Author Topic: Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]  (Read 17623 times)

Offline compacto

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Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]
« on: June 21, 2015, 07:03:23 AM »
I'll be building a system in the same vein as the Grainfather/BIAC over the next few weeks and will use this thread to track it.

I wanted something I could use indoors, had a small footprint and was electric/automated and I could tuck away when not in use. Really liked the idea of those all-in-one style homebrewing systems but am too stubborn to fork out the cash for one. So building my own, that's what homebrewings about right...? I wasn't going to attempt to use the vessel to ferment like the BIAC because carboys are cheap and that's too long to wait between brews. I wanted to add a few extra bells and whistles than what I saw on those units, mainly oxygenation and a pre-chiller (84º groundwater here ???).

I'll be using...
  • 11g Bayou Classic with strainer (cheap, I know, but trying to keep cost down, $86 on Amazon is hard to beat)
  • PID/SSR setup
  • 35' Counterflow w/ 15' Pre Chiller
  • 2 2000w elements
  • Little stand thing to raise it to a comfortable height (always thought the Grainfather was too short on the ground and way too high on a counter...)
  • TC fittings throughout
  • Inline oxygenation


This week I've received the kettle and started in on the stand. I had planned to weld the legs to the kettle but upon receiving it realized it was a really really thing 20g (claimed) that likely would warp way to much to be welded too. For a port I think I'll end up using one of the solder flanges from BrewHardware instead of welding to it. The stand will hold the pump and house the CF inside the legs. I've got some SS spring toggle latches coming in that will secure the kettle to the stand.

Next will be the pump and coils. I used a 120v 2000w on my last setup and it really struggled with 6 gallons so I'm hoping the dual coil will remedy that. I had planned to weld ports also for the elements but being hesitant about the metal thickness is leading me to just use a bulkhead, that also takes quite a bit of work out of the build.

16g 1.5" 304SS for the legs.


Fit up


Tacks




Welds


Welds


More welds...


Tapped plates for the wheels




Vinyl tubing, 100ft $10





Offline compacto

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Re: Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2015, 06:49:37 PM »
Shell done for the panel


Offline compacto

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Re: Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2015, 12:17:03 AM »
Parts came in! Super fast shipping from Brewers Hardware. SS Chugger and various TC fittings. I'll be doing the build in two phases. The first being minimal but functional. No fancy hard plumbing, silicone tubing mostly, no sight gauge or inline oxygen.

I decided to go with 2 120v elements. I just wanted to be able to brew where ever I end up and also I've got two 120v GFCI outlets on separate breakers right in my kitchen whereas the 240v is not. The rest of the stuff will be in from Brew Hardware on Saturday.

Making a thermowell out of that probe tubing and a TC cap which will feed through the tee which is attached to the pump. It'll sit about 4" inside the kettle which should be plenty.  I've been a trub-in-fermentor-brewer, but should I ever want to whirlpool I can add an inlet at that point and put the thermowell elsewhere.

« Last Edit: June 26, 2015, 12:19:16 AM by compacto »

Offline rjharper

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Re: Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2015, 05:14:36 PM »
Parts came in! Super fast shipping from Brewers Hardware. SS Chugger and various TC fittings. I'll be doing the build in two phases. The first being minimal but functional. No fancy hard plumbing, silicone tubing mostly, no sight gauge or inline oxygen.

Watching this with interest. My 2 cents are to skip the hard plumbing. I hard plumbed, and it's nice, it looks good, and the whole path is stainless or teflon now, but my configuration is fixed. I have a single tier, batch sparge with a single pump, and I cant' begin to clean the mash tun until I've chilled and pumped out my wort. Even if I add a second pump to switch to fly sparge, I'll still need to reinvest in more stainless line, and possible more valves. My buddy has the same setup with silicon hoses. He can start clean up early. If he wants to mix up his brewday with a partigyle, he can run a hose wherever.

In short, I think hard plumbed looks good, and is all stainless but is expensive and restrictive. Silocn hose is cheap, flexible, and you don't need the complexity of a sight gauge!  My next equipment upgrade will probably switch to hoses.

Offline compacto

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Re: Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2015, 11:36:46 PM »
That's a good point and I've considered it. I'm using this phase of the build to see if there's any reason I want to go further and hard plumb. And when I say hard plumb, being such a compact build, that will only include a three way valve and a sight gauge (currently no way of knowing volume on this kettle) which will act also as the transport pipe  upwards for sparging. I think somewhere in between will be the sweet spot.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2015, 11:39:03 PM by compacto »

Offline compacto

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Re: Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2015, 05:51:10 AM »
More parts in from BrewHardware. Additional 2000w element, radius solder flange and other parts


Also bottled 3 brews today. A Bavarian hefe, a gose and a white IPA (chainbreaker clone)



Oops



Bent elements as not too hit eachother in the kettle and spread the heat a bit more. For all you wondering, these elements (BH's 2000w 120v) bend and function when bent just fine.



