Simple pot still distillation and construction with or without a thumper.

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the pure drop
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Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2007 1:34 pm
Location: South Korea


Post by the pure drop » Sat Feb 11, 2012 6:34 pm

Hi folks, Just upgraded my simple pot/ coil from a 5 gallon to a a 10 gallon pot/ 1/2 inch dia. copper coil. It's your basic design...stainless steel pot. The pot has 4 heavy duty clamps to hold the lid on tight, and the lid itself is kind of rolled along the edges to fit snuggly on the rim of the pot. Very small amount of flour paste around that inside seal before clamping down the lid makes for the tightest seal. For now, I just have my coil running directly from a hole in the center of the pot's lid. My first real run on it, I only filled it to 7 gallons because I was worried about boiling/ puking ( I don't run a slobber or a thump keg yet). I know I could probably push it up to about 8 or 8.5 gallons on my UJSM without boiling over/ puking issues. BUT...
I have this solid little 3.5 gallon copper pot still complete with the cap. All silver soldered. It was my first still. I don't use it anymore because it's just too damn small to do anything with. I was thinking to cut a hole in the bottom of that still leaving about an inch of the bottom all around as a kind of "lip". Then I would cut the same size hole in the center of that new 10 gallon pot's lid. I would make a simple cork gasket to go on top of the lid, between the lid and the bottom of that old small copper pot still. Then, I would drill a series of holes through the "lip" that was left in the bottom of the copper pot still, and holes in the lid of the pot that would line-up. Then I could set the copper pot still on top of the lid with the cork gasket between the two, then bolt the lid and the bottom of the copper pot together with stainless steel bolts/ washers/ nuts from the inside. My thought in doing this is that I could then fill the stainless steel 10 gallon boiler pot almost all the way up....maybe about 9.5 gallons. Then I would have about a 3-3.5 gallon head space in the the copper pot. In my mind this is ok, and even preferable due to the fact that there would be some additional copper in the mix. I was planning to run a small bead of flour paste around the outside of where the copper pot mates up to the stainless steel lid, just as a precaution. This whole deal would leave me with basically two removable parts: The lid (with the attached copper pot) which get's sealed with paste along the rim and clamped down, and the copper potstill's cap, which only needs a small smearing of paste along where it fits into the copper pot.

When I stack that old copper potstill on top of my 10 gallon pot, it looks pretty good. In my head, 3.5 gallons of headspace seems to make sense but I question of maybe that is TOO MUCH head space? I would probably have nearly a 4 gallon total of headspace if you include the nearly 1/2 gallon of headspace that will still be in the boiler after I fill it to 9.5 gallons. My condenser is your basic copper coil in a bucket. The copper coil is about 14-15 yards of coiled 1/2 diameter copper. it does a great job of knocking down the vapors in this simple set-up, and I have not noticed any huffing yet. My question in this whole 3.5-4 gallons of head space too much? I wonder if the head space will be too great for the vapors to be pushed/ forced all the way up and get pushed through and out of the condenser??? Any help here would be appreciated.

I am assuming that it's probably ok....that there will be enough pressure in the still head to push the vapor...and that there doesn't need to be much pressure, because in theory I am thinking that even a very slight amount of pressure will seek the container's "bleve" point in order to escape. In this case, the condenser being the "bleve" point. If anyone can confirm that my still with this "attachement" will still be able to operate efficiently, then please speak up. I would really hate to cut a huge hole into this lid only to find that my idea was not as ideal as I first thought...and then not be able to salvage the lid. I can get another lid I'm pretty sure, if I need too, but it won't be cheap. Thanks ya'll for getting through my long messages to answer probably very simple questions lol. I need to work on "bottom line up-front" writting style lol.

To add, I don't know if this makes much of a difference, but my main recipe right now is UJSM (corn). I use corn meal since it's easier for me to get in the part of the world I am currently living. I will be trying a UJSM style rye, from course dark rye meal ( I think it's used for pumpernickel bread) which I have on order and should be here within the week. I will also be taking another stab (my third attempt, the first two mildly successful) of all grain barley. The only recipe of the three that I really worry too much about boiling over is the barley. When I cook the barley it really foams up, and the resulting mash probably does the same in the still. I never really noticed much puking the first two times I did barley because I ran it REALLY slow. Now with this bigger rig and larger diameter condenser, I will be making my stripping runs hard and fast as possible. I am hoping that the additional 3.5 gallons of headspace will be able to contain any boiling issues. Sometime within the next 4 or 5 months I am thinking of adding a 5 gallon thumper which should protect against small puking and be more fuel efficient in that I would no longer have to do two runs. But, that's all a topic for another section of the forum, and I'm not ready to tackle that one yet:D
The Pure Drop

Swill Maker
Posts: 168
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:09 pm
Location: Palmetto State

Re: frankenpot

Post by midcarolina » Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:15 am

It sounds to me it would make a great humper thumper.......... but there is a much easier way to go about connecting the small pot to your existing boiler.......

Do a search for humper thumper........ or inline thumper,
Three can keep a secret..................If two are dead!

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