Need advice on three-roller over two-roller grain mill.

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seatazzz

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So I've done some searches, and not really finding much on the advantages of a three-roller over a two-roller grain mill. For a bit of background, I have a motorized two-roller mill that I bought from a friend. The motor has two speeds; Dead stop, or gazillion rpm. It has an adjustment screw on the power switch, but it is so finicky there's no point in using it. So, since the husband is getting a decent xmas present from me (one of those golf packages where he can play 14 courses over the year), it's only fair that I get a decent present from him; namely, a new grain mill. If I find what I want, I will give the other one back to my friend who built it and can deal with it better than I can. My $$ limit is about $180, since I want to buy lumber/hardware to build a stand for it; his gift is $265 with tax so I need to stay under it.

So far, for three-roller mills, I'm leaning towards the Malt Muncher from MoreBeer. Has the 12lb (I think) hopper, and seems to be fairly well-built. Nothing on Amazon compares to it (bought my first mill, the Ferroday cheapie, from there and it lasted less than 2 years). I'm planning to run it with a dedicated variable-speed corded drill. I built an okay stand for the first one but this time I'm going a bit more high-end, with a shelf below for the bucket, a chute made from an old grain bag, and wheels. All I need is the wheels and the 2x4's, have the boards I'll need for the top and the lower shelves. I usually do BIAB but I also occasionally use my 3-vessel system for bigger beers, so I'll need to be able to vary my crush a bit. I've heard that the Barley Crusher is a great two-roller mill and MoreBeer has one with a 15lb hopper I'm eying.

So, any suggestions? Comments? Diagnoses of my sanity? All are welcome.
 

Dland

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I wore out knurles on two roller Barley Crusher after about 80 20# mills, got so I'd have to mess with it to get grain to feed through. Been using a 3 roller Malt muncher for a while now and am happy with it.

As for power, a good variable or low speed heavy duty drill turns it just fine. I usually use a corded 1/2 in Milwaukee hole shooter, but my 20v cordless Dewalt works well also.
 

RM-MN

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JMHO Grain mills only purpose is to take full size grain kernels and make them small enough to allow the encased enzymes and starches to interact with each other in the presences of water. The smaller the particles provided the faster and more complete this action occurs. Since you posted this in the BIAB section I presume you have a grain bag that allows the finer particles than what a conventional mash tun can so take advantage of that. This is counter to your idea of buying a 3 roller mill but the Corona style mills make finer particles if you adjust them for that and work great for BIAB. Your efficiency will go up so you will need less grain which will save even more money over the course of its lifetime (which will be long being that it is constructed of cast iron). That will free up more money for grains and fermenters which are what make beer, not a better mill. Take the money saved and do something else with it.
 

Dland

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JMHO Grain mills only purpose is to take full size grain kernels and make them small enough to allow the encased enzymes and starches to interact with each other in the presences of water. The smaller the particles provided the faster and more complete this action occurs. Since you posted this in the BIAB section I presume you have a grain bag that allows the finer particles than what a conventional mash tun can so take advantage of that. This is counter to your idea of buying a 3 roller mill but the Corona style mills make finer particles if you adjust them for that and work great for BIAB. Your efficiency will go up so you will need less grain which will save even more money over the course of its lifetime (which will be long being that it is constructed of cast iron). That will free up more money for grains and fermenters which are what make beer, not a better mill. Take the money saved and do something else with it.
I used a Corona mill for at least 50 batches in the '90's and again for around 30 when I started brewing again in 2017. My experience is my efficiency went up about 10% with a roller mill. I found the Corona made less uniform crush than a well adjusted roller mill. Also hulls mangled more with Corona, and a bit more of a mess and smaller hopper.

I do think Coronas are great mills, and are practically indestructible. I still have mine would not hesitate to use it if/when roller mill has problems. Also can make flour and grind coffee beans. Maybe I did not have mine adjusted optimally, but I tried several adjustments.
 

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Two roller vs. Three roller isn't such a big difference.

