Thumper?

Simple pot still distillation and construction with thumpers and without..

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Re: Thumper?

Postby Hawke » Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:23 pm

Just did a quick perusal of the de-structions. It's not made to return anything to the boiler, but it does say to check content of run-off and re-run it if there is enough alcohol left in it.

Maybe a pumping system from the catch basin back into the boiler?
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Re: Thumper?

Postby pintoshine » Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:37 pm

The boiler on a C803 is only filled with water the wash enters up in the column. This style column can sit on the ground if preferred. The boiler is connected through a pipe and the column and boiler are completely separate.
The stuff in the bottom is stripped wash. The bottom section is generally called the reboiler in most stripping columns. The exiting wash is generally very low in alcohol. The part of the column from the cent upward is the fractioning part and increases the purity much like a LM system. There is an automatic valve that controls the steam input to regulate the column temps. This is a complicated system to say the least.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby rad14701 » Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:26 pm

Actually, the 803 has distillate vapor entering via the reboiler, not higher up the column... The pricey water valve controls the column temperature so the vapor rising into the condenser head is maintained at an optimal temperature... Due to the fact that the 803 isn't steam driven, as pintoshine suggested, the column could have a steep learning curve to prevent wastage... This is one major downfall of this design, IMHO... The volume of steam is the only real control you have over the operation aside from fine tuning of the water control valve... I'd love to observe one running up close and personal someday...

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Re: Thumper?

Postby pintoshine » Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:06 pm

I guess I had the 803 confused with another design.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby leob2 » Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:35 pm

I just finished making one out of a 5gal carny(soda pop) keg.I have a mason jar one and you really got to keep your eye on it so it doesn't overfill I figure with this I can run my 15 gal keg and not have to empty it. The carny makes a good condenser too just run your pipe or coil (if you can get it small enough) through it drill it out and install your water hose fittings and there you go.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby myles » Thu Feb 26, 2009 11:18 am

On the topic of self filling thumpers, do they ever overfill? If this problem occurs is the solution to use a bigger thumper, or is it a flow rate / energy management issue.

Is there a design out there for a thumper with an overflow back into the main pot? Reason I am asking is that it could be convenient to use two smaller, rather than one bigger thumper. Would be worried about a smaller thumper over filling and messing up the condenser.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby evilpsych » Thu Feb 26, 2009 2:12 pm

There's a lot of discussion, and debate over sizing thumpers too.. Some seem to think that 25-30% of the boiler is an efficient sizing, I think that larger thumpers can be utilized to prevent overfilling and efficiency losses by insulating them the same as you would your boiler. If the thumper is radiating too much latent heat from the input through the walls of the thumper, it wont get put into the doubling liquid, and thusly through the condensor. It wouldn't even have to be fully insulated, you might find that leaving a percentage at the top exposed may enhance performance.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby Hack » Thu Feb 26, 2009 4:32 pm

On the parent site under the thumper design section, it actually talks about the incoming vapor carrying more than enough heat with it to redistill itself. If that is true, then insulating a thumper is a bad idea because you want to lose some of that extra heat so that you can drive your thumper nice and easy like a regular pot on a spirit run. I run mine on that theory with good results.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby evilpsych » Thu Feb 26, 2009 5:14 pm

Hack wrote:On the parent site under the thumper design section, it actually talks about the incoming vapor carrying more than enough heat with it to redistill itself. If that is true, then insulating a thumper is a bad idea because you want to lose some of that extra heat so that you can drive your thumper nice and easy like a regular pot on a spirit run. I run mine on that theory with good results.


Yes, I read that portion - and everything else I've read (anecdotal included) points to a perfectly sized thumper being the reason why the extra insulation isn't necessary. However, if you have a larger (to a much larger one) thumper, too much heat may be lost, causing too much vapor to condense out, causing your thumper to overfill itself and not produce the appropriate amount of 'doubling'... partial coverage insulation should help that out without having to drive the boiler as hard. Call it 'Thumper Tuning' without having to buy different sized containers until you find one that works best with your setup.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby evilpsych » Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:12 pm

another way to view what i'm talking about is in power necessary.....,

Hypotehtically speaking (and i made these numbers up. - but hopefully you see the thought process...): Say that for a spirit run, the condensor requires oh.. 1100 watts to drive it at the spirit-run collection rate you are satisfied at. The thumper dissipates say.. 5watts of heat input from the per exposed uninsulated sq/in The thumper has approx. 500 sq/inches of exposed surface, which dissipates a total of 2500 watts. In order to drive the final output, you need to input from the boiler 3600 watts of heat input (after losses) Nevermind the fact that that 3600 watts of power comes with 66% more vapor (by weight) so for every 'unit' of collected product from the output, 2x that unit has been left in the thumper.

