my first keg still, need your input

Many like to post about a first successful ferment (or first all grain mash), or first still built/bought or first good run of the still. Tell us about all of these great times here.
Pics are VERY welcome, we drool over pretty copper 8)

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coalminer
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my first keg still, need your input

Post by coalminer » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:25 am

Hey guys, I have been reading and learning all I can for about a week now and I think I am ready to start gathering pieces for my still. I have have a scrap yard not far from me. I have found 2 stainless kegs, I believe one is 16 gal and one is 8 gal. I can use one for the pot and one for a thumper. Is 8 gal too big for a thumper? 2 inch copper is getting hard to find and real expensive. So with the scrap yard so close I am going to try to go all stainless. I have access to a mig welder and machine shop, so this build will be something like a rat rod (use what you got laying around) I want to make my column so I can pack it if I want or not. I want to make quality shine, then later on I can start making some bourbon or brandy. Here is my plan, 16gal keg up a 2 inch column (packed or not) into a thumper and then into a jacketed condenser and out to a parrot. I do have welding skills and soldering although not the best but enough to get me by for this project. I will post pictures as I go. let me know what you think, any suggestions you have. I am not sure if packing and a thumper are a good idea, so i'll throw it out there and you let me know what you think. thanks in advance!
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by bluefish_dist » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:36 am

Pretty simple really. I would flip it over add legs, use the 2" on the bottom as a drain. Add one or two 2" triclamps on the sides for heat, add either a 4" or 6" to the middle of the top for your column and cleaning. Then add a 2 or 4" off center as a fill port. Go a minimum of 4" as that is the smallest size your hand will fit through. Can't help on thumper design as I don't use one. I configure as 3 plate 4" column, 4" packed or a simple T fitting with one side blocked off for stripping. While a little more $$ up front to go stainless the modularity of tri clamps is great.
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by coalminer » Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:29 am

Thanks bluefish, I do plan to add a drain, will look at how to incorporate some legs, one thing I did not mention, I plan to heat with electric. Now with the t fitting, you are talking about one side with packing and one side open, correct? There are a few things I do not understand yet, as in if I use packing, is it beneficial to use a thumper, but I am still researching.
next few days I will be working 12 hr shifts so my postings will be delayed, just so anybody that answers does not think I am ignoring them.
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by Truckinbutch » Wed Feb 01, 2017 2:54 pm

A less frustrating way to break into this hobby is to use a simple pot still '
15.5 keg and 8 gallon thumper . A 15.5 thumper is more versitile .
Fill ports and drains in both will save you a lot of grief and extra labor . There are some great threads on single opening plumbing for boilers and thumpers using the existing tri-clamp connection for filling/vapor path .
Don't fool with packing the column . Come off the boiler with a 2x2x2 T and make the side T the fill port . Reduce to 1" on the way to the thumper and transition into copper . Connect the thumper with 2" triclamp bushing soldered into a 2x2x1x1" or a 2x1x1x1" reducer . The side opening is the fill port . Pass the 1" copper vapor tube through the reducer to the bottom of the keg .1" vapor out to a liebig condenser .
This is covered better in existing threads complete with diagrams .
You can learn basic distilling with a pot still relatively easy and go from there to more sophisticated rigs smoothly .
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by bluefish_dist » Wed Feb 01, 2017 4:38 pm

With a t fitting, I simply place the T at the top of the boiler, cap of one side and put a 90 deg on the other. The other end of the 90 attaches to my condenser. You could use two 90's to do the same thing. I just happen to have a T from my reflux head, so I use it instead of buying another 90. By using two fittings the condenser angle can be adjusted. I would take
A pot still head is very simple. Just get the vapor from the boiler opening to the condenser and the condenser has to be sloping down so it drains.

