Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Any steam Cooking /Distilling Device

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Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:41 am

I finally got around to firing up my steam stripper!
First of all, I need to credit this thread for giving the final push to start collecting parts & pieces, and slowly start building: viewtopic.php?f=32&t=54068

Also, I hesitate to mention members by name for fear of leaving some out, but there are some who were directly involved in inspiring this creation, and they come to mind immediately.

I think the first time I read about the 2-into-1-hole method of running the plumbing for a thumper was Truckinbutch, and the BoiseBlancBoy provided some pics of his build that helped show how it worked.
The Mo thread really supplied a lot of ideas and materials to help me come up with my plan. I think it was Brutal that mentioned the cheap eBay triclamp fitting that work so well with 3/4" copper tube & fittings.
MoonBreath was always wispering "modular, modular"... And of course, Jed, Shady, Brutal, and Yak, have all been sharing ideas for steaming a sloppy mash/ferment for the whole time.

So, anyways, here's what I done:

First I got a couple kegs. One is a pretty standard 15.5 gallon us keg, the other it a 50L euro keg. I'm using the 15.5 as the main boiler, and the 50L for the thumper.
I don't know if I just got lucky, but both have 2" lips that are continuous, with no notches cut out of them.
IMG_3301.JPG

I got 2" ferrules for the keg attachments, and I sanded the ridge off one side of the gasket so it would lay flat against the keg flange.
IMG_3300.JPG

I got a bunch of smaller ferrules and triclamps on ebay. They came as a set and were relatively cheap. The are sized perfectly for soldering in 3/4" copper pipe & fittings.
Here is are pics of the ends of my liebig, one of them showing a street 90 soldered into the ferrule.
IMG_3304.JPG

IMG_3303.JPG

I am using a 2" pipe & T at the boiler. That way I can fill the boiler with the riser attached, possibly adding to the boiler mid-run without having to take everything apart.
IMG_3291.JPG
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:53 am

For the real business end of this, I used 2" pipe, and 2"T's with 3/4" outlets.
IMG_3292.JPG

It's hard to see, but I was able to slip a street 90 into the inside of the 3/4" outlet of the bottom T. This goes to the "input" ferrule from the boiler.
IMG_3296.JPG

I made an L at the bottom of the feed tube to the thumper, and drilled a bunch of holes into the bottom of it.
IMG_3293.JPG

Here is the whole thing assembled:
IMG_3305.JPG

IMG_3306.JPG
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:56 am

I've got 2" corks in the tops of the risers on both the boiler and thumper to allow access to both kegs with out dismantling the whole rig.
IMG_3290.JPG

They fit very tightly, even more so when they swell with hot vapors.
Still, I am using a clamp above them to keep them from just flying off if they were to blow off.
IMG_3307.JPG

One of the things I'm still working on is a gin basket that I can add anywhere inline:
IMG_3308.JPG

By using the same size triclamp ferrules everywhere, I've got a lot of flexibility for adding items or switching them around.

I wanted to wait to get the electric element installed before running, but I had a messy potato ferment that needed running and I wasn't up to the task of squeezing/straining 200# of potato slop.
So I finished the solder work, ran the steam/vinegar/sac runs, and broke it in with the taters.

It worked amazingly well, at one point I cranked up the propane and pulled off a quart of low wines in 6 minutes, with no fear of scorching!
I was using about 2 gallons of boiler water for every 8 gallons of slop that I stripped, stripping way down to an average low wines abv of under 30%.


Very happy with the way this thing works, and looking forward to finding out all the things I can do with it.
Last edited by MichiganCornhusker on Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby yakattack » Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:05 pm

Sub. :) looking good!
Just think. No more squeezing. No more pilow case. No more ass press. No more gorilla hands.

Are you thinking of adding direct fill ports or drain valves for both kegs?
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:16 pm

yakattack wrote:Sub. :) looking good!
Just think. No more squeezing. No more pilow case. No more ass press. No more gorilla hands.

