MLT cooler conversion with crushproof braid

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nostalgia

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I'm sure I'm not the first to think of this, but here's how I'm doing my MLT. I'm still waiting for my bulkhead fitting to show up, so for now you'll get pictures of the braid. And you'll like it! :)

Here's the cooler. Picked it up from Target. 50 quart. Notice there is no drain hole in it yet.



While I was trying to figure out how I'd run the braid, I had an idea to keep it from getting crushed - put a stainless steel spring inside! I've seen solutions with drilled copper or CPVC tubing inside, but this is simple, inexpensive, and I don't have to drill a zillion holes in anything.

And here are the parts from McMaster-Carr. 2' of 1/2" expandable mesh sleeving, all-stainless hose clamps, and 20" of stainless steel spring in 1/2" diameter. The copper tee I had in stock.



First order of business is bending the ends of the spring out of the way so they don't catch on the braid.



Then just slide the spring into the braid. Once you get it part of the way in you can inchworm the braid along it quite easily.



Then just put the braid over the ends of the tee and hose clamp them on. Super easy. All of 2 minutes' work, no cutting, no drilling, no crimping.



Price list so far:

Cooler from Target: $20
20" stainless steel spring, p/n 9663K27 $4.55
10-pack of all-stainless clamps, p/n 5321K17 $6.79
2 feet of 1/2" stainless steel expandable mesh sleeving, p/n 1478T3 $5.72

-Joe
 

friday

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I like the spring idea. Im building a bigger mash turn this week. This looks like the ticket.
 

kronik

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Simply a Brilliant Idea...If my braid ever gets crushed I'll redo it this way maybe...
 

MikeG

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Very slick. Were you having stuck sparges with your SS braid by itself?
 
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nostalgia

nostalgia

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Very slick. Were you having stuck sparges with your SS braid by itself?
No, but I had heard of several people having them, so I thought for $5 it was worth a shot. I'm sure it can't hurt :)

I folded the frayed ends (of sanity) back inside the tube to make neat ends - I was tired of poking myself with them. Ok, and I'm a little OCD :)



A couple winds of Teflon tape and two hose clamps finish it off neatly.



I also worked the spring around so the spring ran through the run of the tee-fitting. This gives the braid support at the bending points, so it should make it more durable in the long run. Again, maybe not necessary but I'm a little anal-retentive, and it only takes a second.

-Joe
 

sjlammer

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Great work. I have been looking for a spring... i never thought to look at mcmaster... kudos
 

wilserbrewer

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Nice idea, that braid material appears finer than the plumbing braid, and also more flexible as it appears to lay flat w/out the spring inserted. Report back w/ lautering results.
 

Bobby_M

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Nice. No doubt the braid there uses smaller gauge individual wires for that flexibility. It should be fine. An alternative is a water heater supply hose which is 3/4" diameter.
 

wilserbrewer

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Just guessing here...might the smaller gauge individual wires create a finer filtering media and be prone to clogging? Or better yet, produce a cleaner, clearer wort?
 

Bobby_M

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Just guessing here...might the smaller gauge individual wires create a finer filtering media and be prone to clogging? Or better yet, produce a cleaner, clearer wort?
I think 99% of the draining through braids happens at the intersection of the bundles of wire, not through the bundles themselves. Maybe I'm blowing smoke.
 

wilserbrewer

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I think 99% of the draining through braids happens at the intersection of the bundles of wire, not through the bundles themselves. Maybe I'm blowing smoke.
Yea, I've imagined the same actually, but w/ thinner wires, wouldn't the area at the intersection of the braids be less?

You need a submersible micro video camera to investigate the flow paths w/in the braid. C'mon Bobby, do the investigation? Maybe you could just borrow the equipment from your friendly local cardiologist.

Now I'm definately blowing smoke.
 

Bobby_M

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I have noticed that between the different brands of faucet supply lines, the braid is tighter/looser. In some, you can actually see the white plastic hose underneath and not so much in others. In all of them, the open area "holes" are still smaller than the ones in false bottoms and that's why you don't need to vorlauf as much with a braid.
 