Thermowell ready for welding



Solder flange, my soldering skills are meh. You can't even see it with the clamp on it though.





Fit up







Test run



9g boil


Offline compacto

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Re: Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2015, 02:50:23 AM »
Test brew today. Belgian wheat, split the batch between two fermentors and pitched Forbidden Fruit and Weihenstephan to do a comparison. Brew day went smoothly on the new system. Having the CF down near the legs is kind of a pain with having to switch the silicon tube around. Also doesn't drain its contents being below. Probably will just throw it in the sink during chilling and call it a day.



Brew day and the race, perfect!



That continuous sparge makes some mighty clear wort.



Quite an aggressive boil from these two elements. Had to be on spray bottle duty the entire boil.


Offline tonyccopeland

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Re: Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2015, 11:18:48 AM »
Nice build! I have that same kettle in my propane setup and find the boil doesn't need to be that aggressive once the hot break has passed, but maybe electric works differently.

Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk

-Tony

rabeb25

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Re: Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2015, 12:33:35 PM »
Nice work! I wouldn't consider that clear wort however  ;)

Offline compacto

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Re: Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2015, 03:30:36 PM »
*clear of grain particles. Still quite cloudy, brewing a hefe.

Offline dak0415

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Re: Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2015, 12:49:19 PM »
Once the boil gets going, just unplug one of the elements!
Dave Koenig
Anything worth doing - is worth overdoing!

Offline compacto

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Re: Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2015, 05:06:16 PM »
Hello!

A slight change in direction for this build. Lots of work done. After a few test batches on the 11g and the realization that I wanted more beer from a brew day I decided to build essentially the same thing, only using my old keggle. 13g really works perfectly with the dual 2000W elements, the boil is aggressive without spilling over. This way I can ferment 12 gallons from a single batch. Same amount of work, more beer!


Progress since the change in direction:

New stand, mounted pump, mounted spring toggle latches. Having a quick release system for the vessel is one of the best features of the system. Just one TC clamp and two latches and I can lift the vessel of it's stand, spray it out in the sink and put it back on in only a few minutes.

Ordered tons of TC fittings, mainly a solid route from the pump up to the top of the vessel for continuos sparge (had a little incident where the hose slipped out of the clip and sprayed wort all over the kitchen  :o ). Also a TC port and whirlpool arm will be fabricated and welded onto the vessel. Debating between a direct tangential one and a face flange at the top with 90º arm dipping inside.

Got the thermowell welded to a TC flange inline with the pump flow, reads ~0.7º from true which I'm pleased with.

Things to do:

I've got to bore out the top of the keg to fit the old kettle inside. I'll actually be using the kettle itself as my bag strainer as the strainer the Bayou came with tops out at ~25lbs of grain. I'm thinking this will get me near 30lbs. It'll just need a boatload of holes in the bottom.

Fabricate something to hold the basket above the water for draining.

Changing the enclosure for the control panel. I'll only be using the panel to control one element for maintaining mash temps and just plugging the other one in for heat up and full boil. Got a nice extruded aluminum box (typically used to house computer hardware) for the enclosure. I plan to pop off the front and back and throw them on the CNC to mill out shapes for the PID, outlets etc as fit up wasn't very good on my last attempt doing with with a punch and a dremel.

It's been super helpful brewing on this system as the build progresses, I've gotten a clearer picture of what I want this system to be minimally capable of and where I can cut out fluff that over complicates it and my brewday.




« Last Edit: December 04, 2015, 05:08:04 PM by compacto »

Offline compacto

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Re: Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2015, 05:07:10 PM »
Got the enclosure in for the control panel. Modeled it to make sure everything fits. It'll only be controlling the one heating element and pump. I'll just mill out the holes on the cnc and then wire it. Hopefully have it ready for the next brewday.




Offline compacto

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Re: Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]
« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2015, 05:09:09 PM »
Machined the control panel tonight. Fit up worked out great. all the switches/outlets fit snug. I'll wire it tomorrow night.

Machining the back plate.



Finished



Front plate



Front plate engraving



Done!  ;D






Offline compacto

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Re: Progress Thread - DIY Grainfather/BIAC style system [PICS]
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2015, 05:09:44 PM »
Quick test run of the control panel. Running good. Quick question for other PID+K type thermocouple users. Likely due to how a K-type works, I noticed it the wire bumps my kettle or anything else, the temp shoots down drastically. Any one else experience this? Remedies? Insulating the wire maybe?