Im not sure if I mentioned it in this thread or not, but the corkboard thing didnt work out like I had hoped. The unfortunate thing is that there is always going to be liquid making its way out of the kettle in one form or another, and with soft wood like I used its a bad setup. I switched over to using tiles now instead and they work great.
The water manifold works great as long as you have a good hose connection. Mine leaks a bit so we put a small pot underneath it during cooling to catch the extra water for cleanup water. I have thought about putting together an all copper manifold at some point just to have it be a bit cleaner looking, but the problem is it remains perfectly functional so i havent had a reason to change it.
So I guess other than the cork board thing I am really happy with my setup. Kal's instructions are great, and over the years as I discovered problems with my wiring (loose connections, etc) I have reached out to him and he has been very helpful - which for someone who doesnt know enough about electricity has been a huge help for me.
Good luck with your build!