater element in a water cooler? Or any non-bulkhead solutions to install the element horizontally? If so, would you be willing to share the details of your design?

Thanks!

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Old 07-26-2012, 06:01 PM   #2
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I'm glad I bumped into this thread since I'm trying to construct the same thing. The problem with going though the side is the dual walls. When trying to create a seal, tightening any nuts or bulkheads will just crush the insulation and still not create a complete seal. I'm thinking of cutting through the outer wall, removing insulation and then threading through the second wall. I'm still not sure if one can get a good enough seal due to the curvature of the wall though. A second option would be a heat stick with a 90º elbow holding the element so it sits horizontally...

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Old 07-26-2012, 06:29 PM   #3
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I agree, you'll have cut a bigger hole in the outside wall of the cooler & remove the insulation. Then work with the "inner wall" like it was a kettle wall. You'll just have to be a little more careful since we're dealing with a plastic wall instead of metal, so you won't want to wrench it down too tight.
1.25" hole makes for a very snug fit for the element's threads, just enough to get inside to meet with the locknut, then put a silicone o-ring on the outside between the cooler wall and element base. Always a good idea to isolate the element's wiring connections of course.

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Old 07-27-2012, 01:51 AM   #4
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*OFF TOPIC*

DustBow what part of Cincy are you brewing in?

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Old 07-27-2012, 02:56 PM   #5
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I live in the Eastgate/Mt Carmel area - just off of 32, a mile or 2 inside the loop

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Old 07-27-2012, 09:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DustBow View Post
I live in the Eastgate/Mt Carmel area - just off of 32, a mile or 2 inside the loop
Wow! I like 1.5 miles away from the Meijer in Eastgate. I actually grew up in the Mt. Carmel Brewery house until I was 11, then my parents sold it to the current owners / brewers
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Old 07-28-2012, 11:58 AM   #7
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I wonder if your keys still work......

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Old 07-28-2012, 12:52 PM   #8
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Lol, I'm sure they wouldnt mind if I filled a few corny's up

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Old 07-28-2012, 03:35 PM   #9
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I finished mine a couple weeks ago and using that technique worked great. I sealed it with silicone for good measure, but it didn't leak without. I also added a gang box to keep the wiring somewhat protected.

I have some detailed photos at home. Ill share after the weekend.

forumrunner_20120728_113435.jpg   forumrunner_20120728_113449.jpg  
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Old 07-31-2012, 09:01 PM   #10
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More photos attached. This should show where I drilled my holes, how things lined up, etc. If you have a long element like I used, I'd suggest not running in directly towards your valve outlet! My element is right up against the valve. The handle got quite toasty Otherwise, it was pretty easy! Works amazingly well, too. In the time it takes me to fill the cooler, the water is already at 180*F

dscn1161.jpg   dscn1163.jpg   dscn1166.jpg   dscn1164.jpg   2012-07-04_16-52-57_66.jpg  

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