Cheap & Easy 10 Gallon Rubbermaid MLT Conversion

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Shay

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Well after trips to both home depot and lowe's, I'm still short the 10-gallon cooler and the SS washers. I'll hit ACE this afternoon -- or it's off to the internet. Thanks for the great write up FlyGuy!

p.s. Lowe's didn't have a threaded ball valve, so I bought the unthreaded one on accident. oops. But Home Depot had the threaded one.

p.s.s. I'm pretty excited to be going all-grain and am no longer "afraid" of terms like strike water, mash, sparge, lauter, dough in, vorlauf, mash efficiency, sparge efficiency, and Bobby_M's N.M.O.D.B.S.
Ace has a good selection of ball valves. If you have a west marine near you, you should be able to the ss stuff there.
 
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Thx Choguy - that's my only complaint about this site --- there's is too much information! Oh wait, that's not a complaint...

Shay - no west marine in small town Arizona...
 

ShortSnoutBrewing

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You can order the 10 gallon cooler on ACE's website and have it shipped free to your local ACE if that's an option.
 

Hysterria

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I made one of these with a 5 gallon. It's really very cheap. The most expensive thing is the container, so if you can get it for free your set.
 

Aubie Stout

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Did anyone use the original tubing that came inside the stainless steel mesh? My tubing looked like a high temp vinyl with mesh inside.
 

drunkatuw

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I've been noticing very slow draining during my batch sparges, so I took a closer look at the braid and there were bits of husk stuck in the braid.



I put a hose inside the braid with notches similar to FlyGuy and you can see a white part of the braid where all the notches are.

So I headed to the hardware store and picked up the parts to build a copper manifold. It was cheaper than I expected, probably about $15 total. I had to get a little creative to connect the spigot to the manifold since I wanted the manifold to sit flush on the bottom of the cooler. Here are a couple pictures:







I ran a test run with just water and there was probably less than 1 cup of water left in the bottom of the cooler.

Edit: Used it for the first time this morning and while it took a little longer to vorlaugh, I'd say that the manifold will shave off an hour of my brew day because of the really long sparge times I was having with the braid.
 

jebinite

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The reason the stainless steel hose clamps rusted is because many manufacturers use stainless steel bands with carbon steel screws, which will rust. You need to buy marine grade stainless steel hose clamps, like those found here: http://www.plumbingworld.com/marinegradeclamps.html

Also you can buy the stainless steel braiding without the plastic tubing for a better price. I found it here, http://store.summitracing.com/partdetail.asp?autofilter=1&part=SPE-1008B&N=700+115&autoview=sku @ $8 for 6 feet.

The best idea I have seen so far is the post by skifast1 on the 4th page of this thread. It looks like he used a brass tee with compression/flare fittings to clamp the stainless steel braid, while getting a nice circular loop. I imagine his design gets better flow rates, than a single length of braiding.

Great thread, lots of good ideas!
 
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FlyGuy

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The best idea I have seen so far is the post by skifast1 on the 4th page of this thread. It looks like he used a brass tee with compression/flare fittings to clamp the stainless steel braid, while getting a nice circular loop. I imagine his design gets better flow rates, than a single length of braiding.
Actually, the flow rate is set by the inside diameter of the fittings (in this case, 3/8"). Adding additional lengths of tubing, in any shape or design, can't overcome this bottleneck in the flow. One could use 1/2" (or larger) fittings instead, but they don't fit the original seal from the spigot of the cooler, which is retained in this conversion.

While a round braid configuration like skifast1 constructed is much better if one intends to fly (continuous) sparge, some have also claimed that a shorter length of straight tubing is better for batch sparging. When batch sparging it is common to drain the mash tun quickly, and unlike fly sparging, channelization in the grainbed actually facilitates a faster drain with less chance of a stuck sparge. A straight piece of hose is better at creating channelization, and is therefore preferred. Or so the theory goes. IIRC, it was Denny Conn himself who experimented with this.

Having said all this, I am about to install a circular loop in my MLT because I want to try a hybrid batch/fly sparge technique for some higher gravity brews, and I need a more distributed lautering system for the fly sparging component. Note, one can also make a slightly less expensive and more compact circular braid setup by fitting a plain copper pipe tee to the bulkhead and then securing a loop of braid to the tee using the marine-grade stainless worm clamps you mentioned.