Here is my keg set up with a 3 plate and lm/vm head. For pot still imagine removing the right hand side and capping it off. To prevent it becoming a bomb, the valve is removed. Then it's open all the time.
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by aircarbonarc » Wed Feb 01, 2017 6:07 pm

bluefish_dist wrote:Pretty simple really. I would flip it over add legs, use the 2" on the bottom as a drain.
Thanks! Great idea!
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by GrassHopper » Wed Feb 01, 2017 6:21 pm

Would not agree with some here. I say keep it simple. Go with the 15.5 keg, add a 2" ferule for your 2" copper column to make it modular. Forget the thumper.....way out of date IMHO. Build a liebig condenser and your ready to go. Forget the drain ports. I have yet needed to clean my boiler after nearly a hundred runs. Oh, you can add it if it makes ya feel good, but not necessary. As far as fill ports, I have not had a problem with the 2" it came with. Start making something good. KISS

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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by bluefish_dist » Wed Feb 01, 2017 7:02 pm

While you can simply take a keg, add a 1" threaded insert from eBay for $5. That is where I started, but quickly found it was a pain to take everything apart to carry the keg to someplace to dump it. With a drain and separate fill you can leave everything in place, drain it, wash it out, and refill. Well worth the time and small added expense on the front end, especially since you can weld.
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by Truckinbutch » Wed Feb 01, 2017 7:15 pm

bluefish_dist wrote:While you can simply take a keg, add a 1" threaded insert from eBay for $5. That is where I started, but quickly found it was a pain to take everything apart to carry the keg to someplace to dump it. With a drain and separate fill you can leave everything in place, drain it, wash it out, and refill. Well worth the time and small added expense on the front end, especially since you can weld.
:clap: Great minds think alike . :wave:
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by jedneck » Wed Feb 01, 2017 7:17 pm

vinegar ain't cheap. built right the 1st time
welcome aboard some of us are ornery old coots but if you do a lot of
reading and don't ask stupid questions you'll be alright most are
big help
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by corene1 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:32 pm

Just thinking on this, there are a lot of fancy stills around but I still like to run my pot and thumper combination for whiskies, rums and brandies. There are so many different ways to use this set up with or without the thumper to get different flavors from you whiskies. One of my favorites for whisky is to strip 80% of a mash without the thumper then add the remaining 20 % of the mash back to the low wines add the thumper and do a slow spirit run. Making your small keg into a thumper is pretty easy . I built a little universal piece that can be modified to any keg with a 2 inch tri clamp ferrule on top. This is the post if you want to look at it. http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopi ... 16&t=64411 . Since you have welding abilities I would definitely go for the drain ports, They certainly made my life easier for draining the boiler. And a fill port is a great time saver when doing multiple runs. You don't need to break things down to load the boiler, just drain and fill.

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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by coalminer » Thu Feb 02, 2017 10:36 am

I am getting alot of ideas here that I did not think of, drain valves and fill ports. I believe a drain valve would help alot, I know its extra but my back will thank me in the long run. I do appreciate everybody chiming in and your ideas. As said before I am reading but it is impossible to read every thread so if you know of a thread that may be of help, let me know about it. or if you know of a place that sells the stainless fittings cheaper, that is also appreciated.
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by corene1 » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:16 pm

I don't know what cheaper is, but my local steel supply sells 1/2 inch stainless collars for 2 dollars and a 1/2 inch stainless ball valve for 9 dollars. If you use the ball valve with a female thread you can use a pipe 1/2 nipple on the boiler instead of a collar. They are about a dollar here.

