What do we have here?

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What do we have here?

Postby dokbeat » Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:14 pm

Hello there!

I just recently got my hands on a still that used to be my grandfathers.
He has passed away and i got no real info from any relatives.

What type do we have here? (se my link) https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B7RmznLhiH7UWXVzc2x5YUR4Tnc

Is it a reflux or a pot still? or just an early reflux type...i've heard stuff about the lower cooling tube defeating the whole reflux principle...
How would i operate this?

What about the heating element? its a bit rusty but works, theres a thermostate and bung for the top with then sensor connected to it.
Heated some water today and i took about an hour for half of it to reach 78 c..

Do i need a controllable water flow for this type of still?

Theres no cobber involved...would i benefit for installing a small piece at the dripping zone?

Im from Denmark, is this some nordic design?

Anyway my mash i ready in a couple of weeks and im super eager to try this beast...all info would be much appreciated!

Cheers!
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby Pikey » Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:40 pm

Remarkable piece of kit. You say no copper - what Is it made of ?

It looks like an attempt at version of a coolant management still to me. The through tubes are supposed to induce some reflux. But the column diameter seems too large to allow that to happen properly and it was a pretty poor system anyway. It would operate as a pot still ok and those tubes might give you a few extra percentage pounts of abv. The "Heating element" - is that what looks like some packed tubes in the bottom ?

Do you know if he used it regularly, or was it something he made as an experiment and never really used ?

Yes it will require cooling water - but whether it needs to be adjustable without modifications to your cooling system is debateable
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby Yummyrum » Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:54 pm

Before you use it you need to check what its made from . Unless ots Copper or stainless steal then don't .
You also need to see what the boiler lid gasket seal is made of . Ideally it should be teflon or a copper gasket wrapped in teflon tape .
Thirdly you need a cap on the top . Perhaps the originally used a large natural cork . I suspect it was full of glass marbles .

Is there a mesh or grate at the bottom of the column that perhaps held in marbles or other packing ?
Last edited by Yummyrum on Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby Pikey » Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:55 pm

Been thinking about this - was he using it to make drinkin' likker ?
Or was he trying to make biofuel ?

There's a lot of ferrous metal used in biofuel stills,

http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/ethanol_motherearth/meCh8.html

Not in drinkin' likker stills !
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby Mooki » Wed Sep 27, 2017 12:05 am

dokbeat wrote:Im from Denmark, is this some nordic design?

It sort of looks like a super-sized "labmaster", which I believe is Nordic. They pop every now and then on Swedish and Norwegian forums, often inherited heirlooms.
Unfortunately not the best design - but if you're unsure of the metals involved that might be just as well :)

Samples:
http://www.geocities.ws/n_h_k_l/Lab-master.jpg
https://hembrant.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/labmaster.jpeg
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby NZChris » Wed Sep 27, 2017 12:12 am

If your Farfar didn't know enough about material safety to build a still suitable for making drinking liquor, it might clean up to make a nice coat & hat rack or umbrella stand for the entrance.
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby dokbeat » Wed Sep 27, 2017 7:43 am

Thanks for all your replies!

My grandfather was a blacksmith, an inventer and he had a company building waterheaters. I asked my dad on the metals,
And he is quite sure that my grandfather would have been aware of choosing safe metals.

Theres a small hole in the bottom of the column but no gasket.

The boiler itself is clearly stainless steel and the top is corroded in a way.

The seal between the top and the boiler natural rubber.

So whats your advice? clean it up and do a testrun? what kind of quality would it deliver?
Im not really concerned about the safety of the metals.

On the other hand i found a Polish company selling interesting stills on Ebay...Poland is part of the EU and hence there is no import tax...cant buy anything from the states cuz, that would get incredibly expensive.

What would you say about this model?

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Professional- ... XQNo5TZllZ

Do i really need 50 liters or would less be enough?
The link above is a reflux type right?


Cheers

Bjørn
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby Pikey » Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:43 am

Hi again Bjorn,

I don't understand that still from the picture, but his figure of 70% abv, leads me to believe that it is basicslly a pot still with one or more "Thumpers" at the column head :?

50L is a good size still, which will see you happy for many productive years.

Another of our recent newbies was looking to buy a still from Europe recently, without buying one of the commercial CM stills and this thread is the process he went through and the advice he was given. He ended up with a decent offset head reflux, which could be run in pot mode as well if I remember aright, at a pretty sensible price.

In layman's terms that means if he wanted, he could get spirit out of it at well over 90% abv as well as being able to make whiskey etc. I think he was very happy with his purchase from a guy in Poland.

http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=67176

We'd rather see you make one of course, but hey we're just biased 8)

Sadly, I don't think your Grandad's still is the way forward for you to make drinking likker. Natural Rubber gaskets for example will not find favour among our members and anything which rusts is also a no-no here.

The only materials we accept as safe are : Copper, stainless, glass (in certain circumstances) and ptfe.
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby dokbeat » Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:26 am

Again thanks alot for the answer and for pointing me towards that post!

