In desperate need of help choosing a ball valve & thermometer combo.

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YMS_1975

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Hey guys,

My kettle is a simple stainless steel, Concord 30 quart (7.5 gallons) kettle. It has no openings whatsoever. Please see here

I am looking to modify my kettle so that I can install a stainless steel ball valve & thermometer combo kit like this one. Can someone tell me......is this a valve that would be welded on? Or is it weldless? From what I'm seeing in the picture, the back end (the part that goes into the kettle) is just a straight rod. No thread, so no nut will be used to tighten it from the inside of the kettle. This leads me to believe it's a piece which needs to be welded on.

Can someone please help me?
 

bruce_the_loon

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The rod is the thermometer probe poking through the tee piece. You will need a weldless bulkhead similar to Stainless Steel, 1/2 or Stainless Steel, 1/2

The bulkhead will be mounted on the kettle via the hole you'll drill, and then the entire combo unit will screw onto the bulkhead with the thermometer probe pushed through the bulkhead into the tank.

I'd suggest getting hold of the online store to get them to confirm exactly which bulkhead is most suitable.
 

Jim R

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I paid extra for my boiling kettle to get one with a good valve. That was a waste of money. I never use it. When I transfer beer to my fermenter, I don’t necessarily want it to come from the specific area of the valve because that may be where the most trub is. Instead I use a high quality stainless siphon hose where I can adjust the height to get clearer wort into the fermenter. The valve just makes the kettle harder to clean with no benefit for me. Waste of money.
 
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YMS_1975

YMS_1975

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I paid extra for my boiling kettle to get one with a good valve. That was a waste of money. I never use it. When I transfer beer to my fermenter, I don’t necessarily want it to come from the specific area of the valve because that may be where the most trub is. Instead I use a high quality stainless siphon hose where I can adjust the height to get clearer wort into the fermenter. The valve just makes the kettle harder to clean with no benefit for me. Waste of money.
I didn't realize this was an option. If you don't mind, could you show me a picture of your stainless steel hose / siphon?

But to be perfectly honest, since my original post I've started to think about what type of connection is the best type of connection? So what qualifies a connection as being "the best"? I'd have to say something that makes ball valve replacement easy, no leaks, and is easy to clean.

From what I understand, there are Quick Disconnect fittings, Tri-Clover fittings, Camlock fittings, and Blichmann NPT fittings. I want to connect this to a counterflow chiller, so what I need to find out is which connection fitting will best suit my needs.
 

CascadesBrewer

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But to be perfectly honest, since my original post I've started to think about what type of connection is the best type of connection? So what qualifies a connection as being "the best"? I'd have to say something that makes ball valve replacement easy, no leaks, and is easy to clean.

I am not positive what you are looking for, but I am really impressed with the selection and information available from BrewHardware. If you are in Canada, I am not sure what the shipping hit would be, but it might be worth looking at their options and some of the useful videos and articles. @Bobby_M might have some tips. I recently picked up the True Weldless Bulkhead with Edge Pickup Diptube. It is a well made and designed product.

Fittings and Camlocks:

Bulkheads:

YouTube:
 

Deadalus

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I didn't realize this was an option. If you don't mind, could you show me a picture of your stainless steel hose / siphon?

But to be perfectly honest, since my original post I've started to think about what type of connection is the best type of connection? So what qualifies a connection as being "the best"? I'd have to say something that makes ball valve replacement easy, no leaks, and is easy to clean.

From what I understand, there are Quick Disconnect fittings, Tri-Clover fittings, Camlock fittings, and Blichmann NPT fittings. I want to connect this to a counterflow chiller, so what I need to find out is which connection fitting will best suit my needs.
Ignoring cost, a welded port with TC fittings would be the easiest to clean and the least likely to leak. That would likely be the most expensive, because of the TC fittings, although I am not familiar with the cost of the Blichmann fittings. I wouldn't necessarily recommend that for your pot, as you may transition out of that setup. A welded port will cost for the welding and the ferrule. Weldless will require a step bit or a knockout punch to make the hole plus a bulkhead. It's kind of a wash between welded and not if you don't have the step bit or the knockout punch. If you pay to have it welded putting the hole in is part of the cost. QDs and camlocks are close in price, but TC fittings are more than both.

I have all weldless fittings on my 3 vessel system, somewhere around 10 ports without checking. Sometimes a little adjustment is necessary depending on the configuration and use. This is mainly because I have used what I had available from various used purchases at times.

I prefer the QDs myself over camlocks for ease of use and I haven't used the Blichmann products. Three piece ball valves are easier to get apart in my opinion vs the two piece as the two piece style requires a larger box end wrench which I don't even own. Which translates to using an adjustable or channel locks and that tends to mar the surface. If your ball valve is not TC, (where maybe a butterfly valve is potentially better), the valve will use NPT threads. A three piece is easier to align as the valve can be oriented much easier vs getting the thread tightness just right on the two piece so the valve handle is where you want it when tightening.

