Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Vapor, Liquid or Cooling Management. Flutes, plates, etc.

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Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by raketemensch » Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:31 pm

Almost all of my parts are in, but I'm heading out to the west coast for Christmas, so I figured I'd start a build thread to read and drool over while I'm gone.

Since I have two young boys, two bands and a more-than-full-time job, if I tried to build a flute myself from copper it would just never get done. I'm not averse to soldering, but I don't own a drill press, or a bench grinder, and while digging around the web to get prices for the tools I would need to build a flute, I thought that I might be able to find enough modular bits to build one for about the same amount of money.

After many, many nights of researching, both here and on aussiedistiller and a few other sites, like aliexpress, Amazon and eBay, I put together a materials list that would get me 90% of the way and just about clamp together. I'll need to solder the downcomers to the perf plates, and solder a 1" copper pipe to a threaded copper connector, and everything else will either clamp together (the column) or mount with nuts (the CSST dephleg). Mission theoretically accomplished.

Just about everything is here now, but a few issues popped up -- one of the sight towers was broken in shipping, and only one of the two 2" elbows arrived, but replacements for both of those pieces are on the way. I missed a 4" and a 2" tri-clamp in my materials list, and a 2" gasket and a 4" gasket (all will be PTFE). On my lunch break today I did a test fitting, and it all comes together pretty nicely, I think it'll work out pretty well.

Here's a messy shot of all the parts after the test-fitting:
IMG_6306.jpg
And here's everything organized a bit:
IMG_6308.jpg
BOM:
3x sight towers
2x 2" to 4" reducers
1x 12" stainless steel spool (dephlegmator)
4x 4" tri-clamps
3x 2" tri-clamps
4x 4" PTFE gaskets
3x 2" PTFE gaskets
4x perf plates (I plan to use 3, but they came in a 4-pack)
1x "Heating element conversion plate" (for the PC)
1x 1" NPT threaded coupler

I still need:
4x 1" copper caps (for the bottoms of the downcomers)
24" of 1" copper pipe
2x 48" CSST gas lines
plumbing stuff

I'm using borosilicate sight towers, which are usually shipped from China, but I found a supplier in LA on eBay, so shipping is much faster. I only ordered 3 of them, since I'm not going for neutral, but one of them is, as I mentioned, cracked. The shipper originally offered me a $10 refund and the "opportunity to fix it myself," but I held out, and they're shipping me a new one. The $10 wouldn't cover new glass, which was what I argued with him, but I did find a 2-pack of the corosilicate glass chimneys for $42, so I will eventually step up to 4 of them by replacing the glass in the broken one and have an extra glass chimney as a backup.

Since I don't own a drill press or a bench grinder, making the perf plates would've been difficult and and taken me forever. I ordered 4 of them on eBay, with 3/4" downcomer holes. The 3/4" holes will need a little filing, but they're pretty nice overall. They will be fitted right into the PTFE gaskets between the sight towers, so I don't have to worry about a center rod or getting the spacing between them right or trying to deal with the gap between them and the wall of the column. Lots of little fidgety Flute issues killed off right there... Here's a shot of them:
IMG_6309.jpg
I picked up a 4"x12" stainless spool for the dephleg, and I will be using a 48" CSST coil inside it, per advice from DAD300 and cranky. I will be drilling holes into the side of the spool to fit the inlet/outlet into, and using a nut on either side with PTFE gaskets to tighten them down and seal the holes.

The other problem I needed to solve was how to attach a product condenser to the 2" tri-clamp fitting at the end of the two 45 degree elbows at the top. I have utterly failed at soldering stainless, and I was at a loss for a while on how to handle that.

But then I remembered -- when I first got started I ordered a tri-clamp fitting for my heating element, but it was too deep to get the bent ULWD element through. Rather than return it, I figured I'd hang onto it in case it came in handy. Ten points to me. I also had a 1" threaded copper coupler which, as it turns out, threads perfectly into the tri-clamp module:
IMG_6310.jpg
So in the end I'll be able to just solder a 1" pipe into the threaded connector, and since I'm doing a CSST product condenser, I'll be able to just clamp that sucker on, slide the 1/2" CSST up into the 1" pipe, and be done with it.

