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Help me decide between Spike CF10 and SSBrewtech Unitank

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specialkayme

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LOL, no argument on my part. Since you seem to misinterpret my term "argument" when I responded above, to make it easier just substitute the word "position" in place of "argument" so that it reads "This position of redefining "limitations" as "design flaws" is sorta pointless and academic...."

I refer you to your post #233 where you started to redefine meanings. Now this is becoming silly.....;)
You are now arguing about arguing . . .
 

Beholder

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So what's the difference between a "maximum rated working pressure" a "recommended operating pressure" and a "manufacturer's indicated max pressure"?

SS uses three terms. I have to presume its intentional.
The general difference between maximum working pressure and recommended operating pressure comes down to lifing of pressure vessels. Maximum working pressure is factors of safety from yield strength while operating pressure is factors of safety from creep fatigue. As every cycle fatigues the metal, the higher the strain, the less life you will get, which is also a function of temperature.

Pressure vessel codes vary (Not sure which one a fermentation chamber falls under), but it is not in common to hydrostatic test to 2x the rated pressure. My guess is that it was designed to 30 psi operating with failure after 10,000 cycles (just making a number up for illustration), but creep fatigue drops by orders of magnitude with strain, so risk assessment indicated that if they dropped to 15 psi, there was no chance of anyone fatiguing the unit by cycling it up and down every day for their entire lives.

In short, every cycle uses up some life, and brings you closer to the fatigue limit, the higher you cycle, the faster you risk catastrophic failure and injury. At some point, I may even look into a re-cert on the tank much like is required for gas cylinders.
 

Gozie Boy

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Pressure vessel ratings are a huge area of engineering, and various codes will literally fill libraries. Depending on the end use, design basis, degree and types of testing, "max" (hydrostatic test) pressure can often be 2:1 or 4:1 (or other ratio) of the rated working pressure. Most companies are smart enough to NOT show the test pressure in their marketing info. to home consumers, because there will always be some yahoos out there who will see that and then think it's safe to operate beyond the working pressure, up to (or even above!) the test pressure. I've also seen people who bypass the PRV (or place a valve between the vessel and the PRV) on their conicals for various reasons. Bad idea. The "maximum working (or operating) pressure" and PRV are there for a very good reason. You really don't want to operate beyond the working pressure even though you can, and probably would, get away with it. Probably, but then maybe you get busy with something else and (if the PRV has been removed or defeated) the pressure continues to increase. Yeah, it's a legal and a safety issue. I promise you if the conical has much gas in it, and it "let's go", you REALLY don't want to be there when it does.
 

shoengine

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I'm looking at getting a Unitank. I'm considering going with a 14g unit so I have the option to do larger batches or wine. From what I can see between the two products, there is no bad choice, just whatever fits my use case.
 

Bad Bubba

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On Monday SS Brewtech is going to have 15 % off the unitanks as part of their black Friday sale. I have been looking at both the Spike and the SS models and leaning a little to the Spike but that discount could push me to pull the trigger on a SS Brewtech 7 gallon unitank.
 

videojunkie1208

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On Monday SS Brewtech is going to have 15 % off the unitanks as part of their black Friday sale. I have been looking at both the Spike and the SS models and leaning a little to the Spike but that discount could push me to pull the trigger on a SS Brewtech 7 gallon unitank.
Not sure you can go too far wrong with either of those choices. The only thing about the unitank is the smaller opening on top, vs the whole top coming off. But then again, scrubbing corny kegs isn't too bad, and their openings are smaller still.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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I looked at both before settling on the Spike model. I've had the CF10 for a year now and I'm glad I settled on the Spike. The price seemed a little better but I like that the whole top comes off for easy of cleaning. That's just me, either are fine additions to your home brewery. For me it was a nice upgrade from the modified 1/2 barrel I was using. I see lots of folks use the half barrel option and I could have easily stayed with that too. Purchasing the CF10 was a great idea I wish I had done sooner.
 

videojunkie1208

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When I bought my CF10, I did a side by side cost layout with all the features, and when you included all the features I wanted, the Spike was ->] [<- much cheaper. I haven't regretted it, and added a Flex+ once it became available.
 
