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Verloc5150 05-25-2011 01:17 AM

Aces! Another HERMS Build thread!
So I'd been looking to go all grain for a while now. A few months ago, I got a nice phone call from dad saying he'd laid his hands on a pump skid that his work was throwing out, and could I think of any use for a hundred linear feet or so of 304 stainless angle of various sizes.

"Why yes Pop, yes I can. :ban:"

So, we got to planning, cutting steel, and welding.

First weekend's work:
Partially completed frame, with uprights done. The larger area is where the Hot Liquor Tank and Boil Kettle will go once we frame in the rest of the part where we've got the angle halfway up. The other section will be for the mash tank mounted on a tippy-dump.

Second weekend's work:
Platform framed in and banjos mounted.

Closeup of how the HLT and boil kettle are going to sit. The offset is because we'd originally based our measurements on a flat-walled keggle, but I got a screamin' deal on some older barrel shaped kegs. Unfortunately Pops had already got the frame cut and partially welded before I told him about the dimension change on our keggles, so we had to adapt our design and offset the tanks. It'll make plumbing a bit more of a challenge, but should be doable.

Sideview of the stand and Pops. You can just make out the mash tank keggle peeking out there. Next step is to fabricate the tippy-dump and get him mounted, then it's time for pumps and plumbing.

BrewForMe 05-25-2011 01:20 AM

Looks great, what a deal on stainless. Keep the pics coming.

Verloc5150 07-06-2011 01:40 PM

Been a while both since I've had time to work on the system and post back in here. Pops got some stuff done while I was away. Anyway, more peecturez:


Mash tun up on the tippy dump, castors mounted, and keggles keggle-ized.

One of the BG14s plumbed in and doing it's thing.

Next week, mounting pumps, wet plumbing, and electrical.

Verloc5150 07-25-2011 04:50 PM

Been a long time
Been a while since I updated this thread with some fresh pics. That's the bad news. The good news is that it's been a productive while!

HLT with HEX coil installed

Mashtun set up with false bottom and pickup. I'm pretty proud of these, we fabbed all our pickups ourselves.

Pumps and some of our Pipe Nightmare...er, plumbing.

Full view of the system more or less completed.

Another view

Our Mad Max engineered sparge arm. Worked pretty well for the first attempt, we'll probably redesign it to an H-shaped arm with threaded end caps since we had some problems with grain hulls sneaking past the false bottom and clogging the arm up.

Verloc5150 07-25-2011 04:58 PM

Stupid 10 photo limit...
And here's some more....

Another angle of the whole thing with our flex pipe all hooked up. You can also just make out the potable water hose there. One of the Pops Design Features™ on this stand is a nice water supply feature. The sparge arm and that dump currently hanging over the HLT are on swivel 90's that are cut into a fresh water supply, so we can push fresh water into any vessel or loop in the system by opening a few valves.

Gas plumbing and our LPG tank caddy folded up for storage.

Another angle of the back side. You can see where we've got the fresh water supply tied into the boil kettle return up near the top there.

Another Pops Design Feature™. We're using big RV tanks to keep the BG14's fed. Big tanks are heavy tanks. I am lazy. I do not want to move big tanks. So we built a foldaway tank shelf onto our stand so we could just toss the tanks on, wheel the stand out, chock the wheels and go.

Another view of the tank caddy.

First brew day. Dumping some carboys of fresh water into the HLT so I can get at least a halfassed calibration done on the sight glasses.

Canine assistant does not know what funny smelling metal contraption is, but doesn't like it because it competes with her for my attention.

Pops and little bro working hard on the first brew day.

We got everything completed up to the point where I was able to take this thing for a spin this weekend and did 10 gallons of Centennial on it. We wound up coming in about 5 points low on the gravity, so our efficiency was slightly under 70% but not by much so I won't complain about for a maiden voyage. Once we get the kinks all worked out I figure we should be up around 70-75% efficiency where we belong.

For a first attempt things went surprisingly well. We're going to have to add some heat shielding around the lines running between the boil kettle and HLT as it was causing problems with the lines as well as with heating the rest of system and causing pressure issues. (Almost had a flex hose blew because we'd forgotten to open up a loop on the HEX coil while we were heating the HLT for the first time. :o ) I'm also buying about 40 pounds of ice for future brewdays as well. We set the plumbing up so we can use the HEX coil to chill the wort after the boil, but we needed a lot colder water to do so than what the hose gave us.

Pop's building a box out this week for some toggle switches and to get the electrical for the pumps out of the way. Eventually I'll have some Love controllers living in that box as well. We've also got to get a better locking system built for the tippy-dump on the MLT, but it worked well enough for our first run.

The_Dog_42 07-25-2011 05:05 PM

Glad to hear the first brew day was a success. Do your keggles have holes in the rim around the bottom? It looked like it did, but you don't want this to happen.

Verloc5150 07-25-2011 05:12 PM

Yes, we made very sure that the bottom lips on both the fired vessels were drilled out. I almost needed a change of shorts when we forgot to open the HEX coil up and nearly blew a flex line, which goes at like 10psi. I don't even want to think of what would happen if you had heavy stainless like that under enough pressure to blow....

Verloc5150 03-22-2012 05:22 PM

Wow been forever and a day since I've updated this thread! Been too busy brewing :D

After about 8 months and 10 batches, we've been making some incremental upgrades to the Pipe Nightmare (as we've christened the brewstand).

Pops scrounged up an old sensor box from somewhere and wired us some toggle switches for the pumps so we no longer have to dick around with plugging/unplugging em by hand.

We also did away with the copper loop sparge assembly (it kept clogging) and built this wacky chandelier looking contraption. It gets the job done, despite it's vaguely Willy Wonka-esque appearance.

Since we now had a control box, we went ahead and wired up a Love controller so we have digital temp readout. I knocked a T into the pipe feeding our sparge assembly and put a little thermowell in there so we can monitor our wort temp while recirculating during mash. We've also got wells in the HLT and boil kettle. Eventually I'm going to get a couple more Love controllers wired in so we don't have to keep moving the thermistor around.

And a couple brewday pics from our latest batch, a clone of Founders Breakfast Stout:

Mashing with a whole 1" of headspace left in the tun. The FBS clone is far and away the biggest beer we've done on this system. Our grain bill came in right at 37lbs and basically maxed out our tun.

Boil on the FBS clone featuring the hop spider pops built out of about $10 worth of stuff from home depot. The vinyl tubing is actually connected to the top of the sight glass. It's a kludge fix for a problem we have with the sight glasses boiling and spraying wort everywhere. It's probably caused by rollout from the burners, we're still finding all the little spots where we need to add more heat shielding.

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