That's the full plan up to now. I have a few items still to look up, such as how deep I want the bath to be on the plates, and how much of a gap I want between the bottom of the downcomer and the plate below it. I also need to sort out the plumbing, so I'm digging through the Flute Talk thread (AGAIN) to pull this info out.

All told I'm under $600, but I still have to pick up the CSST and the valves for the plumbing. I also don't have a pump or hoses, since I've been air-cooled up to this point, but I don't want to include those expenses into the price of the column, like I'm not including the boiler and whatnot. Most people already have their water cooling stuff worked out before they build a flute anyway.

I'll be doing more updates (as these ideas fall apart in practice), but not for about 2 weeks. It's tough to finally get all of this together and have to leave it all behind, but I really can't complain, I do understand how lucky I am to even be at this point.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by bearriver » Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:41 pm

Hot dang! There is nothing quite like standing in front of a table full of new tri clamp fittings.

:thumbup:

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by Halfbaked » Fri Dec 18, 2015 6:51 pm

I got a new years resolution for you..... Drink more Whiskey. Nice! :D

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by cranky » Fri Dec 18, 2015 8:04 pm

Very nice, For the CSST check Home Depot closeout bins. Around here they had them all on close out for under $5 I wish I had bought more.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by raketemensch » Mon Dec 21, 2015 1:14 pm

Thanks, Cranky. Around Christmastime it seems like there are a thousand bins in the aisles at HD.

I couldn't wait anymore, so I did another test assembly while I was supposed to be packing, to make sure I had the gaskets and clamps that I need.

Here it is with only 2 sight towers, I need another tri-clamp to mount the 3rd:
IMG_6313.jpg
It's gonna be a monster when I get to 4. At least to me, I've seen some amazing stuff around here.

The plates clamp in pretty well, although they do mess with the fit a bit. I find it works better to put them *under* the PTFE gasket rather than on top of them:
IMG_6316.jpg
I was planning on putting a 45-degree bend in at the top of the PC, it hadn't even hit me that I could just twist the second half of the elbow in the clamp to get the angle that I want:
IMG_6317.jpg

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by yakattack » Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:02 pm

So. Do tell cost of parts? Links to products. I'm sure many would love to be able to do a simple yet effective setup like this.

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HDNB wrote: The trick here is to learn what leads to a stalled mash....and quit doing that.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by Copper Thumper » Mon Dec 21, 2015 4:05 pm

Looking good.

What was the damage on all if that?


I know my sight glass alone was $350 lol

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by cranky » Mon Dec 21, 2015 6:27 pm

Looking really nice :thumbup: Since you are going to Oregon I am tempted to advise you to stop by Glasscrafters and get a nice long boro tube to replace the broken one with and make a CM like mine for neutral, but that might be a bad thing on a family trip :moresarcasm: and that thing is very heavy and difficult to put on top of a boiler.

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Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by raketemensch » Mon Dec 21, 2015 7:35 pm

Yeah, the whole thing is pretty heavy for sure. I think I'll end up suspending it from the ceiling just in case, so I can leave it there when I need to clean the keg.

Yak, I'm not at my laptop right now, but I have links for everything in OneNote, I'll post a full BOM.

I got the sight towers for $85/each on eBay.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by cranky » Mon Dec 21, 2015 8:04 pm

raketemensch wrote:Yeah, the whole thing is pretty heavy for sure. I think I'll end up suspending it from the ceiling just in case, so I can leave it there when I need to clean the keg.
my flute is nice and light compared to the CM. The CM is right at the upper limit of what I can put together and clamp to the boiler by myself. They share the same upper arm /u-bend and I have an eye bolt in the ceiling to support them because I would really hate to have a column fall over. I'm also planning on making some nice crates to store them when they are not in use.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by raketemensch » Tue Dec 29, 2015 9:33 pm

cranky wrote:Looking really nice :thumbup: Since you are going to Oregon I am tempted to advise you to stop by Glasscrafters and get a nice long boro tube to replace the broken one with and make a CM like mine for neutral, but that might be a bad thing on a family trip :moresarcasm: and that thing is very heavy and difficult to put on top of a boiler.
You know, I hadn't thought of that -- There's no reason I'd have to use the same length of glass it originally had, I could just use some all-thread and a longer tube.... Hmmmm..... Maybe I could sort out the ideal length for a packed section, and use it for that? Dammit cranky, stop making me think.

