Problems with new thumper

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Problems with new thumper

Postby Northernshine » Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:59 pm

Hello, it's been awhile since I've been on here because I got busy but I recently found myself with some time on my hands and decided to upgrade my still. I have a ≈6 gallon boiler with an ugly and probably taller than necessary stack that worked well prior to my newer mods. I have a reduction going to my ≈3 gallon thumper where I used a sleeve sort of setup to incorporate my thumper inlet and outlet into one copper T that goes almost directly into my condenser. Upon firing my new toy up, I ran into some issues. My thumper puts out what tastes like very slight alcoholic water at roughly a drop every 2 seconds. If I turn down the heat even a little bit I get nothing. If I turn up the heat I get a little bit more of a flow but not much. Starting to make me regret putting the time and $ into it seeing as my setup before was fine other than I wanted to run a brandy... Has anybody ran into a problem similar?
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby BoomTown » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:06 pm

Northernshine wrote:Hello, it's been awhile since I've been on here because I got busy but I recently found myself with some time on my hands and decided to upgrade my still. I have a ≈6 gallon boiler with an ugly and probably taller than necessary stack that worked well prior to my newer mods. I have a reduction going to my ≈3 gallon thumper where I used a sleeve sort of setup to incorporate my thumper inlet and outlet into one copper T that goes almost directly into my condenser. Upon firing my new toy up, I ran into some issues. My thumper puts out what tastes like very slight alcoholic water at roughly a drop every 2 seconds. If I turn down the heat even a little bit I get nothing. If I turn up the heat I get a little bit more of a flow but not much. Starting to make me regret putting the time and $ into it seeing as my setup before was fine other than I wanted to run a brandy... Has anybody ran into a problem similar?


Interesting. Can you send a pic, or a drawing of the vapor path pot - still -lynn arm -thumper- condenser?
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby Northernshine » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:47 pm

I can't seem to upload a picture right now even though I have good data... I'll figure it out and get one on here asap
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby sltm1 » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:21 pm

It sounds like problem I had, you've reversed the inlet and outlet flow and are creating pressure that is pushing thumper water out the condenser tube.
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby Northernshine » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:59 pm

The picture uploads to 100% and then refreshes the page and deletes my message and picture. Not sure what that's about but I'll try faster wifi maybe. But for the meantime I'll give my best shot at explaining my operation. Basically I have a setup where my thumper inlet and outlet is assembled like a condenser tube almost. I have a 1/2"-1" fitting that I ground the stopper off of so I could slide it onto a 1/2" pipe with the 1/2" part facing upward. Then I connected a 1"-3/4"-1" T with the 3/4" part facing horizontal which connects to my condenser. Then a 1" male threaded fitting on the bottom of the T that screws into a SS fitting welded on the top of my thumper. So the 1" parts act as a sleeve per say. The inlet has got to pass through the water/thump juice to reach the outlet (sleeve) then passes on to the condenser. I'm not sure if that made much sense but I gave it a shot at least and hopefully that'll hold ya's off for the time being.
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby Northernshine » Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:14 pm

This is what I have, probably looks rough compared to most of yours. I know the stack could use a lot of work and could probably be shorter but it used to work just fine.
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby sltm1 » Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:56 pm

Your rig looks fine, perhaps the exterior thumper pipe (the one that leads to the condenser), is actually in the thumper liquid because the liquid level is too high, that would cause pressure build up in the thumper and force liquid out the condenser pipe.
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby nuntius01 » Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:38 pm

sltm1 wrote:Your rig looks fine, perhaps the exterior thumper pipe (the one that leads to the condenser), is actually in the thumper liquid because the liquid level is too high, that would cause pressure build up in the thumper and force liquid out the condenser pipe.


i agree with sltm1. i've had this happen with my thumpers before. if i have over filled, i'll get blow through. especially if im running some oatmeal mash
I'm just the bank and the mule

post your still pics here
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby BoomTown » Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:23 am

sltm1 wrote:Your rig looks fine, perhaps the exterior thumper pipe (the one that leads to the condenser), is actually in the thumper liquid because the liquid level is too high, that would cause pressure build up in the thumper and force liquid out the condenser pipe.