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I've had the 7 Gall SSBrewtech Unitank for about 2 years now. No regrets. It's a quality piece of equipment. At this size the smaller opening on the top is a non issue. I can easily reach the bottom of it. I'm also pretty happy that I never have any issues with the top sealing. It's foolproof. I've heard the Spike gasket/top can be a bit finicky.
 

videojunkie1208

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I've had the 7 Gall SSBrewtech Unitank for about 2 years now. No regrets. It's a quality piece of equipment. At this size the smaller opening on the top is a non issue. I can easily reach the bottom of it. I'm also pretty happy that I never have any issues with the top sealing. It's foolproof. I've heard the Spike gasket/top can be a bit finicky.
Never had any issues with mine. Sometimes it gets a little floppy and doesn't want to cooperate, but it always goes in the slot, and seals well.
 

Gozie Boy

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Never had any issues with mine. Sometimes it gets a little floppy and doesn't want to cooperate, but it always goes in the slot, and seals well.
Many people have a little startup issue in wrestling with the CF10 top gasket (self included), but it's a quick learning curve after which you should have no problem. I can't compare with the SS from personal experience, but have been quite pleased with the Spike products. I do wish their insulated lines and jackets had more mm's of neoprene thickness, which I have supplemented with my own, but that's about the only (slight) criticism I've had.
 

Bad Bubba

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For those of you that have an SS Brewtech unitank, what are the key accessories to get? I have a glycol chiller. Thinking of pulling the trigger for the Cyber Monday sale and want to get any needed accessories also.
 

Vale71

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1 - spunding valve
2 - TC butterfly valve for the racking arm
3 - quality precision manometer as the one supplied with the unit is useless
4 - :D leg extensions, unless you really love kneeling
 
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1 - spunding valve
2 - TC butterfly valve for the racking arm
3 - quality precision manometer as the one supplied with the unit is useless
4 - :D leg extensions, unless you really love kneeling
My racking arm is a tri-clover valve. Has that changed in the last couple years?

If you are buying the 7 gallon don’t bother with the leg extensions. The thing is very front heavy and becomes tippy. If you put castors on it you DEFINITELY don’t want leg extensions. I believe larger units don’t suffer from this problem. If you don’t use castors and never move it this wouldn’t be a problem.
 
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For those of you that have an SS Brewtech unitank, what are the key accessories to get? I have a glycol chiller. Thinking of pulling the trigger for the Cyber Monday sale and want to get any needed accessories also.
The only thing I bought right away was some 1 1/2” TC block off caps, garnets, and some more tri-clover clamps so I could cap off the dump valve and racking arm valve when I wasn’t actively using them.
 

Vale71

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My racking arm is a tri-clover valve. Has that changed in the last couple years?

If you are buying the 7 gallon don’t bother with the leg extensions. The thing is very front heavy and becomes tippy. If you put castors on it you DEFINITELY don’t want leg extensions. I believe larger units don’t suffer from this problem. If you don’t use castors and never move it this wouldn’t be a problem.
Brain fart, I meant to say "blow off arm". SSB provides as standard a ball valve with no locking mechanism, it's way too easy for someone (spouse, kid, whatever) to bump into the lever and release all pressure. A butterfly valve with a positive locking mechanism is a worthwile investment IMHO.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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The CF10 with casters and the leg extensions is very unstable, empty and very scary when full. I had nightmares of that thing crashing to the floor so I have mine attached to the wall with a couple conduit clamps. It's close to the sink so I don't need to move it but if needed the clamps unlatch easy enough. As far as the cover gasket I read about the issues but I don't see any issues with it. Sometimes it's a little clumsy getting into the groove but not not a real issue. The sample valve takes a little getting used to as it has a lot of travel between open and close. Again, not a big issue.
 

Gozie Boy

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The CF10 with casters and the leg extensions is very unstable, empty and very scary when full. I had nightmares of that thing crashing to the floor so I have mine attached to the wall with a couple conduit clamps. It's close to the sink so I don't need to move it but if needed the clamps unlatch easy enough. As far as the cover gasket I read about the issues but I don't see any issues with it. Sometimes it's a little clumsy getting into the groove but not not a real issue. The sample valve takes a little getting used to as it has a lot of travel between open and close. Again, not a big issue.
I read a lot of posts from people who have concerns (or have had experience) with the stability of the CF10. I will not doubt anyone's direct experience and comments related to this. I've got one, and with the long extension legs. My experience is that if you do not have to move it around, and if it is not in the flow of traffic of other operations, then it should be no problem (it won't tip itself over). At least I've never had any issues or close calls. To help with the VCoG, I've placed a 50lb hand weight on the bottom triangle brace, and this no doubt helps things out.

