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Old 09-24-2013, 12:14 AM   #1
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Default 5-10 Gallon Single Tier Strut Build

For the last 5 years I've been an on-again/off-again all grain stovetop brewer. My system was ugly and tiny, restricted to a 3 gallon batch on the kitchen gas stove. Well, those days are done and I'm currently in the middle of purchasing the components for a single tier system. That's where you guys all (hopefully) come in.

I'm done saving up for a new system and I've settled on a 5 to 10 gallon gas-fired HERMS system sourced through Stout Kettles. With a 15 gallon vessel capacity I should (according to Brewsmith) be able to handle everything from a little 2.5% abv "barely beer" to a big 14% barley wine. My main concern was having a sufficiently large mash tun but once I priced everything out it made sense to upgrade the other two vessels to 15 gallons as well.

Here's a picture of the entire system minus the liquid and gas plumbing/tubing:


And the stand by itself:


The frame is pretty basic, consisting of five 10ft lengths of 12 gauge superstrut from Home Depot, all the necessary connectors, and two hurricane burners with 4" heat shields from Brewer's Hardware. As much as I'd love a welded unit I neither know any competent welders nor can shell out for a welding unit of of my own given all the other purchases going into this build.

I have the vessels, pumps, and burners in the mail right now but I have a question. Right now I have them designed with the flame bed 2.5" under the kettles. Brewer's Hardware mentions being able to fold over the back end of the shields to improve airflow so I'm planning to do so. This is the first system I've constructed so I'm pretty in the dark here, any advice on burner distance and/or shielding?

The whole setup has a footprint of 1.5 ft x 5 ft and stands 4.5 ft high. Given the nature of strut I should be able to add a control panel and automation on at a later date but so far buying a grain mill, conical, chest freezer, kegging system, stand, and vessels has set me back about $3k so automation will have to wait.

What do you guys think? Any modifications you would recommend?
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Old 09-24-2013, 12:55 PM   #2
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Looks good to me except for trying to move it. Put it on casters. I'm in the process of building a new stand to replace a two vessel cart with a three vessel system. Mine is all electric but will be on a stand very similar to yours.

My only negative is the overall height of your stand and kettles, especially if you put it on wheels. I have found it easier to mash in with the top of the MLT lower so that I can stir it more easily. With only the burners, pumps and chiller mounted below the top of the stand you could possible lower it if you want.

I had a friend cut the strut for mine last week. I thought that I would put one or two sections together just to see how hard it was to assemble during a brew session last Saturday. I got the entire stand done except for casters and a couple of strut fittings that were back ordered during the mash and first part of the boil! Therefore no pictures during assembly.

If your design is done in sketch up, how about posting a link so that others can start from such a good design?

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Old 09-26-2013, 03:25 AM   #3
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Thanks for your advice ChuckO. I've updated the design to simplified and (apparently) more standard Brutus model. It utilizes 4 5ft lengths of 1 5/8" strut and 17 1ft lengths of 1 5/8" strut, has had four 3" casters added, and I've also begun sourcing diamond plate to give the stand a 'floor' and help shield the mash tun from any stray heat.

As for uploading the models, I can certainly do so. Please check out my 3D Warehouse profile for this system as well as a few other pieces I've either made from scratch or modified for brewing.

A sample of the other stuff in there

1-1.5" Sanitary Ball Valve assembly with clamps and 1/2" hose barb:
Bucket-Mounted 3-roller Monster Mill w/ Handle and Extended Hopper (able to be broken down into component parts)
I'll be adding more in as I find need for it or make additional purchases. Thanks.
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Old 09-26-2013, 07:29 PM   #4
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unless you just want to make it heavier, those additional top to bottom struts are not needed for support. I have a 60" frame also, have filled three keggles to the top and still couldnt get it to deflect.

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Old 10-01-2013, 01:16 PM   #5
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unless you just want to make it heavier, those additional top to bottom struts are not needed for support. I have a 60" frame also, have filled three keggles to the top and still couldnt get it to deflect.
I agree with Bucfan, at 60" and the Keg resting on the outer two horizontal struts you should be able to handle over 1,300lbs in the center. Your not going to get anywhere close to that and even with 3 Kegs up there filled with fluid. Plus the outer two kegs are going to have column braces that will support some/most of that weight.

