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Old 10-25-2010, 02:59 AM   #1
Copernicus
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Default My $5.08 DIY Sparge Arm

Sparging with a measuring cup for my first two all-grain batches was not fun, so I decided to build a sparge arm. I thought I would share the project with you fine beer-guzzling folks.

I wanted to build something that is simple, cheap, and height adjustable for various size grain bills. I'm not done building it, but am pretty darn close. Here is my design.

Basically, it's a 1/2" CPVC contraption that fits inside a round 10-gallon cooler. Sparge water is poured in the top (funnel not shown) and runs out holes drilled in the bottom of the "sqaure". It is held in place by a slotted board that sits on top of the cooler, and the height can be adjusted by resting a different collar on the board slot.

What's not done yet:
- Still need to drill the holes. Anyone have a suggestion / experience about what is the right size and spacing for holes?
- I might add some hinge or gate thingy to to the board that I can close when the pipe is in place to prevent it from moving in the slot, although this is probably not necessary
- I might also add some guides to the underside of the board to keep it centered in the cooler top, but again, probably not necessary.
- I need to USE IT.



MATERIALS (costs pro-rated)
$1.15 - 1"x4"x6' board (only need 20", so cost is 1/3 of $3.46)
$1.23 - 1/2" x 10' CPVC pipe (only need about 4', so cost is 2/5 of $3.07)
$0.76 - (4) 1/2" CPVC 90 deg elbows
$0.66 - (3) 1/2" CPVC tees
$0.95 - (5) 1/2 CPVC couplings
$0.33 - (1) 1/2" x 3/4" CPVC reducer
$5.08 - TOTAL MATERIAL COST

EXTRAS YOU MIGHT ALREADY HAVE BUT I DIDN'T
$4.73 - purple primer for PVC pipe
$4.27 - CPVC cement
$9.00 - TOTAL EXTRAS (if you don't already already have)

I'm happy to post the cut lengths and quantities if anyone's interested. Any thoughts on size/spacing for holes or potential improvements?



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Old 10-25-2010, 03:46 AM   #2
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I think you should've put a simple CPVC half turn valve in there to try and match flow with your runoff as best you can. Maybe put it in there between the top part that accepts the funnel and the stem that locks into place on your board. Also, what are you going to be doing to maintain the seal between the funnel and the top piece? You could potentially have a problem with water wanting to seep out between the two and then you'll have one hell of a wet piece of wood on your hands (not that that's a bad thing) (also insert "that's what she said" here). I'd suggest getting a flat piece of rubber sheet and fashioning a ring you could epoxy to the bottom of the funnel, if you don't mind having to purchase an extra funnel. Also, if you make your holes every 1/2"-1" apart you should be fine. Personally, I would've went with a similar setup, but instead of a CPVC manifold I would've just attached a cheap shower head to the bottom and either bought one with a valve already in it or just put a valve in-line with the tube feeding the showerhead.



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Old 10-25-2010, 07:22 AM   #3
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I use a nearly identical setup in my rectangular MLT. I noticed that unless the sparge arm is absolutely level it tends to only drain on one side, which caused some channeling.

I was able to fix this by turning the drilled pipes upsidedown so that the holes face upward. This caused the sparge arm to fill with liquid, weighing it down, and in turn making it like a plump-bob. It levels itself well enough now that I get an even distribution of sparge water. YMMV.

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Old 10-25-2010, 05:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trigger View Post
I use a nearly identical setup in my rectangular MLT. I noticed that unless the sparge arm is absolutely level it tends to only drain on one side, which caused some channeling.

I was able to fix this by turning the drilled pipes upsidedown so that the holes face upward. This caused the sparge arm to fill with liquid, weighing it down, and in turn making it like a plump-bob. It levels itself well enough now that I get an even distribution of sparge water. YMMV.
Ironically enough, I was thinking about this very suggestion (holes on top) last night after I posted this build. I can see how one may run into the problem you mention.

However, if the holes on bottom are small enough and spaced out sufficiently, do you think they will sort of self-regulate. In other words, if the max total flowrate out of the holes was less than the max flowrate capable in the vertical pipe, then wouldn't the pipe stay full and avoid this issue? Would that also address the flowrate issue brought up by fc36? Anyone have experience achieving this with the right size holes? (as I eye the dusty Fluid Mechanics textbook on the shelf...*shudder*)

Thanks to you both for the input.
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Copernicus View Post
Ironically enough, I was thinking about this very suggestion (holes on top) last night after I posted this build. I can see how one may run into the problem you mention.

