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Tri clamps?

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JoeTheBartender

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So I'm looking to build a keggle here pretty soon. I've seen a lot of tutorials and all the parts. But I'm also noticing all the higher end brew kettles (ss brewtech, spike+ etc) all use tri clamp set ups instead of regular nozzles.

I've spent a few days working in local breweries and I won't like the ease of tri clamp is pretty handy so if I could incorporate that in my brewing I'd love too.

I was curious how I would even find the ports and parts to make my keggle tri clamp and if it would even be worth it.
 
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I like tri-clamp for my kettle element, but I'm fine with conventional NPT elsewhere, though you're right that tri-clamp sanitary fittings are very popular. Ease? Maybe. I wouldn't want to deal with tri-clamp every time I attach/detach a hose connection -- quick disconnects like camlock work much better for frequent use. For parts, look here for example.
 

FloppyKnockers

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I was in the same boat when reimagining my new set-up. I decided to go with QDs for all the hoses and tri-clamps for the elements. I do not regret it at all. The QDs are an amazing upgrade.

1605337650657.png
 
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JoeTheBartender

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I like tri-clamp for my kettle element, but I'm fine with conventional NPT elsewhere, though you're right that tri-clamp sanitary fittings are very popular. Ease? Maybe. I wouldn't want to deal with tri-clamp every time I attach/detach a hose connection -- quick disconnects like camlock work much better for frequent use. For parts, look here for example.

Thanks ill look into Camlocks!
 

Jayjay1976

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I use camlocks myself, but be aware it takes some practice to be able to use them one-handed vs the pull-back type QD that floppy mentioned. Just something to consider.
 
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I use camlocks myself, but be aware it takes some practice to be able to use them one-handed vs the pull-back type QD that floppy mentioned. Just something to consider.
Yes, it's sometimes annoying. I've wondered if things might be a bit easier with these QDs, which could be somewhat lighter weight in addition to simplifying one-handed connect/disconnect. But swapping out all my camlocks for QDs would cost ~$200, so maybe I'll never know...
 

Golddiggie

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I recently switched back to ball lock QDs from the cam lock type. From what I've seen posted by others, it seems like different sellers, and/or makers, of cam locks are not to the same spec. Which makes connecting them together an issue (PITA). The stainless ball lock style fittings all just work without issue no matter where (or when) I purchased them. I now have a gallon ziplock bag full of the cam lock fittings that I can't see ever using again.

BTW, Spike Brewing has their NPT systems setup with the ball lock type fittings. That should tell you something right there. Of course, they also offer the systems with TC fittings.

I have things connecting to my boil keggle set up with TC fittings. Until it gets to the tubing connection. That's a ball lock type fitting (male on the keggle). All my hoses have the female connector on them. Makes it a LOT easier when all the fittings on the tubing are female and all vessel/pump/chiller fittings are male. When I had first set these up, I had either a mix, or female connections on the vessels. Not as nice when you're trying to move the fitting collar back to connect the tubing after it's been exposed to that much heat for some time.
 
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Golddiggie's gender-related remarks make perfect sense: female on hoses, male elsewhere. I have not had camlock compatibility issues, though I do notice differences in the force required to make a connection depending on... something, maybe small variation between makers. Not sure.

@Bobby_M of brewhardware.com fame wrote this guide regarding the OP's decisions. He's got his own perspective:

Quick Disconnects: We can say from experience that if you're designing a system where the pump will draw from several sources and/or pump to several other locations, you will quickly tire of pulling hoses off of barbs to move them around. Quick disconnects are exactly what they sound like and there are several options available:

TC, Triclover, Triclamp - This is a system that features a gasket that sits between two identical flanges and a separate clamp that squeezes the flanges together to make the seal. These are generally considered the most sanitary* and easily cleanable option, but their high cost, bulk, and cumbersome operation make them impractical for all ports on a homebrew scale system.