Cheers! :mug:
 

Kevin Dean

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So, I've taken a decently long break from brewing for several reasons. Money was one (the goverment people stole my money in March and I've been feeling it as the savings rebuilds) and wanting to age my existing brews was another.

Anyway, my mash tun ended up becoming a mold farm. Let me tell you, that's NASTY.

So, I spent a week steaming it out, soaking it in sanitizer, oxycleaning, sanitizing, drying and the like. I'm planning on doing Mash Tun version 2.0 this week. I've got the saltwater fishtank ready silicone sealant and proper sized SS washers ready to replace my ugly neoprene ones.

Has anybody used a Bazooka Screen with the 10 gallon Rubbermaid mentioned here? Did you have to get fitting adapters for the parts listed here (I have a perfect clone) or did the Bazooka Screen fit?
 
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FlyGuy

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can you use the same parts for the rectangle shaped coolers?
Yes, for the most part. You may have to use a different length of nipple and a different number of washers for a good fit. You will also have to ensure that the seal from the cooler's original spigot fits the DIY bulkhead.
 

Yin_Yang

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well i tried this w/ my rectangle 58 quart. first, the ball valve, actually ends up w/ part of it inside the cooler, because the nipple seems too short for my cooler. I drip tested it, and it leaked, since i had no room for a washer in between the rubber gasket and the barb adaptor, so there wasnt enough of a seal. I managed to squeeze a washer in there, but it of course made the ball valve go deeper in the cooler...but now no drip.. i mean its functional as it is, and i can work the valve..but should i get a longer nipple?

Also, they didnt have stainless steel fender washers, only zinc coated..is that ok and safe to use?
 
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FlyGuy

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I would be tempted to get a longer nipple. You might need a couple/few washers for spacers, so pick those up too. They also add some needed stability to the ball valve.

Regarding the washer inside the cooler, unfortunately you can't use zinc plated. You need stainless steel, or possibly nylon. The non-SS metal washers, especially the plated ones, will corrode in the mash tun because the mash is acidic. The metals that end up in your beer will cause off-flavours. The SS washers seem to be difficult for some to find, so search this thread for some good sources (Fastenal seems to be a good one in the US; Home Depot seems to carry them up here in Canada).

Best of luck! :mug:
 

Rick500

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Send me a PM; cover the couple bucks cost & postage and I can send you a SS 5/8" washer if you still need one.
 

FEARDIZ

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get a longer nipple if needed, it's not any big deal.. that's what I did with my rectangle cooler
 

Anchors_Team

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I'm finally embarking on a 3 gallon AG setup with a Bubba Keg. I have most of the parts here except for an inner seal/gasket, SS washer, and some regular washers for the outside. I'm going to use some Waterweld by JB Weld for inside the wall of the cooler to make for a snug fit for the nipple. I also thought about using this product instead of a rubber seal between the inside washer and cooler wall. What do you guys think, have you used this product before? I contacted the manufacturer to see if its save for beverage contact up to 170 degrees and they said, "Yes, it is non toxic and can withstand the temperature."
 

Brutus Brewer

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I went to Lowes last night to get the materials to do this conversion. Now, I know this is going to sound stupid, but for the 5/8" stainless steel fender washer is the 5/8" the ID or OD? I have found a 5/8" stainless steel washer, but the OD is listed at 2" and this sounds a bit large. For the other three 5/8" washers what should the (I'm guessing) OD be?
 

FEARDIZ

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it doesn't really matter, as long as the washer fits on the cooler your fine.. you may have to shave off part of the outside washer if it doesn't fit correctly
 

Revvy

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I went to Lowes last night to get the materials to do this conversion. Now, I know this is going to sound stupid, but for the 5/8" stainless steel fender washer is the 5/8" the ID or OD? I have found a 5/8" stainless steel washer, but the OD is listed at 2" and this sounds a bit large. For the other three 5/8" washers what should the (I'm guessing) OD be?

