Help me finish my still

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nzl.james
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Help me finish my still

Post by nzl.james » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:46 pm

Hi everyone!
ive been researching on here for a very long time and come across many amazing stills. before finding this site a made the mistake of building a CM still as i tried to copy what I saw in the shops. Now i like the idea of a VM still and have all the parts, just have a few questions to avoid me buggering up this attempt. Ive drawn a picture of my plan using all the parts i have already. I cant find a huge amount of info using 3" tube and im a bit unsure about a few things
still good1.jpg
the black represents stainless, brown represents copper (except the coil at the top i made black on accident) and its to an approximate scale drawing

the few questions i have are:

are the elements the right size for this size still?

is the height of 1.5m right for 3" tube

if i decided to put a slant plate LM above my VM, will this affect the VM operation while taking off hearts? (i think i read a post about this but i cant find it now..) is it worth installing a LM setup

what else can I do to make my still design perform better.

thanks,
James

Coaster
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by Coaster » Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:08 pm

@ nzl.james,

In the Research and Theory Forum suggest reviewing the Some Still Drawings thread which contains the Still Drawings.PDF.Zip file. This file will get you on the correct path and assist you with your Still build.

Regards,
Coaster

rubber duck
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by rubber duck » Mon Apr 11, 2011 8:22 pm

Looks to me like you have done your home work. Everything looks good to me unless I missed something. Your running those elements on 240v right?

I can't help you on the LM portion but an improvement would be to add centering rings. Do a little research on centering rings, your going to find mixed opinions so make up your own mind on the subject.
Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen. John Steinbeck

nzl.james
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by nzl.james » Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:35 pm

thanks for the replies. yes they are running on 240v (New Zealand). i have read a bit about centrings, I might make some up and slide them in with the packing. another thought was 'pushing' the 2.5" takeoff tube into the reflux column an inch or so to induce turbulance around the takeoff- what ya reckon?

My main concern around installing a slant plate LM setup above the VM, is if I dont use the LM setup it will it have a negative affect on the VM operation? im just trying to create pure neutrals for now, ive got some 3" copper tube for a pot still after this...

the other thing is 1.5meters tall seems to be ideal for 2in pipe, but 3in is over twice the area, so should the height be adjusted accordingly? ive got 5meters of it, although I dont live in a 2 storey house so it may be a bit impractable being that tall..

rad14701
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by rad14701 » Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:48 am

nzl.james wrote:thanks for the replies. yes they are running on 240v (New Zealand). i have read a bit about centrings, I might make some up and slide them in with the packing. another thought was 'pushing' the 2.5" takeoff tube into the reflux column an inch or so to induce turbulance around the takeoff- what ya reckon?
I would not recommend this... Various types of deflector plate schemes were tried several years ago and it was proven that there was little if any benefit to be gained... The working theory behind the VM take off revolves around there being an equal pressure, minute as it may be, in the column and a negative pressure, or vacuum, in the take off branch caused by the cooler condenser circuit... Combine that with the fact that as the vapor condenses it gets heavier and tends to continue dropping and you have the VM take off branch...
nzl.james wrote:My main concern around installing a slant plate LM setup above the VM, is if I dont use the LM setup it will it have a negative affect on the VM operation? im just trying to create pure neutrals for now, ive got some 3" copper tube for a pot still after this...
Adding and not using the LM section will have virtually no effect on the VM sections performance...
nzl.james wrote:the other thing is 1.5meters tall seems to be ideal for 2in pipe, but 3in is over twice the area, so should the height be adjusted accordingly? ive got 5meters of it, although I dont live in a 2 storey house so it may be a bit impractable being that tall..
Height = purity... Diameter = take off rate... Even a 3" column doesn't require any more height than a 2" column, and 4' to 5' of packed column would be the maximum required/recommended... So between 3' and 5' (1m - 1.5m) of packed column is a good working range...

emptyglass
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by emptyglass » Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:33 am

I dont think you will bugger it up.
Looks pretty close to the money from what I know.

Running a still like this is going to take some practice, I reckon. Lots of room for different running conditions.

A 3" column has 7"square cross section, compared to 3"square for a 2", approx.

If you are making neutral to flavor it later, why not jump straight to the pot still?
You design it, I make it. Copper and Stainless. Down under. PM me.

violentblue
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by violentblue » Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:43 am

I'm unable to speak from experience but there are some who swear centering rings are the way to go, especially on a large diameter column like a 3".
I only know of a few people running a column this large, but one tried it with and without the rings over several runs, and swears that equalization happens faster, he can collect at a faster rate and still maintain Azeotrope.
I have a 2 1/2" stainless column with no centering rings it works a charm, but I'm primarily a potstiller, the column only gets pulled out occasionally to prep neutral for gin. so if its a little slower it doesn't bother me.

as for height, 4' or 5' sounds about right, but if you have headroom for more then go tall as you are practically able.
with additional height you can run more heat and still get the column to equalize for the run, which translates as higher output rates.
but there does come a point where your column will be larger than is practical for your boiler size. you'd have a hard time reaching that point with a 3" column, but stripping your wash first then loading your boiler with low wines will help get the efficiency up and make cuts easier on such a large column.

