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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: dllipe on July 15, 2011, 04:10:04 PM

Title: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: dllipe on July 15, 2011, 04:10:04 PM
I am purchasing a 40qt pot today which will allow me to make the jump from extract to all-grain and I'm pretty pumped about it.  I've already converted a cooler into a mash tun.  I'm wanting to hear some feedback on whether or not to get a thermometer and ball valve installed now.  I figure in the future it would come in handy for transfering/filtering/cooling into primary or using it as a mash tun for multi step mashing.

I'd like to hear some thoughts on this.

Cheers
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: Jimmy K on July 15, 2011, 04:18:29 PM
I love having a valve.  There are weldless bulkheads that are pretty easy to install. I got mine from www.bargainfittings.com which has good prices and configuration options.

To me, a thermometer on the kettle is a luxury. I don't have one. Just heat to boiling and keep it at a roll, don't need a thermometer for that.  But this depends more on your wallet.
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: richardt on July 15, 2011, 04:20:48 PM
Yes.  Buy a SS ball valve spigot (weldless) and a step drill bit online and do it yourself.  There's a thread already on here from last year about it.  Don't siphon.

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=1079.15 (http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=1079.15)

Having used both a 10 gallon round cooler and a 20.5 gallon rectangular cooler as a mash tun, I can highly recommend using the rectangular cooler to improve lautering.  Reason:  your grain bed width will exceed the grain bed height (and suffer less grain bed compaction)--this is not the case in high-gravity or 10 gallon batches done in a 10 gallon round igloo cooler.  Using a rectangular cooler makes lautering a breeze regardless of your batch size or gravity.
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: mabrungard on July 15, 2011, 06:34:17 PM
Unless you're mashing in that kettle, there is no need for a thermometer.  A valve is a nice addition. 
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: euge on July 15, 2011, 06:46:01 PM
Unless you're mashing in that kettle, there is no need for a thermometer.  A valve is a nice addition. 

It may not be necessary but very useful when heating up strike water and chilling.
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: Kit B on July 15, 2011, 07:11:49 PM
Yep...Buy a weldless valve kit.
But, I'd recommend getting a thermometer that you can use in both the kettle & the tun.
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: richardt on July 15, 2011, 07:31:53 PM
Unless you're mashing in that kettle, there is no need for a thermometer.  A valve is a nice addition. 
It may not be necessary but very useful when heating up strike water and chilling.

Both answers, though different, are correct.  If you had to chose one item to buy, then buy the valve and use a hand-held thermometer to determine the temp of the water or wort.  However, Euge and I use the BK to heat up the strike water as well as to boil and chill the wort.  It is nice to know the temps, and it avoids the risk of scalding your hand during heating or infecting the chilled wort by introducing the temp probe.  If you can, I'd get both.
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: Will's Swill on July 15, 2011, 11:43:24 PM
+1

My kettles do double duty as boilers and HLTs and while I have, and love, my ball valves, I do occasionally envy those that have thermometers as well.  Less so now that I'm using a remote probe thermometer, but it would still be a nice luxury.  The only thing I would worry about is hitting the thermometer probe when stirring...
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: cenosillica on July 22, 2011, 03:31:28 PM
I have a couple of thoughts on this after having purchased a keggle with valve and thermometer built into it (NOTE: I use it for my mash ton).

1. The thermometer was positioned right above the valve, I dam near melted the thing while I had a flame under the keggle. I have since pulled it and replaced with a $16 Wallmart wireless thermometer. I also spot check with another thermometer to be sure my mash is evenly heated and I'm getting correct readings.

2. The valve, like the thermometer also has issues when I have the flame on high. The valve handle, which has a rubber coating, tends to melt fairly easily. I've played with the flame (using a banjo burner) but have a hard time. I believe this problem can be solved by getting the burner closer to the bottom of the keggle. The banjo burner currently sits about 7-8 inches below the bottom of the keggle... lots of heat loss. The other option would be to extend the valve out further from the side of the keggle so that it is not under or close to the direct heat.

