Spike Conical- observations and best practices

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itsnotrequired

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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).
i personally just leave the racking arm in the down position all the time. dumps will drop material down below the intake level and when i keg, i run the first 8 oz or so into a bucket to clear out anything that may get into the tube. no plugged keg ports yet, even with crazy dry-hopped beers.

i fill with wort from the top but you nailed it, need long enough hose. i didn't have one but got one of those male-male camlock 'jumper' fittings so i can connect two hoses and get enough length. i place it in the cooling coil opening and drop the coil in, the lid keeps the hose in place while filling. hose is as high as possible in the conical to maximize splashing as it fills but i still hit it with oxygen before adding yeast.
 

Fidelity101

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I added a 3 way port on the pump outlet which really helped me get more accurate gravity readings along the mash process as I no longer have water around the outside of the mash tun that's not being mixed in. The added benefit this has caused allows me to attach the CFC system while I'm still whirlpooling. 15 minutes before the boil is finished, I turn the valve to force wort into the CFC while the rest of the wort goes into the whirlpool. This keeps the whirlpool at 100% rather than having the CFC reduce the flow rate! The problem I encountered was dealing with the wort output from the CFC as I no longer had ports to plug into and didn't want to remove the Condensate lid. BUT...there is a free 1.5" port on the condensate lid! So, I'm curious if anyone has tried using that port as a return line.

The possible down sides here is that I could induce splashing of the wort and that splashing could get sucked out by the condensate system. The benefits could be adding oxygen to the wort during this process as I'm dropping the wort from the top of the condensate lid...through 212F moist air...and back into the wort. I would think this would help me increase the oxygen rate of the wort in a sanitary manner.

Thoughts? Has anyone else tried this? Man, I wish I could brew more than once every other week...so many things to try! :)
 

mcmeador

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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).
I brew in an Anvil Foundry in the kitchen and then have my fermenter set up in the mud room near the garage. I drain half of the wort into a plastic bucket using the spigot on the Foundry and then carry it into the mud room and pour it into the fermenter. Then I go back and repeat to get the rest. The action of draining into the bucket and then dumping into the fermenter does a great job of aerating the wort.
 

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Fellow CF users, I have another question for you when it comes to cold crashing. I have my DIY AC Glycol chiller set to -2C (28F) as I understand this is essentially the freezing point for beer at around 4-6% ABV. I'm able to crash my CF5 down to about 3C (37F), but struggle to get colder than that. Ambient temps are currently around 20C (68F) in my basement where I ferment. Cooling lines are wrapped in neoprene (SS Brewtech Quick Disconnect Kit: FTSs | Quick Disconnect Kit) but I may look to beef up the insulation a bit more.

Digging back through old posts, I came across a similar conversation where @Bean mentioned they are able to crash down into the 20F range:

pretty sure its your process. Mine sits in a open air garage and have I have no issues crashing into the 20F and leaving it there for days in the July heat of the north east.

Are your cooling lines insulated?
what temp to you have your chiller set to?
what side and you using as your in and out on the coil?
I guess my question is: Am I being too conservative with a 28F glycol temp? Are people going lower than that? Or should I be happy with y 3C (37F) cold crash and move on?

Cheers!
 

eric19312

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My understanding is that with glycol you are going to be limited to about 35F cold crashing. You get there or perhaps a little lower with lots of extra insulation on the fermentor, not just the wetsuit, and not just the glycol lines. The comment from @Bean doesn't track what others like @mongoose33 have reported (I remember Mongoose was going to build an insulated chamber at some point. I expect pushing lower and lower is also going to make the condensation issues worse. If you are brewing IPAs maybe just get happy with cold crashing in the mid to high 30s. If you really want to cold crash into high 20s freezers work well.
 

Jeremy W

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Thanks @eric19312 , I'm going to try and see how low I can get it today with the glycol set at about 28F, and then just be happy with that I think.
 