Now, Say we were able to tune the thumper with insulation - to the tune of a reduction of heat loss from the thumper surface to only a few hundred watts, you can acheive the same output from the thumper, with less heat input from the boiler. Now, we WANT a certain amount of liquid to stay in the thumper.. (half? 1/3? you be the chef on that one) in order to achieve the ABV we want in the final product. by 'tuning' the area of dissipation, we can control the rate as which the thumper retains vapor as fluid, regardless of the size of the 'over'-sized thumper.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby Tater » Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:25 pm

Way I thought a thumper worked .Ya heat the still and do to fact the way they work that a little pressure build up.And distillate that comes over is carrying more heat then if going straight to worm. But once it starts mixing with contents of the thumper as its heating it up it also lowers boiling point.Lower then whats in still and takes less heat to vaporize again.What I wonder is if using a 15 gallon keg like lots of ya do? And most ya ran out on a stripping run was around 4 gallons.If single running with cuts made ya get around 21/2 gallons keeping stuff .So say Theirs a gallon difference So adding head space and how much ya wanted in thumper to start with Wouldn't that be a way to figure size of thumper needed ? Ive just always went by what I was told use thumper at least 1/2 size of still.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby evilpsych » Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:45 pm

tater wrote:Way I thought a thumper worked .Ya heat the still and do to fact the way they work that a little pressure build up.And distillate that comes over is carrying more heat then if going straight to worm. But once it starts mixing with contents of the thumper as its heating it up it also lowers boiling point.Lower then whats in still and takes less heat to vaporize again.


That's going on too.... what i'm trying to control is the rate of that heat-build up, also prevent overflow/overfilling of the thumper..
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Re: Thumper?

Postby Tater » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:42 pm

evilpsych wrote:
Hack wrote:On the parent site under the thumper design section, it actually talks about the incoming vapor carrying more than enough heat with it to redistill itself. If that is true, then insulating a thumper is a bad idea because you want to lose some of that extra heat so that you can drive your thumper nice and easy like a regular pot on a spirit run. I run mine on that theory with good results.


Yes, I read that portion - and everything else I've read (anecdotal included) points to a perfectly sized thumper being the reason why the extra insulation isn't necessary. However, if you have a larger (to a much larger one) thumper, too much heat may be lost, causing too much vapor to condense out, causing your thumper to overfill itself and not produce the appropriate amount of 'doubling'... partial coverage insulation should help that out without having to drive the boiler as hard. Call it 'Thumper Tuning' without having to buy different sized containers until you find one that works best with your setup.
Trying to under stand this so forgive any questions that arnt up to par .But if ya have a to much larger thumper and givin ya are only gonna get so much product per run how ya gonna over fill it? I could see insulating a thumper to speed up run time but wouldnt ya want it uninsulated toward end of run cause temp from wash from still would be higher and proof of wash by then in thumper be lower and a slower run keeps proof up longer ?By my understanding of what your saying Id think thumper size would also be determined by what proof wash was. Ive not the schooling some of you guys have had.But find this very interesting.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby Dnderhead » Thu Feb 26, 2009 8:57 pm

Why not just do a striping run? measure how much you git, then you'd know about how much room you need.
that is what is left in thumper after use,, less alcohol /water that is taken off.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby goose eye » Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:01 am

it also got to do with what you putin inside. low wines wine beer or water.
ole boys aint ever seen a small one work but they seen biger ones every which a way. they see some
one barel outfits with a barel doublein keg filled over haf full. bout 30 minutes after the kettle fire is
set they lite one under the doublein keg. this is with low wines or wine/beer. aint no use with putin that much in with water. they feel the likker walkin an bout the time the likker comein into doublein keg
you rakein the keg fire out. now if your doublein keg is over fillin sounds like you got your fire up to hi an your keg cant catch up.


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Re: Thumper?

Postby Hack » Fri Feb 27, 2009 10:44 am

Since my self filling thumper starts empty, I can see how the size of the wash and its abv affects how much my thumper will fill. With larger washes and/or higher abv my thumper fills more. With lower abv and/or a smaller wash it fills less. I usually charge my still with 4-8 gallons and my 20qt stock pot thumper never fills more than 2" in the bottom, around a gallon or so.

Before I converted my thumper to self filling I would usually charge it with water. I found that once I filled it over about 2" to charge it, it didn't change much in level when I checked how much was in it after a run. The only time you might have to worry about flooding is if the charge in the thumper is too large. I know on mine that I can fill it with 2 1/2 to 3 gallons and still get things going.

I agree with Dnderhead and taters' ideas on sizing. Maybe add a bit for the amount you'd like to charge your thumper with and you'll be fine.