Connecting to your counterflow chiller is independent from the valve. The CFC will have some kind of fittings on the beer line. You will need to put a fitting on that which connects to the tubing and then the tubing connects to the valve on the pot. Most setups I've seen don't connect the CFC directly to the boil kettle. You could pipe it but that still is independent, BK valve to pipe, pipe to CFC.

On your original post, that setup has a barb coming off the valve. That will firmly mount your tubing there but I'd recommend a disconnect of some kind instead of the barb.
 

Broken Crow

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There's some good advice on here so far, but the other thing that no-one's mentioned is that combo unit, with the thermometer probe sticking into the kettle will prohibit installing a diptube and you'll be left with maybe up to a gallon or so below the drain hole. As mentioned above, https://www.homebrewtalk.com/members/4833/'s True-Bulkheads are pretty much the best weldless ones you can get. He can ship to Canada USPS which means we get it here from Canada Post without broker fees and if the value of the parcel is less than $150 CAN, they usually waive taxes and duty. I also frequently buy from OBK (Usually waiting till I have a list that will cost over $150 so I can get the free shipping) and they've got the bits that are most commonly used. My opinion, if you're going with OBK, would be separate valve and bulkhead plus a diptube:
1/2 or: Spike Brewing Stainless Steel 5/8
And if you don't have a step-bit for your drill, I can highly recommend: Circular Round 22mm Hole Punch, Knockout Die
You can just use the barb that comes with the valve or replace it with a camplock or QD for connecting to your chiller.
 
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Deadalus

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Good point about the diptube/pickup tube @Broken Crow and the thermometer. It's helpful to have a pickup tube as you mentioned and they can be positioned to pick up near the side wall to reduce trub. I have a temp sensor on the tee myself, it sits perpendicular to the flow. They make shorter thermometer probes (one is linked above), offhand I don't know all possible lengths and whether they fit well in that position. I think I have seen them positioned that way. Alternatively, a longer nipple could work with that thermometer between the bulkhead and the tee. It would make the fittings extend farther off the pot however. I personally don't like the valve on the perpendicular, even though they rectified it with the elbow, that adds more cleaning complexity.

I wanted to mention that it's somewhat necessary to have a step bit when using a knockout punch as the step bit is needed to drill the pilot hole for the knockout punch. I learned this the hard way after my first step bit wore out and I decided to buy a knockout punch set. It says this on the one you linked although for the size of that punch a regular twist bit might be available to make the pilot hole. I think my set uses 1/2" and 3/4" pilot holes, with the smaller pilot hole size only for 1/2" NPT (which is nominal, the hole is bigger 7/8" 22mm). And of course, a step bit needs its own pilot hole to get started!
 

Broken Crow

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Step-bits dance too much for me. I use a hammer and sharp punch to make a divot for my center, then grab the thinnest titanium bit I had (1/64th or some such..and my spring loaded center-punch barely does a thing to a beer keg so..), put a drop of cutting fluid on the divot, steady pressure, low speed..done, drop of cutting fluid on a 3/8" titanium bit, same slow and steady...done, popped in the knockout punch and cranked it with a ratchet.
Don't get me wrong..I love my step bits, but not for pilot holes. :mug:
 

Deadalus

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Yeah I bought a spring loaded center-punch specifically because I was drilling multiple holes in a keg and I was extremely disappointed. And it can be done the way you are saying although I wouldn't jump straight to the 3/8" after the initial starting hole but I've found the titanium bits (twist) to wear out right quick on SS. They'll drill when they are new but I won't buy them anymore for SS. I think one would need an expensive series of bits to work up to a 3/4" hole which is needed for the larger knockout punches (3/4"+), which seems to me why it's recommended to use a step bit in general with them. Personally I got a lot more use out of a titanium step bit vs titanium twist bits on SS kegs. For one or two holes, use whatever works out cheapest really.
 

Broken Crow

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Titanium bits seem to be very hit-and-miss these days... I've got a plastic index from Stanley Tools that fits nicely in my shop-coat pocket that came for free with some tool or other I bought in '95 and apart from a few small ones I broke, they're still my sharp-as-new go to bits. About 15 Years ago I bought a very expensive (and expansive) case with bits for every occasion to put in my garage, though the cobalt and other bits are fine, every other titanium bit I used, burned first time. :p Oh, and when I said 'slow and steady' I mean very slow, like 100rpm slow, with plenty of pressure, a bit of fluid and it cuts right through just fine. As to the 3/8", that's the perfect size for the bolt for my 22mm knockout punch.
:bigmug:
 
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