Brewery Work: Lots!

Last weekend, the weekend before it and tonight have been very productive on the brewery build front. It’s getting very close to done. At this point the only thing I really have outstanding is valve wiring and final plumbing hookups. All the kettles have all their bulkheads installed and tonight I finished installing the heating element in the boil kettle and tested it.

I had to chase down some noise and interference throughout the control panel which was causing the LCD to scramble now and then. The pumps needed snubbers which I build from a 47 Ohm resistor + .1uF capacitor wired in series placed parallel to the hot and neutral on the plug of the pump. The solenoids all needed suppression diodes which I have been working on installing right into the coil head of each solenoid as I wire them up. 4 of 11 done so far.

Tonight after the final kettle work I spent some time heating water in various kettles and testing my heat exchanger. It seems to work pretty well although I am either having some pump priming issues or the heat exchanger is too restrictive. The flow is not very good through it. I am pretty sure it’s a pump prime issue. Tomorrow I am going to rotate the head of the pump to a configuration a lot of brewers are having success with and see if it helps. The result will have the inlet of the pump facing down and the outlet facing up. The idea is to have any air trapped in the head go to the top and be evacuated so the entire pump head can fill with liquid.

I am really hoping to be able to brew this weekend but it’s probably not going to happen. I need some final pipe fittings to get everything finished and the eBay seller I want to get them from is being slow to respond. We’ll see!

Lots of pictures to come – I’ve been too busy working on it to take any!

Brewery Work: Not Much

Well, the long weekend and most of this week have been kind of a bust. I floundered around with getting the control panel painted and was never happy with the results. I finally decided to throw in the towel and get some professional help so now it’s in the queue at Seattle Powder Coating. I should have it back in 4-5 days. Unfortunately that is kind of holding everything up. The main things I still have left to do are:

  • Build the second valve manifold.
  • Build the kettle input manifolds.
  • Drill the MLT and BK.
  • Wire all the valves.
  • Wire the temperature sensors.

Unfortunately I am kind of hesitant to do any of that until I know where the control panel is going to live, whether it works and how long cables will need to be.

So, I’m stuck.

I do have some parts showing up tomorrow I should be able to work on. I have some tri-clamp fittings coming that I am going to build into the HERMS coil so it’s easily removable and I have cable grips coming that will go on the valve side of the valve cabling. With that I will at least be able to wire the valves on one side and leave them long on the other. Once I have the control panel and decide where it’s going to live I can cut the cables to length and terminate them.

So, probably not too much going on for the next few days, but as soon as the control panel is back I expect to wrap the whole project up very quickly.

In better news, I did finish getting the stand put together and got the casters installed. So, it sort of looks like a brewery at least. And it rolls around the garage very easily 🙂

Brewery Work: Front Panel

Just a little bit of (perceived) progress tonight but it took quite a while. I got the four main rectangular holes done on the front panel. There are two more than I have not decided if I am going to use so I am hesitating on cutting them. I was able to do the three BTPD holes on my mill which worked really great. 1/8″ flat endmill, 12 IPM, 6700 RPM and .010″ DOC went through the .080″ steel just fine. Unfortunately the hole for the LCD was too far in the Y direction for the mill to get so I had to cut it by hand using my Dremel. That kinda sucked but it only really took about 20 minutes and it didn’t come out half bad.

Next up, I have to make a decision about the two remaining holes (probably yes), get those cut and then strip and finish the panel. Then it’s finally time to button this thing up. Can’t wait!

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