If you wanted to be uber safe and create mounting points for pumps etc then go for it!
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Old 10-02-2013, 03:36 AM   #6
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I'll take your word on not needing the middle supports, it's not like it wouldn't be trivial to add them in if it looks like I need them later.

And this is why I post for feedback here on the forums. I'm now on redesign 4 and, at this point, I think all I've got left is to figure out a good way to provide anchor/support for some of my plumbing. Any suggestions on that?

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Old 10-02-2013, 12:06 PM   #7
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I'll take your word on not needing the middle supports, it's not like it wouldn't be trivial to add them in if it looks like I need them later.

And this is why I post for feedback here on the forums. I'm now on redesign 4 and, at this point, I think all I've got left is to figure out a good way to provide anchor/support for some of my plumbing. Any suggestions on that?

Are you mounting your strut upside down on the bottom? If so you could use some of these: http://www.strutchannelfittings.com/RIGID_c_42.html

I also am building a strut stand (my strut just shipped on Monday YAY!) however I do not plan on mounting it upside down due to the fact that I went with solid strut and wanted a cleaner look/finish. I am going to mount my 2 chugger pumps to the bottom cross section and at present don't plan on rigid plumbing for my set up. I would like to in the future but waiting to see what happens with my MLT, do I stay with a cooler design or swap out to a 3rd Keggle?
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Old 10-06-2013, 04:10 AM   #8
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Are you mounting your strut upside down on the bottom? If so you could use some of these: http://www.strutchannelfittings.com/RIGID_c_42.html

(...)

I am going to mount my 2 chugger pumps to the bottom cross section and at present don't plan on rigid plumbing for my set up. I would like to in the future but waiting to see what happens with my MLT, do I stay with a cooler design or swap out to a 3rd Keggle?
Thanks for the heads upon the pipe fittings but I went with a different setup since I don't plan on having the plumbing flush with the framing. I was originally planning to mount the bottom rails bottom up (as my attached image shows), but given the mounting fittings I'm going to be using to support the plumbing I may flip them back to bottom-down.

8 wings, 14 L-fittings, and 8 T-fittings. Add in the lock nuts and bolts for assembly and it's still not terribly expensive. I'm hoping to have the fittings on order tonight and purchase and chop the framing next week. I'll post pictures as I go.

My setup isn't entirely hard plumbing and hose connectors specifically so I can experiment with the system as I go. The valves and sight glass are mounted to the pumps, but all the connectors to the vessels are silicon tubing until I can figure out exact lengths. I'm actually not sure if I'll hard pipe the system past what's planned, to be honest.
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Old 10-06-2013, 12:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BugHunter
Thanks for the heads upon the pipe fittings but I went with a different setup since I don't plan on having the plumbing flush with the framing. I was originally planning to mount the bottom rails bottom up (as my attached image shows), but given the mounting fittings I'm going to be using to support the plumbing I may flip them back to bottom-down. 8 wings, 14 L-fittings, and 8 T-fittings. Add in the lock nuts and bolts for assembly and it's still not terribly expensive. I'm hoping to have the fittings on order tonight and purchase and chop the framing next week. I'll post pictures as I go. My setup isn't entirely hard plumbing and hose connectors specifically so I can experiment with the system as I go. The valves and sight glass are mounted to the pumps, but all the connectors to the vessels are silicon tubing until I can figure out exact lengths. I'm actually not sure if I'll hard pipe the system past what's planned, to be honest.
That's allot of tri-clover fittings! Any reason you choose them for the entire project instead of the cam locks? I can see using them for the sight glass but not so much the other sections.. Speaking of the sight glass, in that location are you going to be able to monitor the wort during the mash recirc?
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Old 10-06-2013, 12:45 PM   #10
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Honest reason I went with tri-clover for the whole project? Visual continuity. I like the way they look and, if i ever do dial in the system completely and convert to hard piping, it'll be nice to have everything modular and same-system stable. As for the sight glass it's directly in line as the next element in the system after the mash outlet. Once I figure out how I'm hoping to actually draw in the tubing in my model, hopefully it'll be more obvious what goes where then.

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