As far as balancing a thumper with your boiler, as long as you have a variable heat source there is probably a wide range of sizes and shapes that will work. For me the best way to think of it is that the thumper is a still doing a spirit run and the boiler is its heat source. The boiler is just doing a stripping run, so you can run it hard or you can run it slow. It doesn't have as much effect as what's going on in the thumper. As long as you can adjust your heat for a nice slow output like you'd want on a spirit run you'll be fine.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby HookLine » Fri Feb 27, 2009 1:08 pm

I am in genuine awe at the amount of knowledge on this one thread alone.

I have a lot left to learn about this craft, science, and art.

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Re: Thumper?

Postby Tater » Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:47 pm

Hack wrote:Since my self filling thumper starts empty, I can see how the size of the wash and its abv affects how much my thumper will fill. With larger washes and/or higher abv my thumper fills more. With lower abv and/or a smaller wash it fills less. I usually charge my still with 4-8 gallons and my 20qt stock pot thumper never fills more than 2" in the bottom, around a gallon or so.


As far as balancing a thumper with your boiler, as long as you have a variable heat source there is probably a wide range of sizes and shapes that will work. For me the best way to think of it is that the thumper is a still doing a spirit run and the boiler is its heat source. The boiler is just doing a stripping run, so you can run it hard or you can run it slow. It doesn't have as much effect as what's going on in the thumper. As long as you can adjust your heat for a nice slow output like you'd want on a spirit run you'll be fine.
Looks to me like a self filling thumper gonna start off with highest proof possible in thumper compared to still.Would think it gonna make for some tight cuts and proof dropping off rather quickly.Cause for a bit when ya turn that first condenser off your gonna be double runnin say 130+ proof in thumper.Be probably 120 proof heating thumper by then..Interesting What proof do you expect when thumper firsts starts running?As to what a thumper ends up with at end of wash Seemed to me that the low abv washes left more in thumper then the high ones.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby Hack » Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:57 pm

tater wrote:Looks to me like a self filling thumper gonna start off with highest proof possible in thumper compared to still.Would think it gonna make for some tight cuts and proof dropping off rather quickly.Cause for a bit when ya turn that first condenser off your gonna be double runnin say 130+ proof in thumper.Be probably 120 proof heating thumper by then..Interesting What proof do you expect when thumper firsts starts running?As to what a thumper ends up with at end of wash Seemed to me that the low abv washes left more in thumper then the high ones.


You're probably right about the low abv wash leaving more. It makes sense. Now that I think about it my low abv washes have been some of my smaller volume washes so they left less in the thumper because of the smaller volume.

I haven't gotten around to building a parrot to tell you what proof things start off at. I usually go by feel, rubbing some of the distillate between my fingers. When the tails come, it goes from scrunchy to oily very quickly and just by taste you can tell the proof drops very quickly also. This is also verified by the highly technical "does it burn on a stick?" test, because very quickly it goes from "does burn" to "doesn't burn". Usually burns a nice barely visible blue flame. Since the tails switch very quickly, I'd guess the heads switch pretty quick too. It's usually pretty easy to make the heads cut. I take 100-200ml samples and usually end up with one or two jars of "maybe a bit of heads" then a switch to "definately heads" moving up the samples.

The last run of UJSM I did, I added in the heads and tails of the previous run to the boiler. After cuts my hooch was 150 proof. Maybe that helps give an idea of what things might be like when it first starts running. Without adding heads and tails I get 140 proof after cuts on UJSM pretty consistently.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby ScottishBoy » Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:14 am

theholymackerel wrote:A thumper is just a secondary boiler powered by the primary boiler.

I know folks use glass thumpers, but I doubt it's smart. I mean think about it... a glass boiler? It's not even rolled borosilicate glass. Mason jars are cheap glass made in a mold.

Do whatever yall think best, this is just my two-cents worth.




I wish ya luck (especially those usin' glass boilers).


Im sorry, but I have to disagree with this statement. Anyone who has even done canning knows that mason jars are designed to be placed in boiling water for long periods of time and to sustain vaccuums for long periods of time. Mason jars have been known to last over 100 years with continual use. I myself have some from the 70's that I know have been in straight service since then. Easiest way to tell if it will last is to take your finger and plink it. If it makes a "tink", pass on it, if it makes a "tunk", then the walls should be thick and good. I prefer Ball Brand Jars because of their reputation and thickness.
Some processed foods come in jars that are cast to LOOK like mason jars, but are really just for show.
These may be the ones theHolyMackeral is referring to.

Thickness will be the major factor in these so go with the thicker ones, shy away from the thin ones and dont use DIRECT heat on them.

