Ok, so I have a few brewed 4 AG batches thus far, and have gotten the following effeciencies in this order: 58%, 70%, 66%, & 58%.
I've got my process down pretty well now and I've got my volumes/temps figured out with BeerSmith, and my grains look like all the pics I've seen should after being crush, but that still seems a bit low, but I have a theory
I am batch sparging in a cooler with the good old braided stainless steel hose. However, no matter how I try, I can never stir up my mash well without stirring the braided hose up too. So then I wind up pushing the hose back into the mash with my mash paddle(big steel spoon) as far as I can, but every time go to empty the cooler, the hose is always up in the middle of the grain bed somewhere rather than on the bottom. I've been tipping the cooler to get all that delicious wort out, or as much as I can anyway.
So my theory is, a lot of water, and all those fermentables I am extracting from my grain, are sitting on the bottom of the cooler, opposite side of the drain spiggot, with my hose above. Tipping the cooler drains some of it, but it can't all make it through to the drain spout.
Is my thinking correct, because I'm thinking it might be time to make a coppoer or PVC manifold for the bottom of the cooler to fix this, but wanted to get some opinions before doing any shopping.