The price is a bit steep for me even though it seems fair! Bear in mind that i thought i was all ready to go...

Would it be possible for me to just refit the top from that kit onto my boiler and then make new gaskets?
and then be able to save som money? or should i rather forget all about it?

I am very tempted to build myself and have had some looks on the bokabob designs...that would be the way to go right? for a starter like me...

but im also very tempted to get distilling...and maybe build my own later on.

Anyway i emailed that polish guy from the thread and is awaiting response...

Cheers

Bjorn
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby Pikey » Wed Sep 27, 2017 1:54 pm

Hi dok - If you're certain the pot is stainless - maybe we could fashion a new top for it ?

A friend of mine who knew no better fermented in a ferrous pot and ended up throwing it away as it tasted so dreadful. If you think you can manage to build a boka head, You could sit it on top of a 25 litre tea / coffee urn

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Burco-Cygnet-Large-30-Litre-Catering-Hot-Water-Boiler-Tea-Urn-Stainless-Steel-/400972277660?epid=1683258780&hash=item5d5bcf679c:g:2d8AAOSwWWxY-IzA

There may be a need to bypass some of the "Convenience" features in the circuit of some. But this one looks as tho' it would be a "Plug and go" as a still. (even tho' it's 30 litres)

If you're prepared to go "Pot still", you just need a few bits of copper pipe and a condenser stuck on a pot and you're away - We'll help you if you do decide to "Make" :)
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby Kareltje » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:30 pm

If I had found it, I would try it.
I know a lot of people think iron is a inferior material for stills, but, provided it is properly handled, it is not.
There is no harm in using iron, only some inconveniences. And your farfar, being a blacksmith, must have had very much knowledge about these.
I have used an iron still, with good results.
It does rust, if not kept dry. Just like your scythe. And if you can keep it dry, is largely dependant on the design. Your still seems to have a very open design, nmaking it very easy to clean and dry it after running.
There is hazard of corrosion. I recently learned that only small amounts of copper can greatly enhance corrosion of iron. Zinc on the other hand protects iron.
One drawback: I got a black film on my iron riser. Do not know what it was. It was easily whiped off, staining easily, did not effect taste (as far as I noticed!).
I used a copper condenser in my iron still, and my distillate always was white.
(Whereas I once got a blue destillate with my copper still.)
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby Pikey » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:39 pm

Well I know Iron is bad in fermentation. I know nothing about it in distillation, except it seems to be commonly used in biofuel production.

If Kareltje says he has used it without ill effect - that's good enough for me 8)

Get your welding torch out and get some ptfe to replace that rubber gasket. Get scrubbing and keep us informed. :D
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby Kareltje » Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:06 pm

Pikey wrote:Well I know Iron is bad in fermentation. I know nothing about it in distillation, except it seems to be commonly used in biofuel production.

If Kareltje says he has used it without ill effect - that's good enough for me 8)

Get your welding torch out and get some ptfe to replace that rubber gasket. Get scrubbing and keep us informed. :D

I have used it in my still. An iron boiler, copper boiling cents, copper condenser.

Why is iron bad in fermentation?
Today I was searching for submarine stills, made of wood and sheet iron. These were used to ferment a wash. After finishing the ferment a helmet was put on top of the still, a fire lit underneath it and so the wash was distilled.
The submarines (or dead man stills) were made of sides of wood and bottom and tops of iron.

Both wood and iron are building materials that are not approved here. But they have been used.
So there must be experience about this use. Where is it? And what is it?
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby HDNB » Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:23 pm

i didn't see anyone bash that ebay post still. so allow me... 385 pounds for that is effing crazy, it's a 50mm.
you can build better for less than 75 quid and 4 hours of time. ya already got a boiler.
I finally quit drinking for good.

now i drink for evil.
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby dokbeat » Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:25 am

Ok ok ok...

Im slowly accepting letting go of the thought of using the old family still ;)

So i read the quite good earlier thread..lots of useful info there...

Decided to do some more research and found this still http://allegro.pl/destylator-a-abratek-kolumna-160cm-3x-sms-miedz-i6868018017.html?fromVariant=6854235208

The Price is great im quite close on pulling the trigger on this still...any final warnings? it looks good to my novice eyes.

Would i be able to use Grandpa's old still for stripping runs? or would that be a no-no as well?

Cheers

Bjorn
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby Antler24 » Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:45 am

That's not a good still. It's basically a boka I think. There's no product condenser so your distillate will be coming out hot. It looks to have plastic hose on the outlet which is a no-no.

Don't waste your money. You must know a plumber or pipefitter, just get a friend to solder if you have to. That's what I did. You can build a great pot still for very cheap. Any basic building supply store (Canadian tire, Rona, castle, home Depot, Lowe's, etc) should have everything you need to build a simple and safe still head that'll last generations.
Swedish Pride wrote:
get a brix reading on said ball bearings and then you can find out how much fermentables are in there
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby dokbeat » Fri Sep 29, 2017 10:13 am

Thanks for your response!