rad14701
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by rad14701 » Thu Apr 14, 2011 9:21 am

To add to what violentblue stated about the use of centering rings, it's hard to say whether the improvements mentioned are due to centering of the reflux or centering of the vapor between the stages of the packed column... If you were to have something like 4 centering rings fashioned out of reducers you essentially end up with 5 "chambers" which, when combined with the packing within them, will act somewhat like a plated column because each chamber will attempt to reach its own equilibrium within its height... Thinking along these lines I can see how such a column might be able to reach equilibrium more rapidly than the single packed chamber that a standard packed column has... :idea:

The comparison to a plated column is for quasi-theoretical purposes only and is in no way intended to imply that one could achieve poor mans flute performance by adding centering rings to their reflux column... :lolno:

Uisge_a_Ghlinne
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by Uisge_a_Ghlinne » Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:59 pm

I am currently running a 3'' column which is 1.9m from boiler to takeoff and another 40 odd cm to the top of the column. My column reduced from 3'' to 2'' (actually from 76mm to 54mm) into an equal tee and remains 2'' to the top of the column. Initial runs gave me exactly 2 litres an hour at 95%. I started playing around with centring rings to try and improve output. A centring ring below takeoff (any distance from 2cm to 10cm) made no real difference. Takeoff was slightly up at just over 2lt an hour. The centring rings at one third and two thirds down the column appeared to make no difference. However, when I added a centring ring with a 30mm orifice 5cm above takeoff my output rose to just under 3 litres an hour. With a tightening of the orifice to 25mm I am now pulling over 3 liters an hour at 95%. I need to do another few runs just to validate the quantities, however, the initial conclusion is that a further restriction above takeoff has a marked affect on take off quantity without affecting quality.

nzl.james
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by nzl.james » Sat Apr 16, 2011 7:47 pm

If you are making neutral to flavor it later, why not jump straight to the pot still?
i am planning in making a pot stil, but for now as im still learning the hobby, i would like to be able to make a range of spirits from just one wash in future i do plan to make each spirit properly
am currently running a 3'' column which is 1.9m from boiler to takeoff and another 40 odd cm to the top of the column.
how are you heating this? do you think my 2000w and 1500w (3500w total) is this right size for the job?
However, when I added a centring ring with a 30mm orifice 5cm above takeoff my output rose to just under 3 litres an hour. With a tightening of the orifice to 25mm I am now pulling over 3 liters an hour at 95%.
this is really interesting. perhaps this is because vapour takes a easiest path, the outlet becomes the easiest path so more flows out? the fact that quality remains the same (95%) maybe suggests the column does most of the refluxing as opposed to the coil in the top? im really just think out loud..perhaps this suggests that adding a slant plate LM ABOVE my VM will increase (if anything) the performance of my VM (since it is essentially reducing the diameter og the column). what ya reckon. im thinking I will add a LM anyway just for future options.

as with the centerings, since they are removeable I can always experiment with them later down the track, its not a significant design consideration for the consruction of the still.


Heres my progress so far:
still all1.jpg
still all.jpg
I brazed most of what I need to braze, and this is what i was fairly certain was correct. my main concern is the final tube is 20mm with a 25mm leibig, will this cool well enough? the 20mm tube it pretty large
still coil top.jpg
this is the coil for the top. its wound out of 3/8in copper which was filled wit salt. I am going to stretch it out a bit but im hoping its big enough. others ive seen are alot longer but this should flow more water faster. will this do the job? maybe i can add some mesh between it
still valve.jpg
the valve setup. pretty large but it was cheap and i guess i cant go too big
still coil long.jpg
I got given this coil, its 3/8 and the coil OD is 60mm, fits nicely inside 3in tube. What shall I do with it? i was thinking of making a large graham condenser using 3in pipe or putting it in a small bucket for a cooler? will I need extra cooling than the liebig i already made?

let me know what you guys think so far. thanks heaps your a huge help

Manback
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by Manback » Mon Apr 25, 2011 2:25 pm

With regard to the top coil - the fact that it's 3/8" will improve the flow, but also reduce the time spent in contact, as it's volume is greater. I'd be worried about it knocking down the vapour from 3500W.

Where in NZ are ya?



