Spike Conical- observations and best practices

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Nate R

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Hey, everyone. Question about dumping trub with the CF5: When I dump, I typically add a little CO2 pressure to the fermenter, but it seems like no matter how much I add, I always get a little bit of thick trub, and then cloudy liquid beer starts running. My thought has always been that I am adding too much pressure, and it is punching a hole in the trub, so every time I try to do a little less and have the same results. Yesterday, I probably applied no more than 1 PSI, and the same thing happened.

Is this just normal? Do I need to dump in multiple phases over the course of 2 or 3 days? I had considered trying to dump without any pressure in the fermenter, but my concern with that is that air bubbles will force their way up through the open dump valve and into the beer to fill the vacuum. Any tips would be appreciated.
I think the answer depends on what your end goal is.
If you are not harvesting or reusing yeast, then often you do not even have to dump.
I was cheap and did not get the racking arm at first... but that baby change my life!!! I do not yet re-use yeast, so i use the racking arm until the beer gets cloudy.

2nd question... do you cold crash? If so, then most of the trub settles down low. If not, then you may want to do multiple dumps.

3rd q: lots of dry hop? Anything under say about 2 ounce for me is easier. NE dry hops are a pain- for that i would do multiple dumps!

Final Q: are you after crystal clear beer? If so yeah multplie dumps. But you lose good beer each dump. For me, i am good with a cold crash, racking arm, and then rack to keg. I then let the keg sit in my really cold keezer... the first pour is a little trubby, but clear after that!!

Hope that helps!! There are some other helpful users here who will have some other ideas to!!!

Edit: sorry... less psi is best, but a little is good to help oxygen suckback. Under 1 if you can... just a little bit.
 

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I think the answer depends on what your end goal is.
If you are not harvesting or reusing yeast, then often you do not even have to dump.
I was cheap and did not get the racking arm at first... but that baby change my life!!! I do not yet re-use yeast, so i use the racking arm until the beer gets cloudy.

2nd question... do you cold crash? If so, then most of the trub settles down low. If not, then you may want to do multiple dumps.

3rd q: lots of dry hop? Anything under say about 2 ounce for me is easier. NE dry hops are a pain- for that i would do multiple dumps!

Final Q: are you after crystal clear beer? If so yeah multplie dumps. But you lose good beer each dump. For me, i am good with a cold crash, racking arm, and then rack to keg. I then let the keg sit in my really cold keezer... the first pour is a little trubby, but clear after that!!

Hope that helps!! There are some other helpful users here who will have some other ideas to!!!

Edit: sorry... less psi is best, but a little is good to help oxygen suckback. Under 1 if you can... just a little bit.
1) I’m not harvesting yeast. I know I don’t really need to dump the yeast most of the time, but it makes me feel better for whatever reason to know that I can turn the racking arm all the way down and not have to worry about sucking up trub, though I know I’d be better off volume-wise to leave it alone and just find the sweet spot where I’m still getting clear beer each time I rack.

In the event that I plan to do a secondary in the conical (such as for aging on oak), it would be nice to know that I can get all of the trub out so that it’s not sitting on it too long.

2) I do cold crash, but I normally dump before I drop the temp. I prefer not to dump after because I want to avoid stirring things back up and then having to let it sit for another couple of days to settle back out before I keg.

3) The most dry-hopping I have done is 2 ounces, and that was actually the first time I wasn’t able to rotate the racking arm all the way down when racking to the keg. When I tried to turn it down to around the 4 o’clock position two separate times, the dip tube in the keg clogged and I had to switch my connections around and push CO2 into the keg to clear the dip tube out. It wasn’t even apparent from looking at the beer running through the lines that I was sucking up lots of solids, so it caught me by surprise when it clogged up. That’s something I would like to avoid in the future obviously.

4) I’m not too concerned with it being crystal clear most of the time, but I am going to be trying gelatin on the beer I have in the fermenter now to see how that improves the clarity since it’s an American light lager. Cloudiness wouldn’t be a good luck with that style. The last lager I did (a Mexican lager) suffered from chill haze. It never really cleared up as much as I had hoped until the last quarter of the keg maybe.

Thanks for your detailed response!
 
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I agree, and slow being the key. A sight glass really helps with this, I open the valve slowly, like 1 notch and wait for a minute, if it doesnt start to move then I go to the second notch. Once I see movement in my sight glass I cut it back. Some times I will spend 10 or 15 minutes getting the trub to move but obviously that depends on the yeast and the dryhop amount. I typically have about 2psi of co2 pressure.
 

