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Old 10-13-2009, 05:05 AM   #1
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Default Semi-automatic Bottling Line

Okay, so I make a decent amount of beer, but hardly drink any of it. I want it all in bottles so I can share it with friends easily. Right? But I still don't really like the bottling process.

So I'm putting together a plan to build a semi-automatic bottling line in my garage. I already have the counter space, buckets, and capper, all I need is a pump, a timed valve, and a way of filling several bottles at once.

Based on parts I know I can get for cheap, I'm thinking something like this:


Obviously the speed is off, but you get the idea. The raising and lowering of the fill tubes would be done by hand, but the actual filling would be done by pressing a button to start a timed fill from the pump. I'd time it so that the bottles wouldn't overflow while I was working on the capping.

What I'm pretty sure won't work in this setup is the six-tube manifold. I assume that the first bottle will fill a lot faster than the last one, right? Or will they fill evenly if I pump the beer in at a high enough pressure? Is there any way I could set this up to get all six bottles to fill evenly?

Also, I haven't used a pump yet, will using it with the bottling bucket disturb the beer too much? It'll be pumping against a closed valve for part of this, and I'm hoping it won't create turbulence or anything while that's happening.

Any suggestions would be welcome!
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Old 10-13-2009, 05:40 PM   #2
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So I'm looking at self-priming diaphragm pumps to move the beer from the bucket to the manifolds. Obviously this one would work: http://morebeer.com/view_product/173...Beer_Transfers

But it's $140. What about this one for $90 on Amazon?

3.3 gallons per minute: http://reviews.northerntool.com/0394/52067/reviews.htm

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Old 10-13-2009, 05:49 PM   #3
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Oh man, this setup begs for a 6 channel peristaltic pump. You will get precisely the amount of flow you are looking from each of six tubes. Here's an eight channel on sale from ebay.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Gilson-Minipuls-...item53dd64fd98

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Old 10-13-2009, 05:54 PM   #4
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Holy cow! I've never seen a pump like that before. I wonder what size tubes it can take? I could redesign the whole system, and just stick 8 tubes in the bottling bucket... ooooh.

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Old 10-13-2009, 05:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jajabee View Post
Holy cow! I've never seen a pump like that before. I wonder what size tubes it can take? I could redesign the whole system, and just stick 8 tubes in the bottling bucket... ooooh.
Each pump is different. I have a 3 channel that takes 3/8" ID silicone tubing. I plan on using it for mashing steps.

Edit: They crop up all the time on ebay. Just keep a watch and you will find something perfect. Some just have the drive heads and you have to supply you're own pump. The pump is usually the expensive part because they are designed to be SUPER precise.
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Old 10-13-2009, 05:57 PM   #6
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What if you had the bottling manifold and tube array set up like a six pack and fed from the center of the manifold? Use gravity feed with six bottling wands?

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Old 10-13-2009, 06:11 PM   #7
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I've thought about gravity-feeding it, and I might still do that, but there's a couple of problems... one is that the bucket would have to be something like 6 feet up in the air if I didn't want to sit at the floor, and those suckers are heavy. The other is that the flow rate changes as the bucket empties, so timing the fill time definitely wouldn't work. It might still not work with a pump, but there's a chance it might.

Arranging it like a 6-pack and filling from the center is a great idea. I'll see what I can come up with in the Home Depot plumbing aisle.

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Old 10-13-2009, 06:26 PM   #8
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It would probably be a lot easier to shut of the flow with a mini float switch and a solenoid for each fill tube.

I've thought about several designs for semi-automated bottling systems, but IMO it wouldn't be worth the time, effort and cost to build one, mostly the time. I just think a heck of a lot of trouble shooting will be involved to get one working reliably.

If you have lots of free time and enjoy the design work, then I'm sure you could do it. I'd probably tackle it if I didn't have so much other stuff on my plate. I'm a glutton for punishment.

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Old 10-13-2009, 06:26 PM   #9
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I was thinking that if the line to the 4 corners of the 6-pack were shorter and the lines to the 2 middle bottles were longer that might give an even fill rate to all bottles. Just throw'n out ideas since I'll probably end up building the same thing.

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Old 10-13-2009, 06:35 PM   #10
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You could always push with co2 and could even put in a 3 way valve so you could purge the bottles first. Kind of like a big blichmann beer gun

I'm assuming your planning on bottle conditioning, but you could also force carb in a keg and do something like this

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