My first new still

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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My first new still

Postby Blackdirt Cowboy » Tue May 15, 2018 3:59 am

I bought my first still yesterday, and was asked in the welcome thread to post a thread detailing it. Here is a picture of what I’m getting built.

DAD21589-CE37-465A-8D4F-49D266B81C91.jpeg


The boiler is 20 gallons. The pot still head is attached with a 4” tri clamp fitting so if in the future I want to build a column for a reflux still it will work for that as well. The thumper is 6.6 gallons and the flake stand is 4.3 gallons. I believe the worm will have at least 10 coils through the flake stand. I am seriously considering adding another thumper so as to get a “triple distillation” in one run. The still head and the thumper have a hook to hang something if I want to do a flavor infusion. Everything is soldered together with lead free silver solder. Best of all, the stills are built within driving distance from me, and if something goes wrong, they are guaranteed.

I really wanted to build my own. I have the ability, but I am short on time. I priced out some components to do just that, and it wasn’t going to save me all that much money. Let me know what y’all think.
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Re: My first new still

Postby still_stirrin » Tue May 15, 2018 4:42 am

It looks like a show piece setting on stage, smiling for the audience. Amazing with the shiny copper. I bet it was quite expensive being all copper like that. And you’re going to fire it with propane?

One thing I see that has me a little apprehensive...the size of the vapor tube as it approaches the thumper. It looks quite small for a 20 gallon boiler. What happens with a small tube like that, especially if it is a long run like yours, is that the vapor speed will accelerate as it flows through the tube. This can/will limit how fast you can produce.

It means you can’t heat it with a lot of heat, or the vapor production will choke the flow in the small tubing, which results in a pressure build up in the boiler (not a good thing). If that vapor tube into the thumper was 1” ID, or larger, then the vapor velocity wouldn’t be as likely to choke the flow when running.

The fluid mechanics involved is that as the vapor speeds are high, flow creates pressure loss in the pipe and the vapor expands due to the lower static pressure. As the vapor expands, it accelerates even faster. Soon, it can go sonic (or choked) such that it can’t flow any faster (in mass per unit time) unless the source vessel pressure increases. Hence, your boiler will increase in pressure in order to keep the vapor flow rate higher. This is aggravated as the temperature of the vapor rises.

Otherwise, the setup is a good looking system. I suspect that the thumper is a little smaller than we recommend here too (1/4 to 1/3 the boiler’s capacity, for safety). And the flake is waaaaay small, indicating that you’ll have to turn the water over often throughput your run. Ice in the flake stand is NOT the solution either. You need to maintain a temperature gradient through the coil so it won’t “huff & puff”.

Good luck with it. Read all you can about how to run it. And, be safe, responsible, and discrete.
ss
Attention new distillers: Cranky's spoon feed info
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Re: My first new still

Postby Blackdirt Cowboy » Tue May 15, 2018 5:29 am

Thanks for the feedback still stirring. I suspect the picture is deceiving as the vapor line size is either 1” or 1 1/4”. I cant remeber which way we sepc’d it but we did talk about both of those sizes. I think the thumper is adequately sized. It’s exactly 1/3 of the boiler capacity at 6.3 gallons. What size would you recommend on the flake stand? It’s not too late to change that if I need to.
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Re: My first new still

Postby still_stirrin » Tue May 15, 2018 5:48 am

Blackdirt Cowboy wrote:Thanks for the feedback still stirring. I suspect the picture is deceiving as the vapor line size is either 1” or 1 1/4”. I cant remeber which way we sepc’d it but we did talk about both of those sizes.
Good, I think either will work satisfactorily.

Blackdirt Cowboy wrote:I think the thumper is adequately sized. It’s exactly 1/3 of the boiler capacity at 6.3 gallons.
Great. The photo makes it look to be less than 5 gallons. 6+ gallons should work OK (safely) for you.

Blackdirt Cowboy wrote:What size would you recommend on the flake stand? It’s not too late to change that if I need to.
Well, you’ll need at least 60-70 gallons of water to condense a 15-18 gallon charge in the 20 gallon boiler. So, you’ll need a large reservoir to circulate through the flake. Or a larger flake stand...it’s about the capacity of heat you need to remove. Remember, all heat added in the boiler must be extracted somewhere...and that is into your water reservoir.

For a flake stand, the water temperature on the surface should be 120-140*F for a smooth gradient. And the water temperature at the bottom of the flake will be 70-80*F for efficient condensation and reduced “huff & puff”. Therefore during the run, you’ll drain warm water off the top surface of the flake and pump cool “make up” water to the bottom of the flake.

Once you’ve established this gradient, the turn over of water should be steady and continuous for the best operation of the flake stand. This process requires a large water reservoir with a stable 70-80*F water temperature than you can pump (recirculate) into/through the flake. The flow rate for the pumped recirculation won’t need to be fast, just steady.

I hope this explanation makes sense to you and helps your operations.
ss
Attention new distillers: Cranky's spoon feed info
What is a Proof & Traille hydrometer: Alcohol-meter
Enzyme info: SebStar
HD Google search info: HD Google-how to
All about mashing grains: Braukaiser
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Re: My first new still

Postby Blackdirt Cowboy » Tue May 15, 2018 7:24 am

Awesome info. I have a well that I will be pumping from. It has a near endless supply of 60° water. Sounds like I should be in good shape shape.
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Re: My first new still

Postby Danespirit » Tue May 15, 2018 10:17 am

+1 On the reservoir and a pump.

The flake stand is (as for most I've seen) somewhat tiny and will heat up very quick (especially on a stripping run).
For a still that size, you just need a cheap aquarium pump..nothing fancy.
I run my 6,6 gal milk can with a tiny 8W submersible pump. It's really all it takes and it has served me for several years now.
The whole thing is connected with 8 mm (ID) silicone hose to my Liebig and through the "heat exchanger " I made with some copper pipe (see picture).
That little thing draws a surprisingly large amount of heat away from the water before it ends up in my sink again to be recirculated.
Maybe you can use that as an inspiration..?
That still is a beauty..she will work well for years to come.
IMG_2465.JPG
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