Meanwhile, all of the clamps and gaskets I was missing came in while I was away for Christmas, and I just ordered up the CSST for the dephleg and the PC.

So now I'm just down to the 1" pipe for the condenser, 4 1" end caps for the downcomers, and a can of gas, since I'm out, then I should be in business.

Oh, and Time, right. I need time, which I'm completely incapable of understanding right now, after 48+ hours of travel between PST and EST, where I worked EST hours while in PST, plus throw in the whole Christmas/New Year's time warp... I'm finally used to the fact that it's Tuesday, and it's already Wednesday.

And Yak, I swear I'll post links to everything soon. I just finished working a 17.5 hour day, and need to pass out.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by cranky » Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:25 pm

raketemensch wrote: You know, I hadn't thought of that -- There's no reason I'd have to use the same length of glass it originally had, I could just use some all-thread and a longer tube.... Hmmmm..... Maybe I could sort out the ideal length for a packed section, and use it for that? Dammit cranky, stop making me think.
That's basically what I did with my neutralizer only I made the end pieces, it would have been nice to have ready made ends. You could buy longer rod, Glasscrafers will cut a tube whatever length you specify. They come in 1500mm lengths (don't buy the Chinese Boro tube), then you just clamp it in there and pack it with the packing of your choice. Now you have a nice packed section. I actually like having a dedicated column for neutral and have begun using the flute for everything else although 50 inches of 95mm packed boro tube is pretty heavy and difficult to set up by myself.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by moosemilk » Wed Dec 30, 2015 1:56 am

Looking good. I'm envious! I finally sourced a nice 4 foot section of 4" copper to start a flute build, but that's going to take awhile (holidays over next week, and it's back to full time trade school, part time work, and overtime dad/husband). Can't wait to hear how this all goes for you. If you get a chance when it's running, and are able, maybe post a youtube vid? (on anonymous account of course).

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by yakattack » Wed Dec 30, 2015 6:13 am

No worries bud. I hear ya on a busy schedule. Btdt. Don't have much money to drop on it right now anyways so I have to wait.

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HDNB wrote: The trick here is to learn what leads to a stalled mash....and quit doing that.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by raketemensch » Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:13 pm

I finally got to spend some time in the basement today, so I stripped about 12 gallons of UJ, and spent some time on the plates and downcomers. Starting from this:
IMG_6404.jpg
And ending up with these:
IMG_6406.jpg
There's just under 8" between the plates, so the downcomer tubes are pretty long to avoid splashing into the bath below. I went with a 7/8 bath depth.

The only issue I ran into was with my j trap. I didn't have 2 90s, so I tried to use a 90 and a 45, but they don't fit within the column. I then made my first attempt at heating 3/4" copper enough to bend a j trap, and failed miserably.

So tomorrow I'll be picking up a couple of new 90s at home depot. I also need a better torch, I just have propane and it goes out on me a lot. I had a friend's mapp torch for the last round of work, and it was far, far nicer.

The other odd thing is that my local HD is the only one that *doesn't* carry short lengths of 1" pipe. I have 48" of CSST coming for the PC, which I think should be enough to condense everything when it's doubled up inside 24" of 1" pipe. If it isn't, I'll have to go longer, but by some seat-of-the-pants math, it should be OK.

If I can come up with a good 180 degree j trap that will fit in the column, then the last plate will come together pretty quickly.