Instead, you'll want to look at the size of the rollers.

1.5" vs. 2"+. The 2"+ rollers produce a nicer crush, are better at pulling in the grain and have the ability to crush grains like corn.

At your price point you might be relegated to 1.5" rollers.

A 1.5" two roller Monster Mill w/ 11-12lb hopper is ~190.

A 2.0" two roller Monster Mill w/ 11-12lb hopper is ~300.

Crankenstein used to be name in homebrewing mills and might be worth a look.

Barley Crushers (also representative of most "cheap" mills) work well for what they are but the knurl on the rollers tends to wear faster (think 10's maybe 100's of batches) and the adjustment mechanism is a little more crude. Some have reversed the rollers as they wear which may give them a little more life.
 

RM-MN

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I used a Corona mill for at least 50 batches in the '90's and again for around 30 when I started brewing again in 2017. My experience is my efficiency went up about 10% with a roller mill. I found the Corona made less uniform crush than a well adjusted roller mill. Also hulls mangled more with Corona, and a bit more of a mess and smaller hopper.

I'd love to get a 10% effiency bump but I doubt that a roller mill can do that since I'm averaging between 93 and 95% with my Corona. That may be from milling extra fine for BIAB as you may not have been.
 

Dland

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That's probably the difference, BIAB grind vs what I do; 3 V w fly sparge. I'm looking for a nice uniform crush that does not go though the false bottom.
 

Deadalus

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So I haven't quite diagnosed the problem with it but my Barley Crusher has been acting up the last 2 times. I have about rough estimate 700 lbs through it give or take 100 pounds. I started conditioning my grain about 8 batches back or so using 2% H2O or a little less. Let it sit for about 20 minutes, no problems to start with I dialed the gap down a little and it was fine. But I started to have episodes where the grain wouldn't drop. I thought maybe it was a little sticky, so I decreased the water and increased the gap. The last two grinds took about an hour to get through, kept failing to go in. I have a variable speed drill. The knurles don't seem worn so not sure what's up. I was fine with it previously. I like it a lot better than my Corona which tends to drift out of the set size, plus way faster by hand. The Barley Crusher is hard to change the setting, it takes my Robogrip pliers, which are like spring adjusting channel locks to grip the adjuster. I'm going to skip conditioning next time and set it to the factory setting which is 0.039",
 

Deadalus

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.039"? mightest well just give the malt a dirty look and throw it in the kettle!
I know. I had it down to 0.028 for several but then I was having a skip or two. So I readjusted to 0.030 and that was fine for a bit and then the second to last was trouble and I was at 0.036. Last time I think I crossed the factory mark. Which I was surprised was 0.039 because I never got a manual and didn't know what it was set at. I didn't have feeler gauges for a while, I was just eyeballing it, but had tightened it.
 

bracconiere

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I know. I had it down to 0.028 for several but then I was having a skip or two. So I readjusted to 0.030 and that was fine for a bit and then the second to last was trouble and I was at 0.036. Last time I think I crossed the factory mark. Which I was surprised was 0.039 because I never got a manual and didn't know what it was set at. I didn't have feeler gauges for a while, I was just eyeballing it, but had tightened it.

you don't run a LHBS do you? ;)
 

RM-MN

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But I started to have episodes where the grain wouldn't drop. I thought maybe it was a little sticky, so I decreased the water and increased the gap. The last two grinds took about an hour to get through, kept failing to go in. I have a variable speed drill. The knurles don't seem worn so not sure what's up. I was fine with it
You may have some small particles of grain pushed down into the knurles. Get a stainless steel wire brush and give them a good cleaning. While that may not be the fix, wire brushes are cheap enough to give it a try.
 