Are you thinking of adding direct fill ports or drain valves for both kegs?
Yak

Goodbye squeeze! Couldn't have done this last potato batch without this rig. And I'm sure I'm getting better yield by running the whole fermented mess.

Right now I can direct fill through the tops of the 2" risers. I do have the parts for 1" drains in each keg, but haven't gotten them in yet. Was a rush job to do the spuds.
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby Truckinbutch » Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:33 pm

Looking good and sounding good , Brother . :thumbup:
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby shadylane » Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:46 pm

Great job :thumbup:
Just a thought, I'd let the cork pop out if it wanted to :lol:
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:35 pm

Truckinbutch wrote:Looking good and sounding good , Brother . :thumbup:

Sounding good is right, now I know why it's called a thumper!
Very cool to see it in action, the whole rig sort of developed its own beat, rocking back and forth, cranking out hot distillate.

I've got a whiskey fermenting right now and I might try to fill the boiler with the clear ferment, and the thump with the rest, and try running it that way.
Thank you for giving me a tour of your shed, and showing my your plumbing ( :shock: ) to help me understand how these things go together.
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:42 pm

shadylane wrote:Great job :thumbup:
Just a thought, I'd let the cork pop out if it wanted to :lol:

Well....
I had two reasons for using the open tops with corks. Second was to be able to add to kegs mid-run.

First was safety. Figured that way neither the boiler nor the thumper could build up any real pressure before popping a cork.
But, then a cork popping out, unannounced, while I'm possibly very close to it could also result in a nasty situation with all that steam suddenly pouring out of the keg.
So the clamps are really there just to keep the corks from flying off, I set them just above the tops of the corks. I figure if there is a pressure build up, a cork will pop up a bit and I will know right away.

Maybe not the best solution, but it's something. I like your manometer solution the best of anything I've seen, and will work that into the plan soon.
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:48 pm

And again, thanks to HD, and all its members!

This is a perfect example of the power of the group. I could have never come up with all of these clever ideas myself, not even given a lifetime.
And here I am, running this rig, with less than 2 years into the hobby, with a big grin. Truly a testament to the power of this forum with all of the ideas contained here.
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby jedneck » Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:26 pm

Steam is nice ain't it. You will really like it when you get drains.
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: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby Brutal » Tue Feb 23, 2016 6:03 am

Hell yea! Lookin' good buddy!

I like the way you used those corks. Not just for adding (which would be awesome) but for safety and a vacuum break too. When you shut down at the end of a run you can just grab the cork off the primary and walk away if you wanted or needed to. I don't think steam venting out that 2" pipe is going to hurt you unless you are right on it, or if it had a boatload of pressure somehow.

"Shooting" the thumper is going to make for some great interesting likker too. Why you want a gin basket when you can do that? Just shut down the run when the heads are about gone, pop both corks out, and dump whatever botanical shit you make gin with down the thumper side. I'd prolly mix it up in a small cup of water and just pour that down. Fire the kettle, replace the corks, and bam thumper gin!
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Tue Feb 23, 2016 7:45 am

Yep, the corks have already been very convenient.
Not just for potentially adding things, but I'm able to pull the boiler cork at any time to drop in a dipstick to check water level. I want to incorporate some of Shady's ideas for that, but for now it works.

You mention vacuum break. Yes, worked great for that, just pull corks, wearing heavy rubber gloves, right at end of run and no worries.

When I did my taters, I did about 5 runs and on the 4th run I forgot to pull the corks. The boiler did cool and pull a bunch of spud mush up the pipe and into the boiler. I had to break it all down to clean out the keg before continuing.

Definitely looking forward to shootin' the thumper!
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby Swedish Pride » Tue Feb 23, 2016 7:52 am

very tidy set up.
i think i prefer your radrod flute build though, something about that one really appeals to me
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Tue Feb 23, 2016 7:59 am

Ha, radrod flute is up next!
Been working like crazy, nice to be getting a little free time back to myself again.
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby Hillbilly Popstar » Tue Feb 23, 2016 9:04 am

Can it get any more "potstill" than this?

