Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in thump

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Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in thump

Postby Jimy Dee » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:40 pm

Folks

I almost killed myself today - I think!. I needed to strip on the grain. So yesterday in preparation for a full day stripping today, I duly filled my thumper (full SS beer keg) with slop and put clear wort in the pot (full SS beer keg). Turned on my pot today. Left it heat up. I was in and out of the barn (where I still) keeping an eye on the still. One hour went by with the gas burner full swing under the pot, and for some bizarre reason the thumper never started thumping. Fuck me, the next thing the steam started bursting out the gasket where the copper pipe is attached to the pot. I realised there was a blockage some where in the pipes, so I quickly turned off the gas and I got the spanner and opened up the nut holding the copper pipe onto the pot to release the pressure. The thing exploded with gas and liquid all over the place. There was some pressure built up in the pot. :crazy:

I did not mind as I was glad the SS keg pot itself did not explode. If this happened I would not be typing this tonight.

Anyway I went away for a while and let things cool down. Came back, opened up my copper piping over the pot and loosened the nut holding the piping to the thumper. Kneeled down and blew into the pipe from the pot end - not a friggin budge. Realised the grain/slop in the thumper must have really settled too well over night and the pressure coming from the pot was just not strong enough to clear the blockage at the bottom of the pipe going into the bottom of the thumper. So I got a stick, opened the 4 inch port hole in the thumper and stirred the slop. Then I started blowing down the pipe, stirred some more, and after a few goes I managed to blow through the pipe and the thumper started bubbling. Put it all back together and let her do her job.

I am never going to let the slop settle in the thumper again over night. Instead as the pot is heating up I will put the slop into the thumper.

My kids were around the barn (where I still) today so I am feeling lucky that no one was injured. There was some blow out of the pot when I opened the nut. Anyway we live and learn.

Moral of the story - dont let the slop in the thumper at all, put it in just before you run your still.
Also, if running a pot / thumper make sure to use your ears - a thumping thumper is good, whereas a silent thumper is bad !


Hope this saves others from the same mistake.

Jimy
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby Reverend Newer » Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:18 pm

That's one of the more scary stories i've heard! I am so thankful you are safe, took stainless steel balls to release pressure with the wrench as you did.

I was told to not let your still cool completely while assembled because a blockage could cause your boiler to crush like a beer can.

I'd bet as your slop cooled, not only did it settle into the bottom of your thumper but was also sucked up into the lyne arm side of the thump pipe.

I learnt it's best to break up any vapor lock possibility while the still parts are warm, especially the part between the thumper and boiler because that's a vapor-lock point. Have a prosperous 2018 jimy!


I also commend you for sharing your failures with us knowing you will get hammered by the all-knowers here. Thanks jimy!
Last edited by Reverend Newer on Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby zapata » Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:28 pm

Scary mate, glad you're still with us!
Mind sharing a few details about the rig? Pipe sizes and thumper steam inlet configuration seem most relevant, although maybe it really was all about the settling.
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby rubber duck » Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:37 pm

Basically what your doing is running a steam injection setup. I have ran this setup more times then i can count, it is basically a poor mans way to run on the grain.

Here is where the problem is, the old folks would just pile rocks up on the cap of the main still. if there was a pressure build up the cap would just pop off and no one got hurt, on a set up like that that you can see it coming. In the modern age of tight kegs and tri clamps with Teflon seals we can build up a lot of pressure. you need to have a pressure relief valve at less the 15 psi and a gauge if your going to run a steam injection set up.



We are not playing pokeymon here. In this hobby a bad mistake will cost you a lot.
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby cede » Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:47 pm

A pressure safety / vacuum breaker valve is a must have on a boiler I think.
Not quite cheap, but cheaper than a life.
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby rubber duck » Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:52 pm

cede wrote:A pressure safety / vacuum breaker valve is a must have on a boiler I think.
Not quite cheap, but cheaper than a life.



I think you are right. It's 100 dollars. if you cant afford it well i hope you do a lot of reading.
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby jon1163 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:06 pm

Thank you for the post. Just started using a thumper with my new build
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby JellybeanCorncob » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:45 pm

Jimy: Im glad you caught it in time! I wonder where The still would have failed? I guess that’s a morbid thought. I’m glad your ok. I keep a close eye and ear on my thumper till it gets to thumping. The first time I used my thumper I finished my run and turned off the gas. About 5 minuets later I went to break down the piping. When I unclamped my first connection “2” copper”, hot mash oozed out of the pipe. The hot slop in the thumper sucked up into the pipe and about 3 gallons of it went into my boiler. What a hot mess! When I shut down now I turn the heat down real low and break the seal before shutting down.
Take care buddy.
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby jedneck » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:21 pm

MANOMETER
Cheap n eazy to build. Pressure n vacuum relief
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: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:31 pm

I’m not sure I get this whole thing about filling a boiler or thumper the night before.
Does it really take that long to dump shit in a boiler?

