Closed transfer works 97% of the time.

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Bramling Cross

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I had a very frustrating closed transfer session today. No matter what I did, my closed transfer refused to flow. This seems to happen to me, out of the blue, a few times each year and I would appreciate your assistance in trying to figure out where I'm screwing up.

My closed transfer rig is a SSBrewtech 7gal Brewbucket with the beer going through the Brewbucket's ball valve into a Torpedo keg fitted with a floating dip tube through the beer out port. The gas in port from the Torpedo keg feeds into the airlock port on the Brewbucket. Normally, this works like a charm. Occasionally, it doesn't.

Prior to today's problematic closed transfer, I successfully and quickly managed to do a closed transfer on an APA. With that done, I flushed and re-sanitized my lines. I prepped my keg by filling it with sanitizer, then force transferring the sanitizer out of the keg with CO2. I then opened the prv valve to allow me to open the lid to add acorbic acid and keg finings. Next, I re-pressurized the keg and partially purged via the PRV. With this done, I attached both the beer in and gas out lines and allowed the remaining CO2 to purge both lines. I quickly affixed them to the brew bucket, pulled the PRV again to make certain that there was no pressure in the system, then I opened the fermenter's ball valve. A mere trickle came out of the fermenter--I transfer on a postage scale, so I'm able to monitor my transfer rate. A few minutes later, it stalled completely.

No big deal. I sometimes find that it's necessary to reopen the PRV to coax a closed transfer into action. I did that, nothing. Hmm. Clogged ball valve on the fermenter? I pulled the tubing off of the beer in quick disconnect and saw very vigorous flow into a beaker. Okay, beer is coming out of the fermenter. The problem is the keg. Ah! Must be sanitizer in the CO2 out port's line. I blew this out again, it was flowing freely. Okay, clogged poppet? I opened the keg and unscrewed the poppet--clean as a whistle. That wasn't the issue. Hmmm.....kink in the floating dip tube's line? Nope. I inspected it, even blew through it with no resistance. I re-sanitized the keg and re-purged it. Confident that the keg was able to receive beer, I re-opened the ball valve from the fermenter...nothing. I hooked up my CO2 tank to the gas in port and blew CO2 through the keg and into the fermenter. The gas went through the system without problem. I then tried to transfer again....nothing.

At that point, the beer I had brewed today was well and truly chilled to pitching temps, the whirlpool was long over, and it was time to pitch. Nuts! I opened the lid and ran the beer into the fermenter quickly and without issue. The fermenter was fine. Something was up with keg or closed transfer system and I'll be damned if I know what it was.

I have no idea why my closed transfer failed today. An hour earlier, my closed transfer rig worked flawlessly! I would appreciate any input you may have.
 

marc1

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I had a very frustrating closed transfer session today. No matter what I did, my closed transfer refused to flow. This seems to happen to me, out of the blue, a few times each year and I would appreciate your assistance in trying to figure out where I'm screwing up.

My closed transfer rig is a SSBrewtech 7gal Brewbucket with the beer going through the Brewbucket's ball valve into a Torpedo keg fitted with a floating dip tube through the beer out port. The gas in port from the Torpedo keg feeds into the airlock port on the Brewbucket. Normally, this works like a charm. Occasionally, it doesn't.

Prior to today's problematic closed transfer, I successfully and quickly managed to do a closed transfer on an APA. With that done, I flushed and re-sanitized my lines. I prepped my keg by filling it with sanitizer, then force transferring the sanitizer out of the keg with CO2. I then opened the prv valve to allow me to open the lid to add acorbic acid and keg finings. Next, I re-pressurized the keg and partially purged via the PRV. With this done, I attached both the beer in and gas out lines and allowed the remaining CO2 to purge both lines. I quickly affixed them to the brew bucket, pulled the PRV again to make certain that there was no pressure in the system, then I opened the fermenter's ball valve. A mere trickle came out of the fermenter--I transfer on a postage scale, so I'm able to monitor my transfer rate. A few minutes later, it stalled completely.

