Author Topic: Mash tun frustration  (Read 9882 times)

Offline erockrph

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Mash tun frustration
« on: June 26, 2012, 07:05:40 PM »
So I'm just about ready to start brewing some all-grain batches. There is a 5-gallon Rubbermaid jug cooler at Home Depot for $20 that has been calling my name for a while. I came across a mash tun design online using this cooler and included the exact parts list from Home Depot, so I decided that it was time to make the plunge.

I put everything together tonight. I noticed that some of the parts didn't fit as well as I expected, but eventually I was able to get everything fairly snug. I put in about 2 gallons of water and put a couple of paper towels under the spigot. A half hour later the towels were slightly damp, so I cinched everything down tighter and tried again. This time I saw the leak start almost immediately.

So I started disassembling the spigot and noticed that the O-ring was a hair smaller than the gasket opening. I'm 99% sure that this is where the leak is coming from. I took another look at the website I got the plans from. It turns out that this Home Depot Rubbermaid cooler is a newer/slightly different model! *GROAN*

I'm pretty sure if I used 1/2" fittings instead of 3/8", everything should be OK. Of course now I have to hope I can return everything (a couple of the fittings are scratched since I don't have a proper pipe wrench). My easy mash tun on-the-cheap is starting to look not so easy or cheap anymore. I'm really this isn't going to turn into one of those several week-long projects punctuated by several trips to Home Depot.
Eric B.

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Offline davidgzach

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Re: Mash tun frustration
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2012, 04:49:45 AM »
Pick up some of this while you are at Home Depot.  http://jbweld.net/products/water.php

It's non-toxic, water safe, and good to 300F.  It's worked great for me.

Dave
Dave Zach

Offline ccfoo242

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Re: Mash tun frustration
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2012, 06:22:04 AM »
And copious amounts of Teflon pipe thread tape.

Sent from the future...
« Last Edit: June 27, 2012, 06:23:56 AM by ccfoo242 »

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Offline erockrph

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Re: Mash tun frustration
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2012, 07:26:55 AM »
Pick up some of this while you are at Home Depot.  http://jbweld.net/products/water.php

It's non-toxic, water safe, and good to 300F.  It's worked great for me.

Dave

The only product I'm finding is the epoxy stick. Is this like a glue stick? Is there a way to squeeze this into a tight spot to fill a gap?
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer

Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: Mash tun frustration
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2012, 08:52:31 AM »
What is your batch size? 5-gal seems like a lot of hassle (unless you're forced to brew small).

Can't go wrong with Denny's model, IMO:

www.dennybrew.com
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Offline richardt

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Re: Mash tun frustration
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2012, 08:58:23 AM »
What batch size do you plan to brew?
A 5 gallon round Igloo or Rubbermaid will work as long as your batch size is under 5 gallons and/or your OG is not too high.
Grain bed compaction (and slow lautering) is an issue once your grain bed height exceeds the width.

I've used 10 gallon round Rubbermaid coolers--I've since made the switch to rectangular coolers.
I suggest you skip the "learning process" and go straight to the rectangular coolers.


Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Mash tun frustration
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2012, 09:10:33 AM »
A mini-keg bung should fit the opening in the cooler just fine.

You can push a copper line through it and it should be snug and water tight.

If you want to keep the ball valve, a compression fitting on the end of the pipe should allow you to do so.

At least, this is my plan with the cooler I have, which I have not yet completely converted...
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline erockrph

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Re: Mash tun frustration
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2012, 09:12:40 AM »
I'm constrained to my kitchen stove (ceramic top, and not too powerful), so I can only realistically manage a 3.5-4 gallon pre-boil volume. I enjoy doing smaller batches since I only drink maybe 5-10 beers a week. A 5-gallon cooler is really perfect for doing 3-gallon batches. I really don't mind dropping down to 2-gallon batches either for high-gravity brews.

Frankly, I'm not worried about lautering or even sparging at this point. I plan on doing a modified BIAB for most of my AG brews. I'm just using the cooler to maintain my mash temp, then running the full volume off into my brew kettle. I can then hang the bag a bit off the floor of the cooler to let it drain fully while I start my boil. I'm not even planning on putting the braid or a false bottom in the cooler. I'm just going to line it with a 5-gallon paint strainer bag. The only modification I'm trying to do right now is replacing the spigot with a ball valve.
Eric B.

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Offline erockrph

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Re: Mash tun frustration
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2012, 09:18:15 AM »
A mini-keg bung should fit the opening in the cooler just fine.

You can push a copper line through it and it should be snug and water tight.