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Thanks @eric19312 , I'm going to try and see how low I can get it today with the glycol set at about 28F, and then just be happy with that I think.
The trials of @mongoose33 are instructive of the thermodynamics at play if you are interested to read those threads - turned to a soap opera with a classic villain at one point it seemed.

For higher ABVs, you can push the glycol lower, but for normal range, any lower will start ice formation on your coils, which will stop heat from getting pulled from the beer and put you in an upward spiral of temperature till it locks in where heat through the ice balances the heat coming into the beer from the outer walls. Increasing coil area would help if you are up for a mod, otherwise reducing heat transfer into the odds and ends sticking out is your next best option, followed by neoprene upgrade, etc.
 

eric19312

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Thanks @eric19312 , I'm going to try and see how low I can get it today with the glycol set at about 28F, and then just be happy with that I think.
Full disclosure I am cold crashing my IPAs these days to 35F even though I can get the beer down to 28F in my freezer. A re-read of the literature that originally had me interested in cold crashing into high 20s indicated primary benefit was for reducing chill haze in lagers and other similarly bright beers. I'm ok with a bit of haze in my IPAs and going all the way to the edge of possible created new challenges with settling out and dumping the dry hops. Thick beer+dry hop trub seems to freeze at a higher point than beer alone and I'd sometimes end up with a dry hop slushy in the elbow making it hard to dump.
 

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I've also grappled with this issue, and am in general agreement with Beholder and Mongoose33. In many/most cases a colder glycol temp (under -2C) is not the solution. Check your return glycol temp if you can and this will give you some useful data on this. If your reservoir temp operates low low, then perhaps a higher capacity pump might help.

Otherwise your conical is just losing too much heat to the environment, and I suspect the bigger issue is the delT between the coils and walls. (I also see a very large differential and time lag between my temperature sensor about mid-tank level and my Tilt device floating on top. More insulation will help (including the lid and any fittings/appendages), but if you try and force it too much, then the ice forming issue will almost certainly rear its head.

I've always thought that a potentially valuable solution would be to have some kind of hermetically sealed, low turn stirring mechanism inside the conical. Just enough to gently move the warm fluid away from the walls and cold fluid away from the coil. I have not found such a device, but have not spent hours looking for it either.
 

Nate R

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I've always thought that a potentially valuable solution would be to have some kind of hermetically sealed, low turn stirring mechanism inside the conical.
I have not found such a device, but have not spent hours looking for it either.
Well hot darn!!
I say we have our next potential money suck for this hobby!!
First, we will have a DIY'er create a homemade, fully-automated model with parts he or she has lying around the house, but with like 10 years electrical engineering and or programming experience. Cheap parts, but skills most of us do not have. (If one was to quantify the cost: minimum $1,000).

Then we will see a kickstarter product hit the market (released in 2024) for like $99 pre-buy cost.

Then finally Spike will release an updated cooling coil, and i, being the sucker I am, will fork over another $99 (gotta hit that free shipping threshold!!) to them.

Ah... what a fun 'hobby'
 

CottonBrew

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Fellow CF users, I have another question for you when it comes to cold crashing. I have my DIY AC Glycol chiller set to -2C (28F) as I understand this is essentially the freezing point for beer at around 4-6% ABV. I'm able to crash my CF5 down to about 3C (37F), but struggle to get colder than that. Ambient temps are currently around 20C (68F) in my basement where I ferment. Cooling lines are wrapped in neoprene (SS Brewtech Quick Disconnect Kit: FTSs | Quick Disconnect Kit) but I may look to beef up the insulation a bit more.

Digging back through old posts, I came across a similar conversation where @Bean mentioned they are able to crash down into the 20F range:



I guess my question is: Am I being too conservative with a 28F glycol temp? Are people going lower than that? Or should I be happy with y 3C (37F) cold crash and move on?