No big deal. I sometimes find that it's necessary to reopen the PRV to coax a closed transfer into action. I did that, nothing. Hmm. Clogged ball valve on the fermenter? I pulled the tubing off of the beer in quick disconnect and saw very vigorous flow into a beaker. Okay, beer is coming out of the fermenter. The problem is the keg. Ah! Must be sanitizer in the CO2 out port's line. I blew this out again, it was flowing freely. Okay, clogged poppet? I opened the keg and unscrewed the poppet--clean as a whistle. That wasn't the issue. Hmmm.....kink in the floating dip tube's line? Nope. I inspected it, even blew through it with no resistance. I re-sanitized the keg and re-purged it. Confident that the keg was able to receive beer, I re-opened the ball valve from the fermenter...nothing. I hooked up my CO2 tank to the gas in port and blew CO2 through the keg and into the fermenter. The gas went through the system without problem. I then tried to transfer again....nothing.

At that point, the beer I had brewed today was well and truly chilled to pitching temps, the whirlpool was long over, and it was time to pitch. Nuts! I opened the lid and ran the beer into the fermenter quickly and without issue. The fermenter was fine. Something was up with keg or closed transfer system and I'll be damned if I know what it was.

I have no idea why my closed transfer failed today. An hour earlier, my closed transfer rig worked flawlessly! I would appreciate any input you may have.

Did you try pushing in the pin on the bottom of the liquid connector to the keg to make sure that beer was flowing out of it?

Is your Brewbucket positioned so that the ball valve is higher than the top of the keg?

Have you tried leaving the PRV open and hitting the Brewbucket with a few PSI of CO2 with the ball valve open and connected to the liquid in on the keg?

Aside from that, you are undoing your liquid purge when you open the top of the keg to add ascorbic and finings. You could add them after the transfer, when you wouldn't be wasting so much gas to do 13 purges at 30PSI to get all the O2 out. Only purging the small headspace after filling is a lot easier on CO2 use than doing the whole keg volume.
 

Bobby_M

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The black QD can get clogged pretty quickly. It's good practice to pull the tubing off the QD's barb and hold it over a bucket to be sure any initial inrush of beer doesn't contain a ton of sediment/hops. As soon as you see it flowing pretty clear, shut off the valve and jam the hose back on to the QD and make the connection to the keg. You'll also have a bit more luck with putting CO2 directly on the lid of the fermenter at about 1psi rather than relying solely on gravity. Yes it's a little more wasteful of CO2.
 
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Bramling Cross

Bramling Cross

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Thanks, both, for taking the time to help me out. I appreciate it.

I'm still not sure what happened. I disassembled both of the QDs and both were as clean as a whistle. I just checked the keg to see if it was able to dispense, no problem. Beer flows out of it just fine.

I'm really stumped. It has to be the beer line QD because everything downstream of that QD works just fine. I've ordered a couple more QDs--may as well throw money at the problem, right?

I think 1psi is a good course of action going forward, although I kinda hate that idea for manifold reasons. At the end of the day, gravity driven closed transfers are just flakey enough that I think it makes sense.

Thanks again for your time, fellas. Very kind of you.
 

jeeppilot

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The black QD can get clogged pretty quickly. It's good practice to pull the tubing off the QD's barb and hold it over a bucket to be sure any initial inrush of beer doesn't contain a ton of sediment/hops. As soon as you see it flowing pretty clear, shut off the valve and jam the hose back on to the QD and make the connection to the keg. You'll also have a bit more luck with putting CO2 directly on the lid of the fermenter at about 1psi rather than relying solely on gravity. Yes it's a little more wasteful of CO2.
Product idea for you to add to your lineup of fittings Bobby— a high flow liquid QD specifically for transfers. Not sure which part has the smallest bore, the QD hole, or the post poppet, but both seem smaller than the keg diptube. I’d sure buy one! Just make both pin and ball lock versions!
 
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