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Old 08-23-2011, 07:50 PM   #1
501Lubovich
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Default My Brewtroller HERMS

As many people before me who have joined this site, I've been sitting back now for quite a while reading up on all the great threads that have been posted (Mainly in the DIY category). Early this year, I decided that I was going to upgrade from my "cooler-tun, all-grain" setup and move to a semi-automated system. At first I just wanted a couple tiers and a pump, but then it slowly evolved into so much more. I spent approximately 4-5 months designing, changing the design, modifying the design, researching costs etc., until i finally decided that I needed a bigger budget. I've been wanted to post on my progress now for a couple months, but haven't had the time. I finally decided, now that I'm close to finishing, that I should share this experience with those out there looking to possibly do the same thing. I know, there are already a ton of DIY brewstands, and automated breweries as such, but this is mine, and I do feel that it is different than the rest (although many aspects were inspired by those who have posted their experiences and their rigs). Pictures will have to come later because I am at work now on my lunch break. There just isn't enough time in the day to do all that I need to do (I'll be working on my rig after work tonight until bed time).

My system: 3-keggle, single tier, 2-pump, HERMS system with a honey well intermittent pilot light/gas control valve all controlled by a Brewtroller system. All the fittings are sanitary fittings and almost everything is stainless steel. I built a counterflow wort chiller out of a 50' spool of 1/2 inch stainless steel tubing and a 50' spool of 3/4" ID high temp EPDM hose. The fittings are all HDPE and PTFE.

At this point, almost every individual component is assembled. Now, the entire assembly needs to be put together. I plan on polishing the stand tonight and then assembling. Once everything is put together, I plan to passivate the entire system with citric acid when it's all assembled. I'm hoping to have my first brew session in two weeks...fingers crossed.

This truly felt like a DIY project because my inventory of equipment and skills grew dramatically. Pretty much all the welding for that stand was done by myself, and all of the brazing of the fittings was done by me as well (I learned how to braze during the construction of this rig). I had co-worker of mine (who is a controls genius) help me out with the control panel, which looks freakin' amazing, and most of the electrical stuff. He's also the one who taught me to braze. I went with a stainless steel stand because i plan on brewing a lot and for a long time and have no desire to put a ton of work into a system that will look like crap in a couple years. I live in the northwest and it tends to be moist around here. This baby will shine for decades to come. It was approximately $300 more for cost of materials (stainless vs. mild steel), but you also have to factor in the cost of paint (which I understand probably isn't much, but when the time comes, sanding and repainting will probably never happen and you know it!).

I also plan to do a lessons learned addition to this thread if anybody is interested hearing me ramble.

Thanks to all of you premium supporters who have helped us noobs with your posts. You make a world of difference to many homebrew enthusiasts.


-Michael Lubovich

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Old 08-23-2011, 08:34 PM   #2
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Michael, I for one am looking forward to see your photos and read what you have learned. Lets check it out.

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Old 08-23-2011, 08:45 PM   #3
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Default Looking forward to updates

I am very interested in how your process of researching and fabrication went.

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Old 08-23-2011, 10:28 PM   #4
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I am interested in seeing the SS coil for the HERMs. Where did you purchase the tubing from?
Sounds like a nice system. Happy brewing.