Nate R

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Welp, the new spike lid is available. It is 20% off right now, too.
I ordered one because... well, if you're here, you know.

I cannot wait to see what you all here can come up with ( @eric19312 i'm lookin' at you! Lol)

For me, i am just looking forward to having options.
 

eric19312

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Welp, the new spike lid is available. It is 20% off right now, too.
I ordered one because... well, if you're here, you know.

I cannot wait to see what you all here can come up with ( @eric19312 i'm lookin' at you! Lol)

For me, i am just looking forward to having options.
Perhaps at some point I will see something to do with it but for now I am going to just watch the rest of you. I'm not convinced of the need for the additional ports at all if you are not using the chilling coil. Interested to see if Spike comes up with a dry hop doser that works well on one of those 1.5 inch ports. Based on others experience I am skeptical it can be done. For the CF10 and CF15 I think one or two larger lid ports would have made more sense. The lid is bigger on those units right?
 

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Perhaps at some point I will see something to do with it but for now I am going to just watch the rest of you. I'm not convinced of the need for the additional ports at all if you are not using the chilling coil. Interested to see if Spike comes up with a dry hop doser that works well on one of those 1.5 inch ports. Based on others experience I am skeptical it can be done. For the CF10 and CF15 I think one or two larger lid ports would have made more sense. The lid is bigger on those units right?
Yeah, I’m not sure I understand the new lid. You can’t use the blowoff and PRV together, so why have dedicated ports for both? I guess the hop port is nice so you don’t have to remove the blow-off or PRV, but you’re still having to remove something (the cover), so is it really adding that much convenience?
 
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I ordered one, mainly to try out the hop port. I wish it was at least a 2" opening but oh well, I'll give it a try. I am not going to wait for a spike hop doser, looking at the one that Stout makes so I plan to order that along with some extra valves. I think I will put a valve on each port with each accessory already attached so when I need to switch from blow off to prv all I need to do is close a valve and open another with no need to remove a cover.
 

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Yeah, I’m not sure I understand the new lid. You can’t use the blowoff and PRV together, so why have dedicated ports for both? I guess the hop port is nice so you don’t have to remove the blow-off or PRV, but you’re still having to remove something (the cover), so is it really adding that much convenience?
I can see blow off with a valve like the SS Brewtech unitank blowoff assembly on one port with manifold on another port. That way if you wait a little too long to swap your blowoff for the manifold you don't let oxygen into the fermentor during the swap. Maybe a full sized PRV or a nice spunding valve on the other one.
 

mcmeador

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I can see blow off with a valve like the SS Brewtech unitank blowoff assembly on one port with manifold on another port. That way if you wait a little too long to swap your blowoff for the manifold you don't let oxygen into the fermentor during the swap. Maybe a full sized PRV or a nice spunding valve on the other one.
Yeah, I guess I can see a valve being placed on the blow-off port so you can close that off without removing it, but then again Spike explicitly states on their site not to attach their gas manifold until after primary fermentation is complete due to risk of clogging, so you would still have to open a port and attach the gas manifold at some point.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t a sounding valve used for pressure fermenting? In other words, would there even be a situation in which you would need to have both a blow-off and a spunding valve attached?
 
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No, you just have a butterfly valve on each port, then have your blow off on one, prv on another, and hop doser, or cap or whatever for dry hop on the third. Have the valve the blow off is attached to open first, when done there you close that valve and open the valve the prv is attached to. No swapping needed.
 

eric19312

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Yeah, I guess I can see a valve being placed on the blow-off port so you can close that off without removing it, but then again Spike explicitly states on their site not to attach their gas manifold until after primary fermentation is complete due to risk of clogging, so you would still have to open a port and attach the gas manifold at some point.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t a sounding valve used for pressure fermenting? In other words, would there even be a situation in which you would need to have both a blow-off and a spunding valve attached?
If you have a blow off attached and open you are not going to clog the manifold. Yes potentially you could create a dangerous situation if you accidentally closed the blow off valve and then relied on only the PRV on the manifold to relieve pressure during fermentation. That is why I can see wanting either a better PRV or a spunding valve on the third 1.5. That way you would have backup PRV for safety.

As for spunding valve a lot of (home) brewers use blow off during 80-90% of primary fermentation and then switch to spunding valve at end to get cheap natural carbonation (completely free of the O2 introduced by forced carbonation with CO2 tanks) and end the fermentation with pressurized vessel ready for transfer.
 

eric19312

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No, you just have a butterfly valve on each port, then have your blow off on one, prv on another, and hop doser, or cap or whatever for dry hop on the third. Have the valve the blow off is attached to open first, when done there you close that valve and open the valve the prv is attached to. No swapping needed.
I think there is safety concern if you can accidentally close all those valves. If you closed the blow off valve and forgot to open the one between tank and the PRV...
 