I'm in to flavor and I bought my still not knowing how fun these builds can be. I have been reading like crazy trying to learn how I can up my potstill efficiency in both speed and abv, without sacrificing quality or flavor. Then boom! I see this beautiful build. I'd love to duplicate this with my 8gal milk can and a larger milk can...
I got a lot more reading to do, but it might be time to start putting a parts list together.

Couple questions: how's the smearing on a rig like this? Does it smear more or less than a standard potstill?

What kind of proofs are you getting out of it?

How fast is it?
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Tue Feb 23, 2016 9:29 am

Not sure about smearing, I've only used it for stripping.
Most of the run was coming off at 8 minute quarts, though I did crank it up and pulled one off in 6 minutes! The propane was flowing.

As a steam stripper it does dilute the thumper quite a bit as the run goes on.

After collecting all my low wines I did run them all together in my simple old copper pot for a spirit run.
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby Hillbilly Popstar » Tue Feb 23, 2016 9:43 am

Hmm...

Why not use the steam powered thumper as a pot still for spirit runs as well?
I thought this still would be a one stop shop for all pot still needs.

I got some more reading to do.
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Tue Feb 23, 2016 9:47 am

I was using it to strip a really messy ferment to avoid scorching.

It can also be used as a traditional pot still, or potstill/thumper combo.

Lots of options!
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby Hillbilly Popstar » Wed Mar 09, 2016 8:26 am

So MCH, your build has me thinking...
What if the line arm between the boiler and the thumper had a built in shotgun condenser? Then when you run. You could charge the boiler with wash and run the shotgun, then after your thumper is charged up with low wines, you could switch the water flow off on the shotgun and switch it to a liebig coming off the thumper and use the steam from your backset to heat the low wines for a true double run without sacrificing any flavor.

Seems like it would be a VERY versatile setup. Could even run the shotgun at half throttle to get hot distillate and not have to work as hard to heat the low wines, and I was even thinking that if you dialed back the shotgun after the heads come over the strip, then switch to steam mode on the thumper, you might be able to get a slightly higher heads compression?
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby Hillbilly Popstar » Wed Mar 09, 2016 8:27 am

Does all that make some sense?
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:27 am

Lemme see if I'm understanding what your are suggesting:

Essentially do a regular stripping run with the boiler, no thump, put all the low wines in the thumper, and then drive the thumper with the backset steam from the boiler?

It can certainly be done, though I don't have enough experience yet with thumpers or steamers to be able to tell you how it might differ from a regular run with boiler/thumper.

I did do a run with clear ferment in the boiler, and all the slops in the thumper. It did a great job of stripping everything without any danger of scorching.
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby Hillbilly Popstar » Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:34 am

Yes, that's it.
Basically, instead of the usual 1.5 boiler/stripper run. This would be a true double run in one go.

Plus I'm not sure, but it seems that you could also control the heads compression by changing when you switch over the cooling between the condensers.
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby Truckinbutch » Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:37 am

MichiganCornhusker wrote:Lemme see if I'm understanding what your are suggesting:

Essentially do a regular stripping run with the boiler, no thump, put all the low wines in the thumper, and then drive the thumper with the backset steam from the boiler?

It can certainly be done, though I don't have enough experience yet with thumpers or steamers to be able to tell you how it might differ from a regular run with boiler/thumper.

I did do a run with clear ferment in the boiler, and all the slops in the thumper. It did a great job of stripping everything without any danger of scorching.
+1 . I've been very successful doing that .
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby Hillbilly Popstar » Wed Mar 09, 2016 12:02 pm

Truckinbutch wrote:
MichiganCornhusker wrote:Lemme see if I'm understanding what your are suggesting:

Essentially do a regular stripping run with the boiler, no thump, put all the low wines in the thumper, and then drive the thumper with the backset steam from the boiler?