Dland

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So I haven't quite diagnosed the problem with it but my Barley Crusher has been acting up the last 2 times. I have about rough estimate 700 lbs through it give or take 100 pounds. I started conditioning my grain about 8 batches back or so using 2% H2O or a little less. Let it sit for about 20 minutes, no problems to start with I dialed the gap down a little and it was fine. But I started to have episodes where the grain wouldn't drop. I thought maybe it was a little sticky, so I decreased the water and increased the gap. The last two grinds took about an hour to get through, kept failing to go in. I have a variable speed drill. The knurles don't seem worn so not sure what's up. I was fine with it previously. I like it a lot better than my Corona which tends to drift out of the set size, plus way faster by hand. The Barley Crusher is hard to change the setting, it takes my Robogrip pliers, which are like spring adjusting channel locks to grip the adjuster. I'm going to skip conditioning next time and set it to the factory setting which is 0.039",
If cleaning does not help, you could try reversing the rollers, so what was the trailing edge of knurl becomes leading edge. MY BC started to act up after far fewer pounds of grain than yours. It may be I because often brew with rye malt, which is harder than barley. Another factor I suspect, from previous threads on the the BC, is the older BCs were of better quality than the ones being made in the last 5 years or so.

If stuck with a BC that won't feed, and one needs to get some milling in while you wait for new mill, or solve the problem here is trick that I used; Get, make or find a thin long sliver of wood that is srtong enough to push though grain in hopper. Engage it in roller while turning, this will get the grain started, and it will often feed through for the rest of what is in hopper. The stick I used was tapered, a section of cedar shingle, and thick enough that I could pull it out before the rollers pulled it though, but one could also use a thin sliver that goes through with the grain I suppose. Also, once it is feeding, don't mill all the grain through until you have room in hopper for last of grain.

Make sure stick is long enough so you do not have to put hand in hopper while grinding. You don't want to go there. It seems like a no brainer, but one can do stupid things when being frustrated by malfunctioning machinery, trust me, I know about these things.
 
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Deadalus

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You may have some small particles of grain pushed down into the knurles. Get a stainless steel wire brush and give them a good cleaning. While that may not be the fix, wire brushes are cheap enough to give it a try.
Thanks! Entirely possible as I haven't tried anything rigorous in terms of cleaning it. I need a new pair of glasses too, so I most likely wouldn't have noticed something finer detail like that.
If cleaning does not help, you could try reversing the rollers, so what was the trailing edge of knurl becomes leading edge. MY BC started to act up after far fewer pounds of grain than yours. It may be I because often brew with rye malt, which is harder than barley. Another factor I suspect, from previous threads on the the BC, is the older BCs were of better quality than the ones being made in the last 5 years or so.

If stuck with a BC that won't feed, and one needs to get some milling in while you wait for new mill, or solve the problem here is trick that I used; Get, make or find a thin long sliver of wood that is srtong enough to push though grain in hopper. Engage it in roller while turning, this will get the grain started, and it will often feed through for the rest of what is in hopper. The stick I used was tapered, a section of cedar shingle, and thick enough that I could pull it out before the rollers pulled it though, but one could also use a thin sliver that goes through with the grain I suppose. Also, once it is feeding, don't mill all the grain through until you have room in hopper for last of grain.

Make sure stick is long enough so you do not have to put hand in hopper while grinding. You don't want to go there. It seems like a no brainer, but one can do stupid things when being frustrated by malfunctioning machinery, trust me, I know about these things.
I was trying to figure out what reversing them would do. I was thinking flipping them both would be mirroring them but that makes sense about the edge. A bit like the finer points of chainsaw sharpening, angles and edges. And yeah I was thinking about what the rollers could do to my fingers with the drill on a push stick is definitely in order. Once I finally got the mill to grab the grains were going through.

I've got a big magnifying glass for soldering so I will look at both of these points. Thanks!
 