I agree. Most people tend to overload the thumper when they first start. My experience has been that the volume in the thumper grows as the vapors are processed through it. The logic offered is that the volume in the thumper starts out too large, and as it is warming up, collecting the injected fluid, it floods the outlet. Try it with only a couple inches of vapor injection prong submerged at the start.
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby Northernshine » Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:21 am

I will definitely give that a shot today. I filled her right up to the weld on the mixing bowl. So that makes sense, I'll post an update a little later today
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby Pikey » Tue Sep 19, 2017 11:03 am

Well spotted sltm1 :clap:
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby Kareltje » Tue Sep 19, 2017 12:16 pm

Nice looking still. Nothing wrong with it.

To warm up the thumper it needs 1/10 litr of vapour from the boiler for every litre in the thumper to rise 50 dgr C. So if it contains 5 gallon, after heating up it has at least 5,5 gal. More or less.
When the thumper loses a lot of heat, for example when it is not insulated, this amount becomes even more.
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby Northernshine » Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:06 pm

I just about have enough to proof right now but it's not looking good. Still tastes like water. When I took my thumper off last time it smelled as if I lost most of my alcohol to the thump juice. I poured it back in the still and filled the thumper just so the inlet was barely submerged and then started my run. It first came out promising although it was only a drop every 3 seconds or so. But then the same thing happened. The flavor turned before I could get even a half a jar. I might try a different batch of mash and maybe get a new thermometer to see what temp the thump steam is coming off at. This has me quite stumped. It's almost as if all of my alcohol is getting lost to the thump before it starts heating up and steaming. I could also take Kareltje's advice and try to insulate my pipes and thumper as well and see where that gets me. Sooner or later I'll figure this thing out, it's only a matter of time before I do. Thank you for the compliments and advice so far. I'll keep updating until I have it running right.
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby sltm1 » Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:52 pm

Have you checked for leaks in your still? Take a mirror or even a butter knife and check your seams for steam escaping. I still believe the exit pipe is too deep in the thumper and that's the cause.
Last edited by sltm1 on Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby Northernshine » Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:20 pm

I'll have to check for leaks. Today's run I sealed the threaded components with thread tape and put flower putty on the two non-soldered joints. The first jar was about 110 proof and then it slightly dropped off to 105 before I shut it down. I'm pretty positive the liquid level did not reach more than an inch above my vapor inlet on the thumper. I'll probably try some insulation and give it another go tomorrow and make 100% sure that my thump liquid levels are optimal.
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby BoomTown » Thu Sep 21, 2017 9:31 am

Northernshine wrote:I just about have enough to proof right now but it's not looking good. Still tastes like water. When I took my thumper off last time it smelled as if I lost most of my alcohol to the thump juice. I poured it back in the still and filled the thumper just so the inlet was barely submerged and then started my run. It first came out promising although it was only a drop every 3 seconds or so. But then the same thing happened. The flavor turned before I could get even a half a jar. I might try a different batch of mash and maybe get a new thermometer to see what temp the thump steam is coming off at. This has me quite stumped. It's almost as if all of my alcohol is getting lost to the thump before it starts heating up and steaming. I could also take Kareltje's advice and try to insulate my pipes and thumper as well and see where that gets me. Sooner or later I'll figure this thing out, it's only a matter of time before I do. Thank you for the compliments and advice so far. I'll keep updating until I have it running right.


What is the Specific Gravity of your Wash? Insulating your piping will save you money on heating, but if you have a leak somewhere, you'd be smelling it as your rig runs. Use a mirror and check each joint for leaking, it'll fog up if you have one, and then rig a test wash by using a bottle or two of cheap wine in your thumper. If the alcohoal from the wine comes out, that part is working, if it checks out, dump your test into the still, and leave the thumper out of the loop. One thing for sure, if you have a closed system, your should be getting alcohol out of the end if you are putting in alcohol at the front end.
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby Kareltje » Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:27 pm

Did you check the contents of boiler and thumper before and after your last run? Both for volume and strength.
Like we say: "Meten is weten, gissen is missen!" or: To measure is to know, to guess is to miss!

