I only have one batch of all-grain under my belt, so I thought I'd throw this out there hoping to get some feedback from people who have a lot more experience with this stuff.
Eventually I want to wind up with a semi-automated HERMS system. I'm not a big fan of keggles (aesthetically or functionally) instead preferring the shorter/wider 15 gallon stainless kettles like the one on the right in the pic below. I also like the idea of using a cooler for the mash tun, since temperature stability seems most important, and direct firing like in a traditional Brutus system seems like it would create hot spots and possible scorching, not to mention requiring an extra burner.
Last weekend I re-purposed a bunch of cinder blocks to create a mockup of the stand I want to build:
I'm calling it a 1.5-tier stand, since the MLT is a little lower than the other vessels to keep all three openings at a nice height. This idea was borne of laziness (I didn't feel like hauling over more cinder blocks) but it actually worked out really well and I think the height of the MLT and boil kettle was perfect.
The other main lesson learned from last weekend was that I definitely want to keep my gas controls in the front of the stand for ease of access.
I actually have an entire Brutus worth of pre-cut steel that I picked up with a bunch of other brewing stuff on Craigslist. However, I'm pretty sure I'm going to modify it at this point. Here's what I've got so far:
(I sourced several pieces of this model from members on here and the SketchUp 3D warehouse, but I forgot to note who created them... if it was you, thanks!)
The main mods from the Brutus are the height of the MLT and the fact that it's not direct-fired, and also the ordering of the vessels (HLT in the middle) which was only done to keep the gas piping simple by having the two fired vessels next to each other.
I noticed that the whole thing gets super hot, so I'm thinking of putting the (plastic) MLT behind a heat shield type material like this:
The hope would be that the vertical piece of sheet metal will guide the heat up and away from the side of the cooler.
Obviously my drawings are missing a bunch of details and plumbing, but hopefully this is enough to give an idea of where I'm headed. Any thoughts on the overall approach? Reasons this is a good/bad way to go? I definitely appreciate the input of the folks on here, who have way more experience with this than I do.