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Deadalus

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Well all right then 676.5 lbs through the Barley Crusher. I am pretty sure I bought in October 0f 2018. Can't find the receipt but I bought I it from the manufacturer site. Also I can't the find the manual but I don't think it came with one:no:. (That's going to be my defense later BTW.) So I took it apart being super careful to note which way the rollers were facing, I even took pictures. These things are really built simply. I was expecting something inside the aluminum block ends but there is just a copper ring pressed inside each end for the crank roller. The other roller is held in by two removable posts, the gap adjusters. The ends are held in place by the long sides which each have 2 sets of screws. Once I had it all apart I wire brushed the rollers. There was a light and even layer of dust in the grooves between knurls. I know they are steel but not stainless. I did want to wash everything though so I did a quick dip in Dawn and water. I used some Bar Keepers Friend on it. Rinsed everything off, dried the everything and gave the rollers another quick brushing. Then I went to put it together.

The crank roller slips through the ends and has it's own integral posts. The adjuster posts hold the other roller and the adjuster posts are held in the ends by one long screw each. No picture but the adjuster knobs are cylinders with a groove cut out. When the adjuster knob is inserted in the end the long screw which is perpendicular keeps the post from slipping out. The roller goes on the post and the outside of the post is where the knurls are to adjust the gap on each end. Once I had the adjuster knobs in their places on the ends, I put the rollers on and went to put the long sides on. I happened to start on the side opposite the adjustment knob screws. The screws for the sides are small but I got the side on. Then I looked for the "other two" small screws for the remaining side. Not on the bench. I "must have dropped them". I'm crawling on the floor, running a metal rod under the shelves, can't find them. I look all over, guess I lost them. Pick up the mill to get one out again to measure it when I notice there are now two screws sticking out of the empty side. I'm thinking, I must have put them in and washed the ends with them in there. Finally I get to the point where I realize those are the adjustment post screws. They pull double duty keeping the adjustment knobs from pulling out and they hold the side on as well. There's a lock washer under them too and if you put the screws in "all the way tight" it makes the adjustment knob harder to turn. Aha, I think. I'll add an oring to shorten the distance. Didn't seem to work too well, the adjustment knob would move pretty easily. Hmmm, I suppose I could loosen the screw and adjust the knob real easy, then tighten it up! Which would be a lot freakin' easier than using these things over the past four years!
1669955715604.jpeg


In fact, I just found a youtube video demonstrating the proper way to adjust the thing. Honestly, a manual sure would be helpful when you put what look like are identical sets of screws on both sides of the unit but one set is supposed to make adjusting the thing easier!!!


Sorry if I hijacked your thread @seatazzz. If you buy one of these, they won't be so hard to adjust as I thought! I did flip the rollers too, so we'll see if that straightens things out Saturday when I brew.
 

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After reading through your post on the Barley Crusher cleaning/rebuilding, I can't wait to hear if it's any better for you.

I had one I used for years, lots of grain passed through that thing. A couple years ago it started not pulling the grain hulls through. I cleaned the rollers with a stainless steel brush but that didn't help. I contacted the seller and I was able to send it in for a rebuild. Well after paying to send the roller head in and shipping back I could have put that cost to a new mill. Sadly, it only worked a little better. I picked up an older JSP mill that I use now, it's powered by low rpm motor. It works great and when it dies, I look up these posts for 2 or 3 roller suggestions.
 

CascadesBrewer

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But I started to have episodes where the grain wouldn't drop. I thought maybe it was a little sticky, so I decreased the water and increased the gap. The last two grinds took about an hour to get through, kept failing to go in. I have a variable speed drill. The knurles don't seem worn so not sure what's up.
On the Barley Crusher topic...mine is probably 15 years old (but for many of those years I did not brew often and used the hand crank). A while after moving to BAIB I started having issues where some times it would not pull grain in to get the second roller spinning. I did take it apart and gave it a good cleaning, which helped a little. I should try reversing the rollers and running it in reverse.

What I have been doing now is running my grain through twice. I do it once at the factory setting, and then again at a finer setting for BIAB. This sounds like more of a pain that it really is. It just takes an extra 5 minutes of time and avoid me spending $150 on a replacement mill. It is much faster than having to keep stopping and messing with getting both rollers spinning.

So, any suggestions? Comments? Diagnoses of my sanity? All are welcome.