My plan is to drill a couple of holes through the side of a 12" stainless spool and pass the ends of the CSST condenser through them. It was a very easy plan until I remembered how much fun it is to drill through stainless... And this stuff is pretty thick :think:

I'm getting there, though. Hopefully I can get some more basement time in over this 3-day weekend.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by cranky » Fri Jan 01, 2016 6:11 pm

Good deal :thumbup: There is no reason the same thing you have for traps already won't work in place of a U type J-trap. Another option is cutting a couple of Vs out in the straight pieces of of pipe bending them and soldering them to make a J-trap. It's not the easiest thing to do tho. There are lots of options if you get inventive, have you seen the goofy way I did mine? :crazy:

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by googe » Fri Jan 01, 2016 7:17 pm

I use a cap on my bottom plate, havnt noticed any issues.I Use cap plates, dunno if it's different for sieves.
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Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by raketemensch » Sat Jan 02, 2016 8:28 am

googe wrote:I use a cap on my bottom plate, havnt noticed any issues.I Use cap plates, dunno if it's different for sieves.
Thanks googe, I was thinking about that myself -- a j-trap would basically just be another downcomer with a deeper cap on the bottom, really....

Since I'm picking up some 1" pipe anyway, maybe I'll just use some of that with the cap on the bottom downcomer. Maybe make it 2-3" deep.

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Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by raketemensch » Sat Jan 02, 2016 7:01 pm

Clamping the plates between the sections works, but it's a little hinky. The plate sits on the PTFE gasket just inside the centering ring, and when you clamp everything together it makes things just a little bit more difficult. When I first tried it I thought that if I was making the plates myself, I would make them just a tiny bit smaller than the ID of the PTFE gaskets.

Then I was falling asleep last night, and duh, I could just take some material off the inside of the gaskets... It would be pretty easy with a drum sanding bit on a drill, but since I didn't have one, I did a mangly job with a stepper bit, and it worked very well. The plates sit right on the stainless, and everything clamps together smoothly.

I also got the CSST today, 4 days ahead of schedule. I was planning to pickle the brass connectors on it, but they arrived today in stainless steel! Lucky me. Now I need to find some good stainless nuts to fit the threads on them. It's amazing how small 48" of it looks in the packaging.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by cranky » Sun Jan 03, 2016 5:28 am

It really doesn't look like very much but mine is 48" and knocks down everything I can throw at it even at 5500W with only a trickle of water.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by raketemensch » Sun Jan 03, 2016 6:34 pm

That's good to hear, cranky.

Today I bent up my reflux condenser. Then, about 8 minutes later, I moved on to the next thing. I really don't understand why people still make them out of copper, other than for tradition. Personally, I just don't have time to get that into it.
IMG_6416.jpg
I figure I'll probably cram a scrubby in the middle there. Do you have one, cranky?

It fits nicely down into the 12" section of stainless. The plan is to:

1) Drill 2 holes through the side of the pipe as close to the connector size as possible
2) Thread a nut as far onto the connector as possible
3) Wind up a PTFE gasket in front of the nut
4) Pass the connector through the hole
5) Wind up a PTFE gasket on the outside, and tighten a nut down on the outside

I'll try to get to drilling those holes this week. I was hoping to do it today, but did a stripping run and a 12-gallon spirit run done instead, plus got my 8th gen of UJ going.

Soon, though, no more separate stripping/spirit runs!

Tomorrow I'm off to Home Depot for the 1" pipe for the condenser, and I'm bringing one of those connectors with me to find a nut. I thought I would have to replace a gasket with PTFE, but it's all stainless, no gaskets at all. It's going to have to be a narrow nut, though. I'm also going to look for a 3-way valve for the plumbing. I still have to find a pump, and sort out the hoses.
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IMG_6418.jpg

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by cranky » Sun Jan 03, 2016 6:45 pm

I do have a couple "stainless steel" scrubbies I bought at the Dollar Tree but it would cost a lot more than they are worth to send to you and I never verified they were actually stainless steel.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by raketemensch » Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:31 pm

No worries, I've got plenty of copper ones here I can use, I was just wondering if you had a scrubbie in your RC.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by cranky » Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:30 am

raketemensch wrote:No worries, I've got plenty of copper ones here I can use, I was just wondering if you had a scrubbie in your RC.
Oh, I understand now, no I don''t.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by raketemensch » Sun Jan 17, 2016 1:30 pm

Well, despite a few setbacks (what is the deal with NPT?), I finished up the dephlegmator tody. I had ordered some 3/4 stainless nuts (at ~$6/pop) to fit on these nipples, because they measured 3/4. This was before I knew that measurements for NPT have no bearing whatsoever on the physical dimensions of the actual objects. I dunno whose idea that whole system is, but logic seems absent. I also ordered some 3/8"OD CSST for the condenser, but what arrived was 1/2"OD -- which I already have, and which is too big for the 1" pipe...

