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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Brew Stands > Direct Fired RIMS
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Old 11-29-2010, 11:53 PM   #1
imperialipa
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Default Direct Fired RIMS

So I have a boilermaster 10Gal with a false bottom. Currently I am mashing in it and the temps seem to do OK but do fluctuate and at time I have to fire up the burner and vourlauf back into the mash to get the temp up when it drops.

I thought it would be cool to somehow hook up a pump and a temperature gauge to the kettle and then all I have to do is turn on and off the burner as necessary and no manual recirculating.

I dont have a pilot light on the camping burner so I wuold still have to turn on and off the heat myself.

How would you guys recommend going about this? I have seen some good pumps but the hard part drilling a hole into my boilermaker for the warmed directfire wort to be reintroduced. What kind of temp guage do you use and where do you put it to monitor temp?

I woudl imagine you want to take the temp of the wort as it is being dumped back into the kettle?

Is there a specific type of temp gauge I need or one that works well with brewing and liquid.

I dont want to spend a ton of money but basically want soemthingt hat can recirculate my wort and give me an accurate temp reading at the same time so I know when to turn on and off the heat manually.

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Old 11-30-2010, 02:52 AM   #2
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...and so it begins

I was in exactly your situation and with nearly the exact same ideas in mind. I did the manual circulation a couple of times and decided that a pump would reduce the effort and give me better temperature control.

1. Circulating with a pump while manually controlling the burner works, but it requires constant attention and it's a PIA having to frequently re-ignite the burner. Adding a pilot burner was a big improvement in convenience. http://www.pexsupply.com/Honeywell-Q...rner-4113000-p

2. The March, Little Giant or Chugger pumps would all work OK. You don't necessarily need to drill a hole in your kettle for the wort return. I simply use a wooden bar across the top of the kettle to hold a return manifold. Others drill a hole in the kettle lid. (I don't use a lid on my MT), and others still simply go up over the side with a length of tubing. Drilling a hole in my kettle did not appeal to me either.

3. I use a Johnson A419 digital temp controller to operate a solenoid gas valve on the burner. The controller probe is mounted at the pump outlet in the wort stream flow. Others have the probe mounted at the outlet of the kettle with a tee and a thermowell of some kind. I have a separate digital thermometer with the probe suspended in the grain bed. I adjust the controller according to this thermometer reading. I cannot claim that this configuration is the best way to do it, but it works for me.

4. Your last sentence pretty well describes what I wanted out of a system. It can be done and the cost isn't too bad, but by the time you get the pump, temperature controller, pilot burner, gas solenoid valve, liquid control valves, misc. plumbing hardware and hoses etc you will probably be looking at about $300 or so.

5. Lastly, it's not tremendously difficult to build and operate a direct fired RIMS, but neither is it the slam dunk that I thought it would be.

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Old 11-30-2010, 05:18 AM   #3
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Wow you nailed exactly what I was trying to do.

$300.00 sounds in the realm of reason. I have no idea how to hook up a solenoid gas valve. I would assume if i get one its pretty self explanitory.

For the pilot light do you just installa splitter? One line goes to the solenoid and one line goes to the pilot light?

Anyone have a recommendation for a good valve?

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Old 11-30-2010, 05:51 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imperialipa View Post
Wow you nailed exactly what I was trying to do.

$300.00 sounds in the realm of reason. I have no idea how to hook up a solenoid gas valve. I would assume if i get one its pretty self explanitory.

For the pilot light do you just installa splitter? One line goes to the solenoid and one line goes to the pilot light?

Anyone have a recommendation for a good valve?
I am using a 110v actuated valve, so it opens when power is supplied by the controller. It simply mounts in line after the gas regulator. I have the pilot tee'd off of the gas line between the regulator and the solenoid valve just like you mentioned.

Here's a good source for the solenoid valves:

http://stores.ebay.com/valves4projects

Contact their tech support and tell them what you are doing and they will recommend a valve. Their tech support is excellent and they respond quickly. Tell them you are a home brewer. They are familiar with us brewers and they will gladly help you. Their prices are good and the valves are high quality.

My RIMS is basically a modular arrangement. I mounted the gas valve directly to the burner stand. PM me and I can send you a few pics if you would like.

The pilot burner is not thermocouple linked. This is obviously not the safest way to do it, but I take care to never leave the burner unattended while in use. Pilot or not, I would never leave a propane burner unattended while operating.
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imperialipa View Post
Wow you nailed exactly what I was trying to do.

$300.00 sounds in the realm of reason. I have no idea how to hook up a solenoid gas valve. I would assume if i get one its pretty self explanitory.

For the pilot light do you just installa splitter? One line goes to the solenoid and one line goes to the pilot light?

Anyone have a recommendation for a good valve?
For less than $200 you can do it automatically with an Electric RIMS and not worry about messing with pilots and the lot.
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Old 11-30-2010, 04:35 PM   #6
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I tend to agree with the electric route, if I was going to invest money I would probably do electric RIMS with a controller.

That said, I do a constant recirculation through my mash with direct fire using a March pump. My mash tun is a converted keg with false bottom.

I choose not automate for several reasons. I could say expense, but honestly when it comes down to it I rarely find a compelling reason not to invest in my brewery because it's a hobby that brings me so much pleasure I find I can easily justify the cost. But personally, I've found I feel more "in touch" with my brew process by not automating (this is by no means a dig on automation, it's an awesome improvement for any brewery and if I brewed more than three times a month I would likely consider).

Anyway, back to the set up. Controlling mash temp with direct fire and recirculation is what I refer to as "the dance". Once I hit my target mash temp with small flame and recirculation I have to find that magic combination to hold temperature. The variables are outside temperature where I brew, wind, grist volume, flame level, and lid on or off. So depending on those factors, I find I can manage a constant temperature with very low flame by simply leaving the lid on (or off). Or maybe I increase the flame slightly, etc. It takes literally minutes to find the combination, and then I hold my temp to the degree for the entire mash. Only minor fiddling required, with no need for solenoids, temperature controllers, etc. This process keeps me very much in tune with my equipment and all of the variables for manual control. Again, just my way, but I find it works well.

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Old 12-01-2010, 12:20 AM   #7
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Yes the dance. I have been doing it by vourlaufing during mash. Its a pain. Although certainly not the end of the world.

But I definately love the gadget aspect of brewing. I do not have alot of experience with gas, plumbing, temperature gagues etc so the process of setting up a fairly straightforward direct fire rims seemed very interesting to me.

As far as electric that seems pretty easy too but the idea of wiring and electricity and liquid makes me more nervous than dealing with a highly flammable liquid. Haha I guess either way can be dangerous if your not careful.

I think I will start collecting the parts and slowly build this up. Hopefully learning from the "masters" like you guys as I go.

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