I do big ferments and run 15 gal boiler with 15 gal thumper and it has never occurred to me to dump anything in a day ahead. What am I missing?

And +1 to manometer.
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby StillerBoy » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:40 pm

Jimy Dee wrote:Turned on my pot today. Left it heat up. I was in and out of the barn (where I still) keeping an eye on the still.

Glad you are still alive and the courage to talk about it .. but more important, did you really learn something from this experience ? ? ?

The error of lots of hobbyist is just that, after a while it become routine, and when that settles in, you have what you just experience.. put the heat on, and start doing other things, an extremely bad habit..

Hopefully, you have learned something.. and hopefully you will research using steam some more..

Mars
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby rgreen2002 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 7:19 pm

StillerBoy wrote:.. put the heat on, and start doing other things...

Mars


Seems like this practice is in so many of the "I made a mistake" posts. Might just be tryin' to tell us something..?!?

Glad all is well Jimmy Dee! We only get a few near misses in this hobby and you just might be down one...
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby raketemensch » Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:37 pm

MichiganCornhusker wrote:I’m not sure I get this whole thing about filling a boiler or thumper the night before.
Does it really take that long to dump shit in a boiler?

I do big ferments and run 15 gal boiler with 15 gal thumper and it has never occurred to me to dump anything in a day ahead. What am I missing?

And +1 to manometer.


It’s all a matter of available time and space. I’ll often need to empty the fermenter to get something new going, so the easiest place to move wash is... to the boiler.

Or I’ll have an hour on a Saturday, so I’ll charge the keg knowing that on Sunday morning I can just fire up the boiler and be ready to go.
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby Truckinbutch » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:14 pm

raketemensch wrote:
MichiganCornhusker wrote:I’m not sure I get this whole thing about filling a boiler or thumper the night before.
Does it really take that long to dump shit in a boiler?

I do big ferments and run 15 gal boiler with 15 gal thumper and it has never occurred to me to dump anything in a day ahead. What am I missing?

And +1 to manometer.


It’s all a matter of available time and space. I’ll often need to empty the fermenter to get something new going, so the easiest place to move wash is... to the boiler.

Or I’ll have an hour on a Saturday, so I’ll charge the keg knowing that on Sunday morning I can just fire up the boiler and be ready to go.

This story should make it obvious that this is a poor practice . I don't even charge the boiler with cleared beer the day before . There's still going to be suspended yeast that can settle overnight and scorch when the burner is lit the next day .
Those slops can settle like concrete in a thumper in a day's time and cause you grief .
You need an 'ATTABOY' for knowing your rig and getting out ahead of a problem before it became a catastrophy .
Some of us older pot stillers that use thumpers need our legs strapped a little bit for not mentioning this settling thing a bit more often .
Assuming that others will see the same potential hazards as we do is a failure , on our part , to the community .
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby jon1163 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:50 pm

I've done some internet searches would someone post a photo of their manometer please
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby Swedish Pride » Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:25 am

glad to hear it was just a close call Jim.
It's scary stuff when steam is starting to leak all over, sure isn't something you want to see again.

Manometer
http://ww.homedistiller.org/forum/viewt ... 0#p7355011
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby Yummyrum » Sun Jan 14, 2018 3:41 am

Thanks for posting Jimy :thumbup:

This is a real eye opener for me as I have only just started to steam strip rice fermentations in a thumper setup and was wondering about the need for a Manometer or some other Pressure release devise . Having only used the Thumper for Rums it had not crossed my mind that this could happen . :clap:

I have to admit to being in the habit of emptying a fermenter into the boiler the day before too :oops: .....time is precious and so are fermenters . Never seen a problem with it but then I've only ever done sugar neutrals , Rums or cleared Scotch Whisky .....so this concept of "solids" causing issues is new to me and I appreciate your story .....and I will never load it the night before .
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby cede » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:53 am

jon1163 wrote:I've done some internet searches would someone post a photo of their manometer please

Manometer is not a safety device.
Follow this link to search for one.
https://www.google.ca/search?q=Tri+Clamp+Pressure+Relief%2F+Vacuum+Valve
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby Kareltje » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:10 am

Shadylane has a home built manometer that at the same time can function as a relief valve. Just a U-tube with a transparant part in the second leg and a scale behind it.
One can easily build a safety valve oneself or take one from a high pressure cooker.