My understanding is that a 3 mill roller is more beneficial for sparge brewing (or if recirculating during the mash). That it helps to get a good crush while keeping more of the husk intact. Toward the top of my shopping list is a replacement mill. I will likely be looking for a geared 2 roller mill and will try to avoid Chinese made mills.
 

Deadalus

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Everything worked great! To recap:
1. I wire brushed with a brass brush.
2. I washed with a little Dawn and Bar Keepers.
3. I wire brushed it again with a steel brush after drying.
4. I reversed the rollers. This seems to reverse the rotation.
5. I was feeling confident and I set the gap at 0.028. I made sure the rollers were straight and gapped the same, checking again after adjusting both.
6. I conditioned the grain for 25 minutes at just about 2%. (I had to pickup kid, was aiming for 20.)
It was a very firm grind right off the bat. I started manual but switched right away to the drill.
In fact too great 'cause the freakin' mash got stuck. Some bits got stuck in my float valve bastards! I got it fixed though, and I am mashing now. Add another 11.25 lbs to the total! Thanks for all suggestions. I'll keep following though because I'll need a new mill too someday. Some pics below, before cleaning, aftercleaning, milled grains. That's just a weird halo on the shiny rollers in their middles.
 

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sodbuster

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I just reach underneath and get the unpowered roller going with my finger and we’re off!
 

Deadalus

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No, that is a wear pattern. If you blow up the picture you can see that the tips of the knurls in the center are not as "pointy" as those at the ends.
No, there may be uneven wear but it's the the light at an angle falling on the edge of the board into the round roller creating the oval area at the end.
 

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Konadog

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So far, for three-roller mills, I'm leaning towards the Malt Muncher from MoreBeer. Has the 12lb (I think) hopper, and seems to be fairly well-built.

So, any suggestions? Comments? Diagnoses of my sanity? All are welcome.
If your not in a hurry, and MoreBeer puts them on sale again, the Mighty Mill 3 Roller Grain Mill is another 3 roller, but is also geared. I picked one up last year about this time.
 
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seatazzz

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Thanks for all the suggestions! I finally decided on the Mighty Mill 3-roller, it will be here on Wednesday. Drew up a plan for a stand I want to build for it, but for now will go the old-school route of just setting it on a bucket. Can't wait to play with it! I had thought about the Maltzilla motorized, but the reviews aren't great. I think the MM3 will serve my purposes well.
 

OakIslandBrewery

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Thanks for all the suggestions! I finally decided on the Mighty Mill 3-roller, it will be here on Wednesday. Drew up a plan for a stand I want to build for it, but for now will go the old-school route of just setting it on a bucket. Can't wait to play with it! I had thought about the Maltzilla motorized, but the reviews aren't great. I think the MM3 will serve my purposes well.
Congratulations! It always seems a difficult tasking picking out a new piece of equipment and making sure you buy the right one. Always great advice from the folks here as you have read.

You mention building a stand for your new mill - one thing I did was build a plate that sits on top of my mashtun (insulated cooler) so I can mill directly into it rather than a bucket or a bin. The plate is a little larger than the top of the cooler so I don't have a dust problem. The thing is heavy with the mill head and a motor but I like the convivence it offers. I posted a picture a while back on equipment, I'll try to repost it here when I find it.

As consider building the mill into a cart. Anything on wheels is helpful in the home brewery!
 
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seatazzz

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Congratulations! It always seems a difficult tasking picking out a new piece of equipment and making sure you buy the right one. Always great advice from the folks here as you have read.

You mention building a stand for your new mill - one thing I did was build a plate that sits on top of my mashtun (insulated cooler) so I can mill directly into it rather than a bucket or a bin. The plate is a little larger than the top of the cooler so I don't have a dust problem. The thing is heavy with the mill head and a motor but I like the convivence it offers. I posted a picture a while back on equipment, I'll try to repost it here when I find it.

