Mash Tun 2.0 - False Bottom

Monday, September 03, 2007

Mash Tun 2.0 - False Bottom

So as always, as soon as I have something all dialed in, I get the itch. In this case, it was to build a copper false bottom like the ones I have seen online.

Now as much as my "bazooka screen el chepo" is working, there are obvious limitations and I can't help but feel like I am leaving something back in the mash tun at the end of the day. This little project is hopefully going to change all of that.

Now to start, I am going to review the tools and the costs that are associated with this project. This is actually a great little project for new home owners (me) and apartment folks. the reason that I say that is while this project does require some random tools, they are all inexpensive and are good to have (assuming you don't already). I say this because when I moved into our new house, I had no tools. So every time I would go and work on my beer projects, I was usually buying parts and tools. This is why with every project I try and say "do I need this?" and make something that makes sense for me. In this case, it was easy:
Hacksaw $2.50 (harbor freight)
Extra blades $4
Pipe cutter $5
5' of 1/2" copper $8.50
4 copper corners $2
4 copper T's $2.80
Cooler - Had it, but anywhere from $18-$25
Ball valve or hose nozzle - $5

So, for this project, I was making a 10" by 10" false bottom for my mash tun. So I cut the 5' copper into 4 10" pieces. After doing this, I would put the copper tube into my vice and put one of the T's on the end (so I knew where to start cutting). Next I hack sawed 1/3 to 1/2 of the way through the tube with the cuts being 1/4 to 1/2 inches apart. I actually started doing 1/4" apart (below right) and moved to 1/2" (below left) because it was needlessly time consuming with a hacksaw to do all this.

After making the slices in my long tubes, I cut 6 more pieces 2 3/4" long. These will be the pieces between the T's. I made three hacksaw cuts in all but one of them and pieced it together.

Next I had to come up with a way to connect this to my spout from before. To do this, I used a very small piece of hose (I think it was from my racking cane, but I don't recall the exact size). This connects to a smaller piece of copper coming out of a hole in the side of one of the 2 3/4" pieces I cut (the one without the slices). These are all held in place with screw tight rings.

Finally to get the whole thing up to snuff I spent a lot of time cleaning it. Obviously you don't want copper in your beer, though it will improve your Hugh, it's going to hurt coming out the other side. With my immersion chiller, the directions I found said to soak it in vinegar, so since this is copper, I did the same. Better safe than sorry.
Now I considered doing the soldering, but noticed that a few of the people I saw on the new did not do this. the more I thought about it, I realized that it was not really necessary. You see, it's sucking in liquid and not grain. That's what you want right? Why make it water tight then if you want liquid to get in? Makes sense to me. If anyone has experience in this, I am open to suggestion, but I am going to at least try it this way.
In the end, this is it. I tested it and it's tighter than a dolphin's butt-hole so we are a go!!!

When I started to drain it, the flow was slower than with my bazooka screen knockoff, but I have a feeling that the flow will be consistent and pull from a broader area of the mash. that's the hope anyway.

Next up, a real deal, no holds bard sparge arm!!! This is a long time coming and this one is hear to stay.


grove said...

That looks like a solid manifold that'd last a lifetime. From what I can see it should give a very good distribution.

Have you considered using aluminium foil with holes punched into it (e.g. by a knife) instead of a sparge arm?

Travis said...

Thanks Grove. I know you are a Bazooka man, but I had to move on ;-)

I have tried a bunch of stuff, but after playing with this copper stuff and seeing how solid it is, I am going in this direction. Honestly this whole project took a couple of hours. The sparge arm is going to be muck like this only smaller and with holes. It's going to hang from some PVC I have and should be a pretty simple, but effective solution.

I am actually doing it tonight so I will have a post up later this week.


Adam said...

Great post. Good pictures, informative, instructional and all with a very candid voice. Ahhh...I love beer blogging!

Keep up the good work.

Jonathan said...

I have a feeling I'm going to be contacting you with questions soon... Looks awesome.