Like others have said, the valve is far more valuable to me than the thermometer. If I could do it over again, I would have skipped the thermometer.
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: dllipe on July 22, 2011, 04:45:28 PM
Thanks for the responses.  They were all valuable.  I went ahead and bought it plain knowing what I need going forward to install my own valve when needed and when I fell comfortable drilling into a new ss kettle.
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: Kit B on July 26, 2011, 08:41:48 PM
I was terrified of drilling my kettles, but it went well & was very easy.
Some tips I have for drilling...Go slow. Let the bit do the work. Use lube.

Tip for the valve...
The fist time the rubber coating starts to melt or burn, take a putty knife & scrape that rubber right off.
Then, make sure to use an 'ov-glove' or oven mitt to open & close the valve.
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: euge on July 26, 2011, 09:32:33 PM
I was terrified of drilling my kettles, but it went well & was very easy.
Some tips I have for drilling...Go slow. Let the bit do the work. Use lube.

Tip for the valve...
The fist time the rubber coating starts to melt or burn, take a putty knife & scrape that rubber right off.
Then, make sure to use an 'ov-glove' or oven mitt to open & close the valve.


I did "test" runs with water and they all (weldless) needed a bit tightening when first brought up to temps. My advice is to NOT take them off for cleaning but leave them be once they are set.

Drilling is easy and on my aluminum I didn't need lube. That step bit cuts through it like butter.
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: richardt on July 26, 2011, 11:57:33 PM
I don't have the problem of the rubber sleeve burning off the spigot handle on my 20 gallon SS BK, but I can see why smaller diameter BK's might have that problem. 

I've seen some veteran brewers use aluminum foil as a heat shield around the spigot and/or thermometer. 
Some just place it between the burner rack and the bottom of the kettle just under the spigot (usually gets burned up by the end of the boil (kind of like a sacrificial shield), while others sort of crimp one end around the spigot bulkhead and make a funnel around the spigot and handle. 
The same could be done for the thermometer housing. 
You could also consider slightly eccentric placement of the BK on the banjo burner so that the spigot is furthest away from the center of the burner--not a lot, maybe an inch or two, depending on the kettle.
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: micsager on July 27, 2011, 03:05:42 PM
I love having a valve.  There are weldless bulkheads that are pretty easy to install. I got mine from www.bargainfittings.com which has good prices and configuration options.

To me, a thermometer on the kettle is a luxury. I don't have one. Just heat to boiling and keep it at a roll, don't need a thermometer for that.  But this depends more on your wallet.

+1 on that budyy.  I have a thermometer on my boil kettle, and for the life me, I don't know why.  I never use it. 
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: Jimmy K on July 27, 2011, 03:24:21 PM
I was terrified of drilling my kettles, but it went well & was very easy.
Some tips I have for drilling...Go slow. Let the bit do the work. Use lube.

Tip for the valve...
The fist time the rubber coating starts to melt or burn, take a putty knife & scrape that rubber right off.
Then, make sure to use an 'ov-glove' or oven mitt to open & close the valve.


Or turn your burner down. If your melting valve handles and termometers on the sides of your kettle, then you're just wasting gas. Heat under the pot boils wort. Heat going up the sides of the pot does nothing.
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: beer_crafter on July 27, 2011, 03:50:34 PM
Ball valve is very useful.  I use an IC so I need to know when I am done chilling, so I've recently installed a weldless thermometer. 
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: Kit B on July 27, 2011, 03:52:00 PM

Or turn your burner down. If your melting valve handles and termometers on the sides of your kettle, then you're just wasting gas. Heat under the pot boils wort. Heat going up the sides of the pot does nothing.

You'll still want hand protection...That sucker gets hot, either way.
Title: Re: ball valuve and thermometer on new kettle
Post by: gimmeales on July 28, 2011, 06:32:04 PM
+1 on that budyy.  I have a thermometer on my boil kettle, and for the life me, I don't know why.  I never use it. 

I wonder if this is a function of the type of chiller and\or kettle used?  With a standard kettle, your average probe-style brewing thermometer has the bracket for mounting on the lip of the kettle - this is rendered useless on a converted keg whose opening doesn't have a vertically-oriented mounting point.  Also, if you have a therminator or other chiller that shows the temperature of wort exiting the kettle, I can see not needing a kettle mounted one, but with an immersion chiller, it's sure nice to quickly glance at that big dial, without having to find your probe, sanitize, insert, and wait for a reading while running through your end-of-brew process.

Having a keggle, I personally can't wait to install a thermometer