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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by coalminer » Fri Feb 03, 2017 10:21 pm

Thanks Corene. I will check on that. Here is what I have so far, looks like I will be using some copper. I aquired some 1.5 inch copper and 1 inch copper pipe, free. price was right. So I can make my column out of 1.5 inch copper and make a fitting to connect to the keg. I will cut a 4 inch hole in top for cleaning and fit some type of cap to that then attach my column to that. A T as mentioned prior for loading the keg then on to the thumper and to a condensor
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by corene1 » Sat Feb 04, 2017 9:01 am

Just some thoughts on using what you have,. Put a 4 inch triclamp setup on your keg as a start . Then it will be modular to use any type column you wish to use in the future. You can go anywhere from a simple pot still to a plated column. Here is a picture of one I built for a friend Just for some ideas. She wanted to make neutrals, but didn't have much money to invest in a still. This is a basic packed column with reflux condenser on top. It goes from a 4 inch triclamp fitting to a 2 inch column to the reflux condenser then to the liebeg. We had about a hundred dollars in it for the keg and material that I got from the remnant pile at the steel supply. she already had a burner and thermometer. You could use the same basic idea but make a shorter pot still column to your condenser. They make a flat production plate that is a cap for the end of the ferrule you would simply need to drill it and attach your copper column to it. Again just somethings to think about. Later I added a short 4 inch section to put copper pall rings in so there was plenty of copper in the vapor path.
P8230012.JPG

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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by coalminer » Sun Feb 05, 2017 3:15 am

wow corene, I am impressed. It is good to see females with metal working skills, and skills with liquor! (the perfect wife!) lol thank you very much. do you think inch and half is big enough coming out of the still? The keg I looked at had the valve cut out of it so I will have to weld something on top anyway and the copper is free.
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by coalminer » Tue Feb 07, 2017 6:25 pm

:D
Here is a picture of it........ some assembly required!
Here is a picture of it........ some assembly required!
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It is not perfect, but here is my parrot
It is not perfect, but here is my parrot
KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid!

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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by still_stirrin » Tue Feb 07, 2017 6:45 pm

coalminer wrote:...do you think inch and half is big enough coming out of the still? The keg I looked at had the valve cut out of it so I will have to weld something on top anyway and the copper is free.
Is that the 1/2 barrel keg you're talking about? With the Sanke valve removed?

Get a 3" or 4" triclover ferrule and weld that on. Then you can get a reducer to what ever size column (or riser) you're putting on it. Since the hole is already there, then get the right sized ferrule for the hole.

But I wouldn't use 1-1/2"...I'd stay at least with 2" minimum.
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by Truckinbutch » Tue Feb 07, 2017 6:49 pm

+1 on Still stirrin . No academic reason . Just gut and it worked for me .
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by Blarney Stoned » Tue Feb 07, 2017 6:52 pm

still_stirrin wrote:
coalminer wrote:...do you think inch and half is big enough coming out of the still? The keg I looked at had the valve cut out of it so I will have to weld something on top anyway and the copper is free.
Is that the 1/2 barrel keg you're talking about? With the Sanke valve removed?

Get a 3" or 4" triclover ferrule and weld that on. Then you can get a reducer to what ever size column (or riser) you're putting on it. Since the hole is already there, then get the right sized ferrule for the hole.

But I wouldn't use 1-1/2"...I'd stay at least with 2" minimum.
ss
Neighbor has a 6 inch on his. Pretty darn nice.

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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by coalminer » Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:03 pm

Still Stirrin, the 16g keg has the valve removed, the 8g keg is for the thumper. I will check on 2 inch, just found where I can get parts today. The stainless steel strip I can cut and weld on top of the keg for whatever size hole I want to make. I prefer something I can get my arm into for cleaning. All of this except for the fittings in the box was from the scrap yard, so the kegs were bought legaly and were due to be crushed.
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by still_stirrin » Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:15 pm

coalminer wrote:...The stainless steel strip I can cut and weld on top of the keg for whatever size hole I want to make. I prefer something I can get my arm into for cleaning...
So then order you a 4" stainless steel ferrule and weld it on the opening in your big keg. While you're at it, also order a 4"x2" reducer so you can plumb to your thumper with 2" copper. Also, don't forget to order a 4" triclover clamp and PTFE gasket for it. You'll need those too.
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by Truckinbutch » Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:18 pm