As consider building the mill into a cart. Anything on wheels is helpful in the home brewery!
Yep, on wheels is eventually my plan. I haven't been able to mill directly into my tun with my current mill as it takes two passes to get mashable grain out of it. Hoping with this one I can only do one pass and save time (also reduce the flour coating every surface within 5 feet of the mill!!). First batch out of it will be a Wit, so I get to see how well it mills wheat as well as barley.
 

Deadalus

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Yep, on wheels is eventually my plan. I haven't been able to mill directly into my tun with my current mill as it takes two passes to get mashable grain out of it. Hoping with this one I can only do one pass and save time (also reduce the flour coating every surface within 5 feet of the mill!!). First batch out of it will be a Wit, so I get to see how well it mills wheat as well as barley.
Not sure how this plays for BIAB but conditioning (wetting and short rest) the grain is like night and day in regard to the dust generated.

That looks to be a nice the mill you purchased, I was also considering that one. It has that nice setting dial and then I'm guessing the black knob locks the setting hopefully you get a manual with it!
 

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I repurposed an old dinner buffet for my grain mill cabinet, I picked it up for $40. It has dovetail joints on the cabinet drawers but I had to replace the worn out wheels. I also gave it a coat of chauk paint to give it a more moderen look.

IMG_0444.jpg
 

Bassman2003

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To add another option, I have been quite happy with the Cereal Killer mill. Cheap but made with decent parts. My Barley Crusher had one trip back to the maker and still stopped gripping the grain.
 
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seatazzz

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With what are you going to drive it? Not the hand crank I hope...
Oh hells no. Popeye I'm not. Going to use my drill. I tried using the hand crank on my first mill, just once. I used a corded drill with it after that until the shaft sheared off (very cheap Amazon mill, also stupid me that probably had it set up wrong). The motor on my current mill is set up with a big pulley/belt system, I don't want to mess with that. Eventually I might spend the $$ on the motor that Morebeer sells for the Monster Mill.
 
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seatazzz

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Not sure how this plays for BIAB but conditioning (wetting and short rest) the grain is like night and day in regard to the dust generated.

That looks to be a nice the mill you purchased, I was also considering that one. It has that nice setting dial and then I'm guessing the black knob locks the setting hopefully you get a manual with it!
I do condition my grain, sometimes; mostly when I feel like it. I haven't noticed much of a difference in efficiency/flour production, but that could be due to double-milling the grain. On the current mill the only way I've gotten it to work, is send the grain through first at 0.075 to get it partially squished; then send through at 0.045 for the second pass. It won't run through the first pass at any lower than 0.060, and that only if I give it a push with a plastic putty knife. I get a fair to middling amount of intact hulls, but the grain is pretty much crushed to coarse flour. Causes some spectacular boilovers on occasion.
 

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I really like the gearing. My Monster MM3 is one of the first designs. Took me a while to figure out the off roller not turning. Gearing would have solved it. I mounted an old 60’s model 1/2” drill to it. Spread controlled with a router speed control. You’re going to love it!! Merry Christmas!
 
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seatazzz

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Hey all, the Mighty Mill arrived today! After a long hour of assembly (where did that damned nut go again, also oh sh*t I put the hopper together backwards), it is a thing of beauty if not a joy forever, since I don't yet have a dedicated stand for it. Today went the old-school route of just setting it on a bucket. First test was 2lbs of two-row at 0.045; went through like butter. Another 2lbs, super speedy. Ok, then it was let's see what this thing does with wheat at 0.035; chewed through it just as fast, and looks great. Rest of the grain bill for tomorrow's BIAB Wit looks perfect. Sifted through with my hands for quite a bit, did not find ONE intact kernel; every time I thought I had one, it disintegrated with a slight squish of the fingers. Plenty of intact hulls. Will be my first BIAB batch where I didn't mill the grain to minuscule particles because I thought I was supposed to. Fortunately have full bins at the moment, so if I don't get the gravity I'm aiming for I won't be completely butthurt, as long as I have 1.030-.35 preboil I'll be happy.
 
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