Building my own Mash Tun

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rcbridge

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After comparing the price of building my own mash tun to buying one, I've decided to make a little project out of it and do it myself.

I've been looking around for budget water coolers, and have noticed that rectangular coolers are significantly cheaper than the standard round ones I see in the "make your own mash tun" videos.

Would there be any negatives to buying something like the following link?

http://www.kmart.com/coleman-48-quart-cooler/p-089W477221110001P?prdNo=1&blockNo=1&blockType=G1



It's hard to tell from the product description how well it insulates compared to something like this, but I assume they would be similar if not the same.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00002N9F4/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20



What do you think? I'd be stoked if I could make a decent mash tun for under $50... Any and all advice is welcome :) Thanks for reading.
 
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jro238

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I use a 48qt rectangular cooler from target with a homemade cpvc manifold and ball valve spigot for my batch sparging (I think it is a coleman but I don't remember). If I leave it alone, I will lose about 3-4F over 1 hour but if I wrap it in a space blanket and a few towels I can keep temp within 1 degree over 75 minutes.

You will have a shallower grain bed in a rectangular cooler but if you are batch sparging it shouldn't make a difference (and it honestly should be deep enough if fly sparging anyway).
 

jro238

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***EDIT*** Sorry for double post. My internet freaked out for some reason. Feel free to delete this one mods :)
 

Puddlethumper

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I used one of these (exactly the one in the link) for quite a while. Bought some hard copper tubing and made a manifold to fit in the bottom. It worked.

I ran into a problem when I tried to upgrade and add a plastic bulkhead to it. Made a complete mess of it and ended up throwing it in the dumpster. Moral of the story? If it makes a mash tun that works for you and you want to use it for a long time without modification, great. Go for it. Any chance it may be a short-term item? Don't go there...it will cost you more in the long-run than just getting the correct tool in the first place.
 

Queequeg

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My advice would be to get a cooler without an existing drain. Drill your own tap fitting. If you use the existing hole it will be harder for you to get a water tight seal.
 

Upthewazzu

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My advice would be to get a cooler without an existing drain. Drill your own tap fitting. If you use the existing hole it will be harder for you to get a water tight seal.
Eh, not really. Most come with a proprietary fitting that can be used to seal it up.
 

Queequeg

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Hmm, my cooler is an igloo maxcold. I personally found I couldn't get a good seal with standard BSP fittings, so the same should be true for NTP. The hole was too big and the proprietary seal would flex to much under pressure as well as being to bulky for the 50mm running nipple. In the end I had to reinforce the cooler interior with a section of braided hose and seal the joint with food seal silicon grease.
 

Takuie

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I'm in the same boat as you are. I have plenty of rectangular coolers and I don't see many out there in rig set ups, tutorials and what not. I assumed round was the norm for 2 reasons.

1) you get a more compact grain bed for better filtering and when sparging, the water is further away from the grain bed so less chance of disturbing the grain bed.

2) the round ones tend to take up less room and easier to attach to your brewing rig since brew space is always a premium.


As for sealing a hole, there are lots of fairly cheap stainless steel bulkheads you can use. Most bulkheads will come with the matching hardware (washers, gaskets, nuts, etc) to seal the hole up and not need any caulk.
 

jro238

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My advice would be to get a cooler without an existing drain. Drill your own tap fitting. If you use the existing hole it will be harder for you to get a water tight seal.
I was lucky enough that my ball valve threaded perfectly onto the existing cooler fitting.
 
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rcbridge

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Thanks for the tips, I ended up just snagging a 10 gallon round cooler from home depot for around $40, so it didn't break the bank... Looking forward to putting it together!
 

BBL_Brewer

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My advice would be to get a cooler without an existing drain. Drill your own tap fitting. If you use the existing hole it will be harder for you to get a water tight seal.
Sometimes simple is better. #3 rubber stopper works remarkably well.

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For my 10 gallon rubbermaid mashtun cooler I bought a white voile curtain from Walmart for $5 and used my sewing machine to make 3 voile grain sacks the fit inside cooler. The material is the same as what is used for BIAB and this along with the ss hose braid forms an excellent filtration system. No vorlaf stage is needed and i have never had a stuck sparge. It also makes clean up easy because you just pull out the bag, dump the grain and then rinse out the mashtun.

The other option you can do is to just cut the sleeve end of the curtain off and then cut this into strips that will act like a sock slipping over the ss hose braid. Tie a know in one end then secure the other end with a ziptie and go ahead a brew. I would recommend boiling either the bag or the voile sleeve sock prior to first use. I have made over 20 mashtuns using this method and no one has ever brought one back.

Just another option to consider.

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BBL_Brewer

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How does the filter work with this? False bottom?
Hose braid. Pretty versatile though. You could run copper through the stopper instead of vinyl and do whatever setup you wanted to. Just make sure you insert the stopper from the inside of the cooler. I've never had a single drop of leakage.

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jrgtr42

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I useda 48-qt rectangular myself. Bought it at Home Depot.
Build a copper manifold for it, sort of a figure-8 design, with a ball spigot from one of the online shops. Have not had an issue with leakage at all.
 

Queequeg

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No vorlaf stage is needed and i have never had a stuck sparge.
I find that hard to believe, it wasn't till I switch from BIAB to pumped vorlauf that I noticed the difference in clarity of the wort at the start of the brew.

Thought the bag in the BIAB keeps out husk and the bigger parts there is a lot of fine material especially after sparging that ends up in the beer. Its literally clay-like slurry you get on top of the grain bed after the sparge when you do a slow 15 vorlauf with a pump..

Whether this makes a difference to the final beer is another matter. Theoretically it could but if it is perceivable is the question.

It also makes clean up easy because you just pull out the bag, dump the grain and then rinse out the mashtun.
That is well worthwhile though, to gotta clean the bag but no endless scooping.
 

Chops1867

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I use a rectangular cooler and a copper manifold. All extra stuff I had. $0.00 cost!
ImageUploadedByHome Brew1400526306.566639.jpg

Works great. I'm getting +80% efficiency.

Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
 
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I find that hard to believe, it wasn't till I switch from BIAB to pumped vorlauf that I noticed the difference in clarity of the wort at the start of the brew.

QUOTE]

I will try to take a picture of the wort on the first pull next time I brew to show anyone interested in the wort clarity. I have had a much easier and short brew session using this method. One could still do a 1-2 quart vorlaf process in addition to using this extra filtration method. In the past I would have to vorlaf multiple times to keep the grain particles out even using a very slow flow rate.
 

Queequeg

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Is it a particularly fine mesh on the bag?

Here is a picture of my 1st runnings as I was pumping to the brew kettle. This was a Rye IPA

 
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