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Actually better yet, I could fashion a piece of metal to wedge between the handle and the release lever so that you would have to remove it to move the valve, then I could attach a tag to the wedge that states to open the prv port.
 

eric19312

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Sure that might help you remember but the valve is still creating an opportunity for human error to lead to a problem situation. I'm pretty confident you will not make the mistake and heck in my situation my fermentor is almost always contained inside a sturdy stand up freezer that would probably contain any explosive release so more likely an equipment loss is probably result even if it did happen. Still this thread is about best practices and I think the practice borrowed from ASME relating to safety valve placements on boilers is reasonable to apply here. That rule says:

"There shall be no intervening shut-off valves located between the safety valve inlet and the steam component that could permit the safety valve to be isolated from the system."

Perhaps rules designed for boiler safety are overkill for fermentors but seems like easy enough to just follow this rule.
 
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Your point is certainly valid and I am not discounting that. Maybe a better solution would be to put a riser on the port that the prv is on to avoid any chance of clogging and leave it on the duration of fermentation. Which is also not recommended. Personally I will put a valve in place. Sorry it is not best practice so let that be noted here, with a safety device in place I feel the probability of human error to be highly unlikely. Though I agree that boiler safety rules are probably overkill it is still a vessel capable of building pressure and causing damage/injury, so precautions should be taken.
 

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I think there is safety concern if you can accidentally close all those valves. If you closed the blow off valve and forgot to open the one between tank and the PRV...
Absolutely you have a VERY dangerous situation if all the valves mistakenly get closed. The only safe configuration is to have a PRV with vacuum breaker mounted on an unvalved TC port whenever fermentation is ongoing, which means virtually all the time.

The PRV mounted directly on the fermenter without any valves in between allows you to safely ferment, spund, pressure ferment, carbonate, cold crash, and lager, all without risking implosion or death and destruction from explosion of you fermenter.

The risks are very real.
 
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So what about putting a prv on say a 6 inch riser and having it in place throughout entire fermentation and valves on the other 2 ports? I don't know why Im really even concerned with this as my main reason for me getting the lid is to limit oxygen for my dry hop, with a doser. I suppose I would like to limit removing and swapping parts. Valves would do that, but apparently does not seem to be a reasonable option. My apologies to @eric19312 for being stubborn, I suppose even with a safety device in place anything is still possible. The more I think about it I could fail to set the valves correctly right from go and this is where the real danger would come into play. So I retract my previous statements, nix the valve on prv port.
 

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So what about putting a prv on say a 6 inch riser and having it in place throughout entire fermentation and valves on the other 2 ports? I don't know why Im really even concerned with this as my main reason for me getting the lid is to limit oxygen for my dry hop, with a doser. I suppose I would like to limit removing and swapping parts. Valves would do that, but apparently does not seem to be a reasonable option. My apologies to @eric19312 for being stubborn, I suppose even with a safety device in place anything is still possible. The more I think about it I could fail to set the valves correctly right from go and this is where the real danger would come into play. So I retract my previous statements, nix the valve on prv port.
I don't think you even need a riser with a vacuum break PRV. The diameter of the valve seat is close to 1" diameter, so at 20 psi release pressure you'll have plenty of surface area to resist krausening over the port, unless there was Super Glue in the foam. Even if the port gets fouled with krausen, the PRV will still release prior to the fermenter becoming a shrapnel producing bomb. 💣

I'd mount it on the highest (top center) TC port, or if you feel the need, mount it on a 2" length TC spool riser. A 6" would definitely be more than you need. But you really do need a PRV backup. If you have one, Mr. Murphy will never darken your door. Neither will Mr. Darwin.
 

mcmeador

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If you have a blow off attached and open you are not going to clog the manifold. Yes potentially you could create a dangerous situation if you accidentally closed the blow off valve and then relied on only the PRV on the manifold to relieve pressure during fermentation. That is why I can see wanting either a better PRV or a spunding valve on the third 1.5. That way you would have backup PRV for safety.

As for spunding valve a lot of (home) brewers use blow off during 80-90% of primary fermentation and then switch to spunding valve at end to get cheap natural carbonation (completely free of the O2 introduced by forced carbonation with CO2 tanks) and end the fermentation with pressurized vessel ready for transfer.
But if the krausen can reach the level of the blow-off, couldn’t it also reach the level of the manifold’s PRV? And if the blow-off is lifted with a valve underneath, would it not reach the PRV before the blow-off?