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Old 08-24-2011, 05:06 AM   #5
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8-23-2011-021.jpg
This first picture is after i polished and before i started assembling everything this evening.
8-23-2011-030.jpg
Here is a picture of where i finished for the night
8-23-2011-031.jpg
I zoomed in on the lower half of the stand. I used oak for the bottom shelf and carriage bolts to play on the similarities of an oak barrel.
today-004.jpg
Here is a picture of my HERMs coil inside the HLT. I'm not very proud of this. I spent about an hour on this coil wrapping it around a cornie keg trying my best to be careful not to crease it...but sure enough, almost every wrap has a crease. I got this from nybrewsupply.com. They have a good deal on 304SS tubing. I learned from this coiling mistake to buy one of those spring style benders when coiling the stainless tubing for the counterflow wort chiller. It costs less than $4 and helps to prevent ruining an $80 coil! Just place the spring over the area you are bending, bend, and then slide the spring up to the next place. NO MATTER WHAT THE PEOPLE AT LOWES OR HOME DEPOT TELL YOU, THIS WILL WORK!!! I found that a lot of stores had a hard time picturing stainless steel TUBING (not pipe). Even tool rental companies. I told them i wanted to bend stainless tubing without creasing it, and they wanted to rent me hydraulic benders or conduit benders...not the same thing people! Anyway, don't let anybody tell you that you can't bend 1/2" SS tubing (.02 inch wall thickness). This was one of the most frustrating things. For the hard bends, i eventually forked over the $90 and bought a hand held tubing bender to get the tight radius i needed for the tubing inside the vessels.

For the wort chiller, i went to McMaster and purchases 50 feet of 1/2" 316 SS for around $85.

Anyway, I'll keep this updated when i make more progress. Still need to finish the pilot tubing from the gas control valve, bubbler system, and lots of wiring. Also, the BK is under repairs. Long story, but a hole for one of the fittings was cut at too low a tolerance. As many know, brazing rod is not very good as filling gaps. I spent a lot of time trying to braze the fitting water tight, but no go. I'm having a relative of mine TIG weld the thing.

Cheers!
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Old 09-20-2011, 04:23 AM   #6
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This is definitely one of my favorites Any update on this one Michael?

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Old 09-27-2011, 03:47 AM   #7
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Default Brewery Build Update

Thanks for the interest! Here are some more pictures. I had some trouble with the lids fitting. I bought the kegs on craigslist. Some guy had already cut a hole in the top and it was larger than the lids I bought. I have a friend who has been helping me and he bent some stainless tubing into a perfect circle and tack welded it to the rim for a perfect lid fit (third picture). I also had trouble with the 2-inch TC fitting (second picture) on the boil kettle. I couldn't braze it for the life of me. The hole we cut wasn't within tolerance of brazing capability. When the fitting cooled the internal stress of the joint caused solder to crack. He took it, cleaned it all up and welded it together. Now it is water-tight.

The first picture is inside the control panel of the brewtroller. The fourth picture is the inside of the intermittent pilot light enclosure. You can see the transformer that steps the 12 volt power to 120 volts for the igniter. The fifth picture is the inside of a hobby box from radio shack. This is where the pressure sensors will reside along with the daisy chain wiring for the temperature sensors.

The last things left to do are finish wiring the hobby box for the pressure and temperature sensors, and finish wiring up the pumps. I'm putting the pumps on a speed controller. I know this isn't recommended, but i chose to control the flow over using a valve. I can't see the inside of the valve while the pump is running therefore would not be able to see any cavitation inside the valve. I understand that the valve is magnetic driven and is supposed to slip, but nowhere does it say how much pressure is required to cause slipping. The pump is capable of 12 feet of head pressure. That's approximately 5.2 psi. 90% of flow in a typical plug or ball valve still passes through a valve 50% closed. What i know is that there is a high possibility of turbulence and cavitation. Over a period of 30 minutes to an hour during the mash at a temperature that is highly susceptible to hot side aeration (oxidation), I see the potential for more damage than i want. Slowing the pump down should help minimize this effect. If the pump motor burns out, then i may consider changing my strategies. I'm hoping to get this done by the end of this week and start passivating the metal, but how slow the last 10% of this project has gone, I won't hold my breath.

p9260140.jpg   p9260141.jpg   p9260142.jpg   p9260143.jpg   p9260144.jpg  

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Old 09-27-2011, 02:46 PM   #8
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CFC for the WIN!!!! That thing is awesome. Great looking rig as well.

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Old 09-27-2011, 05:08 PM   #9
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Looking good... I have found the funding problem in my designing also... glad to see you are moving past yours! I look forward to seeing your first batch!!

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Old 09-28-2011, 07:54 PM   #10
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what is in the small enclosure in the last picture?

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