I'm in the process of planning my conversion of a 36 quart stockpot into a brew kettle. Initially, I'm going to be using it for a BIAB process but don't want to set it up in such a way that I'd be married to that process.
The kettle is a 36 quart Bayou Classic stainless steel pot, I'm adding a ball valve and a thermometer well with a sight tube (from bargainfittings.com) - I have all the parts in hand, and have a pro welder lined up to cut the holes and weld the couplers. As I'm going to be doing BIAB and boiling hops in bags, I have no immediate plans for a false bottom, though it would be nice to have the option to use one should I find the need to. I'll be doing my mash, sparge, and boil in the same pot for now, but it may be that in the future I will use it only for boiling (~5 gallon [net] batches).
I can certainly add a pickup / siphon / drain tube should it be required, my welder has told me he can do either copper or stainless with a 1/2" NPT male end and has the parts on hand to add it if I want.
Here's what I want to know -
1) What should I consider when deciding the placement of the valve coupling (in terms of height from the bottom of the kettle)? Keeping in mind that I won't immediately be using a false bottom, but might in the future. Would it make sense to put the coupling say 2" or so from the bottom and use a pickup tube of whatever length / style makes sense for the process being used?
2) The thermometer well and sight tube use the same fitting (a SS tee attached with a close nipple through a 1/2" NPT coupling). What should I consider regarding placement (both in terms of vertical placement and offset from the ball valve)?
If it matters, I plan on draining the pot via gravity feed through a plate chiller.