As you said, you could always attach a better PRV on the third port just in case, but then you would have to open up one of them for hop additions if the recipe called for it.

My point in all this is that it seems several of the conceivable uses for the ports according to the way Spike has marketed and labeled them seem to either contradict Spike’s safety guidance or don’t actually provide any real benefit if you still have to open ports to change accessories or attach accessories at a later time. Based on your explanation of pressure fermenting, I can see a good setup being a valved blow-off, an appropriate spunding valve, and a hop doser, all attached from the beginning and never having to be removed. Other than that, I’m having trouble seeing any other ideal use.
 

Nate R

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Wow... step away for a day... lol.
Like most of brewing gear, it will be watsed on my level of expertise and use.
(I have cooling coils)
But... yeah- spike pressure set up on port, no valve.
Blow off tube with valve on another.
Potential for a dry hop tube with valve on the 3rd port. Maybe. Who knows.
I think i fell for the flashy marketing and the $20 off deal!
Although... when i bought my cf5, i did not get a heater. Who needs it? Then i realizes i needed it... so... i dunno. Maybe i wasted $80 OR maybe i saved $20?!?!
Lol.

Great points above all... let's hope no one ever experiences an explosion.
 

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Good to know. I have 2 PRVs, one for each fementer that I currently swap with the blow off at the end of fermentation.
The PRVs need to be in place during, not after, the majority of fermentation. It's purpose is to provide safety backup to the blow-off and needs to be used in conjunction with the blow-off.

In a practical sense, if you have a large blow-off line (say 3/8" or 1/2" diameter), the likelihood of your line clogging up is pretty remote but can happen. I've got 3/8" blow-offs on my two conicals and often collect some krausen in the discharge jar but never so much that it's a clogging risk. The PRV port is 2 to 3 times greater surface area and even less likely to get blocked than the blow-off line, which makes it a reliable backup device.
 

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eric19312

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I've been eyeing up the Spike CF5, and am considering a 3-way valve to switch between the blowoff and the prv/spunding valve. Seems like a simple solution to not closing off pressure relief. Probably not this exact valve, but you get the idea:
I would want to make sure that the valve would not allow you to accidentally seal the fermentor. I think you have to make sure you get the right one ... T type vs L type and also the right range of allowed handle motion. It would be easier to just get a sanitary T with one butterfly valve for the blow off.
 

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This topic finally got me order a pressure release valve / vacuum break valve.
I plan to leave this always attached to the 1.5" port on the lid.

The 4" port on the lid wears a 1.5" reducer and the Spike gas manifold.

I just ordered a 4" butterfly valve and sight glass to use between the lid and reducer as a dry hopper.
My plan is just crack the butterfly valve so the CO2 can vent past the hops, and out the gas post on the Spike manifold.
I've had good luck venting this line through 3 kegs into a spunding valve.

I'm aware Spike advises against this.
I will say that I wouldn't try this with a vigorous ale yeast.
I brew lagers exclusively at about 50*F.
This gives me less than 1" of krausen and very tame fermentations, even without pressure.
 
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I ordered a 4 inch riser to put the spike gas manifold and prv on that will be on for the duration now, then Ill have a valve on the other 2 ports of the lid, one for blow off and the other for the hop doser I ordered from stout tanks. I am little concerned about the diameter, wishing the dry hop port was 2 inch. I will likely have to load the hop doser a couple times on some of my heavier dry hop beers but this should still make my dry hopping process easier and limit oxygen ingress even more. My next brew wont be dry hopped so Ill have some time to get familiar with the hop doser and measure how many ounces of hops it will hold at one time.
 

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I wish the cooling coil had a PRV on it. Would solve just about every reasoning on here for the extra ports. Disappointed the new lids are all 1.5" which still makes dry hopping a PITA with the coil in. No desire to upgrade here.
 

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I have to agree. I would have thought less ports to clean would make sense. PRV in the cooling coil and the existing 1.5" TC fitting. The only addition to the top should have been a 2" or 3" opening for hop additions. Instead, I use a 2" to 1.5" reducer on the TC connector and then drop a funnel on top so I can quickly dump in 7-10oz of hops.
 

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After about a month of patiently waiting by my front door, my shiny new CF5 with a bunch of accessories finally arrived yesterday. I got it all set up, PBW'd everything and it's sitting ready for a brew day hopefully tomorrow. My question is about rotating the racking arm. I got a teflon gasket for the connection to the conical bay but still find it very difficult to rotate with the TC clamp in place. I think its the friction between the racking arm and the TC clamp itself, because the teflon gasket makes it effortless to rotate without the clamp in place.