It can certainly be done, though I don't have enough experience yet with thumpers or steamers to be able to tell you how it might differ from a regular run with boiler/thumper.

I did do a run with clear ferment in the boiler, and all the slops in the thumper. It did a great job of stripping everything without any danger of scorching.
+1 . I've been very successful doing that .

TB, got a link to a build thread or a pic to your setup?
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby Truckinbutch » Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:08 pm

I don't have a link but there are several threads on the same design with pictures . Perhaps someone else can give you a link .
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby Brutal » Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:16 pm

Hillbilly Popstar wrote:So MCH, your build has me thinking...
What if the line arm between the boiler and the thumper had a built in shotgun condenser? Then when you run. You could charge the boiler with wash and run the shotgun, then after your thumper is charged up with low wines, you could switch the water flow off on the shotgun and switch it to a liebig coming off the thumper and use the steam from your backset to heat the low wines for a true double run without sacrificing any flavor.

Seems like it would be a VERY versatile setup. Could even run the shotgun at half throttle to get hot distillate and not have to work as hard to heat the low wines, and I was even thinking that if you dialed back the shotgun after the heads come over the strip, then switch to steam mode on the thumper, you might be able to get a slightly higher heads compression?

What you re describing will work, and I think the main advantage would be flavor. I also see how it would be hard to describe in text format. I haven't tried it but I will. Don't hold your breath waiting on me though. I haven't got a run in in a long time. I'd love to hear a side by side comparison of the product.
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby Hillbilly Popstar » Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:34 pm

Brutal wrote:
Hillbilly Popstar wrote:So MCH, your build has me thinking...
What if the line arm between the boiler and the thumper had a built in shotgun condenser? Then when you run. You could charge the boiler with wash and run the shotgun, then after your thumper is charged up with low wines, you could switch the water flow off on the shotgun and switch it to a liebig coming off the thumper and use the steam from your backset to heat the low wines for a true double run without sacrificing any flavor.

Seems like it would be a VERY versatile setup. Could even run the shotgun at half throttle to get hot distillate and not have to work as hard to heat the low wines, and I was even thinking that if you dialed back the shotgun after the heads come over the strip, then switch to steam mode on the thumper, you might be able to get a slightly higher heads compression?

What you re describing will work, and I think the main advantage would be flavor. I also see how it would be hard to describe in text format. I haven't tried it but I will. Don't hold your breath waiting on me though. I haven't got a run in in a long time. I'd love to hear a side by side comparison of the product.

Well I want to build a still that would do this. I have an 8 gallon milk can boiler now, I'd like to use it as the thumper and get the 26 gallon milk can for the boiler. I think that would be a good ratio.
But they don't give those 26 gallon milk cans away...

Maybe I should start a new thread about this and try and word the process a bit better.
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby MichiganCornhusker » Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:45 pm

Hillbilly Popstar wrote:Well I want to build a still that would do this.

Think tri-clamps!
The way I have this set up, it is super flexible.
I can run it as a simple pot still, pot/thumper, steamer, I can add a gin basket anywhere in the line, heck I could even tie in my flute!

By using the same size ferrules everywhere, I can easily assemble this in any configuration I want.
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Re: Modular Thumper / Steamer Build

Postby Hillbilly Popstar » Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:48 pm

MichiganCornhusker wrote:
Hillbilly Popstar wrote:Well I want to build a still that would do this.

Think tri-clamps!
The way I have this set up, it is super flexible.
I can run it as a simple pot still, pot/thumper, steamer, I can add a gin basket anywhere in the line, heck I could even tie in my flute!

By using the same size ferrules everywhere, I can easily assemble this in any configuration I want.

Absolutely. This thread is what inspired me. Don't be surprised if 6 moths from now my still looks a lot like yours. Lol
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