Cheers!
I’ve also spent some time trying to optimize the Spike TC100 to get the performance I expected. I have two CF10’s and a Penguine ½ HP chiller. Like Gozie Boy, Beholder, and Mongoose33 I believe part of the issue is insulation of the fermenter. I use a sleeping bag to fully cover the fermenter including attachments and legs which is an easy insulation addition. I also believe the CF thermowell may not provide a representative internal temperature reading, especially when cold crashing at high ambient temperatures (delta T >40F).

A point not discussed recently in this thread is glycol concentration. I did flow testing at various glycol concentrations using the Spike glycol hoses and temperature coil. Glycol was pumped out of my Penguine chiller at 26F, through the temperature coil, and returned to a measuring container. Pump run time was one minute and the volume discharged was averaged over 4 test runs. The table below shows the results.

Pump
50% Glycol (Gal/min)​
25% Glycol (Gal/min)​
15% Glycol (Gal/min)​
CF101
0.326​
0.578​
0.744​
CF102
0.340​
0.566​
0.717​
The data shows an important consideration is optimizing glycol concentration for the chiller set point. Twice the flow rate is achieved using 15% glycol vs 50%. At 15% glycol the coils of my chiller iced up and would not cool below 30F, so I believe glycol should be > 15% for a Spike cooling system. I run my chiller at 25% glycol although 20% may be OK, but I would not go lower than 20%.

Optimizing glycol concentration and using a sleeping bag for insulation has allowed me to lower cold crash temperatures ~3F. When cold crashing I set the Penguine controller to 26F and the Spike TC100 controller to 35F, although my Tilt reads ~32F.
 

Gozie Boy

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Well hot darn!!
I say we have our next potential money suck for this hobby!!
First, we will have a DIY'er create a homemade, fully-automated model with parts he or she has lying around the house, but with like 10 years electrical engineering and or programming experience. Cheap parts, but skills most of us do not have. (If one was to quantify the cost: minimum $1,000).

Then we will see a kickstarter product hit the market (released in 2024) for like $99 pre-buy cost.

Then finally Spike will release an updated cooling coil, and i, being the sucker I am, will fork over another $99 (gotta hit that free shipping threshold!!) to them.

Ah... what a fun 'hobby'
This could be a very simple device (i.e. far less than $1000) that might help folks get their fermenter from 38F to c.30F. How complicated and expensive is your stir plate and magnet? There appears to be a need, based on the hundreds of posts of people trying to find a solution for this very issue. I wasn't saying that this is THE solution, or even a viable solution at all. Just tossing out an idea. Many people pay good money for things like neoprene jackets, glycol chillers and pumps (hey, you can have your $1000 right there), dedicated fridges, etc. I am certain many people would be delighted if Spike or someone had an improved coil or other device that greatly improved this heat transfer situation, but rest assured you will not be forced to buy it! 😜
 

Nate R

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This could be a very simple device (i.e. far less than $1000) that might help folks get their fermenter from 38F to c.30F. How complicated and expensive is your stir plate and magnet? There appears to be a need, based on the hundreds of posts of people trying to find a solution for this very issue. I wasn't saying that this is THE solution, or even a viable solution at all. Just tossing out an idea. Many people pay good money for things like neoprene jackets, glycol chillers and pumps (hey, you can have your $1000 right there), dedicated fridges, etc. I am certain many people would be delighted if Spike or someone had an improved coil or other device that greatly improved this heat transfer situation, but rest assured you will not be forced to buy it! 😜
@Gozie Boy my apologies... i was not poking fun at your idea. Rather, i was agreeing with it!!! I would want one!

My joke was instead aimed at this hobby... and the various products i have seen over the last few years.
Seems like a genius creates a unique product (with his or her avanced skills), then we all want one, it gets developed, etc. etc.
(See iSpindle, etc.)
 

Gozie Boy

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@Gozie Boy my apologies... i was not poking fun at your idea. Rather, i was agreeing with it!!! I would want one!

My joke was instead aimed at this hobby... and the various products i have seen over the last few years.
Seems like a genius creates a unique product (with his or her avanced skills), then we all want one, it gets developed, etc. etc.
(See iSpindle, etc.)
No problem, Nate. I've enjoyed reading a good number of your posts over many months.
 