If you want to keep the ball valve, a compression fitting on the end of the pipe should allow you to do so.

At least, this is my plan with the cooler I have, which I have not yet completely converted...

This is probably my final fallback. James from Basic Brewing did something similar with his 2-gallon Igloo cooler that he uses for mini-batches. I might also just try running a brass nipple through the bunghole (heh heh - put the nipple in the bunghole) and connecting the ball valve to that.
Eric B.

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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Mash tun frustration
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2012, 09:22:17 AM »
A mini-keg bung should fit the opening in the cooler just fine.

You can push a copper line through it and it should be snug and water tight.

If you want to keep the ball valve, a compression fitting on the end of the pipe should allow you to do so.

At least, this is my plan with the cooler I have, which I have not yet completely converted...

This is probably my final fallback. James from Basic Brewing did something similar with his 2-gallon Igloo cooler that he uses for mini-batches. I might also just try running a brass nipple through the bunghole (heh heh - put the nipple in the bunghole) and connecting the ball valve to that.

If you mean putting a brass nipple through the mini-keg bung, the opening is pretty small.  I want to say it's a half inch, so your nipple would be getting restrictive.  Certainly a 3/8 nipple will not fit, at least IMO.

A barbed fitting might work, especially since you don't want to attach anything on the inside.  I use barbed fittings for my mini-keg taps and they're ideal for that application.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline bigchicken

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Re: Mash tun frustration
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2012, 04:36:32 PM »
The JB Weld product looks promising. I use aquarium silicone that is food safe. It does an ok job.
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Offline tubercle

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Re: Mash tun frustration
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2012, 05:10:44 PM »
If you take it back and get something else....

I know you're thinking small now but you never know what the future holds. Think carefully and decide exactly what size you need....then at least double it. You can do small batches in a large tun but not the other way around.

 Equipment wise, larger now saves many, many $$$$ down the road. You can up-size now for just a few percentage points but duplicating equipment later is twice as expensive.

You can hold off on your thanks and praise to The Tubercle for a few years.

Time will tell.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Mash tun frustration
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2012, 05:34:20 PM »
I appreciate the advice Tubercle. I may well be saying "he told me so" in a couple of years, but this really will suit my purposes just fine for the forseeable future. First of all, the smaller the footprint, the easier it is to fly under my wife's radar. Secondly, I'm a small-batch brewer at heart. Even if I gain the capacity for full 5+ gallon boils in the future, I will still probably brew small batches quite often. It seems for every beer I brew, I come up with another 2 I want to try out. I'd rather stick to small batches and brew more often.

Time is my biggest constraint when it comes to brewing, so having a small setup that lets me brew while multitasking around the house is key for me. The only reason I'm using a separate mash tun instead of straight BIAB in the boil kettle is so I don't have to tend to the temperature during the mash. Plus, for less than a $50 investment (I'm hoping), this rig will probably pay for itself by the end of the year just in savings on DME vs grain.
Eric B.

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Offline tubercle

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Re: Mash tun frustration
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2012, 05:43:19 PM »
.... the easier it is to fly under my wife's radar.....

Understood fully ;)

Time is my biggest constraint when it comes to brewing, so having a small setup that lets me brew while multitasking around the house is key for me. The only reason I'm using a separate mash tun instead of straight BIAB in the boil kettle is so I don't have to tend to the temperature during the mash. Plus, for less than a $50 investment (I'm hoping), this rig will probably pay for itself by the end of the year just in savings on DME vs grain.

Think about this: A 5 gallon mash takes the same time as a 3 gallon mash as it takes a 20 gallon mash. I generally cut the grass, clean the gutters, etc.. Also, if you can aquire equipment for a 3 gallon  mash for under $50, the equipment for a 5 or 10 gallon mash can be had for the same amount.

I'm not trying to pursuade you to go bigger, just making you think ;D
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Mash tun frustration
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2012, 07:23:14 PM »
Think about this: A 5 gallon mash takes the same time as a 3 gallon mash as it takes a 20 gallon mash. I generally cut the grass, clean the gutters, etc.. Also, if you can aquire equipment for a 3 gallon  mash for under $50, the equipment for a 5 or 10 gallon mash can be had for the same amount.

I'm not trying to pursuade you to go bigger, just making you think ;D

All good points. Of course, a 3-gallon batch takes half as long to consume, which is the biggest determinant on how often I brew.  :D

And the difference in price between a 5-gallon cooler and a 10-gallon one is enough to pay for the grain & yeast for my first AG batch. With that logic I can easily reason to She Who Wears the Pants why I need to spend the money on this  ;)
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer