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NPT vs Triclamps, Anyone ever go all triclamp and regret it?

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Yesfan

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Is there anyone here who has went through and replaced all their NPT connections with triclamps? After cleaning my ball valves last night, Spike's v4+ kettles look a lot more attractive. I have asked them about sending in my v3 kettles to replace the NPT ports with 1.5" triclamps, and was told they can not do it. A recent thread about a leaky ball valve, and past experience with a leaky 3 way diverter got me thinking.

I have 5 ball valves in my setup with my kettles and pump. I'm just spitballing here, but could I go through and replace them one by one with butterfly valves? I know it's pricey, but wonder if it's worth considering. I figure besides the valves, there's the adapters, gaskets, and clamps. Those would be add-ons anyways if I ever upgraded my kettles.

At the very least, I'd like to do this with my boil kettle since it has welded fittings. Stupid idea or worth considering?
 

Bobby_M

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I have a strong aversion to using TC ports for every purpose on a smaller homebrew setup. I explain the reasoning at this point in this video:

In summary,
Cons:
Way more expensive.
Challenging interior accessory connectivity.
Less adjustability of valves for flow control.
Awkward connect/disconnect (not really a QD)
Bulky. Use of diptubes generally requires an external double TC system that pushes the already huge valves out from the kettle by 4 or more inches.

Pros:
More sanitary? Yes, but hot side doesn't require it and it's not impossible to reasonably clean threaded parts. Super important though!!! If you use adapters to go between threads and TC, you've just erased this "pro" in full.
More universal. TC is worldwide standard and doesn't have the concept of Male/Female like other QDs.

TLDR: The only benefit is the non-gender universality of the standard and there are a long list of cons.

I like so much of what Spike does, especially on the cold side, but I cringe every time one of my customers a buys a 10 gallon Plus kettle.
 
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Yesfan

Yesfan

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Bobby is a smart guy. He is sharing some good wisdom.

I think he is discounting the bling factor of having tri-clover.

I suggest you buy all your brew hardware, including your tri-clamps, from him. I did.

Nice plug!;)

I've bought a lot from Bobby. You'll get no arguments from me.

@Bobby_M

I've watched that video more than once. LOTS of info. However, going by the video, I do NOT intend to add a ball valve, especially a NPT threaded one like what you showed in the video. From a sanitary perspective, I agree about TCs not really being needed on the hot side of brewing. I do think however, the ease of cleaning them could be warrantied and that's why I was wondering about going all TC through out my system.

From what I'm coming away with, I like the idea I have a few TC gaskets to clean along with the various attachments. I like that I may not need to break down my valves for cleaning and no time spent peeling away the teflon tape on the threads. I cleaned the ball valves on my boil kettle yesterday and was surprised how dirty they were on the inside. I've got the stainless head and valve on my pump broke down and soaking right now. That was a lot worse and to be honest, freaking embarrassing the more I think about it.

So I'm looking at this two fold. First, and most important, I'm going to be more diligent in my post brew day clean up. Second, I want to see what I can improve from a cleaning stand point. TC connections cost more, but if that means much less time cleaning between brew sessions, than I think I'm all for it. I think at the most, I'd like to at least go this route with my boil kettle.

BTW, if I understood the last part correctly, why do you find a Spike+ kettle purchase "cringy".
 

verboten

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It’s expensive, that’s for sure. Every time I brew I have a bucket of valves, clamps, and spools that I never want to know the retail value of.
 

Bobby_M

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Nice plug!;)

I've bought a lot from Bobby. You'll get no arguments from me.

@Bobby_M

I've watched that video more than once. LOTS of info. However, going by the video, I do NOT intend to add a ball valve, especially a NPT threaded one like what you showed in the video. From a sanitary perspective, I agree about TCs not really being needed on the hot side of brewing. I do think however, the ease of cleaning them could be warrantied and that's why I was wondering about going all TC through out my system.

From what I'm coming away with, I like the idea I have a few TC gaskets to clean along with the various attachments. I like that I may not need to break down my valves for cleaning and no time spent peeling away the teflon tape on the threads. I cleaned the ball valves on my boil kettle yesterday and was surprised how dirty they were on the inside. I've got the stainless head and valve on my pump broke down and soaking right now. That was a lot worse and to be honest, freaking embarrassing the more I think about it.

So I'm looking at this two fold. First, and most important, I'm going to be more diligent in my post brew day clean up. Second, I want to see what I can improve from a cleaning stand point. TC connections cost more, but if that means much less time cleaning between brew sessions, than I think I'm all for it. I think at the most, I'd like to at least go this route with my boil kettle.

BTW, if I understood the last part correctly, why do you find a Spike+ kettle purchase "cringy".
In the video I brought up using adapters mostly to emphasize the loss of "sanitary" when you introduce threads. Going 100% TC everything erases that con, but not any of the others in the list.