So I figured I'd at least get some pilot holes drilled into the spool today so I'd feel like I had at least accomplished *something* after those 3/4 NPT nuts arrived and were the wrong size. I've been dreading drilling out this thick SS after the ordeal that I had with the keg, but that was a hole cutter. I was hoping that using the pilot bit and the step bit would be easier, and they were. For a while. I got one hole drilled out, and I could thread the small end of the coupler/nipple through the hole, which made me realize that I could just use some PTFE tape on the threads, and then build up a bunch as a thick gasket on the outside and bolt the two together and be done. Which, strangely, actually worked.

Then the step bit got too dull to do anything.

I ran to Home Depot and picked up a 3/4 carbide bit and finished it up about half an hour ago:
IMG_6487.jpg
(beer for scale)
IMG_6488.jpg
IMG_6489.jpg
IMG_6490.jpg

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by Swedish Pride » Fri Jan 22, 2016 1:59 am

Nice progress lad, i like your approach to it, I would do the same if I had 600$ to spare.
I don't so I'll have to sit on the sidelines and drool over everyone elses flutes.
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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by raketemensch » Fri Jan 22, 2016 8:42 am

I'm also thinking about adding a strainer to the 2" reducer at the top, and adding something like this:

https://www.dixonvalve.com/product/B28AMP-R200" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow
lateral_sanitary_clamp.jpg
lateral_sanitary_clamp.jpg (31.07 KiB) Viewed 8870 times
It'd be for flavoring -- the wye would have a 2" clamp on the end, and I could use it to inject herbs/flavorings/whatever after I've collected fores and heads.

1) Compress, collect fores
2) Compress, collect heads
3) Crank up the reflux again, so no vapor should be passing through the reducer
4) Remove the clamp from the end of the wye, drop in gin baskety stuff (I want to try some roasted corn)
5) Reseal the end
6) Continue with the run

Anyone see issues with that?
Last edited by raketemensch on Sat Jan 23, 2016 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by raketemensch » Sat Jan 23, 2016 5:26 pm

Well, the dephleg passed the leak test today, and after a couple of trips to Lowes and a lot of frustration, I have everything plumbed up and working with only an occasional drip. This is far from the final plumbing, it's more of a proof-of-concept, but it works.

Cleaning runs start tomorrow! I'll have to sort out a way to keep the CSST bent upwards with the weight of the feed/exit tubes so that the product gets a clean exit.

Never run reflux at all before, tomorrow's going to be interesting. Got 3 gallons of vinegar ready for the second run, and a bunch of tails to water down for the sac run ready to roll.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by yakattack » Sat Jan 23, 2016 6:21 pm

Good job mate. Ccst product condenser eh. Can't wait to hear how it runs. Will you still get the gradient with it?
HDNB wrote: The trick here is to learn what leads to a stalled mash....and quit doing that.

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Re: Raketemensch's Almost-No-Soldering Modular Flute Build

Post by raketemensch » Sat Jan 23, 2016 6:29 pm

yakattack wrote:Good job mate. Ccst product condenser eh. Can't wait to hear how it runs. Will you still get the gradient with it?
Do you mean the compressed heads/hearts? Not sure what you mean by gradient.
Edit: Oh, you mean the gradient of cool -> warm from bottom -> top. It seems to work really well. No huffing, and I've got a 4" column and 5500 watts going into only 24" of liebig with no issues at all. The top warms up first anyway, which I think makes up for the doubling.
Last edited by raketemensch on Sun Jan 24, 2016 2:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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