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Old 02-19-2012, 04:15 AM   #1
mmccurdy
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Default Feedback on my "1.5 tier" brew stand?

I only have one batch of all-grain under my belt, so I thought I'd throw this out there hoping to get some feedback from people who have a lot more experience with this stuff.

Eventually I want to wind up with a semi-automated HERMS system. I'm not a big fan of keggles (aesthetically or functionally) instead preferring the shorter/wider 15 gallon stainless kettles like the one on the right in the pic below. I also like the idea of using a cooler for the mash tun, since temperature stability seems most important, and direct firing like in a traditional Brutus system seems like it would create hot spots and possible scorching, not to mention requiring an extra burner.

Last weekend I re-purposed a bunch of cinder blocks to create a mockup of the stand I want to build:



I'm calling it a 1.5-tier stand, since the MLT is a little lower than the other vessels to keep all three openings at a nice height. This idea was borne of laziness (I didn't feel like hauling over more cinder blocks) but it actually worked out really well and I think the height of the MLT and boil kettle was perfect.

The other main lesson learned from last weekend was that I definitely want to keep my gas controls in the front of the stand for ease of access.

I actually have an entire Brutus worth of pre-cut steel that I picked up with a bunch of other brewing stuff on Craigslist. However, I'm pretty sure I'm going to modify it at this point. Here's what I've got so far:





(I sourced several pieces of this model from members on here and the SketchUp 3D warehouse, but I forgot to note who created them... if it was you, thanks!)

The main mods from the Brutus are the height of the MLT and the fact that it's not direct-fired, and also the ordering of the vessels (HLT in the middle) which was only done to keep the gas piping simple by having the two fired vessels next to each other.

I noticed that the whole thing gets super hot, so I'm thinking of putting the (plastic) MLT behind a heat shield type material like this:



The hope would be that the vertical piece of sheet metal will guide the heat up and away from the side of the cooler.


Obviously my drawings are missing a bunch of details and plumbing, but hopefully this is enough to give an idea of where I'm headed. Any thoughts on the overall approach? Reasons this is a good/bad way to go? I definitely appreciate the input of the folks on here, who have way more experience with this than I do.

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Old 02-19-2012, 02:14 PM   #2
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Yeah, I think the sheet metal heat-shield would work fine.

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Old 02-19-2012, 11:43 PM   #3
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3 pumps?

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Old 02-19-2012, 11:53 PM   #4
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3 pumps?
Yeah I happen to have three pumps right now, since I bought two and then got a third with the same craigslist deal that I got the brutus steel.

I haven't thought through all the plumbing yet, but if including the third pump saves me having to disconnect lines filled with near-boiling water or wort, then I'm inclined to use it. If not, I'll go with the standard Brutus two-pump setup.
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Old 02-20-2012, 12:57 AM   #5
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I'm not quite sure what the lower MLT gets you if you have two pumps. I have thought about moving my boil kettle to near the ground so that the MLT>BK is can be gravity drain (I tend to get stuck mashes when doing oatmeal stouts with the pump, not with gravity drain).

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Old 02-20-2012, 06:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by conpewter View Post
I'm not quite sure what the lower MLT gets you if you have two pumps. I have thought about moving my boil kettle to near the ground so that the MLT>BK is can be gravity drain (I tend to get stuck mashes when doing oatmeal stouts with the pump, not with gravity drain).
Yeah, the lower MLT is less about positioning the bottom of the vessel and more about keeping the tops all even -- at a height optimized for adding ingredients and stirring, etc.

I have a false bottom for the cooler, and I didn't have a problem recirculating and then sparging with the pump. I did throttle it way back though since I was nervous about it sticking. Is there a difference between gravity feed and a pump that's choked off to flow at the same rate?

One thing I'm a little concerned about is having enough head that the pumps will prime from the MLT. The valve is above the pump output, but not by a lot once you add a ball valve and camlock fitting.
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Old 02-26-2012, 03:34 AM   #7
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So I guess I'll go ahead and use this as a build thread instead of starting a new one.

Small updates to the design. Hanging the pumps to keep them as low as possible to avoid priming issues with the mash tun. Decided on a burner mounting design. I want the kettles to sit a little above the surface for better flow and so I'm not just heating the crap out of it. This design also lets me put a small shield in the front so I'm not cooking my valves and gauges.



Today's progress. Pretty happy with it so far, haven't found any major issues (please ignore my ghetto power strip -- my shop cords were in use elsewhere today):

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Old 02-27-2012, 04:47 AM   #8
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Bits for the burner mount and kettle rest ready for install:


Everything welded up:




Few issues today, mostly due to the questionable placement of the bolt holes on my burners (standard Bayou Classic elements removed from their respective stands). This one is actually pretty close to center, but the others are off up to 1/8" in random directions:




Plan B is to make some rings with slots to hold the burners themselves, which will subsequently mount to my vertical brackets.

Also, in case you're wondering what that little nub is on the side of your banjo burner and whether you can cut it off, say, to clear a burner mount:



D'oh I wound up patching it up by welding a plate in place to cover the hole. Though the flame shooting out of that thing would have been pretty sweet...

Lesson from today: el cheapo cast burners are not exactly built to exacting specs -- any mount design should have had a lot more tolerance for wonky bolt placement.

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Old 02-27-2012, 12:24 PM   #9
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They probably don't have measuring devices in Way Long Dong China! <G>

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Old 02-27-2012, 11:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
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They probably don't have measuring devices in Way Long Dong China! <G>
I'm showing my age here but that had me laughing out loud in my office. Anyhow that stand looks sweet man.
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