If ease of cleaning is the most important thing to you, I suppose you can overlook the long list of cons. The point that I want to emphasize is that NPT is not that much harder to clean. Recirc hot PBW through with the valves in the half open position (this is how you get solution behind the seats. If you leave the valve all the way open, it never gets behind there). Run 3/4" OD round nylon brushes into the bores.

Even if it's not easy, is it important? Certainly NPT parts should be broken down fully maybe every 6 months but any minor build up in between those cleanings is going to get zapped with heat.

The cringe with the 10 gallon plus kettle is just an extension of my pros and cons list. The kettle is $260. To equip it for drain/whirlpool you add $120 worth of valves, $64 in diptubes, and $28 in clamps and gaskets. To attach hoses, you'll either need the TC x QD adapters like Spike uses on their systems and that's $38 for adapters, clamps and gaskets. Now your kettle is $510. Of course not every decision has to be based on cost and it's just one of the cons. As a Spike dealer I get all this stuff at cost and I can write it off as a business expense since I brew on it as a product demo. Certainly cost is not an issue for me but I still have the NPT version on my rig (15 gallon kettle).

Bulk. The kettle with the accessories is nearly twice the weight. The kettle diameter is under 14". The valve assemblies stick out from the kettle by more than 8" up to the male QD port. When the kettle is empty, you almost have to hold the kettle from moving when you operate the valve.

It's just like putting a 4" exhaust on a 1.4 liter engine.

I did not think to add "bling factor" to the pros list but I concede on that point.
 
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My system is all TC. I didn’t choose them, it just came that way, and other kinds of fittings were not an option so I didn’t even think about it. I’ve never even used other options so I can’t compare them directly, but I can say I like the TCs OK. They don’t connect instantly, but easily enough. I don’t CIP, and all the TC gear is really easy to clean in the sink.

What does suck, as Bobby said, is how much length they add to a fitting. My kettle outflow, with pump and valve, seems like it sticks out ten feet. It’s nuts. I’m always worried about bumping it when I walk by.
 

jcav

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I went all TC several years ago. Yes it was an investment. I really like mine. I have TC butterfly valves on all the exit and entrance ports on my 3 vessels. I use TC ball valves on my March pumps. I have gotten very good at making connections with all my tubing very quickly. It's definitely not like a quick disconnect but I didn't buy them for that reason. All I can say it that they make very solid connections where ever you put them and they do not leak. I have a system for cleaning all of them at the end of the brew day and they drip dry on a large towel and then put away. For me and my system they work extremely well and I am very happy with them, and I do not regret buying them at all. Good luck in your quest for the right fittings for you.

John
 

radwizard

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Cam locks are what I use. Originally I used QDs, but as I built my system over time I ended up with different styles of QDs and It became a hassle as they didn't seal properly unless specific male and females were connected. I just switched over to Cams and it has been much better for me. I didnt see the need for TC on the hot side for my set up, you can use a Cam to TC fitting if you are trying to go between to the two.
 

Beholder

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Cam locks are what I use. Originally I used QDs, but as I built my system over time I ended up with different styles of QDs and It became a hassle as they didn't seal properly unless specific male and females were connected. I just switched over to Cams and it has been much better for me. I didnt see the need for TC on the hot side for my set up, you can use a Cam to TC fitting if you are trying to go between to the two.
Same here - I use Cams hot side and TCs cold side (with exception of cams for cleaning / sanitizing and a TC to cam adapter when pumping cooled wort into the conical).

TBH, I do not break any of the NPT hot side and just employ hot PBW recircas mentioned above, so pretty much in line with Bobby’s approach. I’ve got rip tides, so most definitely clean those out each time. Like your experience, I’ve seen too much nastiness in pump head recesses that are a hassle to open up (so naturally don’t). I have my old SS head pump that I use for cleaning loops (e.g. PBW recirc on conical, and sanitizing). Come to think of it, I’ve still not broken that pump down after some 10 year of use. Just goes to show the value of the Blichmans haha
 
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Yesfan

Yesfan

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Thanks for the comments guys. I may still explore the TC idea. I don't think I'm going to go all in right now. I am going to focus more on the cleaning though.
 
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Yesfan

Yesfan

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@Bobby_M

Do you think these types of ball valves you sell would be a good compromise?



I like how they can be broke down for cleaning, no gaskets and bolts like with a 3pc valve and they are cheaper than a butterfly valve. The only con I'm seeing for my application is the body end that connects to the kettle is female threads instead of male (and they are out of stock). My Spike kettles have welded ports. Could the ends be swapped, and the handle reversed, to where you could have one end that's male? I don't see a male version on your sight.

I think I may get one of these for my pump though, once they are back in stock.
 

