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Weldless Bulkhead Success Rate Poll

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Please select your experience with weldless bulkheads

  • Cooler - Installed and never leaked

  • Cooler - Leaked initially but I got it to seal (note how)

  • Cooler - Sealed intially but started leaking after months of use

  • Cooler - Never got it to seal, gave up.

  • Metal Vessel - Installed and never leaked

  • Metal Vessel - Leaked initially but I got it to seal (note how)

  • Metal Vessel - Sealed intially but started leaking after months of use

  • Metal Vessel - Never got it to seal, gave up.


Results are only viewable after voting.

Bobby_M

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I've found that I'm not alone in thinking the current state of home brew bulkhead solutions is seriously lacking. I'd even go as far as saying that the collection of spare parts that currently pass for bulkheads is seriousy jury-rigged.

IMHO, the fatal flaw in the design is the fact that the interior oring sits on the nipples threads which cannot be sealed properly without extra work.

A lot of the successes I've heard included either changing from an Oring to a flat silicone washer of some sort and/or wrapping the nipple's threads with half a roll of teflon tape to fill in those valleys.

Anyway, the point of this poll is to gauge the initial and long term success of these bulkheads as they apply to both metal vessels and cooler conversions.
 

flyangler18

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I replied to your last thread, so I'll repost here.

Assembled from spare parts, my weldless fitting has served me for over 20+ batches with nary a leak on a 5 gallon MLT.
 

missing link

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In a cooler the weldless fitting gives me fits, on a keggle not one issue in over 1 year of use. The secret does seem to be the larger nut with the groove machined in it to help squish the o-ring into the threads. I have not had to add any extra teflon tape.

Linc
 

usurpers26

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No offense to those who do have leaky weldless fittings - but it has to be due to the install more than anything else.

I have 3 keggles, 3 bulkheads and 2 sightglasses - all weldless - none have ever leaked (around a year old). All holes were done with a step-bit. Same hardware as you get from bargainfittings.

Edit:
Forgot a cooler MLT as well - no leaks...
 

slimer

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I never used the interior O-Ring on my Cooler. I just reused the rubber gasket that originally was in the cooler as the sealer on the inside. I have had no problems whatsoever.
 

mmb

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Cooler - Leaked initially but I got it to seal (note how)

I didn't get a "packaged" cooler set, but instead built one from spare parts. Tightened too tight and had a leak. Reassembled and works without an issue.
 

nostalgia

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I never used the interior O-Ring on my Cooler. I just reused the rubber gasket that originally was in the cooler as the sealer on the inside. I have had no problems whatsoever.
This is how I fixed mine, too. The original o-rings leaked and leaked and leaked.

I also wonder how many leaks are being masked by the o-ring on the OUTSIDE of the fitting? My guess would be a non-trivial percentage. For a metal pot it doesn't matter, but for a cooler with an inside and outside wall, this is important. Only the inner o-ring should be a sealing surface.

-Joe
 

Hugh_Jass

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I have used two weldless fittings, both on coolers. One did not leak at all in many batches. The other...well it needs some work. They both were constructed exactly the same.

I just changed out brass weldless bulkheads for welded coupling on some keggles. Each keggle was less than $50 to outfit with ss coupler/half couplers, ball valve, sight tube(chemfluor fep tube) and fittings.

For me, the welded fittings are both insurance against leaks and were economical.
 

Ryan_PA

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I have never had anything but great experiences with weldless bulkheads. Both home made and store bought. I really never entertained the debates because I just assume there was some sort of user error. I have used at least 7 weldless items, and have never had a single drop of liquid (aside from the zymico thermothingy at the thermometer probe point - later resolved with home ingenuity).
 

Anthony_Lopez

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Installed and Initially leaked. I took the grommet that came with the cooler and put it on the outside of the 10 gallon round igloo and it stopped leaking immediately. It hasn't leaked in over 10 all grain sessions...
 
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Bobby_M

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I guess it's arguable but I'd think a good design would make user error less likely. For sure drilling the hole sloppy or too large is out of the supplier's hands. This is probably a significant source of failure. Maybe I'm just entertaining my own pet peeve here but if packing the threads with teflon tape under the oring is how to stop leaks, I would be more likely to fill them in with JBweld. If user error is "you didn't use enough tape", I'll just disagree there.

