Author Topic: Fixing My Small Batch Mash Tun  (Read 891 times)

RPIScotty

  • Guest
Fixing My Small Batch Mash Tun
« on: October 02, 2015, 12:11:14 AM »
As some of you may know, I brew small batches. When I originally decided to do so I bought a small 2 gallon Coleman Stacker cooler for use as a mash tun:



I have regrettably only been able to do one AG batch with it, but have done 4 test mashes (mash, no ferment) to try and dial it in. The first test mash efficiency was poor (~56%). I adjust my crush and stirred better for the second test mash and got it into the mid 60s for efficiency. By the time I brewed my small batch BDSA, I managed a respectable 74% efficiency.

One thing I didn't like about my original configuration was the steel braid configuration:



I decided last week that if time permitted I would change it out to a single outlet, short piece of braid. I removed the old setup and tried to brace the opening with a washer/PVC ring/smaller copper ring arrangement:









When it was all said and done I did not get the seal I wanted. I have not leak tested, but feel confident I'll need to remove the original rubber seal that came with the cooler and put something else there. Everything on:



Anyone know of something from the big box home improvement stores that I can use to make a better seal? Not sure if they carry the normal locknut/Oring setup common in homebrew equipment.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Offline Stevie

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 6858
    • View Profile
Fixing My Small Batch Mash Tun
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2015, 12:27:23 AM »
You might be able to get away with a piece of silicone, maybe an old oven mitt or trivet, cut to size of the washer. I've seen the seal on both sides, but I imagine the inside is best in order to keep liquid out of the insulation.

But I would try to do it the right way with a ring and locknut. Bargainfittings.com
« Last Edit: October 02, 2015, 12:29:16 AM by Steve in TX »

RPIScotty

  • Guest
Re: Fixing My Small Batch Mash Tun
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2015, 12:29:48 AM »
Thanks Steve. While it never leaked during my test mashes or my BDSA brew, I always had the feeling my original seal was a bit lackluster.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

RPIScotty

  • Guest
Re: Fixing My Small Batch Mash Tun
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2015, 12:51:07 AM »
I think part of the problem is the thin layer of inner wall material that serves as the interface between the nipple and the female hose barb.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

RPIScotty

  • Guest
Re: Fixing My Small Batch Mash Tun
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2015, 02:43:58 PM »
You might be able to get away with a piece of silicone, maybe an old oven mitt or trivet, cut to size of the washer. I've seen the seal on both sides, but I imagine the inside is best in order to keep liquid out of the insulation.

But I would try to do it the right way with a ring and locknut. Bargainfittings.com

My local Ace Hardware carries SS locknuts and O-rings. Thanks for the advice Steve.

Offline reverseapachemaster

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3136
    • View Profile
    • Brain Sparging on Brewing
Re: Fixing My Small Batch Mash Tun
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2015, 03:35:34 PM »
I don't have anything helpful to add about improving the seal but I can speak to the efficiency issue. I use the same cooler on my small batch setup and used to have really awful efficiency. I extend all mashes to at least 75 minutes (sometimes 90 for drier beer styles) and get upper 70s to upper 80s in efficiency. Might be worth giving a try.
Heck yeah I blog about homebrewing: Brain Sparging on Brewing

RPIScotty

  • Guest
Re: Fixing My Small Batch Mash Tun
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2015, 11:35:57 PM »

I don't have anything helpful to add about improving the seal but I can speak to the efficiency issue. I use the same cooler on my small batch setup and used to have really awful efficiency. I extend all mashes to at least 75 minutes (sometimes 90 for drier beer styles) and get upper 70s to upper 80s in efficiency. Might be worth giving a try.

Yeah not sure why this is. Mine holds temp pretty well (< 2 deg/hr). I fine tuned my crush and got to the low 70s. I'm going to test once with the new setup and then take your advice.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

S. cerevisiae

  • Guest
Re: Fixing My Small Batch Mash Tun
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2015, 12:38:27 PM »
You can always go low-tech if you are unable to obtain a solid seal.  I used a rubber stopper, a length of copper tubing, a length of clear PVC tubing, and one of the large white plastic hose clamps that one can purchase at a home brewing supply shop on my mash tun for the better part of the first decade that I brewed (pragmatic brewing used to be much more popular than it is today).  The length of copper is inserted into the rubber stopper such that tubing sticks out of both sides of the hole.  The length of PVC (or silcone) tubing is attached to the end of the copper tubing that is on the small side of the stopper.  You should leave the gasket from the original valve on the cooler, and insert the stopper into the hole such the small side is facing out (the hot mash will make the fit even tighter).   The hose clamp is used as a valve with discrete settings on the outside of the tun.  I used another piece of tubing that was attached to a Phil's Phalse Bottom on the inside of the tun, but you can attach a braid as well.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2015, 03:15:02 PM by S. cerevisiae »

Offline dmtaylor

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3224
  • Two Rivers, WI
    • View Profile
Re: Fixing My Small Batch Mash Tun
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2015, 12:46:29 PM »
I don't have anything helpful to add about improving the seal but I can speak to the efficiency issue. I use the same cooler on my small batch setup and used to have really awful efficiency. I extend all mashes to at least 75 minutes (sometimes 90 for drier beer styles) and get upper 70s to upper 80s in efficiency. Might be worth giving a try.

Efficiency is more about the crush than anything else.  That and collecting every drop of runnings.  I've been a small batch brewer for many years, anything between 1.7 gallons (current) and 3 gallons (past).  For a while I was consistently seeing efficiency right at about 90%.  A couple of years ago I decided to back off on crushing so hard and purposely shoot for low 80s for efficiency because I feared it was becoming less grainy due to the little grain required compared to everyone else, with comments from judges that the malt character was lacking.  So that's where I'm at now, low to mid 80s max efficiency.  I can pretty much dial it in wherever I want based on how hard I crush.  So can you probably.

Oh, and uh.... I only mash for 40-45 minutes.  Mash time isn't a huge factor on efficiency above that point, based on my own experiments.
Dave

The world will become a much more pleasant place to live when each and every one of us realizes that we are all idiots.

RPIScotty

  • Guest
Re: Fixing My Small Batch Mash Tun
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2015, 02:19:10 PM »
Thanks a bunch fellas.

I'm going to fix it up this weekend. I'd like to get one more AG batch in before winter hits Central NY. I'll more than likely do some extract batches over the winter.

RPIScotty

  • Guest
Re: Fixing My Small Batch Mash Tun
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2015, 07:36:18 PM »


Got it fixed! Found an old silicone washer from a bottling spigot and it worked like a charm.


Sent via Tapatalk