The only time I need to move it is for a removal and cleaning of insulation jacket; MAYBE once a year. And when you are doing something special like that, you can take extra precautions to not knock the damned thing over (at least that's the theory!). :no::no::no:
 

OakIslandBrewery

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It's just a watch out for the folks who are considering buying, I guess any fermenter with a leg extension kit. Having the wheel kit seemed like a good idea when I purchased my CF10 but now that I have it attached to the wall I could have gone without it. I like the weight idea on the base.
 

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1 - spunding valve
2 - TC butterfly valve for the racking arm
3 - quality precision manometer as the one supplied with the unit is useless
4 - :D leg extensions, unless you really love kneeling
Agree with everything above, but curious about the manometer accuracy issue you've experienced. The one on mine seems accurate and agrees with any in-line or tank mounted gauges for head pressure when they're connected.

Doubly agree on the spunding valve in a cup. If I had it to do over again I'd spend the extra $$$ and get the graduated scale however. Not that I think it would necessarily be accurate, but I keep losing track of how many quarter turns I need to set for an initial spunding pressure.

Brooo Brother
 

Vale71

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My manometer was off by 0.3 bar right out of the box and there is no way of resetting the zero point. I'd also question the choice of having a manometer rated for 0 to 4 bar on tank that is only rated for 1 bar. :confused:
My electronic manometer reads in 10 millibar increments. I can even see the pressure drop when the glycol starts circulating...
 

Brooothru

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Yeah, I can see that. That's enough of an error (uncorrectable through recalibration) to be a concern. Also anything > 2~2.5 Bar is a useless reading for this application.

That said, I wonder if sometimes we get a little OCD with our degrees of accuracy (said the guy who just dropped coin for a digital electronic refractometer).

"Well, ya' see Honey, my refractometer got dropped on the cement floor and I just can't trust it anymore. And this fancy 'lectric one will be SO much better!"
 
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Magnum32

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I’ve been considering one of these myself and after reading thru this thread I can’t say that it’s made my decision any easier.
 
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I’ve been considering one of these myself and after reading thru this thread I can’t say that it’s made my decision any easier.
I'm a SSBrewtech Unitank owner, so I don't have much direct info on Spike. From what I can gather you cannot really go wrong with either one. They are both quality products with pretty established companies. Of course SS makes you buy all the accessories up front, but that worked fine for me. Maybe that can help you make your decision if you don't want all the pieces. Spike has a really loyal fanbase and is a smaller company that for others seems pretty responsive.

Not sure that helps you make up your mind, but I don't think you would regret either one.
 

eric19312

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FWIW this is a pretty old thread. OP went with SS brewtech unit back in October 2017 due to concerns about the band clamp on the Spike. He then didn't like the SS unit because couldn't cold crash to desired temps (29-30F) without icing the coil and ponied up the coin for a jacketed conical from Brewer's Hardware.

I think this is useful information to folks that are considering any unjacketed conical intending to rely on a glycol chilled coil in the beer to maintain temperature and cold crash. If your goal is cold crashing below 30F they just don't work well for that purpose. It sounds like they do a really good job holding ale or lager fermentation temperatures and cold crashing to the mid to high 30s but if you want cold crashing lower than that you might be better off considering a different solution. OP picked a jacketed conical and reports it is doing the job. Others including me have gone with conical in a stand up freezer and this also works very well. Out of these two units I picked Spike because it offered the ability to buy it without the coil chilling system, neoprene jacket and other TC accessories making my cost significantly lower.
 