I noticed the other day a temperature of 101 dgr C in the line from boiler to thumper and I knew for certain I had only put water in the boiler. A bit later the temp read 99 dgr C and it stayed there. Clearly the thermometer is one dgr low AND there had been some pressure. As I have a shower head on my input pipe I am always afraid of blocking, so I ALWAYS blow through the pipe myself before I connect it.

Man man, you must be very relieved at the escape!!!
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby RedwoodHillBilly » Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:28 pm

FWIW, I always use a PRV/VRV on my boiler when doing steam stripping. Here is a version that I use https://www.ebay.com/itm/SS304-2-Inch-S ... 1758631321

It can be bought cheaper on Ali Express if you are wiling to wait a couple of weeks. The pressure release is easily adjustable by adjusting the top to set the popoff valve pressure. I set mine to 3PSI, and made sure that it doesn't change by wrapping the threads with heavy duty teflon tape. This way there is a large physical resistance so that that vibrations won't change the setting. The vacuum release isn't easily adjustable, but is just fine.
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby Jimy Dee » Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:45 pm

Thanks folks for all the replies. It was a good steep learning curve. Was stripping more slop today and kept the 4 inch port hole open until I saw the bubbles percolating up from the pipe in the thumper. Once there was action in the thumper I closed up the port hole and let her go. The good news is we are still all here to make more ! Jimy
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby RedwoodHillBilly » Sun Jan 14, 2018 1:06 pm

Jimy Dee wrote:Thanks folks for all the replies. It was a good steep learning curve. Was stripping more slop today and kept the 4 inch port hole open until I saw the bubbles percolating up from the pipe in the thumper. Once there was action in the thumper I closed up the port hole and let her go. The good news is we are still all here to make more ! Jimy


Bravo Jimy. One must learn from their mistakes, and preferably not repeat them.
John Barleycorn must die.
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The huntsman he can't hunt the fox, nor so loudly to blow his horn
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby Yummyrum » Sun Jan 14, 2018 2:16 pm

Jimy , I'm curious about the steam injector . Is it just a straight pipe or does it have a Wand or head on it ?
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby Kareltje » Sun Jan 14, 2018 3:25 pm

The simplest design for a relieve valve:
Klep.jpg
Klep.jpg (4.87 KiB) Viewed 119 times


Just a T, an elbow and a reducer. Put a marble in the reducer, or, if you need more pressure, two marbles.
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby The Baker » Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:31 pm

cede wrote:
jon1163 wrote:I've done some internet searches would someone post a photo of their manometer please

Manometer is not a safety device.
Follow this link to search for one.
https://www.google.ca/search?q=Tri+Clamp+Pressure+Relief%2F+Vacuum+Valve


Hi,

Just because a manometer is simple and not manufactured by a hi-tech company and is cheap, does not mean it is not a safety device.

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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby cede » Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:43 pm

I have in mind: "A safety device is a piece of equipment ... that reduces loss or damage from a fire, accident, or break-in"
A manometer will just show you some pressure but will not release pressure nor prevent explosion.
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby The Baker » Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:44 pm

cede wrote:I have in mind: "A safety device is a piece of equipment ... that reduces loss or damage from a fire, accident, or break-in"
A manometer will just show you some pressure but will not release pressure nor prevent explosion.


I believe that a manometer is open to the atmosphere and so WILL reduce pressure and so prevent explosion that is due to pressure.

And IMPLOSION due to vacuum.

There will be some water in the bottom of the U-tube as a barrier between the manometer and the atmosphere, that will be blown out (or in the case of vacuum, sucked in) easily in the event of over or under pressure.

Of course the manometer tubes will need to be of a suitable diameter.

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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby shadylane » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:32 pm

A water trap also makes a good PRV
It's kinda like a manometer that isn't clear enough to see through :lol:
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby cede » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:46 pm

The Baker wrote:I believe that a manometer is open to the atmosphere and so WILL reduce pressure and so prevent explosion that is due to pressure.


Right, if you think of this kind of manometer:
main-qimg-ab39d47fd02be827b2b769193a921d4a.gif
main-qimg-ab39d47fd02be827b2b769193a921d4a.gif (10.8 KiB) Viewed 92 times

It's open to atmosphere and can work for both pressure and vacuum.

When I hear manometer, I often think of this:
631.jpg
631.jpg (13.5 KiB) Viewed 92 times

Well, it's often called pressure or vacuum gauge/gage too :)
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Re: Close shave today- DONT let slop settle over night in th

Postby shadylane » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:51 pm

Thank you CD :thumbup:
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