NewJersey

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Cam locks are what I use. Originally I used QDs, but as I built my system over time I ended up with different styles of QDs and It became a hassle as they didn't seal properly unless specific male and females were connected. I just switched over to Cams and it has been much better for me. I didnt see the need for TC on the hot side for my set up, you can use a Cam to TC fitting if you are trying to go between to the two.
Lol, I went opposite. Camlocks are so annoying to use and asthetically not pleasing
 

Zooksta

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@Bobby_M

Do you think these types of ball valves you sell would be a good compromise?



I like how they can be broke down for cleaning, no gaskets and bolts like with a 3pc valve and they are cheaper than a butterfly valve. The only con I'm seeing for my application is the body end that connects to the kettle is female threads instead of male (and they are out of stock). My Spike kettles have welded ports. Could the ends be swapped, and the handle reversed, to where you could have one end that's male? I don't see a male version on your sight.

I think I may get one of these for my pump though, once they are back in stock.
I use these on the hot side, super simple to break down and clean.

You probably just need a short nipple to connect the valve to your kettles.
 

Bobby_M

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@Bobby_M

Do you think these types of ball valves you sell would be a good compromise?



I like how they can be broke down for cleaning, no gaskets and bolts like with a 3pc valve and they are cheaper than a butterfly valve. The only con I'm seeing for my application is the body end that connects to the kettle is female threads instead of male (and they are out of stock). My Spike kettles have welded ports. Could the ends be swapped, and the handle reversed, to where you could have one end that's male? I don't see a male version on your sight.

I think I may get one of these for my pump though, once they are back in stock.
Unfortunately that piece that looks like a TC x female thread adapter is nothing like that and is fully integral to the valve.
 

jekeane

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Triclamp on the hot side for homebrew isn't worth it in my opinion. I think Bobby makes all the points above.

My knockout hose is a jumper hose that is male camlock to a triclamp that I attach to my fermenters.

Butterfly valves are really bulky and many require 2 hands to move because the weight involved in a homebrew sized item isnt enough to hold a kettle in place as you tug on a trigger arm, the ball an stick ones seems better for homebrew purposes.

I work with tri clamps all day long and I still fumble them about occasionally Camlocks and ball valves are quick easy and simple for what we need assuming you are less than 1bbl.

There really is very little reason to break down your valves more than once a year. if that. I finish my brew day by running leftover HLT water through my pumps and hoses while each valve is half open. I recently decided to clean my valves after doing a adjunct brew. It has been at least two years or so and there was nothing of note in them.
 

Gozie Boy

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My system is all TC. I didn’t choose them, it just came that way, and other kinds of fittings were not an option so I didn’t even think about it. I’ve never even used other options so I can’t compare them directly, but I can say I like the TCs OK. They don’t connect instantly, but easily enough. I don’t CIP, and all the TC gear is really easy to clean in the sink.

What does suck, as Bobby said, is how much length they add to a fitting. My kettle outflow, with pump and valve, seems like it sticks out ten feet. It’s nuts. I’m always worried about bumping it when I walk by.
That's funny and true. Especially on the MT if you also have an instrument tee for a temp probe. Mine's set up in the garage, and I have this little fear that someday my wife is going to park her car, come into the house and sheepishly tell me that "uh, we need to talk..." 😲

Having said that, I do like my TC setup. No more screwing with threads and teflon tape...
 

Bobby_M

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There really is very little reason to break down your valves more than once a year. if that. I finish my brew day by running leftover HLT water through my pumps and hoses while each valve is half open. I recently decided to clean my valves after doing a adjunct brew. It has been at least two years or so and there was nothing of note in them.
This can't be emphasized enough. If you ever break down your valves and find junk in there, you don't need a new type of valve. You just need to pay attention to how they are built and keep the handle at a 45 while pumping blazing hot PBW through the system. It also helps when you're doing a rinse cycle to operate the handles between open and closed a few times. When you first crack it from closed to open the inrush of water flushes all that stuff out.
 

Bassman2003

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Any way you go will work, but I agree, focus on designing a bulletproof cleaning regimen for whatever you have. Liberal use of PBW is an expense as well.
 

clientsoup

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On that note, I see that SS Brewtech have discontinued all non-TC brew kettles. The only non-TC is the 5.5gal, and it's marked down so I assume they're just trying to get rid of em....
 

fermbreezy

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Tri clamp is total overkill.

Not stupid! Just a bit excessive. When I designed my homebrew rig, I went with tri clamps because that's what I used at work and wanted no less. If I do it again, I probably won't go with that format (unless I happened upon $$$$$ and made a 10bbl system 🤩). I'd use the ball valves that you can disassemble. I like what Bobby said above, you can just rock the handle back and forth while running warm/hot cleaning solution. That way I would think you probably wouldn't have to disassemble for a full clean very often.