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nostalgia

nostalgia

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Woohoo, parts from HomebrewHeaven are here! So now I have everything I need to finish my tun. Left to right, we have:
- the braid you've seen already
- 1/2" copper tube to 1/2" male NPT adapter
- stainless thru-wall bulkhead fitting
- stainless 1/2" NPT close nipple
- stainless ball valve
- stainless 1/2" NPT to 1/2" barb fitting



<rant> For the record, this type of "standard and accepted" homebrew weldless fitting is NOT a bulkhead or thru-wall fitting, despite what homebrew suppliers try to tell us. It is a pipe nipple with a nut forced onto it, making you fiddle with o-rings, Teflon tape and different thicknesses of washers to find the magic g-spot where it will seal. </rant>

This fitting, on the other hand, is a true thru-wall bulkhead fitting. It has a flat face for the washer to sit on, doesn't require washer gymnastics and is the correct tool for the job. It's $10 more, but totally worth it IMO.



Anyway, back to construction. I marked out where the fitting should go and drilled a pilot hole from the inside. My drill wouldn't fit so I used a Yankee push drill.



I threaded the tube adapter on the inside, put the washer on the bulkhead and slid it into place, securing it on the other side with the washer and nut. I then installed the pipe nipple, valve and barb fitting on the outside.







I filled it with a few gallons of hot water and no leaks. The braid certainly isn't an impediment to water without grain in there. We'll see how it goes if I brew this weekend.



Prices:

Stainless thru-wall fitting from HBH, p/n E21S: $26.95
Stainless ball valve from HBH, p/n E11: $18.95
Stainless barb fitting from HBH, p/n C002s: $5.95
Stainless 1/2" NPT close pipe nipple from McMaster, p/n 4830K171: $2.11
Copper 1/2" tube to 1/2" NPT adapter from hardware store: $0.84

I could have gone with all brass and saved about $30, but I figured hey, what's $30 over the life of the tun?

-Joe
 

Bobby_M

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Hey, a real bulkhead fitting. Even though I agree with you and feel like the crap being sold as bulkheads is well, crap, I wouldn't even pay $27 to stick it to da man.
 
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nostalgia

nostalgia

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I wouldn't even pay $27 to stick it to da man.
I thought the same thing. Then I asked myself, is it worth $10 to get the part that I know will work the first time and I won't have to get pissed off at? The answer was yes :)

-Joe
 

Munsoned

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Nice. No doubt the braid there uses smaller gauge individual wires for that flexibility. It should be fine. An alternative is a water heater supply hose which is 3/4" diameter.
Ironically, on the advice of one of your WHALES club co-members,:mug: just tonight I tried to take the inner hose out of a 24" water heater supply line to build my MLT. Talk about a royal PITA! I was able to get the hose out of a typical SS supply line in about 3 minutes. After working on the water heater supply hose for I guess 45+ minutes I gave up (I had about 4" out by then). I'd love to know: How do you do it? There's got to be a trick I'm missing (beyond the typical "push don't pull" advice).
 

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nice build. i've got that same cooler for my mash tun, i'll be curious to see how well yours holds temp. you might consider drilling a few holes in the lid and shooting some 'great stuff' expandable insulation in there. i also used a suggestion from here and made a false lid out of styrofoam insulation to help hold heat in. let us know how it works out, great idea with the spring.
 

Revvy

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This is an awesome idea with the spring...I actually just pulled out the white vinyl hose and drilled /punched holes in the hose til it resembled a machine gun barrel and slipped it back in...it works fine for my regular cooler with the braid in a loop, but for a larger mashtun, I will definitely go with a spting!!!

:mug:
 

AnonyBrew

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nice build. i've got that same cooler for my mash tun, i'll be curious to see how well yours holds temp. you might consider drilling a few holes in the lid and shooting some 'great stuff' expandable insulation in there. i also used a suggestion from here and made a false lid out of styrofoam insulation to help hold heat in. let us know how it works out, great idea with the spring.
+1

I have the same cooler & it sucks for holding temps. Otherwise everything else you've done is sweet! I'm off to the store to get a coleman xtreme.
 
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nostalgia

nostalgia

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I have the same cooler & it sucks for holding temps. Otherwise everything else you've done is sweet!
Man I'm bummed to hear that :( Do you pre-heat your cooler? Do we think it's because the lid is hollow?

Thanks,

-Joe
 

hammacks

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I have the same cooler & it sucks for holding temps. Otherwise everything else you've done is sweet! I'm off to the store to get a coleman xtreme.
Have you guys tried a heavy blanket/quilt/sleeping bag over the top? That made the difference for my cheap, not so well insulated, cooler MLT.
 

wilserbrewer

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Man I'm bummed to hear that :(

Joe,

Add your strike water 10 - 15 high, wait 15 minutes and either temper w/ a little cool water or stir to cool untill you hit strike temp.