If you stopped a leak by putting any kind of seal on the OUTSIDE of the cooler, you're going to puke when if you ever remove the setup. The insulation in between the two walls is likely soaked with rotting wort.
 

p4ck37p1mp

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Cooler - Leaked initially but I got it to seal (note how)

I tried to jury rig mine first time around, it worked so long as you didn't jiggle anything around the bulkhead fittings. I needed to add a temp probe so I redid the entire thing, using longer nipple to not have threads near the o-ring. I got a fairly fat diameter o-ring and use a stack of washers to compress it on both sides of the bulkhead, no leaks now. Never had issues on my metal vessels at all.
 

iamjonsharp

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Have a couple rectangular coolers and an aluminum kettle with weldless fittings. All use valves with threaded nipples and rounded orings. Never had any troubles with leaking...
 

planenut

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I fought both my cooler and my cabela's pot last weekend.

FWIW, the cooler worked fine with my 3/8 valve and stainless braid via flyguys MLT instructions but I wanted to upgrade to a 1/2 valve and false bottom. Now I wish I had left it alone. The problem seemed to be the Igloo factory grommet. I could not get it to go around the threads and still fit the hole with the larger 1/2 threads. I eventually enlarged the hole so that I could use the grommet and the leak stopped.

I used a step bit and drilled holes in my Cablela's 15 gallon stainless pot. I may still have an occasional drop from where the spigot mates to the threads as it makes contact with the nut before the threads are very tight. Maybe another oring to seal against the nut instead of relying on the teflon tape would help. There just isn't enough threads left to attach both properly. I plan on having the nipple welded in and reassembling.

I also got a weldless sightglass/thermometer set from NB and was able to eventually able to stop the leaks at the bulkhead but it continues to leak where the plug is for the thermometer. It was worse when it started and I had to re apply the teflon tape that NB had already installed and tightened.. I can't figure that one out, maybe they didn't have enough wraps. It was tight and wrapped but continued to leak. It also took two times removing and reinstalling the tube to stop it from leaking there. I ended up using teflon tape on it as well as the ferrel on the tube. Orings may be superior to the Ferrell.

Sorry guys, I thought weldless would be fine for me but I don't seem to be having any luck..
 

avaserfi

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I went to the store picked up things that looked like they would work after glancing at flyangler's thread and didn't have a leak in my 10 gallon cooler.
 

Lil' Sparky

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Every one of mine initially leaked at the metal-metal contact points, e.g. ball valve/washer. In every case, using some teflon table between that contact point fixed the problem.
 

brewt00l

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Zymico bulkhead on a 10g depot beverage cooler, no leaks over a year+ in service
DIY parts weldless bulkhead on my kettle and no leaks over the last 4 batches
 

wildwest450

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2 kettles and a cooler, cooler had a very small leak that disappeared after the first use.

The kettles never leaked a drop.
 

springer

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The cooler never leaked from the start but I just added a sight glass from BobbyM (great set up by the way) to both my keggle and a HLT ( keg ) and I did both as weldless the first one went well it didn't leak at all the second one leaked a little but I just added a larger o ring and it stopped.


I also added a weldless spigot to the HLT from bargainfittings and it didn't leak at all.
 
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Wildwest that's the greatest avatar ever.

I had the one on my cooler leak but the one on my kettle didn't. I found that soldering or welding the inside washer to the fitting solves the problem by creating just one sealing point that the silicone o-ring fills fine. If you have the washer loose, then the liquid seeps through the threads unless you tape it up. Having the inner fitting be 1-piece prevents the liquid from having any path out except through the o-ring. It also prevent the o-ring form twisting out when it is tightened.

The problem as I see it with using a real bulkhead is that you have to drill such a large hole. Such a large diameter hole is probably not a big deal in a cooler that has a flat wall, but will cause its own problems in all but the largest of vessels.
 
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Bobby_M

Bobby_M

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I'm glad I posted this because it definitely changed my impression of how failure-prone the configuration ISN'T. Certainly at this price point and success rate, I can see why it has become the defacto standard. It's obvious that there are little nuance instances where a different washer is needed but for the most part, it works.

I still stand behind the post in my sig "bulkhead design" in that if you can keep the inner oring or washer sitting on the flat of the nipple, you should have 100% success rate. Derrin also has a great point about attaching the washer to the nipple. It's ideal but many people wouldn't go through the trouble.
 

janzik

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1 cooler, 1 keg, both with weldless. Keg also has a sight glass and a thermometer and none of them leak.
 

GilaMinumBeer

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Metal Vessel - Sealed sporadically.

I gave up! And went strictly welded fittings ala manufactered system.

Sometimes my old weldless system work stay nice and dry until things warmed up, other times they'd leak like crazy while they were cold. It didn;t make any sense and I replaced many an O-ring.

The final solution was to ditch the weldless altogether.
 