Bohern

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I thought I had my mind made up after the pages of this from 2020 but after starting from page 1 of this and reading the entire thing I am wondering again. 6 months ago the plan was Spike all the way, but over the past month I switched to looking at the SS Brewtech 14 gal unitank.
 

khannon

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I recently bought the Spike CF-15.. After much research, and convincing the wife it was "an investment, and she can probably get close to value when I'm dead", I have 4 batches in, and I love it. I had to re-do the oetiker clamps on the pressure transfer kit, but not a huge deal. Seems to hold pressure at 15 without issue, cleaning is a breeze with the whole lid coming off. I was pretty well set up with 2" and 4" tri-clamp already, so adding all the 1.5 stuff was an adjustment. The sample port(I worry about how much beer I "sample") is a great addition.

I looked at a few, SSBrewtech included, and I think I made the right call. Now my worry is that I keep eyeing a "second" so when I lager I don't have to transfer. I suppose if SSBrewtech wanted to "convince" me, I could run side by side trials if they sent me one..

Problem is that I now have some big mason jars of yeast off the bottom because I could, now I need to do something with them.
 

Bohern

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I am making a list of the pros and cons now. Pretty much it all comes down the difference in the lids for me. I think I prefer the SS lid design.
 
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I am making a list of the pros and cons now. Pretty much it all comes down the difference in the lids for me. I think I prefer the SS lid design.
If there's any questions we can help with we'd be happy to assist! If you're specifically looking at the lid then I think ours wins hands down. Our lid comes off completely for easy cleaning. With the SS you would need to stick your arm into a small port to try to clean it when the time comes. And good luck trying to get down into the cone area for cleaning!
 

Vale71

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If there's any questions we can help with we'd be happy to assist! If you're specifically looking at the lid then I think ours wins hands down. Our lid comes off completely for easy cleaning. With the SS you would need to stick your arm into a small port to try to clean it when the time comes. And good luck trying to get down into the cone area for cleaning!
That's a non-issue as you don't need to put your hands inside the fermenter to clean it under any circumstance.
 

Jag75

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That's a non-issue as you don't need to put your hands inside the fermenter to clean it under any circumstance.
I'm not sure i agree with this 100%. If you have a cp ball maybe . Ive had hard krausen lines where even a long soak didn't get it completely off.

It gives me piece of mind to be able to take my lid off and inspect the inside . Ive even had to clean the inside of my lid .
 

eric19312

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I'll add where the lid design on the Spike comes in handy... Probably not recommended but I ferment in my CF15 very very full. Right up to the lid seal when I can that is about 17.5-18 gallons. Sometimes end up with yeast in my blow off growler. My krausen "ring" frequently covers just about the entire inside surface of the lid. If I add dry hops when there is a fair amount of CO2 in suspension I can get some crazy foaming activity in there and blow off and that stuff sticks to everything. I do have the CIP ball and a decent sump pump and CIP with heated water but it really doesn't shoot a lot of cleaning solution straight up. Being able to get the entire lid off for cleaning the lid is helpful.

Also the CIP balls designed to work with homebrew pumps clog pretty easily. Can't speak for the SS brewtech CIP ball but using the Spike ball I really need to clean most of the krausen off especially if it has dry hop pellets in it before I start working on it with the spray ball else it will clog and not spin. I spray my conical down well in the driveway to get rid of the yeast, and clean the lid and any krausen ring with warm water and a soft sponge until visibly clean. Then I reassemble and CIP/SIP.
 

Vale71

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I'm not sure i agree with this 100%. If you have a cp ball maybe . Ive had hard krausen lines where even a long soak didn't get it completely off.

It gives me piece of mind to be able to take my lid off and inspect the inside . Ive even had to clean the inside of my lid .
You just need the right product at the right concentration and the right temperature, which means hotter than what warm water comes out of your tap at. To achieve that I recirculate a caustic cleaner solution from dump port to blow-off cane (bottom to top) through my RIMS tube until I get to 80°C then let sit for half an hour. I've never had any deposit either above or below the beer level that didn't completely dissolve thus requiring no scrubbing whatsoever.
 

Brooothru

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You just need the right product at the right concentration and the right temperature, which means hotter than what warm water comes out of your tap at. To achieve that I recirculate a caustic cleaner solution from dump port to blow-off cane (bottom to top) through my RIMS tube until I get to 80°C then let sit for half an hour. I've never had any deposit either above or below the beer level that didn't completely dissolve thus requiring no scrubbing whatsoever.
+1

Had plenty of hard krausen. Never had an issue cleaning my unitank. I bought the "large" Brewtech CIP ball, hooked it up to a 17 gpm sump pump, added 1 gallon of hot faucet water (120F) and PBW. Even though it cleaned quite efficiently, it was overkill. Fact of the matter is I didn't need it, and haven't used the CIP in nearly a year.

