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Offline Discgolf420  
#1 Posted : Thursday, April 06, 2017 2:07:26 PM(UTC)
Discgolf420


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Hey, Brewhaus Folks, hope all are doing well. So, First off let me make my introduction. I've spent the last months researching and reading about all things distilling until my eyes bled. I find this Forum, as well as the forum (and to a lesser extent the outdated parent site at) Homedistiller.org to be an invaluable source of information. It really is more information than you could ever want. I see the same questions asked over, and the membership is happy to guide a newcomer in the right direction. So, having just ordered my PSII EE 8 gallon, I'm very excited to get started. I've done enough research to feel confident running it. I'm going to start off Pot stilling, as I'm more of a whiskey person, but i know down the road I'd like to make neutrals so I can make some flavored spirits and liqueurs. I've read up on making the mash/wash, ordered the Bronze fermenter kit, and started making a few batches of wash. I know to avoid the Turbo Yeast that was included with my fermenter, and have a pretty good handle on this. I've read about running the still, SAFETY of course, and the process of making cuts, how to collect the distillate, airing out, blending, and aging on oak. So, I'm trying to plan ahead so when my PSII arrives i am ready to start running.

So, i have a few questions, mostly related to heat source and power.
I have an induction burner I'd love to use. However, I'm fairly sure the 8 Gallon Premium Kettle will not be magnetic enough to work with the burner. So, before i rule it out, i have read about and seen on amazon Induction plates you can buy. It's simply a relatively thin piece of metal with a handle that you place on the induction burner, then put the pot you want to use on top. While this may work, it may be not be an efficient heat source. I suppose another option would be to build an induction plate with the right metals and weld or solder it onto the bottom of the kettle. That may a little more complicated than I'm ready for. So, I'm just curious if anyone else has used induction for distilling or has any guidance in this area? I feel like induction is perfect for this, as the power level can be very precisely adjusted and replicated easily. It is also very very efficient. Induction burners and stoves bring a large pot of water to boil in a shockingly short amount of time. I'd probably use the induction burner in conjunction with an internal element, turning off the element after power up and only using induction.

Next question.. I've had BH install 2 of the 1" NPT couplings in my kettle. I plan to use one as a drain and one as a port for an internal element.

For the drain: I ordered the NPT plugs that come along with it, and if I'm using a plug for the drain, after I'm done running, and let everything cool down for a while, I'd guess i just carefully unscrew the plug and go fast to avoid making a mess. Is there a way to install a valve on this port, probably I'd assume a ball valve, so i can just keep it closed while running, then open it up and let it rip to drain the kettle when I'm done. Seems easier, safer, and cleaner than trying to very carefully unscrew the plug. Anyone with any experience with this?

Last, regarding the internal element. The easiest route, although more costly, would be for me to buy a ready made element, with a controller and plug for the wall. For example, brewhaus sells a 1500 watt element and a controller, both out of stock. Mile HI Distilling sells an element and controller too, for $200.

/https://milehidistilling.com/product/heating-element-assembly-240v-5500-watt-copy/

So, it seems like purchasing an element on amazon, then finding a way to rig it up to a controller and to the wall would give me a better quality and far cheaper option. For example,

Element only on Amazon

This element has the 1"NPT Plug, so I'm hoping that means i could screw it into the 1" NPT coupling installed inside my kettle. Then, i found designs on Stilldragon for a pretty easy to make DIY Controller. The small kit is rated i believe for 1500 watts, so I'd need the large kit, but I'm unsure of the wattage rating on this. Otherwise, perhaps a 1500 watt element would be enough for my kettle.

Stilldragon Large Controller DIY Kit

I don't fully understand how this controller would connect to the element itself? I've read a little bit on SCR, and when i start to read about the electrical side of Distilling elements, well, i get pretty lost. I have basically no electrical wiring knowledge. I do know that i only have access to 120V.