Camlock - Camlocks or Cam and Groove fittings have been used around the world in industrial applications for decades, usually in much larger sizes than what we use them for. There are a lot of reasons we really like these. For one thing, their dimensions are dictated by Milspec so they should be interchangeable across all vendors. They have very few moving parts so they don't get fouled with sticky wort. They are made of only two food grade components, stainless steel and high temperature silicone. The price is also very favorable. The only downside is that it takes two hands to make and break connections.

Ball Lock QDs- If you've been around air compressors or ball lock style corny kegs, you already have an idea of how these work. Like camlocks, the male part has a groove that is engaged by the female coupling but instead of a cam arm, it's locked with a series of ball bearings. They are also built with stainless steel and silicone. The major advantage to these is the ease of operation, only requiring one hand. There are a couple downsides including cost and lack of cross-vendor compatibility. On the bright side, we are the first and only vendor to sell these in a high flow "plus" sized hose barbs.
 

Bobby_M

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My spidey senses were tingling.

Yes indeed vendors are ramping up their offerings with TC ports but this is really and chicken or egg philosophical question. Are they doing TC ports because they are inherently better for a 10 gallon homebrew pot or because people are just buying them because the big brewers do it and they want to be cool?

I have to be careful that I don't piss off some manufacturers that I don't want to piss off but let's just say that I find a 10 gallon kettle with full size TC butterfly valves all over the place to be the equivalent of 24" spinner wheels on a Honda Civic. That's not a compliment by the way.

I recorded this overview video 3 years ago but I still stand by everything I said in it. The video covers a lot more than disconnects but this link will take you to about the 13 minute mark where I talk about hose/QD connections: VIDEO

 
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JoeTheBartender

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My spidey senses were tingling.

Yes indeed vendors are ramping up their offerings with TC ports but this is really and chicken or egg philosophical question. Are they doing TC ports because they are inherently better for a 10 gallon homebrew pot or because people are just buying them because the big brewers do it and they want to be cool?

I have to be careful that I don't piss off some manufacturers that I don't want to piss off but let's just say that I find a 10 gallon kettle with full size TC butterfly valves all over the place to be the equivalent of 24" spinner wheels on a Honda Civic. That's not a compliment by the way.

I recorded this overview video 3 years ago but I still stand by everything I said in it. The video covers a lot more than disconnects but this link will take you to about the 13 minute mark where I talk about hose/QD connections: VIDEO

Wow very cool. I'll check it out!
 

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I have experience with all three types of fittings. I use QD's on my eBIAB indoor system. I have a 3 vessel system that uses Tri Clamps. I also brew with friends that use Camlocks on their 3 vessel system.

All three have their quirks...

QD's can be operated one handed but when you have hot wort running through them you have to use gloves which makes attaching a hose cumbersome since it seems the glove gets caught between the male and female end most of the time.

Tri Clamps are pretty straight forward but it takes practice to position the clamp so the tightening nut is not in the way of valves etc. There are also separate parts such as the gasket and clamp part so you have to be organized so you are not losing gaskets etc.

Camlocks drive me crazy, but I'm in the minority with my brewing friends who love them. I have the least experience with them but it just seems counter intuitive that the arms have to be forward before inserting the female end into the male end. My friend who runs the rig the most does it in his sleep. One advantage of Camlocks is they are usually the cheapest option. My friend uses them everywhere in his brewery. Garden hose fittings make it easy to attach to the chiller or rinse out pumps etc.

The one thing I can say is that all three work well for quickly disconnecting hoses, don't leak etc. All are easy to keep clean and since this is the hot side of the brewery you don't have to worry about them being completely sanitary.
 

jddevinn

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My NPT style ball valves always get gunk around the ball that needs cleaning every 3 brewers or so while the tri-clamp valves only need cleaning once a year.
 

FloppyKnockers

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My NPT style ball valves always get gunk around the ball that needs cleaning every 3 brewers or so while the tri-clamp valves only need cleaning once a year.
Mine used to get gunk in them too. I hit the easy button on this. My set-up is fairly simple, but my gunk-free method can work for anybody. After the cleaning is done I run hot water through my system to rinse out the CF chiller, pump, and hoses for 5 -10 minutes. After my rinsing is done, I drain as much of the water as I can. As I disconnect the hoses, there is still some water in the lines so I have an old extract bucket I use to catch the water and then put the business end of the hose in. As I go by, I disconnect, catch water, drop fitting end in. By the time all of my hoses are disconnected, the fittings are in the bucket submerged in hot water. I leave them here while I finish cleaning up.

