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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Lowe's blows: my AG woes
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Old 01-28-2007, 05:58 PM   #1
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Default Lowe's blows: my AG woes

Yesterday I woke up with the kind of excited feeling that you can only get when you're going to go shopping for your first all-grain equipment. I drove to my friendly (read: smelly and dirty) neighborhood Wal-Mart, and after waiting at customer service for over an hour to return a broken portable DVD player, I went to the cooler section. Loads of the Coleman XTreme coolers, but they were all 52 quarts. In fact, they had no coolers that were smaller than 50 quarts. I went to the mall next and looked for one there, but no dice. Not wanting to go home without a cooler at all, I gave in and went back to Wal-Mart and grabbed a 52-quarter. It's a lil' big, but it should do the trick just fine. I also picked up a gas burner (my brew pot is en route from eBay) and an air pump for aerating.

As soon as I got in my car, I removed the plastic bulkhead and drain plug from the cooler. I had a list of the equipment I needed to get at Lowe's, one piece of which was a metal bulkhead with threading on both ends so I could attach a barb to each end, and on the inside of the cooler, attach some braided toilet hose cover. The guy at Lowe's had no idea what I was talking about when I described the bulkead, so I went out to my car and grabbed the issue of BYO that I had brought along, and showed him exactly what I wanted. Of course, Lowe's doesn't carry anything like that, so I was forced to go away with only my toilet hose. I could have picked up the ball valve and barbs, but what would be the point?

So now I have most of my AG stuff, but am missing several critical tiny components. I found several of the bulkheads online, buy they seem awfully pricey for such a simple piece of metal. Anyone come up with a clever way of skirting this issue?

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Old 01-28-2007, 06:07 PM   #2
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See this post for parts - I am about the same stage as you.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthre...302#post190302

Remember, we are adapting pieces and parts for odd creations, don't expect everybody at a hardware store to understand our adaptations. I have not seen bulkhead fittings at any of 3-4 different normal hardware stores I have been in here, they are not common plumbing parts, but more a specialty part, but have not looked at specialty / industrial type stores.

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Old 01-28-2007, 06:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ayrton
I found several of the bulkheads online, buy they seem awfully pricey for such a simple piece of metal. Anyone come up with a clever way of skirting this issue?
I don't know about it being pricey. I paid about $15 for mine, which I got from Northern Brewer. I'm sure you could locate the individual parts if you really wanted to, but it would probably entail going to specialty plumbing shops, or maybe dealing with a plumber directly, to locate some of these parts. In the end, my time was worth more than the $5-7 I would have saved. And, with the bulkhead I ordered, I was paying for piece of mind, because the XL version was designed with the Coleman Xtreme in mind. It fits absolutely perfectly.

If you're really intent on building the bulkhead yourself, you could just buy a long enough threaded nipple to fit through the hole in the Xtreme, get a couple of washers, and some o-rings (make sure the o-rings are temperature tolerant...another thing not to worry about when ordering the bulkhead pre-built). I did try this, but I wasn't satisfied with how loose it fit on the cooler. I think it would have held a seal, but the thing spun around with no effort. The bulkhead from NB fits very solid.

Whatever way you decide to go, let me know. If you figure out a way to build one yourself that fits securely, I'd like to know the exact parts you used. If you have success, I'll try it on the next MLT I build, if I ever see the need to do so. Good luck!
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Old 01-28-2007, 06:19 PM   #4
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I went round and round trying different things, wasting hours of time driving around, plus gas, only to have the stupid thing leak every time. I finally got fed up and took my cooler to Austin Home Brew and asked to give me a bulkhead that would fit.

Go for a Kewler Kitz Bulkhead and save yourself the aggravation.

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Old 01-28-2007, 07:36 PM   #5
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Looks like I'm not alone.

Alright, alright...I'll break down and just get the XL bulkhead.

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Old 01-28-2007, 07:42 PM   #6
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if you're getting one, minus well get two mate

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Old 01-29-2007, 12:49 AM   #7
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I'm at the same point as much of you lot.

I've been brewing for a while, as my buddy's "copilot," but am now setting up my own home brewery. Funny, I thought I knew everything .... Anyway, friendly competition and all that, I've built a ten-gallon mash/lauter tun to out-do my friend's five-gallon (a ten-gallon over a five-gallon, despite the significant upcharge, based on the well given voices of experience and advice on this forum--cheers, mates).

I took it to Home Despot--nearly everything in 3/8 and 1/2 was out. Maybe I needed to come back when the plumbing fittings would have been restocked. Impatiently, I then I went to our friendly small-town hardware store, where they set me up well. They even lopped off the ends of the supply-line braid, saving me the pleasure of burning through a half-dozen hack saw blades. (They were fascinated to learn that the supply line was going to be used for making beer.)

What braid/bulkhead fitting scheme did I follow? The one in the appendix of the in-print edition of Palmer's "How to Brew" (I chose the circular braid scheme). Palmer offers many, many variations on how to make and to install manifolds, SS braids, and false bottoms in both rectangular and round coolers, with photographs and diagrams sufficient to help this non-engineer/plumber know what to find/ask for.

The braid, valve, all brass fittings, and the silicon o-rings and washers all cost me a hair under $19.00. It took me about ten minutes to install and test with boiling water.

I seriously recommend Palmer's book. It's perfect for those transitioning to AG.

Cheers

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Old 01-29-2007, 12:56 AM   #8
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Support your local mom and pop shops!

I always have better luck there. The stores may be smaller in size, but they seem to have more when it comes to putting custom projects together. That and they know what they are talking about and can/are wiling to help you bastardize stuff to make things work. Sometimes they even come up with better stuff to use.

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Old 01-29-2007, 05:08 AM   #9
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I've had success finding what I need at Lowes/HD for my HLT and mashtun (brass close nipple, brass fem/fem connector for inside, stainless washers w/o-rings and food grade silicone). My boil kettle has a Zymico set up- and if and when I do it again, I'd just buy the Zymie bulkhead.

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Old 01-29-2007, 07:15 AM   #10
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Try a dedicated plumbing suppliers if you have such a thing.
They are brass nipples over here. 3inch should do.

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