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Old 03-04-2013, 08:24 PM   #1
nameless
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Default Bottle sanitizer

I got a set of those Fastrack bottle trays. It works, but I wish there was an inch more space between each holder so it would better accommodate larger bottles, which is what I've primarily moved to because I hate sanitizing all those smaller bottles.

In my quest to eliminate or minimize the crappy parts of the brewing process, I decided to build a manifold that you could sit under the rack and pump the solution in all 24 bottles at the same time. I decided to use copper to do this because you can't get small PVC pipes and I was wanting to learn how to sweat and solder pipes. I thought about using just plastic tubing and some nylon barbed tees, but the 1/4" is the standard for those, and with 24 1/4" outlets I wasn't sure I'd get the pressure needed to get the water all the way up.

Material:

  • 10ft. 1/2" copper pipe ($18)
  • 3x copper tee ($0.86 ea, 5520K71)
  • 2x elbow, female ($0.49 ea, 5520K61)
  • 1x elbow, male ($2.62, 5520K264)
  • 1x female to male NPT ($1.07, 5520K11)
  • 4x cap ($0.36 ea, 5520K44)

Total: ~$35 with shipping

Tools:
  • Pipe cutter
  • Torch (solder, flux, steel wool or pipe brush)
  • Drill

The bottles are spaced out 2.5" apart on this rack. To achieve that spacing with the above mentioned fittings, you'll need to cut the pipe into:

4x 15"
3x 1 5/8"

From there, I prepped and soldered everything together and then drilled the holes. Alignment was tricky for me because I actually don't own some simple tools like a square. As a result I worked backwards from what would seem like the easiest way to sweat everything. I started with the caps, then put a tee on each of the 15" pieces and then made the final connections.

I drilled last, again for alignment sake. Unfortunately I drilled by hand, and although I was close, it wasn't very accurate. My initial intention was to solder a 2", 1/8" diameter copper tube to each hole to create a jet to squirt straight up. This way you could set the bottles directly on the manifold as well as keeping them in the rack. However, after the testing it with just the holes, water shot a good two feet up from even the furthest hole from the input. So the 'jets' are not necessary, provided that the holes are accurately drilled, which mine aren't. I just tried to solder on a piece of the 1/8" tubing to one of the holes, and it's much more difficult than I imagined, so I'll probably just get some more copper tubing and drill it properly.

Once this is done, I'll put some type of spacers on the manifold so I know where to set the rack, or I'll just cut a notch in each leg of the rack so it'll sit nicely on the manifold. I still need to find a tub that this will fit into, along with the pump, which is a cheap submersible pump that I had lying around. Hopefully I'll have it finished in a day or two.
img_20130304_121252.jpg   img_20130304_121320.jpg  
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Old 04-11-2013, 10:31 PM   #2
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Default Awesome idea - I have some on order and was thinking about doing the same

Really awesome idea!

I am a total lazy s-o-b so the thought of being able to pop the used bottles in here and have them washed, then run star-san through it for the sanitizing wash without having to transfer a boatload of bottles back and forth has me excited. I was thinking about using a little pond pump to draw pbw (or other cleaner) from a small dish tub and blast the bottles. Just a matter of setting the fastrack on top of the rig and turning things on.

Definitely post again once you find out how your setup works (Con's or things that you would have done better)!

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Old 05-21-2013, 03:55 AM   #3
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Nameless, How is the bottle washer working now that you have been using it? Does the bottle washer still work without the jets to clean a bottle? The reason I ask is that it almost doesn't seem like the water would continue to hit the bottom of the bottle once the water starts to run back down and out the neck of the bottle. Have you had any problems? I am looking to build this this weekend.

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Old 05-21-2013, 05:39 AM   #4
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Default

Sorry for the lack of an update, I've been out of it for a bit. Basically the first iteration of this failed: the holes drilled by hand were not drilled with enough precision to channel the water straight up. Fortunately I ordered spares of everything as I figured I'd screw up along the way, so I just started from scratch and it came out well.

Ladder, you are exactly right, the draining water does very briefly stop the jet from hitting the top, but this cycles and is negligible, there's still plenty of contact. I could see this being greatly affected by flow rate and pressure. I'm using the pump that came with Mark's Keg Washer, but I'm not at home so I don't know what the specs are on it. Likewise I don't remember what size holes I drilled, but they were smaller than the first time. Of course the smaller the hole the more pressure and less flow you'll have, which should minimize that problem.

Here's what I learned:

-The order which you solder everything matters! I didn't put enough thought into it the first go around so I basically soldered all the Ts and elbows together and then put the tubes on last. As you might imagine, the angles of the tubes were off just slightly, but I think it would have made a significant difference had the holes been properly drilled. I'd recommend soldering the Ts to the tubes first, prepping the spacers for the Ts, and then clamp the four tubes between two pieces of wood or something to keep them straight before soldering the Ts together. That way they're exactly parallel to each other. Does that make sense?

-You pretty much meet a drill press to make the holes. There's no way I was getting any closer than what I did the first time drilling it by hand. Maybe someone has another suggestion? Also the second time around I used a chalkline to mark the topmost part of the tubes, but any string and a marker will work.

-Notice that the leftmost T in that picture is oriented differently. That actually sets the first tube further out by a gnat's ass, but enough to make a difference if you don't factor it in when you start marking holes.

