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Old 08-25-2010, 10:31 AM   #1
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Default The start of another HERMS

After tons of reading here, and slowly collecting pieces, I finally started building my HERMS. It's not pretty, but I hope it will eventually brew some tasty beer. I'm doing this on almost no budget, using stuff I already have around my shop, and scavenging a lot of parts. A little more of the "rustic" look as opposed to the bling I see on so many beautiful systems here. Thanks to all of the DIY'ers here on HBT for all of the great ideas and inspiration so far.

It all started when a client gave me a 47' long roll of 1/2" soft copper, and the next day I scored 3 sanke kegs. The HLT and MLT wll both be bottom draining, and the BK will have a side drain with a pick-up tube for whirlpooling. Here's the copper roughly formed for the HEX-


This is the inside of the HLT. The MLT looks identical inside. I water tested both vessels, and the deadspace is only about 1 tablespoon.


This is what the bottom looks like. I filled the rigid copper with sand and used a conduit bender to bend it to shape. After installing it I tried to tweak the bend and ended up putting a kink in it. I'll probably replace it with some 45's rather than the bent piece.


I learned my lesson on the HLT, and used 45's instead of trying to bend the pipe for the MLT. I only had one elbow, so I used a T and a plug for now. I might get an elbow to replace it with just to limit the nooks and crannies for stuff to hide in.


The BK is pretty straight forward so far, just a beat up old sanke with the top cut off and a ball valve / pick-up tube added.



I picked up a remnant of perforated SS at a local shop. The holes are a little bigger than I'd like (1/8") and the spacing is a little wide, but at $10 for enough to make 3 false bottoms I figured it was worth a shot. I decided to keep things simple with a full diameter two piece FB that wedges into place.


Here's what it looks like installed. It's very stable, and doesn't move unless the center tabs are pulled upwards.


Here's the start of a thermowell and sight gauge. I have a piece of 3/8" pyrex tube that I plan on attatching with a compression fitting, but I'm worried it might be too fragile for my rough and tumble rig.


I think I'll use this old Dewalt RAS stand as the brew rig stand. It's a little taller than I'd like, so I'll probably shorten the legs some.



I've ordered some cam-lock fittings, and am looking for a pump. I'm still trying to figure out If I can go electric in my current brew location, or if I should just stick with my current propane burners. I'm sure I'll be asking a bunch of elec. questions of all you knowledgeable HBT'ers soon. It will most likely be slow going, but I'll continue to update this thread as I make progress. Any and all comments, critiques and suggestions are welcome.

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Old 08-25-2010, 01:56 PM   #2
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Looking good!

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Old 08-25-2010, 02:30 PM   #3
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Great start!
Keep us posted.

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Old 08-25-2010, 02:34 PM   #4
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How did you seal the Sanke openning on your bottom drain? Got any close up pics? I have an extra keg I'd like to convert.
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Old 08-25-2010, 02:42 PM   #5
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Awesome start! This is sort of the direction I'm going to be going soon (I hope), and it's nice to see something done more on my budget.

Can you give some more detail on the connections into the HLT & MLT? What parts did you use to make it secure in the sanke neck?

Keep up the good work!

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Old 08-25-2010, 03:36 PM   #6
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How did you seal the Sanke openning on your bottom drain? Got any close up pics? I have an extra keg I'd like to convert.
Close ups really won't show you anything, but I'll dissasemble one of them and post some pics tomorrow. I used a 1/2" male copper fitting, two SS washers that I modified the shapes of slightly, part of the spear, and two o-rings. It took quite a bit of fiddling with all manor of plumbing parts before I finally found something that worked.
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Old 08-25-2010, 05:00 PM   #7
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Looks good
Nice to see you wiped your joints.

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Old 08-25-2010, 05:51 PM   #8
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Noob question...with a bottom draining HLT what do you use as your heating element? Can't use a propane burner can you? Wouldn't it damage the copper fittings? I assume this is not an issue for the MLT since you are not applying heat to it, correct?

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Old 08-25-2010, 06:13 PM   #9
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Noob question...with a bottom draining HLT what do you use as your heating element? Can't use a propane burner can you? Wouldn't it damage the copper fittings? I assume this is not an issue for the MLT since you are not applying heat to it, correct?
I hope to go electric, but if I stick with gas the soldered connections may become a problem. If so, I could use the bent pipe and put a compression to MPT fitting on either end. And you're correct, I don't plan on applying any heat to the MLT, so it's just the HLT that would be a concern.
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:23 AM   #10
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Got it. I am looking to go AG and have a Sanke to use as either a HLT or MLT. Don't know if I should use it for the HLT and try and find another sanke for MLT, or buy a cooler for the MLT. Any thoughts?

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