However, if the holes on bottom are small enough and spaced out sufficiently, do you think they will sort of self-regulate. In other words, if the max total flowrate out of the holes was less than the max flowrate capable in the vertical pipe, then wouldn't the pipe stay full and avoid this issue? Would that also address the flowrate issue brought up by fc36? Anyone have experience achieving this with the right size holes? (as I eye the dusty Fluid Mechanics textbook on the shelf...*shudder*)

Thanks to you both for the input.
as long as your flow rate into the top exceeds the flow rate out into the mash tun, yes. however, i think that by limiting the size to that point, you'll also seriously limit you ability to control the overall flow rate. if you put a valve on the pump outlet, and use that for your only control, you might want the holes on top so that isn't an issue. guess thats just how i'd do it so the hole size don't end up preventing you from flowing a higher rate if you wanted to. otherwise, i like it. the notch setup for changing the height looks pretty slick.
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Old 10-26-2010, 12:39 AM   #6
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Can you post the cut lengths please?

Thanks!

Tim

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Old 10-26-2010, 05:09 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timm747 View Post
Can you post the cut lengths please?

Thanks!

Tim
Sure. The 1/2" CPVC sections are:
(2) 7-1/2" - for the "square"
(6) 3-3/8" - for the "square"
(6) 2" - for the vertical stem, more if you want it longer. This leaves just the right length between couplings for the thickness of a 1x4 board.

This results in a square that is about 9" per side and fits inside a 10-gal round cooler with an ID of 13".

Other parts from above posting are:
(4) 1/2" CPVC 90 deg elbows
(3) 1/2" CPVC tees
(5) 1/2 CPVC couplings
(1) 1/2" x 3/4" CPVC reducer - maybe you use something different here for the top of the vertical stem.
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Old 11-05-2010, 12:34 PM   #8
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Just curious if anyone sees any issues with using the cement. Food safe? Temp safe? I just finished my mash manifold which I will leave unglued for cleaning purposes. I want to now do my sparge manifold and prefer to have it glued together but not if I am going to have chemicals leech into the wort.

Thoughts?

John

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Old 11-05-2010, 04:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnodon View Post
Just curious if anyone sees any issues with using the cement. Food safe? Temp safe? I just finished my mash manifold which I will leave unglued for cleaning purposes. I want to now do my sparge manifold and prefer to have it glued together but not if I am going to have chemicals leech into the wort.

Thoughts?

John
I know for a fact that those cake bakery shows like "Cake Boss" and the like all use PVC structures held together by PVC cement to make some of the more bizarre cake designs and have them stand on their own and maintain their original intended cake shape. They also bake them into their cakes with no adverse side effects. In addition, salt- and freshwater aquarium enthusiasts use PVC and PVC cement in their aquariums with no adverse side effects. This includes PVC and PVC cement fittings that I've seen at the Shedd Aquarium here in Chicago and those guys are marine biologists. They should know what can and cannot affect those ever so finicky marine wildlife. That pretty much gives me a good idea that PVC and PVC cement is food-safe. As for temperature safe, I believe that's why CPVC was used in the original build on this post because it stands up to heat a little better.
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Old 11-06-2010, 01:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnodon View Post
Just curious if anyone sees any issues with using the cement. Food safe? Temp safe?
I had the same concern so I made sure I researched it a little before building this. CPVC is approved for use in potable water applications and is rated to higher temperatures than PVC. That said, I would probably still run a bunch of water through it before first use to clean out any loose bits

By the way, I used the regular purple PVC primer and the orange cement made specifically for CPVC.

Quote from website linked below
http://www.ppfahome.org/cpvc/faqcpvc.html
"For the record, all national building codes have approved CPVC for potable water distribution in the United States and Canada. These approvals have come after extensive testing and quality control standards which guide the production of these products. Today's product meets stringent ANSI/NSF-61 standards for water quality control. There is no scientific evidence that CPVC tubing made to current US standards is in any way harmful to health."


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