So, thank y'all for your time, and hopefully you can provide some assistance. Thank you all for your time, Jeff
Offline heeler  
#2 Posted : Wednesday, April 12, 2017 7:25:21 AM(UTC)
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Howdy Jeff and welcome, I will give my opinions on a few of the subjects asked.

Yeast..Since you got the turbo yeast use it. Just use half and you'll get two washes out of it. You'll learn as you go, bakers yeast is cheaper and easier to get, like at your local grocer.

Power...if you have a turkey fryer use gas until you get everything else you need. Then you can use the gas along with the electric to get up to cooking temp and turn the gas off or not, you'll learn that too.

You mentioned npt ports, perfect!! Get a hot water heater element for one or both, because electric is really easy and safe in my opinion. Now of course you must control the heat as you mentioned and that too is really easy. If you don't want to buy from BH or another commercial source then buy a router speed controller, so easy a cave man can do it. Ebay sells em and this one is as good as that one. It's just a rheostat to control electric output.
I don't think induction is the way to go but that's just my opinion.

I had a drain valve on one of my boiler's but just didn't use it and I bet you wont either. What I do is, when I'm done cooking and putting stuff away I leave the boiler for last, then grab the boiler and take it out to the ditch and dump it. With the valve you are gonna drain it into something and then dump that so I did away with one step.

Hope this jabber helps you some.



Offline Discgolf420  
#3 Posted : Tuesday, April 18, 2017 1:28:13 AM(UTC)
Discgolf420


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Thanks for the Reply heeler. Since i've posted i've been researching nearly non stop in my limited free time. I gotta say, this hobby is getting quite addicting and I haven't distilled a drop. I've done a few ferments to have some wash ready to go when my PSII arrives, and it's pretty fun to have a batch going to check on. Love to go into the closet, watch the airlock for a few minutes, listen to the soft fizzing (like an open can of Coke) of the yeast, and that amazing smell of course.
So, I'm thinking i've got a plan figured out for how i'll power the still. First, i've got two ports being installed on the Keg. There will be a 1"NPT port near the base, about 1" up, which i will use for a simple 1500watt cartridge heater, the Still Heater from brewhaus to be precise, to get started. No controller, just plug it right in. I've got a 20AMP circuit that will only have this plugged in so it shouldn't be an issue with the circuit tripping. The other port will be a 2" Tri Clamp Ferrule. This will be 90 degrees from the NPT and another inch or two up the kettle. Until i get it setup, I'll just have a 2"Triclamp, Gasket, and End Cap on it. Once i'm ready and have the cash, I'm going to get a DIY Stilldragon Controller, an element (Probably 1500, 1650, or 2000Watt 120V Screw in element.) and the element guard kit from StillDragon. I'll either run with both elements, for a fast strip, or use both elements to get to power up, then only use the TC Element on a controller so i can fine control the power level. Or, maybe I'll just run with the Element on Controller and a drain port in the NPT coupling. I'm not quite sure yet. I'll probably see how well the Still Heater works, how long it takes etc. What i might do is run on my stove top (or maybe get a cheap propane burner, but then i'd have to run it outside which would be a different location and less stealth, i live in the City.) using the stove top and Still Heater (1500W Cartridge heater, no controller, plugged straight in). I'd like to make sure i can do this without damaging the element and wiring of course. I'm not sure what to expect as far as how much power i will need, i've heard differing opinions from differing sources. So, i'll get this figured out hopefully.
I've got BH installing the two ports, i went with the Thermometer upgrade, just so i wouldn't have that Rubber Bung on the top of the column. A TC ferrule sounds much better and worth the $70. Also i requested an upgrade from the standard 12" Liebig Product Condenser to a 24" condenser. I've heard on HD that the 12" is pretty undersized. Rick suggested that for an 8 Gallon 24 will be ample. I hope he's right. I've read about putting a turbulator into the condenser, either simple and low tech as a piece of scrubber stuffed up there, lightly packed into the condenser, or a copper ribbon with a twist. That would be to help force the vapor to the walls of the condenser and improve cooling efficiency.