I did a run on my model:
6 L @ 12 %ABV in the boiler, 3 L of water in the thumper, start at 20 dgr C.
About 1 L of 58 to 45 %ABV has to go from boiler to thumper before the latter starts to boil. At that time the thumper contains 4 L of about 10 %ABV and starts to give a vapour of about 55 %ABV.
Of course you can not fill both the boiler and the thumper to the brim, but when I run it with 3 and 1,5 L resp. the results in %ABV are the same.
But in the latter case you should get about 1 L @ 30 %ABV as total product.
Which does not seem too low: 3 L @ 12 % => 1,1 L @ 30 %.

When it is cold and your thumper is not insulated, the run will last longer and you have the risk that you run your boiler empty and overflow your thumper and the total will still be about 1,1 L @ 30 %.

When I was playing with my new toy (a 10 L thumper and 10 L boiler), I made several testruns:
5 L @ 12 % in boiler, 5 L @ 0 % in thumper (in your case of course 3 gal and 1.5 gal)
5 L @ 12 % in boiler, 5 L @ 12 % in thumper
5 L 12 % in boiler, empty thumper
5 L 0 % in boiler, 5 L @ 12 % in thumper I did not try.
5 L @ 12 % in boiler, no thumper.
When you do that, and measure whatever you can measure before, during and after, you will get lots of information. And at the same time get used to the sounds. :mrgreen:

I suppose you already have checked the suggestion that your outlet pipe starts way too low? Might very well be a cause too, because in a lot of situations the volume in the thumper grows during the run.

It will take some time and effort, but you can use some spare feints or the like and the information will serve you for a long time.
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby Kareltje » Mon Oct 02, 2017 3:23 am

Northernshine wrote:I'll have to check for leaks. Today's run I sealed the threaded components with thread tape and put flower putty on the two non-soldered joints. The first jar was about 110 proof and then it slightly dropped off to 105 before I shut it down. I'm pretty positive the liquid level did not reach more than an inch above my vapor inlet on the thumper. I'll probably try some insulation and give it another go tomorrow and make 100% sure that my thump liquid levels are optimal.

And???? Did you solve your problem?
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby Jimy Dee » Sun Oct 08, 2017 1:33 am

You should consider making the top of the thump the same level as the top of the pot. This will involve sitting the thump on something to rise the height of it. It is what struck me when I saw your photo. The top of the thump being at a lower level seems as if your thump would be prone to flooding from the pot.

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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby Kareltje » Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:22 pm

Jimy Dee wrote:You should consider making the top of the thump the same level as the top of the pot. This will involve sitting the thump on something to rise the height of it. It is what struck me when I saw your photo. The top of the thump being at a lower level seems as if your thump would be prone to flooding from the pot.

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Bold by me.
Why is that? It is not as if the connecting pipe could work as a siphon: it starts above the level of fluid in the boiler.
There is some transport of matter by the vapour from the boiler, that condenses in the thumper, thereby raising the %ABV and the temperature in the thumper. In certain cases this transport can cause the thumper to flood, if it is too small or too cold. Or you can run the boiler dry, if you did not fill it enough or it is too small.
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Re: Problems with new thumper

Postby Shine0n » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:30 am

One thing I see is maybe you need to put more heat into it, check your wash for abv.

If I use no thumper I'll get 120p max but with it I get 150- 170 depending on what I put in, mine is also offset height wise just because of my configuration but my thumper sits higher than my pot so if any passive reflux is happening it runs back to the boiler but I heat up full blast mostly and don't have much to worry about.

My thumper is 15.5 gallons and I fill to 10 max with little chance of overflow due to how fast I heat up.

Keep the heat high until you see product then dial back to maintain a small steady stream, should get better from there.

Let us know what's up bubba,
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