HLT-less RIMS build. First build/AG system.
Hello all. As I have a few friends that I know follow these forums, and I know that I might be doing something a bit different from the norm that might benefit others so I thought I'd start documenting my build and brewing experiences here.
First, I've never brewed an AG batch before. This below is me diving into all grain brewing head first with no more than reading How to Brew and spending a few countless hours reading on these forums.
I decided on an HLT-less all electric system build primarily because I had stumbled upon a large stock of stainless fittings/valves on ebay and that of the three kegs I had purchased, only two had been converted and cut to be keggles. Anything below was really only stumbled upon due to these two facts. It was convenient, different than the norm and with out any experience with electric or all grain brewing it seemed most convenient with the parts/space/equipment I had.
The entire system originates from having a surplus of 1/2" stainless valves as part of a bulk SS 1/2" fittings lot I found on ebay for pennies on the dollar. As any other HLT-less system, instead of a HLT, when sparging, the Mash pumps to the boiler and I pass the house tap water system through the RIMS system as close to the speed of the output to the boiler. I believe that the manifold I've made will be simple and intuitive and fits my space well.
Another modification that I believe is somewhat clever is where I've placed my thermocouple. I had originally purchased a thermocouple long before I put together my system that had a sensor that was ~4" long. After attempting to put together my RIMS tube, there was no way the system would fit together with out the heating element directly effecting the PID. However, one of my PIDs shipped with a very small K type thermocouple. I was able to drill into the side of one of my stainless valves and insert the thermocouple there, and it holds pressure.
I'm going to attempt to attach a few pictures, one showing the system, one showing the manifold I put together, and the other showing the thermocouple drilled through the valve. Tonight I only got as far as cutting and running hoses. Tomorrow I'll run through a few water only batches, "training" my PID and checking for any slow leaks.
I'd greatly appreciate any comments/warnings/questions.
[pictures are delayed. None of the computers in the house are apparently willing to read the images off my camera. I'll try again tomorrow.]
Left to right: Tap water in, out to RIMS system, in from pump, out to boiler
Couldn't get a good focus on thermocouple with backup camera. Use this valve to control flow through RIMS and get temp value for PID.
Previous owner had weldless 1/4" valves which I decided to leave in place and use as soft sight glass. All I have to do right now is mark the sight glasses and wire the two heating elements.
I'd really like to know how this is going for you.
Another member here tried this; not sure if you've seen it yet...
I am going to be trying something similar in a few months
Sorry, trips out of the state and out of the country had me put this aside for a bit.
First, the 4500w heating element wouldn't stabilize at sparging temps. Dealing with WI tap water below 60f, regardless of how much tuning I did on the PID, would creep above the target and then immediately crash to 130f.
Now i've got a more maddening problem. I replaced it with a 220v 5500w heating element, and now it wont heat the water beyond 125f, even if I almost bring the flow to a halt.
I'm embarrassed to say I wired my entire control box with out a multimeter, so now I'm waiting for that to compare the two elements, but I'm going crazy not knowing what the next step for my system should be. I've got another keg that I can get cut for an HLT, but I was really hoping to stay with a two vessel system.
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