Pump manifold setup

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Golddiggie

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After seeing the idear in another thread (from the person not wanting to change hose connections around so much) I decided to go ahead and make a manifold setup going to/from my two Chugger pumps. It wasn't a cheap project (about $550 currently into the project, not counting the pumps). But I think it will make brew day easier on me. Since I no longer need to change any hose connections for the different processes. Before, I would move the wort pump outlet between the HERMS inlet and BK whirlpool (when draining the MT) as well as the water pump outlet from the HLT recirculation connection to the HERMS (to add sparge water). Then the wort pump from the BK whirlpool fitting to the wort strainer inlet. Now, I just open valves to route water/wort as needed.

Full shot (left pump is wort, right is water):
PXL_20210912_150512729.jpg


I don't have the assembly on the plate chiller out port that runs to the conical fermenter. That includes the oxygenation setup as well (plus a ball valve). Since I now have a couple of 'spare' butterfly valves, I might change the ball valve on that to a butterfly (more compact for length).

Closeup of the wort pump setup:
PXL_20210912_150608703.jpg


More focus on the water pump:
PXL_20210912_150617226.jpg


HERMS oil inlet with the tee fitting:
PXL_20210912_150629199.jpg


Connections to/from the wort strainer and plate chiller:
PXL_20210912_150651919.jpg


If you look, there's a total of seven valves between the assemblies on the two pumps. I went with the pull handle version due to cost and how compact they are. Really didn't want to spend $55 each for the Spike (short handle) butterfly valves. These came in at about $25 each (from Amazon). I used a lot of the hose lengths that I had already cut. Many from the runs that were in use previously with the QD connections.

I went with a good number of 90 degree bend barb fittings to make routing easier and use shorter lengths of tubing. One of the things I can already see as being an improvement is the connection from pump to wort strainer. Previously the tubing was going from the pump outlet (vertical) to the strainer as it's shown here. There were times where the hose would kink down on itself. Now, the chance of that happening is gone.

I also went with the 1" tee and cross fittings since I figured the 1-1/2" would be too large for this use case. I didn't want to go smaller than 1" (even if I could have easily located them). I still might change the barb fittings going from the BK and MT to 3/4" (or use 3/4" tubing, so probably 7/8" fittings) depending on how things work out in the first session or two. I did run a test yesterday (and a short one today) into the BK. If anything it seems the low rate is better than before. I did place the valves on the wort pump inlet so that it wouldn't try to push back up to either the MT or BK when flowing from the other.

The next hardware change, on the current setup, could be the plate chiller to one that has native TC fittings for at least the wort side. With the size chiller I have now (12" wide, 40 plate) I have between 9 and 10 square feet of cooling surface area. Which means the only real option (since I'm NOT willing to go to something smaller) is the Blichmann Pro wort chiller. At over $400, I need to think about it (and/or plan the purchase).

I'll also be keeping an eye on how the pumps are dealing with the additional weight of this setup. I'm looking for mounting standoff pieces that I can use to secure at least the fittings (probably the cross) on the wort pump with what that mounts to installed on a piece that is welded to the stand. I thought I saw one for 1" TC pipe fittings, but can't locate it anymore.

I plan to do a test run with both MT and HLT with the normal water levels in them either during the week, or next weekend (ahead of the next brew day).
 

KBW PilotHouse

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VERY NICE Golddiggie! Looks like a sweet upgrade to the Spike Trio! Well done 👍 Upgrades are tough because we end up with a lot of quality spare parts 😁....that often leads to building different “mini-systems”..!

Cheers 🍻

KBW.
 
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Golddiggie

Golddiggie

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Sadly, I didn't buy the kettles as the trio setup. I bought the MT first, then the BK and HLT together. Had I known better, I would have just done the trio setup from the start. Oh well. At least I have a solid setup that does what is needed (make BEER!).

I'm going to be ordering some more barb to TC fittings from Brewers Hardware shortly. Some more of the 90 degree bend plus straight items. Couple more TC clamps (hard to have "too many" of those on hand) and a better coupler to go on the wort inlet side of the plate chiller (using a cheapie from a different vendor currently). I setup the TC fittings on the chiller so that I have enough clearance from the water side now. Just another step towards making things easier on me come brew day.
 
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Golddiggie

Golddiggie

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I'll be tempted to do all hard/stainless lines for my next setup. Maybe even this brewing system post move. Provided I can get a table that will sit low enough that I'll be able to work the mash tun properly that is. ;) I don't think I could get a table that will work with the THREE INCH floor gradient from the right to left side over FIVE FEET. Yeah, it's a bit insane how bad the floor in the garage slopes.
 