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Well I got my 3 port lid in a few weeks back and brewed a neipa over the weekend. The groove the gasket goes in was tighter then my original lid and once I worked it in it had a little hump at one spot that I was eventually able to get smoothed out enough to trust it to seal. Still wish the hop port was bigger that is really my only gripe. Being that I will be dryhopping with somewhere around 20oz for this batch it may take some time to get them all in there, I have a hop doser on order but will be dry hopping this batch before it comes in. This was right before she got filled.
20210704_130432.jpg
 
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Yep the dry hop port was bust using a small funnel with the bottom cut off so that the opening is 1.5 inch. Gonna have to see if the hop doser I ordered works any better or might have to come up with a different configuration. I do like being able to just close the valve on my blowoff when fermentation was done so that was a plus, now to get this small ass hop port to work.
 

FswBG

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I'm not really sure why they used 1.5" on all 3x ports... anyone who's tried hop dosing through the 1.5 knows you have to do a dance to get 'em all to drop in.

I've have been happier with 2 port lid if one of them was 3".
Right?! I'm grateful for the additional ports, but for those of us using glycol it's not a great option for them to all be 1.5". I have struggled every.. single.. time with hops getting stuck/blocked around the 1.5" BF valve when I dry hop. I have since started using a 2" to 1.5" reducer so I can use a 2" BF valve, but it's still not ideal. My fermenter is starting to look like Johnny 5 from Short Circuit...
 

TLaffey

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For dry-hopping, I've had pretty good results using a 2" valve on top of a 2" to 1.5" reducer on the top of the fermenter. I then stack a 2" sight glass and another reducer to get back to 1/5". I have a 10" spool on top of that for larger hop doses. I think I got ~8oz of hops in there on my last brew.

20210611_211934.jpg
 

postalbunny

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I had not considered using a 1.5->2" or 1.5->3" reducer THEN a 2" or 3" butterfly valve. I'll have to give that a try...
 
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I am going to share something that I did based on a time crunch. On my last NEIPA, kegged sunday, I did things a little different and it actually worked out great. CF15 started with 17.5 gallon in the fermenter, did a soft crash after fermentation followed by a quick yeast dump and a 20oz dry hop. 2 days later I cold crashed for 48 hours, now to kegging. I did no further dumping, not exactly on purpose but it happened. So I put my dip tube somewhere around 2 oclock position hooked up my transfer line with bouncer filter and purged til it started to clear, a few ounces, emptied the bouncer twice and off to the keg it went. I filled 2 kegs to 42lbs 4oz and the third came in at 41lb 8oz. Welllll dang how about that. I thought for sure I was gonna have issues or come up short. After I hit the half way point on the third keg I was sweet talking my fermenter saying "come on girl, you got this" and as it approached 40lb I was cheering it on like a soccer mom during her kids first game. I am not saying I will make this a regular practice but I was rushed and for once it did not have a poor affect.
 

FunkedOut

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Yeah that inline bouncer filter is similar the one I am using. I found the company that makes them and got one with threaded fittings. VacMotion product: PLS-M12M-NCB-050 - 1/2 MNPT Mini Series Nylon Strainer with Clear Nylon Bowl, Buna gasket and 50 mesh Stainless Steel Screen
I then added duo tight fittings and EVA barrier tubing. I went with the larger 6mm ID/9.5 mm OD duotight and EVA tubing available from Morebeer.
Just kegged another batch today and used that inline filter.
It didn't get a chance to do its job.

I collected the yeast before dry hopping. I'd estimate about a pint of yeast slurry left in the cone.
I dry hopped with just 4oz of cryo hops.
Then fined with 15g of gelatin in 24oz of water.

A few days later at 32*F, turning the racking arm down to 6 o'clock pull zero hops or yeast into the filter.
I managed to get 3 full kegs out of it, starting with 15.75 gallons of wort.