And if that valve was cheap.. where'd ya get it? Find it hard to find good ss gate valves around here :)

Still looks fine to me except I'd add a greater distance between take-off and the coil. Liebig should be fine for cooling take-off but there's only one way to know :)

nzl.james
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by nzl.james » Thu May 05, 2011 1:25 am

With regard to the top coil - the fact that it's 3/8" will improve the flow, but also reduce the time spent in contact, as it's volume is greater. I'd be worried about it knocking down the vapour from 3500W.
yes thats my primary concern but i guess ill find out
Where in NZ are ya?
currently living in hamilton, found the valve on trademe, brand new stock clearance or something for $30 posted :)

Ive made progress on the rest of it ill try post pics up when i get a chance

nzl.james
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by nzl.james » Tue Jun 14, 2011 8:59 pm

OK,
So ive pretty much finished my still, just needs a little tidy up. heres some pics
new1.jpg
new2.jpg
new3.jpg
new4.jpg
new5.jpg
new6.jpg
i'm having some problems running it with water, but ill start a new topic for that.
please feel to give advice on how to improve it. thanks!

nzl.james
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by nzl.james » Tue Jun 14, 2011 9:01 pm

new7.jpg
new8.jpg
I added scrubbers to the condenser because when I was running it with water, steam was coming out the top, but the water in the condenser was still cold. this seemed to solve the problem

rad14701
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by rad14701 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:52 am

nzl.james, don't panic over the condensers performance when distilling water because VM's simply aren't efficient at distilling water... The only true test will be distilling an alcohol laden wash...

While your condenser looks to be of minimal length it should work adequately if you can run at least one liter per minute of coolant through it... Don't rush right into winding another condenser without doing ample testing under practical application...

Keep us posted on your progress... Looking good...

HeadCase
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by HeadCase » Thu Jun 30, 2011 11:26 am

Why is the valve upside down?! :shock:

The mechanism for flow within the valve may hinder any use of it. I am not sure if this is a large needle-valve or what but the size of that valve would be enough to disipate a lot of heat causing it to condense within the valve and fall back into the column. If you are visuallizing that the vapor will rest against the top of the tubing (and thus the valve) then it has a much longer path of travel against a cooler surface. If you turn the valve the other way (handle pointing up, or even sideways) then at best the minor condensing within the horizontal section of your still will split the condensate at 50/50. But with the valve upside down (handle downwards) it can't roll past the needle. Like it or not physics causes problems with vapors moving horizontally, so there will be some stagnant flow causing condensation. :egeek:

I could be entirely wrong too. I would like someone to second this theory before it is put to the test.
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hackware
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by hackware » Thu Jun 30, 2011 1:24 pm

pretty sure that is a gate valve...

concur that it would be best "handle up"...

is trademe an "ebay.com" like commerce "down under"...?

would like to find some "cheap" large ss valves my own self...
tell me how hard it is to do... tell me how expensive it will be... just don't tell me what i can not do...

lead, follow, or get out of the way... ankle biters will be kicked...

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nzl.james
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by nzl.james » Wed Aug 17, 2011 2:57 pm

hi guys,
sorry for the late reply, ive been overseas for a few weeks.

Thanks forthe advice guys, The only reason I put the valve (its a large Stainless gate valve) upside down is because its high up and easier to reach up and turn. Not a big deal as i can just stand on a chair.

Anyway the still has been running good. I havnt had a parrot and I think I ran it too fast the first time and could taste a little yeast flavour.

Trademe.co.nz is new zealands version of ebay.

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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by OPP » Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:21 pm

Hi,
Being a novice who hasn't even built a still yet could someone please explain to me why the majority of condensate doesn't just run down the inside of the column back into the keg?
How does the liquid find its way into the condensor?

Samohon
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by Samohon » Sat Aug 20, 2011 9:39 pm

OPP wrote:Hi,
Being a novice who hasn't even built a still yet could someone please explain to me why the majority of condensate doesn't just run down the inside of the column back into the keg?
How does the liquid find its way into the condensor?
It is a VM (vapour management) still. True, the condenser at the top will condense all the vapours in contact and return them to the packing below, but once the gate valve on the drawing is opened, the alcohol laden vapour will find its way past the valve and be condensed with the Liebig (product condenser)... Vapour enjoys the path of least resistance and will find its way to the product condenser...

Do a search for vapour management OPP, there are quite a few articles in the forums...

BTW, welcome to HD.... Be safe... :thumbup:
♦♦ Samohon ♦♦

Beginners should visit The New Distillers Reading Lounge and the Safety and Related Issues among others...

rad14701
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Re: Help me finish my still

Post by rad14701 » Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:44 am

OPP wrote:Hi,
Being a novice who hasn't even built a still yet could someone please explain to me why the majority of condensate doesn't just run down the inside of the column back into the keg?
How does the liquid find its way into the condensor?
Due to the structured packing in the lower column the reflux doesn't simply return to the boiler... The most volatile constituents will reboil and head back up the column while those with lower boiling pints, like water, will continue back down the column and eventually end up back in the boiler... Remember, the bottom of the column is the hottest and the top is the coolest... Therefore, with the top of the column heated to 172F/78C water will not reach that point because its boiling (vaporization) point is 212F/100C... Breaking the bond between the water and ethanol molecules causes the ethanol to collect at the top while the water returns to the boiler...

This is theory that you should have a complete understanding of before you proceed much further... Make sure you do ample research so we don't need to answer the same questions that have already been answered many times before... We can't take the time to spoon feed every new member... If we did we'd never have time to enjoy the hobby ourselves...

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