Then they will do just fine.

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Re: Thumper?

Postby Dnderhead » Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:01 am

in a pressure cooker the jar is heated even, not always so in a thumper. as you can have hot liquids in the bottom and empty top.
it is this difference in temperature that "can " cause cracking. if you can you know you have to protect hot jars from drafts and fast cooling.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby ScottishBoy » Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:58 am

When I jar Salsa ( good stuff by the way! ;) ) The batches are put into boiling water which should simulate the same temperature differential you are talking about. Its the thickness of the jar that allows for this and the tempering of the glass during the process of making it. I also dont use pressure cookers to jar. We do it the safer way. ;)

As for the drafts and such, If you are using quality jars, this should never happen. 20 plus years of Salsa making and I have never had a jar break on me. But...I always make an effort to buy quality jars because they pay for themselves in longevity.

That being said...I also err on the side of caution with this and would most likely not use a glass thumper for any long term design unless it was pyrex or bomex.
Placement and dissolution of the heat is critical to a good thumper. Too deep creates too much back pressure and too high means less contact with your fill. In the past I have used the 1/3 ratio and the 1/4 ratio for placement of the outlet tube and I find 1/3 to be pretty good. The naturall convection of the bubbles and the heat creates a swirling motion that SEEMS to produce more satisfactory results.

Once again, Im not saying that we should all embrace Mason jars as an end all be all solution, but they are not as cheap or as dangerous as some here would make them out to be.

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Re: Thumper?

Postby HookLine » Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:27 pm

Having a glass jar crack on you when it only contains salsa or jam, ain't no big deal. Having one crack on you when it contains hot ethanol, well that is a whole different situation.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby ScottishBoy » Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:43 pm

If a jar can crack from whatever mysterious force you claim, then the temperature of ANYTHING inside that jar is going to be dangerous.
The fact is that anything entering the jar should be less that 95C otherwise you are producing waste. Since the jars are designed to be submerged and heated to boiling temperatures I think they should be able to handle a little steam and lower than boiling temps.

Ever wonder why the jars don't have any ridges around the outside? ( From the injection process? )
There is a plain and simple reason why. ( Hint: Look at the patented process for Ball and Kerr jars)
Once you figure that out, you'll understand why they can take that type of heat.

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Re: Thumper?

Postby LWTCS » Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:44 pm

Additionally, Mason jar as a thumper is not a,,,,,,,lifer. Its a tester at best.
Get yourself a unit thats worthy and capable of a repeatable service history year after year.

That is,,,,,If you like and plan to continue stilling. IMHO.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby olddog » Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:58 pm

I am not prepared to take risks in any shape or form when dealing with potentially inflamable / explosive alcohol at 150ABV
I don't need glass to be able to see whats going on in my thumper, I would rather be safe.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby ScottishBoy » Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:38 pm

I also err on the side of caution with this and would most likely not use a glass thumper for any long term design unless it was pyrex or bomex.


You guys ARE reading these posts right?
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Re: Thumper?

Postby HookLine » Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:49 pm

If a jar can crack from whatever mysterious force you claim,


As has already been pointed out, it is not the temperature as such, nobody is arguing that glass itself can't handle 100C. It is the temperature differential between different parts of the jar that is the problem. Thermal shock. Nothing mysterious.

Glass is also subject to mechanical damage from knocks and bumps, and they do happen.

Pretty sure there are one or two stories on this forum about glass thumpers failing.

The failure rate may well be low, but the potential consequences of failure can be very high. Much safer to do the thumper in copper or stainless.

Pyrex is a lot safer than normal glass. No argument there. But it is still subject to thermal and mechanical shock, and lab techs still handle and use it with care.

I don't think anybody is saying that glass is always going to fail, or is very likely to. But the risk of it doing so is WAY higher than for copper or stainless, and the consequences can be pretty nasty in this application.

Why would you risk it?
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Re: Thumper?

Postby LWTCS » Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:51 pm

ScottishBoy wrote:You guys ARE reading these posts right?


He he he.

Recon so. Just reading entire post (again).

Recon the message or recomendation (from the gents) would be that a stainless or copper vessel (rather than glass or pyrex) would be preferable, based on a really long history of repeatable (and safe) service life.

Seems like you would be on board with that kind of conservative recommendation. Thats good.

The forum has an obligation to promote best (and proven) practices. Most commentary will ordinarily default to that "best practice" message.
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Re: Thumper?

Postby ScottishBoy » Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:33 pm

No Arguing best practice mon cher...
Jes layin truth dat' seems straight in light of my eyes that done seen it.
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Truth be in God's hands yeah...or at least in the science he wrote...
Yeah. I was taught by that man.

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