As long as the ID is 5/8 (to accomodate the 3/8 nipple) and the OD is small enough to fit in the cooler, it doesn't matter...I'm pretty sure my washers were around 2".
 

Kevin Dean

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Yin_Yang said:
neoprene rubber washers ok
They work, I used them. I regret the decision. Buy lots and lots of them to get a tight fit or spends half the money (and not have to worry about little crevises for yummy sugars to get trapped in and feed the mold colonies.) and buy some SS washers online.

I went with the "I wanna put this together this weekend and I don't care how much I end up paying". In hindsight, I care and wish I'd have done it right the first time.
 

mrcleanwell

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I just built a 10 gal MLT but am concerned about sanitation. It's not leaking, but due to the radius of the cooler, there is a very tiny gap between the washer and the inside of the cooler.
Is this normal? it seems like the perfect haven for bacteria.
 

Kevin Dean

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Silicone sealant from a pet store (designed for saltwater fish) in there will seal that right up for you.

And in all honesty, you need not be worried about bacteria. Mold for storage, yes, but everything that goes into your mash tun is pre-boil, so even if you've got bacteria in there, they'll die in the boil.
 

Brutus Brewer

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After ordering the rest of the parts needed for this from Fastenal (SS washers, Hi Temp O ring and SS hose clamp with SS screw) i put this together. I only used a 5 gallon cooler and upon testing there were no leaks. I tightened everything pretty good however, the entire assembly I put together rotates. Is this normal? Also, I bought an additional 5 gallon cooler for sparge water, but am unsure how to run the hose from the Hot Liquor Tank to the MLT. Any suggestions? Is a 5 gallon cooler too small, after reading the chapter in "How to Brew" I'm beginning to think I should have got 10 gallon coolers.
 

FEARDIZ

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Is a 5 gallon cooler too small, after reading the chapter in "How to Brew" I'm beginning to think I should have got 10 gallon coolers.
should of got the 10 gal.. my rectangale cooler was like $30 ish, not really sure what the deal is with the round one, it's more $$
 

Kevin Dean

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So I went to Maryland Homebrew today and picked up a Bazooka Screen for $20.

For anyone who wants to use a Bazooka Screen instead of the braid and is following the instructions here with the round cooler, you'll want to substitute the 3/8" Male barb adapter with a 1/2" x 3/8" Pipe Reducing Coupling (Watts A-815) in the yellow bag. This will allow you to connect the larger Bazooka Screen to the smaller nipple.

You'll also need to use a pair of needle nosed pliers and crimp the end because it's too long to fit. Two folds did it for me!

Now I'm excited to brew with it! I'll provide some follow up after.
 

Flic

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Just put one of these together this morning. Wow, took all of 10 minutes!! I had a problem finding the 5/8" SS washers and had to get Fastenal to order some as they didn't even carry them in the store. Tested it out with hot water for an hour and no leaks. The OD of the SS washer is 2 inches and might be a bit wide as there is a small gap inside but if nothing is leaking then I guess it's fine!! First AG planned for next weekend after I get my ingredients...:rockin:
 

schneemann

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Has anyone made a 1/2 inch version of this? I can't find any washers larger than 5/8 ID. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that the 1/2 inch nipples need a 3/4 ID washer.
 

papabeach1

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that's what I am look for !!! thanks big time!! now we have today's 2 cent KEG!!

and I will do that one !! thank you!!
 

jts15

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Quick question...I have all my parts to put this together. I should be able to do 10 gallon batches if I want to someday. If I use a cooler to hold the sparge water as well what size will I need to cover 5 and 10 gallon batches?
Thanks in advance.
 

BLZBUh

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Anyone have ideas in place of the screw hose clamps for the SS braid. I cant find any marine grade. Thanks for all of the great info.
 

steelerguy

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Just out of curiosity, has anyone had the inside of their Rubbermaid warp? Mind warped after the very first mash. It isn't causing a problem, but there is now a pretty large lump that starts at the bottom and goes about 2/3 of the way up the side getting smaller as it goes. Not big deal, but it did make me question the quality of the cooler I got, especially because it was a Home Depot labeled Rubbermaid and I know they make people build crap parts for them to sell cheaper.
 
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