I dump a quart of kettle tub before pitching yeast.
The yeast harvest from the previous batch is the same exact volume as the what I harvest from the current batch, so no change in volume there.
And the 24oz of gelatin certainly adds to final beer volume, as does the propagated yeast and dry hop.
 

FunkedOut

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Finally received, prepped and installed all the parts for the dry hopper.
Everything is 4" TC, huge and heavy!
Barely enough room to get it all installed. Less than 1" to spare up top.

The 1.5" TC port has a 15psi PRV that is also a vacuum break.
Not planning on testing that feature.

dryhopper1.jpg


dryhopper2.jpg
 

TheMadKing

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Finally received, prepped and installed all the parts for the dry hopper.
Everything is 4" TC, huge and heavy!
Barely enough room to get it all installed. Less than 1" to spare up top.

The 1.5" TC port has a 15psi PRV that is also a vacuum break.
Not planning on testing that feature.

View attachment 737320

View attachment 737321
How do you purge the air out of that? just pressurize and release a few times?
 

FunkedOut

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Yes, exactly.
I have another plan that may garner some controversy. Read at your own risk...

Before this dry hopper came into play, I always plumbed the gas post on the top Spike manifold into the OUT post of a corny keg.
I then plumbed that kegs IN post to the OUT post of a second keg.
IN post of that second keg plumbed to the OUT pose of a third keg.
Spunding valve on the IN post of the third keg.

I'd set the spunding valve to the minimum pressure for a few days to a week (I rarely make an ale). Then up the pressure for the last leg,
I consider that enough of a purge for the kegs to then close transfer to.

So now the dry hopper comes into play.
Plan is, dry hops in the sight glass right after pitching yeast, 4" valve slightly cracked and everything else same as before.
 

postalbunny

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FYI, went with the 2" valve and a reducer on a 3 port lid... it was much easier to coax the hops down. I still had to move the valve open/shut quite a few times but probably worth it if you have not already purchased 1.5" stuff.

I used a 1.5" to 2" reducer to get a 2" BF valve. Then used a 2" to 3" reducer to get to a lid with a PRV and GAS in. I have a 3" sight glass I could use if I need more volume, but 6oz of hops fit just fine in the reducer alone.

Had I realized the chilling issue of getting below 37degF combined with how hard it is to dry hop through a 1.5" port I would have probably just gone the stand-up fridge/freezer route or invested a little more in a jacketed fermenter.
 

hagmanngr

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I put the leg extensions on mine, and I really like being able to work on the unit higher off the floor, but that does really make it top heavy. I can easily see me knocking it over if I’m not careful. I have it bungied to a wall. It’s probably somewhat obvious but thought I would mention for those thinking about going that way.
I make sure to pull mine backwards when I need to move it. Seems to want to tip forward more than back
 

hagmanngr

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I'm struggling with closed pressure transfers on my CF5 (I apologize as I'm sure this is covered somewhere in the 67 pages of this topic, but I couldn't find it. Could be I'm a poor searcher) I've done them successfully on my SS Brewtech, but I never get a flow going on the CF5. First I thought it was dry hopping as my first failures were IPAs, but yesterday my Doppel Helles wouldn't go, so I had to do the old fashioned way of tub in the keg. I had cold crashed to 35 degrees for 2 days. I also noticed some trub in the racking port when cleaning, is the issue too much trub? How would I avoid that? Even if I dumped, some would settle in that port. Any ideas?
 
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5psi should be good, I mean the racking arm inside the fermenter, did you have it straight down or up or the side? Orrrr maybe you don't use one, just thought of that.. you likely then had yeast or trub still blocking your port. If you use the closed transfer set up from spike the hole that is in the adapter from the racking valve to the hose is rather small. I have had an issue with this in the past but with the racking arm I don't get much in the actual tube of the arm. If you don't have one I definitely recommend it.
 