You'll be ok . If you can find another 15.5/16 gallon keg for a thumper you will be happier with that in the long run . Much more versitile .
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by still_stirrin » Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:27 pm

Here's a 4" weld ferrule: http://m.glaciertanks.com/product.cgi?g ... oduct=4697" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

And here's a bell reducer: http://m.glaciertanks.com/product.cgi?g ... oduct=6068" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

Need a 4" TC clamp: http://www.glaciertanks.com/product.cgi ... oduct=9608" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

And a PTFE gasket: http://www.glaciertanks.com/product.cgi ... oduct=1074" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow
(get a couple....they're cheap)
ss
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by corene1 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:49 pm

I really like the idea of a larger opening on the top for cleaning and charging the boiler. The parts in the above post work well. You can also get the ferrule and and end cap and drill the end cap to fit whatever size pipe you have. You mentioned 1 1/2 inch pipe . I think that is fine for a pot still. If you want to spend less get the 2 ferrules and a clamp then simply cut a plate circle and cap the ferrule with that and attach the tube to that and you won't have to purchase the rounded end cap. You could even use a blank cap and attach the column to it http://www.glaciertanks.com/tri-clamp-f ... -caps.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow . I chose the rounded cap as they are inexpensive here . Just to insure there was enough copper contact with the vapor I made a little add on canister to hold copper rashing rings between the boiler and the column. This is a picture of the basic setup .If it will help with some ideas.
PC150002.JPG

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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by Truckinbutch » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:32 pm

As I posted on his Welcome Center thread ; SRD and I shared coffee with him today . And pictures and advice . We straightened his learning curve and he enhanced ours .
We advised him on using what he has to get a dependable pot/thumper going with modular construction . He has offered to help smooth our path with what he has to offer .
I think this coalminer feller is a positive asset to our community . :thumbup:
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by coalminer » Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:03 pm

Thank you very much Butch! It was a real pleasure meeting both of you and I look forward to many fun times together. After I got home I got started working on my project again. My condenser is done and I will get some pictures of it soon. I was asked earlier to post pics, as I feel it may help other noobs also. so here is some eye candy. The parrot was trial and error. I drilled the holes then tried to solder to the outside. Thinking back I should have drilled the holes just big enough for the 5/16 tubing to slide through, then flared one end out a little. Then cleaned the hole and slid the tubing through until the flare stopped it and soldered from the inside. for the bottom, I reduced from 1 inch to 1/2 inch and capped that off. This gave me something to slide down into the wood. The wood is a 4x4 post cap from lowes mounted on a piece of 6x6 pine. I drilled a 5\8 hole all the way through and stained with cherry stain. The 1/2 inch cap fits snugly into the wood and holds the thing up great.
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20170214_211641.jpg
20170207_181441.jpg
20170207_180459.jpg
20170207_175906.jpg
plasma cutter on the top of the keg
plasma cutter on the top of the keg
building the parrot
building the parrot
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by Oldvine Zin » Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:12 pm

Hope that you filled the keg with water before you started plasma cutting, if you didn't cleaning the slag out will be a bitch

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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by coalminer » Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:26 pm

Oldvine Zin wrote:Hope that you filled the keg with water before you started plasma cutting, if you didn't cleaning the slag out will be a bitch

OVZ
yeh that was a hard lesson to learn...lol good thing hole was big enough for the grinder to fit, then pressure washer
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Re: my first keg still, need your input

Post by jb-texshine » Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:14 am

coalminer wrote:wow corene, I am impressed. It is good to see females with metal working skills, and skills with liquor! (the perfect wife!) lol thank you very much. do you think inch and half is big enough coming out of the still? The keg I looked at had the valve cut out of it so I will have to weld something on top anyway and the copper is free.
I think corene will forgive me for saying that isnt even close to her best work,more function over form.Look through her old posts,its becomes obvious that she not only has skill but enjoys using it and takes pride in her work.
Last edited by jb-texshine on Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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