KBW PilotHouse

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Sadly, I didn't buy the kettles as the trio setup. I bought the MT first, then the BK and HLT together. Had I known better, I would have just done the trio setup from the start. Oh well. At least I have a solid setup that does what is needed (make BEER!).

I'm going to be ordering some more barb to TC fittings from Brewers Hardware shortly. Some more of the 90 degree bend plus straight items. Couple more TC clamps (hard to have "too many" of those on hand) and a better coupler to go on the wort inlet side of the plate chiller (using a cheapie from a different vendor currently). I setup the TC fittings on the chiller so that I have enough clearance from the water side now. Just another step towards making things easier on me come brew day.
Yeah my situation is similar. I’ve sold off a lot of things when replaced with “upgrades”. Hmmmm..... it just works to make beer, why change now ??....because we like gadgets, especially shiny stainless steel! 😁

I agree with you - if I could start over I’d just get the Trio (what I’d really like for home is the Spike Nano...lol.). That’ll have to wait until we’re further along with KBW Taphouse (tasting room). I’m having second thoughts.... I’m ready to relax and tinker with equipment like you seem to have been doing. It’s interesting to see the difference in quality of parts, designs, etc. as you alluded to.

I’d like a larger space and modify my system more similar to yours. And have room to entertain friends and neighbors in a nice pub setting - a community gathering place (our “local”). Looking to make things simpler, easier on the body, ergonomically sound. As you said “easier on me come brew day”.

If you go with stainless piping would you disassemble after each brew session? I’m paranoid about sanitation. One of the things I like about the Nano setup.

A 3 in. gradient on a 5 ft run...that’s nuts!! And I though our floor was bad. Can you change the grade, or is too much of hassle now? I’ve been thinking a trench drain..,augh!

Cheers🍻
 
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Golddiggie

Golddiggie

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I'm renting right now, so no chance of getting the garage floor fixed up or getting the correct grade on it (1/4" per foot is what I've seen for brewing areas).

Another thing I tinkered with on Sunday was getting the recirculation tubing in the MT in a better position. With the change I'll actually be able to SEE the flow rate coming out of it. Before this I would have to guess by the appearance of the mash. I still might make some different pieces to hold the tubing (about 1/2" wide instead of what's there). I have some more thin stainless sheet I can cut and bend up to get it to happen.
PXL_20210912_184216458.jpg


For if/when I change over to stainless pipe for the flow to, or from, the pumps... On the water side, I'll leave it in place (just drain them). On the wort side, since it's all hot side it won't matter as much. I'll still run hot PBW through the assembly though. I need to do that for the plate chiller before end of week (I have 9 gallons of PBW solution in the BK now). I'll get it up to at least 150F before running it through the plate chiller and then back into the kettle. Followed by rinsing. When I clean out the next conical, I'll run the Starsan through the plate chiller as well. I might use the same solution as the conical. Or just mix up another batch and use a different pump to run it through the plate chiller. With the TC connections on both ends of the wort run I can blow out the Starsan then cap the ends to keep it sealed up nicely.

I'll probably also adjust my MM2 gap before the next brew day. It was at .034" before a couple of sessions ago. I adjusted to .035" but I think I'll put it back to .034" for the coming batch.
 
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Golddiggie

Golddiggie

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Made a slight change earlier today that I'll try out this week... Swapped the cross on the wort pump out for a pair of tee fittings. Outlets are still facing the same directions, with the one going to the wort strainer/filter being pretty much the same. The other two are a bit higher up. I still might change back to the cross. I just wanted to see how this would work out. I'm also trying to figure out if I can configure some hard lines to work with the setup without it being stupid. I might be able to do it on the whirlpool fitting on the BK, but I'd need to go back to the cross fitting. Mostly because the shortest 1" TC piece I can get is six inches long. With it needing to go both up and out, it won't work well as things are currently.

I'll post up a picture if I decide to keep this new configuration.
 

day_trippr

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Jeeze...That sure looks like a lot of weight hanging off your pumps.
Are those heads forged?

Cheers! :D
 
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Golddiggie

Golddiggie

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Authentic, not forged. ;)

It's whatever Chugger uses for their stainless pump heads. Just glad I went with the TC connections on the heads when I was switching over to the Spike+ kettles.
 
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