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Old 01-02-2009, 06:13 PM   #1
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Default RIMS/HERMS Grain Compaction?

Yes, I'm aware I started two threads with RIMS/HERMS in the title. They're not the same topic.

Having had my direct fired RIMS tun running for a good 6 batches or so, I'm having some issues. During the warmer months, I didn't have to run the burner or pump during the sac rest at all. With two layers of reflectix, I'd lose maybe 2F over 60 minutes. That's comparable to a cooler and within my tolerances.

Now that it's cold in the garage, I've been applying heat at the 30 minute mark (and dabbling in step mashing". What I've found is, no matter how slow I attempt to run the recirculation, after about 15 minutes I start pulling air due to grain compaction similar to a stuck sparge. I have a 15" diameter full false bottom so I'm surprised I'm running into this problem. For now, my solution has been to stir the mash every 10 minutes or so when I'm running the pump, but I get the impression that most folks with semi-automated systems are more hands off. What gives?

This issue has been keeping me from considering the old heatstick on a controller type systems since I can't run the pump for 60 minutes and walk away.

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Old 01-02-2009, 06:17 PM   #2
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Many people use grants. Gravity feed into a container and then connect the out of the container to your pump. Adjust the flow into the container and the speed of the pump so the level stays constant. I wish I had some links for you but in the past I've seen small SS containers (like the kind you store coffee in w/ the glass lid) modified w/ weldless fittings to achieve this. Maybe that will work?

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Old 01-02-2009, 06:23 PM   #3
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By the way, I use a HERMS system but have the coil in a different container (1 gallon cooler). I use 3/8" copper tubing and the coil creates enough resistance that I can run the pump full open w/o compacting the grain. It was by accident as I was looking for 1/2" tubing but it was too expensive at the time so I went with 3/8". I now just open the required valves and turn the pump on. After it's recirculating for a few minutes I give the mash a stir and the bed seems to float back to normal and it's g2g for the entire time.

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Old 01-02-2009, 06:28 PM   #4
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With my HERMS I run my recirculation for the full mash. I leave my 1/2" valves about half open and dont have any issues with grain compaction.

I have no clue.

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Old 01-02-2009, 06:30 PM   #5
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Barring some massive, consistent, air filled dough balls.....

What bothers me is the "pulling air" bit. the screams of a leak that is temperature sensitive and only shows itself when there is a pressure change (or something like that).

I dunno exactly, it's too hard to say at this point as there are too many variables at play (Grain bed depth, recirc rate,etc.) but my best guess is that when the heat is on, something is opening up enough to allow the pump to pull in an air pocket, cavitate, and lose prime.

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Old 01-02-2009, 06:44 PM   #6
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No air leaks in the system. Well, think of it like this, the grain sits on top of my false bottom. As more and more of the wort is pump up on top, less of it is available in the space under the bottom. The siphone tube picks up the last of it until it starts getting air. Of course, I could reduce the flow to a mere trickle to give the wort time to slip through the compacted grain bed, but I'm also concerned with overheating.

Here's something I just thought of. I run thick mashes somewhere in the range of 1-1.25qts/lb. My tun takes 7/8ths of a gallon before it hits the FB. I typically calculate to 1qt/lb and then add 1 gallon. So for example, on a 16lb grain bill, I'd use 5 gallons. Nearly one gallon of that is below the FB.

For those that run full time recirculation, what are your thicknesses?

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Old 01-02-2009, 06:48 PM   #7
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There is about .5 quarts below my false bottom, I mash in at 1.25qt/lb. I use a constant recirc.

The odd thing is that the only difference you noted, was adding heat.

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Old 01-02-2009, 06:51 PM   #8
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Another variable I'm thinking about is crush. I mean, I crush WAY fine.

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Old 01-02-2009, 06:56 PM   #9
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If you have changed your crush since the warmer months, that would make more sense to me than the heat. May not want to crush so fine then.

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Old 01-02-2009, 07:02 PM   #10
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I haven't changed the crush at all since I got the mill and first set it up. What's changed since summer is how often I recirculate. When it warm, the longest recirc time is for mash out ramp up.

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