RDWHAHB! The one or two degrees you lose doesn't mean much. Oh and give the grist at least 5 min to achieve equilibrium until checking temp and getting AR.

Oh and don't get crazy checking it every 5 minutes either...guess what...the temp is falling from opening the lid too often.

Your cooler is fine...learn how to use it.
 
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nostalgia

nostalgia

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Add your strike water 10 - 15 high, wait 15 minutes and either temper w/ a little cool water or stir to cool untill you hit strike temp.

RDWHAHB! The one or two degrees you lose doesn't mean much. Oh and give the grist at least 5 min to achieve equilibrium until checking temp and getting AR.
This is exactly what I do already. I don't ever open my lid during a mash. I don't sweat a couple of degrees, but it sounded like people are losing a lot more.

We'll find out tomorrow.

-Joe
 

bendavanza

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Ii did the spring thing, too. I made mine with stainless wire by coiling it around a sharpie.
I don't think that teflon tape is doing anything for you on the tee. nice looking braid.
Let us know if yours has any trouble staying put, mine moves around more than I'd like.
 

android

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joe, i don't mean to scare you, i've brewed some great beers with this cooler and the loss isn't too bad. i'm just curious to see how yours fares. i'm not in any hurry to get another cooler, mine has too much work into it to switch gears now!

as someone suggested earlier, add the water in hot (170-175 ish, any warmer and your cooler will make some strange noises as it warps, DAMHIKT) and let it come to whatever temp you have calculated, then dough-in. and as you're already doing, just stir it good to start with and don't open the lid. as suggested, a blanket also seems to help, i usually throw one on top just for good measure. i feel the lid is one problem with these coolers but also the amount of headspace you have with a 5 gallon grist allows for some heat loss as well, that's why i've used the styrofoam insulation cut to size that slips in over the top of the mash.

have a good brew!
 

AnonyBrew

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Man I'm bummed to hear that :( Do you pre-heat your cooler? Do we think it's because the lid is hollow?

Thanks,

-Joe
Yeah, I usually pre-heat with about 12F above strike temp. & wait 15-20 min. However, even after that if I didn't use 3 blankets on the cooler I'd lose maybe 5 or 6F in an hour. Could be the lid I've never messed with it.
 

bendavanza

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I just filled the lid to my 10g round cooler with great stuff (window safe) we'll see how I fare with my next batch. I drilled two small holes from the top, and filled a little here and there until it was nearly full, and I still had worms of stuff coming out for a bout an hour.
 

Kauai_Kahuna

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That cooler sure looks like the one I use, and I have not even had a single degree drop on me in 1 hour to 1.5 hour mashes. Maybe it's because my ambient temperature is around 80F.
 
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nostalgia

nostalgia

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I'm chilling the wort now. The cooler lost 9 degrees over an hour without me opening the lid once.

Now I only had 6# of grain and 2 gallons of water in there, so it may be I lost a lot due to headspace. Maybe I'll try a piece of pink foam insulation on top next time. I'm not sure that stuff is food safe, though :drunk:

-Joe
 
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Almost forgot! The braid worked flawlessly. The flow was less than I'm used to with BIAB, but was steady.

-Joe
 

stevea1210

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glad to hear the braid worked out. Sorry about the temp loss,ouch.

My braid in my 5 gal tun needs replaced, and I think i'm going to use this method with the spring.
 
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nostalgia

nostalgia

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Well, according to Beersmith I had a 79.5% efficiency going into the boiler. I'll certainly take that!

And holy crap, Whirlfloc is amazing.



-Joe
 

rking

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Just a heads up, but Ive had quite a few problems with the stainless hose clamps corroding... Ive switched to big industrial nylon zip ties with no problems now ;)...
 

bendavanza

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Some hose clamps are cheaper with zinc coated screws and only the bands are ss. The current stock at my home depot are ALL ss. They still look shiny and new.
-Ben
 
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nostalgia

nostalgia

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Yes indeed. The ones I bought from McMaster are supposed to have the stainless screw as well as the band.

And the teflon tape is just to provide a little cushion from wear between the band clamp and the SS strands.

-Joe
 

JMSetzler

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I just filled the lid to my 10g round cooler with great stuff (window safe) we'll see how I fare with my next batch. I drilled two small holes from the top, and filled a little here and there until it was nearly full, and I still had worms of stuff coming out for a bout an hour.
I'm definitely interested in hearing the results of your project with Great Stuff. I'm building two MLTs and I think I would like to do this with both.
 
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