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Also I would definitely do at least a quick dump after cold crash. If you are not using a racking arm this would likely get some of the trub out of the port. Because the port is on the cone and sits at an angle it does tend to collect trub some of which may flush out with a dump. With the racking arm you can keep it in the 6 o'clock position during fermentation, do a dump after cold crash, the rotate the arm up out of any leftover trub and start your transfer. Keeping it down during fermentation obviously limits the amount of trub that would collect inside the racking arm. It took a few times for me to get a good feel for where the best placement was for me to start, usually I start between 2 and 3 o'clock and rotate down at the end. I use the cf15 though so your experience may be different.
 

Biggz1313

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I added a 3 way port on the pump outlet which really helped me get more accurate gravity readings along the mash process as I no longer have water around the outside of the mash tun that's not being mixed in. The added benefit this has caused allows me to attach the CFC system while I'm still whirlpooling. 15 minutes before the boil is finished, I turn the valve to force wort into the CFC while the rest of the wort goes into the whirlpool. This keeps the whirlpool at 100% rather than having the CFC reduce the flow rate! The problem I encountered was dealing with the wort output from the CFC as I no longer had ports to plug into and didn't want to remove the Condensate lid. BUT...there is a free 1.5" port on the condensate lid! So, I'm curious if anyone has tried using that port as a return line.

The possible down sides here is that I could induce splashing of the wort and that splashing could get sucked out by the condensate system. The benefits could be adding oxygen to the wort during this process as I'm dropping the wort from the top of the condensate lid...through 212F moist air...and back into the wort. I would think this would help me increase the oxygen rate of the wort in a sanitary manner.

Thoughts? Has anyone else tried this? Man, I wish I could brew more than once every other week...so many things to try! :)
I hope I'm replying correctly to what you're asking about, but I have the steam hat for my Spike 15g solo+ system and I 100% use either of the ports on the steam hat to recirculate my wort during the mash. I have stopped using the Spike basked and have switched to a Brew Hardware false bottom and a The Brew Bag BIAB bag for my mashing as I get much better efficiencies, and until I get my own mill, I just get too much grain in my boil using the basket. I'm sure it would work just as well using the basket vs my method, I like it WAY better than the recirculation port on the basket that trickles the wort down the side of the basket. Way too much heat transferred out of the wort this way and I get inconsistent temps in my mash bed.
 

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For those struggling to get their Spike conical below 40F with the Spike chill coil, reference this:
1628622621189.png


Simply making sure the chilled glycol is going into the correct port makes a difference.

I've also added a 1/4" thick neoprene 'hat' to both of my CF10's to help keep the cool inside. That has allowed me to chill, and maintain, temperatures easier.
 

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Also I would definitely do at least a quick dump after cold crash. If you are not using a racking arm this would likely get some of the trub out of the port. Because the port is on the cone and sits at an angle it does tend to collect trub some of which may flush out with a dump. With the racking arm you can keep it in the 6 o'clock position during fermentation, do a dump after cold crash, the rotate the arm up out of any leftover trub and start your transfer. Keeping it down during fermentation obviously limits the amount of trub that would collect inside the racking arm. It took a few times for me to get a good feel for where the best placement was for me to start, usually I start between 2 and 3 o'clock and rotate down at the end. I use the cf15 though so your experience may be different.
Thank you for both of your replies. Despite spending literally a grand on the setup, I missed the racking arm. I expect that will solve my problems along with the tips you provided. Back to the Spike site I go.
 

Golddiggie

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Thank you for both of your replies. Despite spending literally a grand on the setup, I missed the racking arm. I expect that will solve my problems along with the tips you provided. Back to the Spike site I go.
When I was getting ready to place my two CF10 fermenters order, I worked with one of the rep's at Spike to make sure I had what I needed. That included the racking arm in each fermenter. I also got the document that shows how much it leaves behind.

IIRC, I spent about $2200 on the two fermenters fully setup. I only ordered one carbonating stone since I didn't expect to need to carbonate what's in both fermenters at the same time. Small savings. At least everything (over $100) ships free. ;)
 
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