-And lastly, not to insult anyone's intelligence, but it's a good idea to toss the manifold under the rack before you start drilling to make sure the marks are on.

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Old 05-22-2013, 04:17 AM   #5
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Thanks for that info nameless. I will be starting this build very soon so I will comment with any info.

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Old 05-22-2013, 04:09 PM   #6
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http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/malfets-bottle-washer-lazy-homebrewers-381452/index18.html

In case you didn't see this thread.
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Old 06-05-2013, 10:55 PM   #7
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So I was able to make this finally and it works great!



I followed Nameless's version of this bottle washer as I use the fastrack. I must say it makes this process even easier when you use the fastrack. I did not make posts like you design did but surprisingly enough the posts are not necessary. water still makes contact with the bottom of the bottle at all times. I used the same pump that you recommended and instead of placing the bottles inside the crate, I put them on top of the crate to elevate them.











I cut notches into the fastrack feet so the rack literally just fits into place and does not move. It only takes a few minutes and all 24 bottles are fresh and clean!

Thanks for the great ideas, Ill post later if I have any updates.

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Old 12-31-2013, 02:10 AM   #8
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So I just made one of these, and although it works, I'd have to argue for a few improvements:

My major concern is the thickness of the copper. See, when you run water under pressure through a tube and out the side through a hole as we're doing (24x) here, I don't care how straight your holes are drilled (I used a drill press), the direction of the water will cause it to shoot out on an angle rather than straight up enough so to where one or two of my bottles are not getting water all the way on the bottom (top). Is there any reason why nobody has done this with 1/2 inch PVC? This would be cheaper, easier, AND has thinker walls which I think would help mitigate this problem as it creates a bit of it's own nozzle.

I'd also consider making both ends piped all the way through... this would help prevent the directional nature of the water as some of the returning water on the end would counter-act the incoming water. In turn this would make the unit stronger, especially if made of pvc.

I used 1/8 holes which seem to work fine, but I think next time I'll try 1/64" smaller. I think this would give a better ratio of power to water coming out of the bottle.

Oh, and PBW would be best with this as oxyclean foams like a mother with this setup.

Thoughts?

Unless anybody can see a reason as to why PVC is a bad idea I think I may give it a go.

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Old 12-31-2013, 05:31 AM   #9
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I initially looked at PVC because that would be much easier, but my search didn't turn up any decently priced T fittings in a small diameter and copper offered more (and for me easier) flexibility and the ability to be precise. Maybe I didn't look hard enough, but in part I wanted to learn to sweat copper, so it worked for me.

My first attempt had pretty crooked holes, but even with that I just had to raise the whole manifold up to press against the fast rack and all the bottles got full coverage.

I've never put any type of cleaner through it, but that's because I drink enough (and rinse my bottles off afterwards) that I'll just discard a bottle with crap in them. Generally speaking, when I pump stuff I'll stick with 5 Star's low foam sanitizer (can't think of the name right now... Saniclean maybe?)

I'm not too clear on what you mean by having both ends piped through, but keep in mind that this is a good enough situation. The pump I use is pretty small and it pushes water up almost twice the height of the bottles if they weren't stopping it, so unless you're trying for more bottles at the same time, I'm not sure it's worth it.

There are many ways to go about doing this though, this is just what worked for me. If you give the PVC a shot or have more input, please share!

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Old 12-31-2013, 06:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidgsmit View Post
So I just made one of these, and although it works, I'd have to argue for a few improvements:

My major concern is the thickness of the copper. See, when you run water under pressure through a tube and out the side through a hole as we're doing (24x) here, I don't care how straight your holes are drilled (I used a drill press), the direction of the water will cause it to shoot out on an angle rather than straight up enough so to where one or two of my bottles are not getting water all the way on the bottom (top). Is there any reason why nobody has done this with 1/2 inch PVC? This would be cheaper, easier, AND has thinker walls which I think would help mitigate this problem as it creates a bit of it's own nozzle.

I'd also consider making both ends piped all the way through... this would help prevent the directional nature of the water as some of the returning water on the end would counter-act the incoming water. In turn this would make the unit stronger, especially if made of pvc.

I used 1/8 holes which seem to work fine, but I think next time I'll try 1/64" smaller. I think this would give a better ratio of power to water coming out of the bottle.

Oh, and PBW would be best with this as oxyclean foams like a mother with this setup.

Thoughts?

Unless anybody can see a reason as to why PVC is a bad idea I think I may give it a go.


If you drilled them on a drill press, with a "V block", ( made from a 2X4, with a table saw), you should have some pretty straight holes........

On the ones that "don't spray straight", there may be some burrs inside the tube from your drilling, that throw off the direction of the "jet".

Did ya' de-burr inside after drilling?

You can make a "butterfly" for de-burring a tube internally............Tak a piece of coathanger, that will be long enough when doubled, fold it in half.

Take a piece of emery cloth, and fold it in half, so that 2 abrasive faces are exposed.

Leave a "loop" in the end of the coathanger wire, so that you can slip in the emery cloth, and twist the remainder of it so you can chuck it in a drill.

Size your emery cloth so that you have two "flaps" that will bear with mild pressure on the I.D. of your tube, and spin it internally with your drill.

Spin it SLOWLY, as if you pull it out of the tube whilst spinning, the wire wire might whip around and hit you in the doo-dads, and anything else in the way.

But it works well for removing the burrs!
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