100qt Cooler - phase 1

Sunday, April 13, 2008

100qt Cooler - phase 1

This time around, Nick wanted to do this "right" so we were going to do this in two phases so as to avoid some of the cobjobbery of the past. The plan here was simple; replace the plug that came with the cooler with a 1/2in ball lock valve and attach that to a PVC false bottom.

Fist off the logic behind PVC over copper. While to date, copper has been the primary false bottom for me, two major factors contributed to the move to PVC - price and workability. Copper has gotten pretty expensive in the last few months so I have been less inclined to use it than in the past. Also, the problems we have had with the soldiering have led me to think that I am not much of a plumber.

With PVC we will glue, cut and puncture with 1/2 of the effort and time of copper. Plus the PVC we got is rated at over 180f so it should hold up without a problem. So we're off:

First off was taking out the plug and putting in the ball valve. It turned out that the hole that was left from the plug was 3/4in instead of the 1/2in we planned on so we used a 3/4in pipe (2" in length) that was threaded on both sided to fill the hole.

We ended up using copper fittings that drew down the 3/4in to 1/2in for the ball valve and for the part that was going to connect to the PVC.

Sealing was obviously a big part of this and it's an imperfect science at best. The key to sealing is to keep an open mind. With this we had a gasket on the inside and one on the outside. It leaked so I removed the one on the inside and used some gasket making stuff and it is now sealed. To test it, I put 5 gallons of water in over night. About 1tbs of water leaked out over the 12 hrs so I figure that' "good enough for government".

Finally Nick built the PVC false bottom. The design is pretty self explanatory and he used a dermal tool to make the cuts for draining holes. All the parts are glued and the whole thing sits inside of the other PVC fitting that is connected to the copper. We are waiting on gluing that until we know that the whole thing is going to work properly.


Kevin LaVoy said...

My tricks for non-leaking coolers: use three times as much teflon tape as you think you need (seriously, unless you can thread it, you haven't used too much), and hand tighten.

Travis said...

Both great advice. I too have found hand tight works best. It seems like it's more about the prefect fit than the tightest fit.

Adam said...

Wow! What a great post. I'll have to come back and read this one again.

Reed said...

I'd second that teflon comment. Sealing my mashtun really pissed me off until I used a healthy dose of the thinner kind of teflon tape. I started using this thick version called 'pipe dope' and it didn't seal so well.

Also, and I hope I'm not too late, don't glue the PVC false bottom completely together. I started to sweat mine together but then held off on the final few joints and it has made it so much easier to install, uninstall, and clean. It has fallen apart on me once but I didn't notice any problems sparging (probably just shot my effeciency).

You can read a rather verbose description here