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Old 06-19-2007, 05:04 PM   #1
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Default Cooler Conversion Questions

I plan to start brewing all grain next year when my son is a little older. Ive been looking into converting a cooler for mashing, and have a few questions.

I will be doing single temp infusion mashes and batch sparging. I plan to use a rectangular cooler (48 qt?) with a manifold.

Here are my questions:

Copper vs. CPVC for the manifold whatre the pros and cons of each?

Holes vs. slits, does one have an advantage over the other?

Up or down which way should the holes or slits face?

Partial Mash Im hoping to get in a few partial mashes this year, will it be a problem doing a smaller mash with this setup, or will it be fine.

I know most of these questions will have answers on both sides, Im just trying to see if theres a consensus of opinion.
Fabrication will begin when coolers go on sale so Im planning it out now.


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Old 06-19-2007, 05:19 PM   #2
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Well I can respond on what I know.
I've built a MT using a 48 qt rectangular cooler. The good thing is that I do 5 gallon batches and there is A LOT of room, the bad thing is that there is A LOT of room. However doing batch sparges (which is what I do) is no problem I have yet to have a stuck sparge.

I built a rectangular copper manifold using holes and it works great! I only leave about a cup and a half (1 1/2) of liquid in the tun, which I think is pretty darn good.

You will most definitely want to preheat your cooler with near boiling water prior to pouring in your mash water and grains. You will probably loose almost No temp when you add everything in.

As far as the manifold goes it was easier for me to drill a crap load of small (1/32 I think) holes. I don't own a dremmel or any other cutting tool and it was a royal pain to try to use a hack saw. I have my holes on the bottom and I think that is where you want them. You also want to make sure that you can disassemble the manifold for cleaning.

I'm still working on dialing in my system so that I can hit my temps better, my first AG was a disaster but the following ones have gone pretty well. I have made 3 AGs so far.

Hope this helps,
Bryan


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Old 06-19-2007, 07:24 PM   #3
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1) shouldn't really matter
2) see #1
3) see #1, but I think down is more common
4) I think it'll be too big, but I'll let the PM guys provide more definitive answers
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Old 06-19-2007, 08:21 PM   #4
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I have a 48 qt cooler (icecube) & batch sparge, so PM isn't a problem. I use a big grain bag instead of a manifold. It lets a bit more debris through, but not bad. I suspect if you fly sparge the bed would be a bit thin.
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Old 06-19-2007, 08:36 PM   #5
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The cube might be better for PM since the grain bed wouldn't be spread as thin.

Thanks for the feedback, keep it coming.
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Old 06-19-2007, 11:16 PM   #6
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You didn't say if you intend to fly sparge or batch sparge. That's probably the first decision to make before you go designing and building a MLT.

Those rectangular Coolers, like the Coleman Extreme, are great for batch sparging. However, 48 quarts is going to be too big for PM. Often you will only do a couple/few pounds of grain, and you just won't get any filtration from the shallow grainbed. I have tried it once in my 10 gallon round Rubbermaid cooler, which is very tall and narrow, and it didn't work well. I am sure that a larger, rectangular cooler would be even worse. My 3 gallon cooler is perfect for most PMs, and cost next to nothing to buy.

As a compromise, you might consider a 5 gal round cooler. It would allow you to do both PMs easily, and you could do AG batches up to about 1.065 in gravity (about 12 - 13 lbs of grain). You could also use it as a hot liquor tank if you build a bigger mash tun down the road.

I will also put in a plug for a SS braid if you are going to batch sparge. They are cheap, dead simple to construct, and may provide quicker recirculation than a manifold (provided you buy a braid that is pretty tight).
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Old 06-20-2007, 04:57 PM   #7
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I would second FlyGuy's recommendation for a round cooler and go with braid.

I have done fly and batch sparging and started with a 48Q cooler and manifold. I found it was too big for partial mashes and small beers as efficiency was poor because you need a minimal grain bed height in order to get good, even flow with the manifold. So I built a smaller one with a manifold and all was well ...until I learned about batch sparging and the power of the braid .
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Old 06-21-2007, 06:35 AM   #8
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What they said!!!
I like the braided SS line because its cheap and easy. But down on a manifold because you will tend to pick up more wort that way. And "wasted wort is just as bad as wasted beer!" Wow !!!that should be a bumper sticker. It works on so many levels.
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Old 06-21-2007, 07:07 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lil' Sparky
1) shouldn't really matter
2) see #1
3) see #1, but I think down is more common
4) I think it'll be too big, but I'll let the PM guys provide more definitive answers
I'd have to disagree with most of those points.

1a.) It does matter. CPVC is rated for 200deg, depending on the sparge method you choose, you might be tossing in boiling water (212deg+). I'd rather not worry about if I am leeching anything into my wort from the CPVC. Unless you can show me some tests that prove nothing is leeched at 200+ deg I'd stick with copper.

If cost is a concern, CPVC would be cheaper though.

2a.) Slits are easier to do. If you use a copper manifold with 4 rows of copper, it is easier to cut all 4 rows at the same time using something like a bandsaw than it is to drill god knows how many seperate holes.

3a.) It is all about gravity. If you put your holes or slits on the top, the wort beneath that level will not be drained. I'd say use slits that are 40%.

4a.) I agree, a 48qt would be too big for a partial mash. If you plan on sticking with PM's then go with a 5gal round. And another vote for the SS braid!
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Old 06-21-2007, 01:50 PM   #10
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Harv -

1) Lots of people use CPVC and it works just fine. Even with boiling water additions, your mash doesn't ever reach anywhere near 200'.

2) I've read that some people have found that drilling holes was easier for them. My point was it really doesn't matter as far as effectiveness goes - either one WORKS fine. Do whatever is easiest for you.

3) There have been several threads about this. People do it both ways. Some have tested their manifold with slits on top and bottom and had no noticeable difference in the result. Others say one way works better, but there has been no definitive answer to this. But like I said, I think down is more common, and makes more sense to me, too.

Cheers



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