After pressure transferring to serving kegs and recovering yeast, I now just do a hot rinse with a sink sprayer. Any residual gunk or krausen is soaked with hot water/PBW for an hour or so, drained and rinsed, sanitized with a thorough StarSan spray-down and allowed to air dry.

I do remove and clean all the TC mounted valves, sampling ports, manifolds, etc., but I'd have to do the same thing regardless of whatever fermenter I used. In fact it's the same thing I do with my Ss Brewtech Chronical with the removable lid like the Spike gear.

There are many features on the Spike gear that I wish I had on my Ss gear, EXCEPT the removable lid for pressurized operations. The tank construction of the Ss Unitank with 6" TC port has never given me a cleaning issue in the year and a half I've used it. I much prefer it to the removable lid on the Chronical and the Spike Brewing design. My $.02 cents.

Brooo Brother
 

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For those who own a CF10 or CF15 how do you dry hop and remain closed or low oxygen? also how hard / easy is it to get a good seal and hold pressure when carbing up?
 
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I have a cf15 and its a piece of cake, now there are more ways then one to go about it but i keep it simple. i push co2 in while opening the top port and have my wife quickly dump in the hops then i close it up and purge several times. for sealing and carbing i have a glycol setup so ill do crash and dump then carbonate. i have never had an issue, i think it takes me maybe 10 seconds the set the so called finicky gasket in the lid. the band tightens well, i have 2 cf15's actually and never had an issue with either one. there are ways you can dry hop that are essentially oxygen free using some extra components that i have yet to purchase. but my way works for me so not gonna spend the extra money unless i have an issue... or feel the need for to buy something new and shiny.

cheers!
 

eric19312

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For those who own a CF10 or CF15 how do you dry hop and remain closed or low oxygen? also how hard / easy is it to get a good seal and hold pressure when carbing up?
There is a whole thread on this question here somewhere. I think this one...https://www.homebrewtalk.com/threads/no-oxygen-dry-hopping.663500/

I'm doing it a couple ways. When I'm lazy I do pretty much what @bailey mountain brewer said. I run CO2 in through the manifold at about 5PSI while quickly opening the 4" TC port and dumping in the hops. You want to be quick about that because if there is a lot of CO2 in solution you will get a lot of foaming and if you are not fast enough getting the 4" port sealed you will have quite a mess. (dont ask me how I learned this one :eek:)

If I want to be just a little more ambitious I hook of the CO2 to the bottom dump valve so I am blowing CO2 up through the beer. I don't think it really matters but part of what makes TC fun to play with its like legos you can change all sorts of things.

Finally when I have a lot of energy and am open to possible frustration I am still trying to get the Norcal yeast brink to work. Will be playing with that this weekend. There is some technique that isn't really covered in the site's videos but think I am getting closer. This device in theory allows you to fully purge the sight glass full of hops with CO2, pull beer into the glass to wet and disintegrate the hops and then use CO2 to shoot the hop slurry up into the cone. Problem is getting a good slurry as the pellets expand rapidly when they get wet and become hard to work with. Work in progress wish me luck.

What I haven't tried is the @mongoose33 technique. I don't have room for mounting sight glass and valves above my conical as currently configured. My conical is in a standup freezer and I've got only about 6" of clearance above the top port. I'd probably try that before the yeast brink if I had the vertical clearance.
 
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haha, as eric19312 said, gotta work quick. the first time i did my lazy method i got a bunch of foam also. definitely a lesson learned so now i always have a helping hand to make sure it is quick as possible. i have also connected the co2 in other places and didnt seem to have any better or worse results, i agree its just fun.
 

NewJersey

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I ended up going with a flex+. The lid design of the SS brewtech is obviously, in theory anyways, a stronger and easier to line up design.
I've found in practice however that the band clamp design works flawlessly and holds well past 15lbs pressure if needed.
I'm not an engineer but I wish they made a TC lid fermenter that was massive. Think 12-14" across. I'm sure there are multiple reasons this is a bad idea, but it would be best of both worlds kinda
 
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