Valved Reflux Condencer Top?
I want to build a valved reflux still from plans at "Building a world class still."
Could someone tell me, does the condenser head have a cap on it? Wouldn’t the vapor just go out the top? I did find a thread where Mountain Man asked the same question but he didn't get an answer. Thanx in advance MB
Okay, I am very new at all this but my thinking is that all refux columns should have a cap on them so as that you can pack them easily and have a thermometer in there.
Thanx for the reply. I'm in British Columbia Canada. But the thig is with this particular design the column with the packing does have a cap for the thermomiter. The condencer is conectted to the column by a tee. In the instructions they don't show a top on the condencer. again I can't help but think that with no top the vapor coming from the column will escape to the atmospere rather than be condenced back to liquid. The plans I've refered to are at http://www.moonshine-still.com/ can anyone else answer my question? Thanx in advance MB
Originally Posted by Wade
Not my type of still that I use. I do read a lot, and no those types do not use a cap. If properly designed and run, all vapor is condensed prior to reaching the top, and actually air is sucked in. Reqiers a lot of attention and tweaking i think.
I may be wrong, and some may correct me on this.
Full description and info. is given in the homedistiller.org site
That design is dangerous for the very reason that you had to ask! It should have been made very clear in the plans that the condenser top is not sealed. It has to breath. If you closed both needle valves, where would the pressure go as the gasses expand? Also, if you shut the heat off on a hot boiler and then closed the two valves, where would it draw air in as it cooled, if the unit was air tight? The gasses will not escape if the condenser is working correctly and you have the appropriate amount of heat. Which leads me to the design.
The design is OK but I would recommend a couple changes. Buy a 3" cap for the condenser, but drill a 1/2" hole in the top for venting. Sand the inside of the cap and top of the condenser as to give the cap a lose fit. Drill two more holes in the top of the cap for your coolant inlet and outlet. I put barbed fittings at that point for hose removable. Make your coil(1/4"tubing) and fasten it to the fittings in the cap. Now, you have a condenser coil that can be lifted in and out of the condenser for easy cleaning, storage, inspection,and repair. Also column insulation if very important and the plan looks cool but the coolant lines soldered along the column get in the way of insulation!
One other problem with the design is cooling capacity. The small size at the base of the condenser does not allow for enough coiling coils. Instead of buying a 2x2x1 1/2' "T" (as in the plans) for the column, buy a 2x2x2" "T". Buy a 2x4x4" "T" for the condenser. Then buy a 4"x2"reducer and solder that to the bottom of the "T". The 2" cap(at the bottom of the condenser) should be soldered with no space between it and the reducer. (Use a short 2" nipple.) Now, when you form the condenser coil, there is enough room to get the coils down to the bottom 2" cap. That will keep things cooler! Again, that is all removable by lifting it out of the top of the condenser.
One other alteration might be to add a 2" union at the base of the column. Then you can store, clean and handle the tower with ease. You can also buy a second 2" union and add it to a "column extension". Make it as long as you like. Just put it between the boiler union and the tower union.
I'm planning on building the same unit and have the condenser coil mounted inside the tube as suggested and the needle valves inserted and soldered to the bottom of the collection cap. The needles and packing were removed before soldering so as not to melt the washer. I was wondering about the open top as well and don't recall much mention of it in the instructions. I was just going to sit a 2 inch cap loosely on top. Before I realized that it was open I wondered about pressure build up so I had planned to use two thermometers in the first column. One is a combination temperature and pressure valve for a heating boiler and the other will be a digital. For cooling I'm thinking of a 2 foot section of a baseboard heating element submerged in ice water in a cooler, a circulating pump and a closed system to the coil with a bleeder valve to remove air from the lines once filled.
ChuckE, I am a new member and have a problem building my condenser. Have tried several times to coil 1/4" copper and screw up every time. How can I bend the copper to fit into my 2" condenser? My system is finished except for the condenser. Please help with a suggestion or a place to purchase. richieb
Originally Posted by richieb
The problem is kinking. I have never done this myself, but others write that you need to fill the whole tube with salt and kink the ends tightly. Do the roll and then cut off the kinked ends, attach it to a hose and flush out the salt. May take a while.
Others claim you can do the same by filling it with water and sealing the ends. It important that there is no air left in the tube.
Thank you, will try your suggestion.
I originally tried to use a larger size and that didn't work even with a bending coil. There's also hard copper and soft copper. I tried the right size of some soft copper and bent it around a piece of 2" tubing and had no kinks or problems.