Catt22

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IMO, the weldless bulkhead fittings work well so long as the wall thickness of the cooler or kettle is taken into consideration. I suggest avoiding the use of close nipples that are threaded all the way with no unthreaded section in the center. The length of the nipples will vary depending on the wall thickness of the vessel. You want the O-Ring to seat on the smooth section and on the insider of the cooler or kettle. Use extra washers behind the O-Ring to take up any slack if necessary. Do not over-tighten the back nut. Snug is usually enough. Let the seal do it's job. This prevents squishing the O-ring. A grooved back nut can also be obtained and these work very well to capture the O-ring and it prevent over-tightening. It is important to use the proper size of O-ring. No O-ring is wanted or needed on the outside of the vessel. It is good practice to use a washer on the outside to distribute the forces, but not absolutely necessary. I have both a cooler and a kettle equipped with DIY weldless fittings and zero leaks or problems. No teflon tape or sealants should be necessary. I vote it's user error in most instances.
 
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I wish I had a better picture, but this is a weldless fitting I made for my last brewery. This design never leaked. The outside washer is soldered to the fitting. The sealing o-ring was outside the kettle in this case.

 

bradjoiner

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you know mine leaks a little on both my cooler and my keggle but i have never found either to be much of a problem i doubt i have ever leaked more than about a half a cup during the brewing prosess. i spill way more beer during a drunk night out at the bar than that
 

HomebrewJeff

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I've had a two different coolers, a keg, and a 30qt aluminum pot. All with weldless fittings, using a ball valve and various fittings (orings, close nipple, etc), and no leaks. I've also got a thermometer and more recently the electric elements. Again all with weldless fittings and no leaks. I do use teflon tape on any of the threaded fittings.
 

Bernie Brewer

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I have weldless fittings on both my keggle and my HLT. The directions that came with the kit said that you can't over-tighten them, so I reefed on those bad boys as hard as I could. It's been years now with absolutely no issues.
 

Coastarine

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I voted "Metal Vessel - Leaked initially but I got it to seal." I was trying to use teflon goo but found that it was not equivalent to teflon tape.

If I could have voted for two, I would have also put "Cooler - Installed and never leaked"
 

TwoHeadsBrewing

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Weldless has worked fine on both my 10g cooler and 3 different keggles. In my opinion, if you get leaks it's becuase:

a) you didn't drill the hole properly, or clean up the edges
b) you didn't use teflon tape on the theads
c) the supplier didn't supply the right O-rings/washers with your part (never had this happen)

I've bought a weldless fitting from home depot, just brass parts put together on my own. This worked great, no leaks. I've also bought one from morebeer.com, and again no problems. And just lately I ordered a SS weldless ball valve from bargainfittings.com and this was the cheapest and best of all (?!). The only time it leaked was when I didn't tighten one all the way. One quarter turn and all was fixed. I know some people have friends that can weld, but I don't and it would cost me 20+ bucks to get a coupling put in. Instead I just bought a $12 7/8" drill bit from Lowe's and a $20 weldless fitting. Works for me!
 
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I never used any from a HBS. On 2 kegs they are jury rigged pieces I made up myself (PITA) and one is from a place called century vallen in Canada. It was brass though. It was an actual "bulkhead fitting" and it worked great.

As far as SS goes I don't think they had any, either that or they were an arm and a leg in cost. CV changed to a min charge on cash orders of $100 and might have gotten rid of cash (no account) orders all together.

Yes, I admit it, I have dissimilar metals! BWAHAHHAHHAHHHA
 

BargainFittings

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I've converted a lot of pots, kegs and coolers. I've both drilled and used the preexisting holes in coolers.

Lots of good suggestions exist here and TwoHeadsBrewing touched on the most likely causes.

I suggest that people under drill the hole and keep testing the fitting until it just barely threads in. Easier to grind the hole bigger than to fill in a gap with Teflon tape.

I've only had a couple issues with drips and always fixed it fairly fast by either tightening the locknut or ensuring the oring is seated behind the washer/locknut.
 

Homercidal

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I installed a bulkhead fitting into my cooler and got it to work when I got the right combinations of parts to make it fit snug, but not too tight. Last time I tried, I had to bakc off just a bit and then the leak stopped.

I blame crappy Bulkhead fitting. It was designed to fit a much narrower gap than the cooler thickness. The threads were just to short for the nut to fit properly and provide a snug fit. I use a SS nipple and finally drilled a couple of washers to fit and got it just right.

If I had to do another one, I'd find a chunk of brass and build my own bulkhead fitting long enough to fit a nut and with a groove for the O-ring so it doesn't squish out. THat should make it simple and foolproof.

I looked and looked, but could not find a bulkhead fitting that was the right diameter and long enough.
 

beach

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The weldless fittings on my aluminum HLT sealed just fine. My cooler/ MLT however took bobby m's method along with silicone washers cut from a pie pan to seal the deal.
 
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