1.5" is made to pump A LOT of product. One of my main qualms is that I don't get good flow in my whirlpool elbow. Being a 1.5" tc hookup, the elbow had to be the same diameter. It would take a serious pump to get enough velocity through it for an actual whirlpool. More of a gentle roundabout with my MKII pump.

Looks fresh AF tho 👌
 

videojunkie1208

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One other feature of tri-clamps is the infinite adaptability. If you have 2 oddball connections, and they are both tri-clamp, you have an adapter. No fiddling with wrong threads, wrong gender, etc.

The other day I was cleaning a new heat exchanger, and to connect it to my pump, I used ball lock to 1/2" hose. Got one of those laying around? With 2 different fittings (blow off tube and closed transfer part) done.

Are there better ways to connect that part to my cleaning system? Absolutely. But, because I could grab a couple of parts and instantly connect them, I was able to clean the part without a trip to the hardware store.
 
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tribble222

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I went as near 100% tri-clamp as I could. I use TC to camlock adapters for hoses. At some point, breaking down threaded fittings and cleaning and soaking and dealing with teflon tape just gets old. I was happy to drop a few bucks for ease of cleaning. The only thing not TC are my pump heads and my flow meter. Couldn't quite justify the extra $200 for two TC pump heads and TC flow meters are insane. I figured I could break down those couple parts once in a while and it wouldn't be that rough.
 

Brewsncrabs

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I’m unable to CIP so unfortunately valves that come apart easily are on my shopping list.
Agreed. Not all of us utilize pumps. TC solve that, but I still passed due to $$$. Try to PBW and open/close valve during draining.
 

videojunkie1208

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I generally dump all of my TC bits into the sink with some oxyclean and gently scrub them with a paper towel. then rinse them and set them out to dry. On brew day, I fill the sink with sanitizer (one step) and soak all my TC bits in there, and assemble my conical, then fill it full of sanitizer and rinse and drain.
 

videojunkie1208

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Tri-clamp cleanup. Super difficult.

Soak in hot oxiclean. (Occasional light wiping with wet paper towel/ soft brush)
Rinse thoroughly
Dry (lay out on counter)
Sanitize on brew day.

Heck I'd rather clean all my tri-clamp stuff than deal with all the fiddly kegging parts...
 

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Bobby_M

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Agreed. Not all of us utilize pumps. TC solve that, but I still passed due to $$$. Try to PBW and open/close valve during draining.
Better yet, if you use quick disconnects, use a QD cap so you can still soak your kettle with hot PBW with the valve open half way. You need more contact time than the draining operation.
 

shoengine

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Apparently I am in the minority and swapped to TC everywhere and have never been happier. Since literally every surface is flat (no threads) cleaning is exceptionally easy, even without a pump (which I don't have). I'd convert my Ss BrewBucket but the effort to weld a TC isn't worth it (although if the thing keeps leaking I may end up doing it anyway). My first criteria for my Unitank was that it fine with all TC fittings.

I even did the hot side!

IMG_20190412_1657595.jpg
 
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Yesfan

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Apparently I am in the minority and swapped to TC everywhere and have never been happier. Since literally every surface is flat (no threads) cleaning is exceptionally easy, even without a pump (which I don't have). I'd convert my Ss BrewBucket but the effort to weld a TC isn't worth it (although if the thing keeps leaking I may end up doing it anyway). My first criteria for my Unitank was that it fine with all TC fittings.

I even did the hot side!

View attachment 683107

That looks like it doesn't stick out any further than my npt valves.

I ordered one of those EZ clean ball valves. I'm going to try it on my boil kettle.
 

shoengine

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That looks like it doesn't stick out any further than my npt valves.

I ordered one of those EZ clean ball valves. I'm going to try it on my boil kettle.
I never compared it directly to the three piece ball valve assembly I had on it before, but it didn't seem to cause clearance issues. The nice thing is that all I have is a single TC flare fitting on it when I put it away, whereas I never took the ball valve off when putting the kettle away, which is much easier to store.
 

augiedoggy

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I have camlocks at home and TC at the brewpub... They both have pros and cons like Bobby mentioned. personally unless there were no weldless fittings involved Id probably just go with cam locks but I have to say there were times when the male vs female camlock ends were inconvienient compared to tc where anything can mat up to anything because both ends are the same. Tc's on the hot side are desired for the same reason as the in my opinion inferior 3 piece valves are popular over the standard valves which come apart for cleaning in like 5 seconds vs all them nuts and bolts.... Its the bling factor. they just look cooler. ironically the ezclean valves talked about in this thread are just modified 1 piece style valves which are usually not as desired here but they have a welded tc fitting on them.

If your going to use TC fitting you should really be using sanitary butterfly valves too to get the benefit.
 
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