Are those who use the racking arm applying any keg lube on the clamp itself to lubricate rotation? Or do you simply loosen the clamp until you can rotate the arm?

My concern is loosening it too much with a full fermentor of beer and inadvertently dumping it.
 

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mcmeador

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After about a month of patiently waiting by my front door, my shiny new CF5 with a bunch of accessories finally arrived yesterday. I got it all set up, PBW'd everything and it's sitting ready for a brew day hopefully tomorrow. My question is about rotating the racking arm. I got a teflon gasket for the connection to the conical bay but still find it very difficult to rotate with the TC clamp in place. I think its the friction between the racking arm and the TC clamp itself, because the teflon gasket makes it effortless to rotate without the clamp in place.

Are those who use the racking arm applying any keg lube on the clamp itself to lubricate rotation? Or do you simply loosen the clamp until you can rotate the arm?

My concern is loosening it too much with a full fermentor of beer and inadvertently dumping it.
You can just loosen the clamp enough to turn the racking arm and then tighten it back up. You don’t want to loosen it so much that it’s effortless to turn because at that point you will probably be leaking. Just turn the screw a full turn and then see if you can turn the racking arm with a little muscle. If it doesn’t want to move, loosen the screw another half turn until you can move the racking arm.
 

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After about a month of patiently waiting by my front door, my shiny new CF5 with a bunch of accessories finally arrived yesterday. I got it all set up, PBW'd everything and it's sitting ready for a brew day hopefully tomorrow. My question is about rotating the racking arm. I got a teflon gasket for the connection to the conical bay but still find it very difficult to rotate with the TC clamp in place. I think its the friction between the racking arm and the TC clamp itself, because the teflon gasket makes it effortless to rotate without the clamp in place.

Are those who use the racking arm applying any keg lube on the clamp itself to lubricate rotation? Or do you simply loosen the clamp until you can rotate the arm?

My concern is loosening it too much with a full fermentor of beer and inadvertently dumping it.
Possibly you over tightened the clamp and so a little loosening was not enough. Also is the gasket dry? Assemble wet and with beer behind it to keep it wet it should turn just fine with only a little loosening of the clamp.
 

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Possibly you over tightened the clamp and so a little loosening was not enough. Also is the gasket dry? Assemble wet and with beer behind it to keep it wet it should turn just fine with only a little loosening of the clamp.
yes, i was definitely trying it dry. Will try again after wetting the gasket with a full fermentor tomorrow and see if that helps.
 

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yes, i was definitely trying it dry. Will try again after wetting the gasket with a full fermentor tomorrow and see if that helps.
You'll still need to loosen the clamp a bit. I've never had a leak doing that.

I also use the Teflon gaskets in other ports when I use my CF5 as an HLT/kettle/fermenter with my Picobrew Z1. They are easier to remove after being exposed to boiling temperatures.
 

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After about a month of patiently waiting by my front door, my shiny new CF5 with a bunch of accessories finally arrived yesterday. I got it all set up, PBW'd everything and it's sitting ready for a brew day hopefully tomorrow. My question is about rotating the racking arm. I got a teflon gasket for the connection to the conical bay but still find it very difficult to rotate with the TC clamp in place. I think its the friction between the racking arm and the TC clamp itself, because the teflon gasket makes it effortless to rotate without the clamp in place.

Are those who use the racking arm applying any keg lube on the clamp itself to lubricate rotation? Or do you simply loosen the clamp until you can rotate the arm?

My concern is loosening it too much with a full fermentor of beer and inadvertently dumping it.
I sometimes see the problem you are describing and yes I believe it is caused by friction between the TC and ferrules. I have never tried keg lube but believe lube would help the racking arm rotate. When I get a tight racking arm I normally loosen the TC tee nut a little and separate or unstick the two TC halves. Sometimes I have to repeat the tee nut loosening. Take care not loosen too much that the tee nut pops out of the forked clamp half which is when you would have a major leak. After over 40 CF10 batches, I have never had a leak following this process and do not use teflon gaskets.
 

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After filling the CF5 yesterday with the first batch, I was able to back off the clamp a few turns and rotate the racking arm no problem. Thanks for everyone's suggestions.

Now for another quick question. How are people generally filling their CF with wort? In my Fermonster, I was able to splash the wort into it from by BK, close it up and shake the hell out of it before pitching yeast. Yesterday I filled the conical, pumping in through the dump port and then hitting it with some put O2 (about a minute of moderate flow I'd say). The only reason I didn't fill from the top was I didn't have a hose long enough to get to the top (easily remedied issue for next time).
 
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