Since doing this I have not had one gunked up connection. The only caveat is you have to have the female fitting on all your hoses.
 

eric19312

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I've been using camlocks for years based on @Bobby_M 's video and have been very happy with them. Then I got a conical with all tri-clamp. After that a Stout counterflow chiller which is also tri-clamp. So now I've got a bit of a mix. As far as I can tell I've never had sanitation issues that could be linked to my hot side ball valves and cam locks and they are cheaper and easier to use than tri-clamps.
 

Genuine

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I’m currently starting a 20 gallon kettle build where I want to install a TC port for my element but I have cam locks for all of my hoses. I haven’t had an issue with any of the cam locks, I think they’re great and easy to clean and something about them that’s so satisfying when you lock them in.
 

jddevinn

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Mine used to get gunk in them too. I hit the easy button on this. My set-up is fairly simple, but my gunk-free method can work for anybody.
"Crud" that I'm talking about gets behind the gasket and around the ball on the valve. I haven't had success cleaning this with a PBW or acid recirculation, every once in a while I just need to pull the NPT valves.

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pvpeacock

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To easily clean ball valves and remove that crud, try these: 1/2" NPT Quick Clean Ball Valve from Brewers Hardware They come in a variety of configurations.
Ball Valve 2.jpg

After three infections I traced to my brew kettle ball valve, I bought one of these and added a camlock fitting to the end. When I clean my brew kettle, it is easy to quickly disassemble, clean and reassemble the ball valve.
 

Bobby_M

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"Crud" that I'm talking about gets behind the gasket and around the ball on the valve. I haven't had success cleaning this with a PBW or acid recirculation, every once in a while I just need to pull the NPT valves.

View attachment 707101
Don't forget that in order for a CIP process to work on the valves is that they have to be put in the half closed position to allow flow behind the seats. Actually, the best is when you occasionally cycle the valves open and closed because it surges flow in.
 

augiedoggy

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I use triclamps at the brewery and also at home for the sanitary conical fittings only. I use camlocks everywhere else at home.
 

jddevinn

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Don't forget that in order for a CIP process to work on the valves is that they have to be put in the half closed position to allow flow behind the seats. Actually, the best is when you occasionally cycle the valves open and closed because it surges flow in.
Yea, I would open close, reverse flow etcetera. Not a big deal to pull them apart every month or so, but if I did it again I would use triclamps on the brew kettle and on the heating elements.
 

augiedoggy

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Yea, I would open close, reverse flow etcetera. Not a big deal to pull them apart every month or so, but if I did it again I would use triclamps on the brew kettle and on the heating elements.
By tri clamps you mean sanitary butterfy valves right? because there is a difference.. Ive used plenty of triclamp ended ball valves which are just as non sanitary as any other ball valve. There are exceptions to the rule but personally I think splurging for sanitary triclamps and then still using ball valves defeats the purpose of the triclamps being sanitary.. Having said that I use all sorts of 3 way and 2 way ball valves in my home brewing setup with cip and actuate then while cleaning.. I agree they still have to be pulled apart from time to time and have the ball removed to clean properly in most cases.
 

jddevinn

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By tri clamps you mean sanitary butterfy valves right?
Yes that is what I meant.
There are exceptions to the rule but personally I think splurging for sanitary triclamps and then still using ball valves defeats the purpose of the triclamps being sanitary
I wouldn't go through the effort of using triclamps on a ball valve either.

They don't have to be cleaned enough that I've done anything about them.... but if I was building again I would use triclamp butterflies on just the boil kettle. As well as tri clamps on both heating elements.
 

augiedoggy

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Let Me put it this way... I cleaned mine by actuating the ball valves back and forth while pumping hot pbw through and I didnt take mine apart for about 3 years... when I finally did I realized how disgusting it still got inside behind the ball.
 
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