Other Modifications i plan to make include:

Possibly Insulating the boiler and or Column, depending if i'm running Reflux or PotStill, and what heat source i'm going with

Change out all of the BH Silicone gaskets for PTFE gaskets. The guys on HD are very persuasive in the No Plastic anywhere in contact with ETOH vapor or liquid except PTFE. Obviously Rick is OK with using some silicone and plastic materials, or at least OK with us using them, as he sells all the silicone gaskets and Collection Hose.

Replace the "Chemical Tolerant" Product Collection hose with a copper tube, not sure of the diameter yet, probably something very small, like 3/8ths? I read on HD a good way to connect this to the Product Condenser would be using a Compression Fitting, but i didn't fully understand how to install one of these. I'd like to use Copper or SS, but may go with brass as it's probably the easiest to source. My understanding is I can use brass safely if i "pickle" it first. I'll have to research that method in detail. i think the guys at the hardware store could probably walk me through installing the Compression fitting to the collection pipe, but I'm all ears if anyone has any tips. Rick sells the Collection hose, and it says it's Chemical Tolerant, which doesn't sound very reassuring, and that is plastic for my precious Distillate to go right through, so i'm not wild about using the hose he provides.

I'm not sure what the Coolant hosing that will be included with my PSII will be, I believe he includes at least a plastic ball valve, and possibly a T to split the PC and reflux condenser. I'll probably tackle that down the road when I'm ready to make some neutral using the Reflux mode, i'm going to stick to Pot Stilling to start. From my understanding, to do that i'll just need to not hook up any hosing to the Reflux condenser, and not pack the column ( i went with the Copper Packing) or only pack it a little. Probably try to get a tiny bit of reflux to help ABV but not lose to much flavor, and it would be good to have some copper in the Vapor Path for Sulfur removing properties, as the PSII is all stainless. How do others run their PSII in Pot still mode? Any who, I'll probably try to replace the stock Plastic Ball valve with something Steel or Brass, or put in a needle valve, although i understand they can get quite pricy. I think the Plastic valve will do fine to start, but Metal would be better quality and or control. I'd also like to get some nice quality hosing at some point.

Not sure of the quality of the Submersible Pump that will be included with the PSII, I read one person's review that said it was junk, but that has yet to be seen. If it isn't great I'll try to replace that. A decent Pump doesn't look terribly expensive, maybe $50?

I'm thinking I'll get a 32G or 25G Rubbermaid Trash can for a reservoir to do recirculating coolant. Anyone have a suggestion for how big a reservoir they use with the 8 Gallon Kettle? I know it depends on your power source, H20 temp, and if your doing Pot Still, Reflux, Strip Runs, or Spirit Runs. I'd like to avoid having to put any Ice or Frozen Soda Bottles in the reservoir. I could hook the coolant up to my faucet, i'm assuming i'd need to buy an adaptor for that. I'm not sure how much water I'd expect to use in a run. It could be more efficient than using a reservoir. That depends if i'm going to reuse the reservoir from run to run. I don't know if i'll have space to keep the reservoir full from run to runs.

So, obviously I've got a lot to figure out still. I'm doing as much research as i can, there are a lot of details to iron out. Once the PSII arrives and i've got a run or two in I'll have a better idea of what i need to do. I plan to start off with a Vinegar cleaning run, using a mix of 2 Gallons distilled Vinegar and 3 or 4 of H2O to clean. Then, I'm not sure if I need to do a sacrificial run or not. Again, Rick has posted that it is not necessary because there is no soldering anywhere, everything is TIG welded. But, It couldn't hurt to do a Sac run. It would give me a chance to learn how to drive it. I might buy a box of cheap white wine, or make a Birdwatchers, just because it's easy, and use that for the Sac run.

So, appreciate anyone's response and time. I look forward to your input.
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