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Messages - krazykraut

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Pimp My System / Re: Brewnhilda's maiden voyage
« on: April 05, 2011, 03:24:39 PM »
I see a lot of people (well, "a lot" not really I guess...) doing these sorts of systems and I have to wonder, do you all have ME/EE degrees or something? I have a Physics background which meant a lot of lab work, but I think I'd probably shock myself or blow myself up if I was trying to mess with all this stuff. You're using solenoids for the gas control on the burners, right? I would love to build a system like this, but have no idea where to start (parts lists are helpful if you know where to get them)...

Well, it is a lot of trial and error, for sure. But if you have a healthy respect for the powers of electricity and gas, chances are you won't blow yourself up. You need to be aware of the inherent dangers in doing something like this, but IMO the reward of having such a system that you built yourself outweigh everything.

As for parts lists: it's tricky, since everybody has a different idea what their system should be like. I work as a software engineer from home, so I have a lot of time browsing the forums and piecing together information. Some people have attempted complete write-ups, but I found I picked only bits and pieces that fit my idea of the ideal rig. Electric or gas, portable, stationary, low pressure, high pressure, NG, fully automated, bare bones, PID controllers or computer, pilots or electric ignition, the list is endless. I know it's daunting.

I think I will write up some of the design decisions, together with what I would do differently, but my brew pipeline is empty, so filling up my keezer comes first ;-) I'll post here when I'm ready.

As for the skills needed: if you don't have the welding abilities, outsource. There's plenty of good welders out there, find someone with references and check them out. I had a horrible time with the first guy: unreliable, not really great with stainless and dishonest about his work. My stand turned out pretty crooked, and i didn't even trust his word about pressure testing the gas beam, so I had that re-done. The stand alone ended being over $1K, which in hindsight is horrible, but I had to throw good money after bad. So yeah, check out your fabricators.

The electric side I had no problems with. The BrewTroller is not for the faint of heart, but the guys on the forum are very helpful and forthcoming. I have half an EE degree and remember receiving a soldering iron for my ninth birthday, so yeah, I would say, that was the easy part. I did the wiring diagrams in my head. Get  help if you don't feel comfortable. You can wait with the high voltage stuff until you're ready with all the other wiring and dry-run the solenoids, sensors etc. until you feel comfortable, then enlist the help of someone with electrical knowledge to hook up the rest. No risk of electrocution there.

The gas side I was most afraid of, but it turned out to be fairly straightforward. Be diligent, read all the manuals that come  with the valves and pilots, and check for leaks with soapy water.

It costs a lot of money, for sure. I'm afraid to tally it all up, and not just the big ticket items like valves and burners, but also the small stuff. It's a serious obsession, not just a hobby.
And if it blows up, don't blame me.

- Fabian

Pimp My System / Re: Brewnhilda's maiden voyage
« on: April 04, 2011, 06:01:30 PM »
Hey Denny, thanks. We actually met in person, at the Oakshire hosted Learn to Home Brew Day last year. Give me a shout when you're up in Portland and I'll give you a tour.

- Fabian

Pimp My System / Brewnhilda's maiden voyage
« on: April 04, 2011, 05:48:29 PM »
Hi all,

I've been lurking here for a while, and thought now is the time to share a few pics of my brand new rig. I just got into brewing two years ago, and the obsession has reached dangerous levels. Thanksfully, my wife is very understanding, and lets me have complete control over the basement. In return, she got the naming rights, and we went with a misspelled Valkyrie, Brewnhilda.

I built this stand over the last five months, based on many different ideas, mostly from this forum, the Brewtroller forums and HBT.
At the heart of the system is the BrewTroller The heating consists of three Banjo burners converted to low pressure propane, with the gas controlled via Honeywell valves and standing pilots for safety. Two pumps do the heavy lifting. I wanted the stand to be somewhat portable, for club brews and driveway parties. The stand itself is made from 1.5in stainless square tubing. My first welder didn't have much experience with that, and it came out pretty crooked, but I found a new guy who does marvellous work - he fabricated the other bits and pieces, and welded my kegs very nicely. Highly recommended!

The design is an indirect fired HERMS, with 35 ft of SS coil submerged in the HLT and the recirculation pump controlled by the BrewTroller. I may switch to 50 ft 1/2 tubing to improve the heat exchange rate, and be able to do step mashes. My test run showed that the HERMS can keep a 5 gal batch at mash temp ok, but raising temps for mashout is fairly slow.

Everything else should be in the pictures, if you have questions, just ask!

Pump mounts and drip shield. Also, bleeder valves.

Chillzilla, with SS QD's for wort, and garden hose QD's for chill water. I can also pump ice water from the HLT through the chiller to get to lager temps, with a different hose.

The control panel. BrewTroller rocks!

The temp sensor heat shield and sensor cable. M8 3-pin connector for quick disassembly. All sensors are on the same bus.

Honeywell valves with drip/heat shield. On the next stand I will redesign the gas manifold to have the outlets horizontally, this way the valves will be farther away from the burners and space used better.

HLT and brew dog nose.

A handy little water manifold and filter mount. One RV grade hose does it all.

Daisy the brew dog. She loves sweet wort,and even a handful of spent grains. No hops, of course!

Thanks again to everyone who helped with advice, parts and knowledge. Special thanks to my wife for the "basement time", and to my brew buddy David, who introduced me to brewing in the first place.

- Fabian

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