Even though im a novice i do spend quite a lot reading and yes i am now aware that those take off hoses are a no-no,
But they are quite standard in eastern europe...and quite easy, even for me to change to a copper pipe outlet,

About the cooling of the product, that would be quite easy and very cheap to take care off as well...

So beside those things?

here at some of the specs translated:

1. The distillation-rectification column of the aabratek. Made of stainless steel pipe 60.3mm, height 160cm . The column consists of three parts connected via an SMS or TRI-CLAMP connector. The first element is 30cm long, it is filled with copper and acts as a catalyst. The second element measures 100cm and contains a stainless filling on which the condensate flows off the head. The last part is a head 30cm high and 42cm long, with a precision valve equipped with an innovative coil with a water jacket. The column is warmed up to speed up the process.


The design is called Aabratek and is also commonly used i Poland (from what i've read)

You can see the basics of the design here:

cala_kolumna_400 (1).jpg


Cheers/

Bjorn
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby Tater » Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:54 pm

Kareltje wrote:
Pikey wrote:Well I know Iron is bad in fermentation. I know nothing about it in distillation, except it seems to be commonly used in biofuel production.

If Kareltje says he has used it without ill effect - that's good enough for me 8)

Get your welding torch out and get some ptfe to replace that rubber gasket. Get scrubbing and keep us informed. :D

I have used it in my still. An iron boiler, copper boiling cents, copper condenser.

Why is iron bad in fermentation?
Today I was searching for submarine stills, made of wood and sheet iron. These were used to ferment a wash. After finishing the ferment a helmet was put on top of the still, a fire lit underneath it and so the wash was distilled.
The submarines (or dead man stills) were made of sides of wood and bottom and tops of iron.

Both wood and iron are building materials that are not approved here. But they have been used.
So there must be experience about this use. Where is it? And what is it?
When you hear . Its ok cause I use it .Well consider the source.Make a decision based on research not hear say.I like to see proof one way or the other . Ive read about cast iron stills in old days. They grease them up before use.Seems Ive also read that iron in fermenting water doesnt make yeast happy.Those sub still you are referring to were made of sheet metal thin steel and wood .Some were even made outta galvanized metal and wood .They were used by people who wanted to make money not giving a damn about quality of their likker .
PLEASE READ THIS FORUMS RULES AND THESES Links: http://homedistiller.org and New Distiller Reading Lounge I use a pot still
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby Antler24 » Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:58 pm

dokbeat wrote:Thanks for your response!


Even though im a novice i do spend quite a lot reading and yes i am now aware that those take off hoses are a no-no,
But they are quite standard in eastern europe...and quite easy, even for me to change to a copper pipe outlet,

About the cooling of the product, that would be quite easy and very cheap to take care off as well...

So beside those things?

here at some of the specs translated:

1. The distillation-rectification column of the aabratek. Made of stainless steel pipe 60.3mm, height 160cm . The column consists of three parts connected via an SMS or TRI-CLAMP connector. The first element is 30cm long, it is filled with copper and acts as a catalyst. The second element measures 100cm and contains a stainless filling on which the condensate flows off the head. The last part is a head 30cm high and 42cm long, with a precision valve equipped with an innovative coil with a water jacket. The column is warmed up to speed up the process.


The design is called Aabratek and is also commonly used i Poland (from what i've read)

You can see the basics of the design here:

cala_kolumna_400 (1).jpg


Cheers/

Bjorn


You mean what wrong with it besides being overpriced, inefficient, and needing modifycation? Before you use it needs a outlet pipe and a condenser!

Well, there MIGHT not be anything else wrong with it, it might show up in 6 months and fall apart while your assembling it, it might been built with cheap stuff and make you sick, but it might be fine.


Why risk any of that, and buy a still that needs to be modified (more money spent) before you even use it, when you could spend half the money, 3-4hrs of your time and have a still you KNOW is safe to use, and you KNOW will last a lifetime, and you could be distilling tomorrow night.

What you want to drink will decide the type of still you want. If your into drinking whiskey, rum, Brandy, a pot still will be the still for you. If you like vodkas, nuetrals, etc a boka, or reflux still will be the best. If you want the ability to do both, I'd go with a flute.
Swedish Pride wrote:
get a brix reading on said ball bearings and then you can find out how much fermentables are in there
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby Swedish Pride » Sat Sep 30, 2017 5:59 am

Hard to tell from the pics properly but looks like a ss boiler to me.
does look a nice fins that could work ok with a few mods.
Column looks to be 80mm ish wide, should make for a nice short packed section.

getsome to have a look at it to see what they recon the material is, replace the gasket with a ptfe one and let her rip ( if it's SS that is).

a fella from finland got a ebay still recently and seems happy enough with it.
think it was 500€ all in though viewtopic.php?f=6&t=67176
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby Kareltje » Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:29 am

Tater wrote: When you hear . Its ok cause I use it .Well consider the source.Make a decision based on research not hear say.I like to see proof one way or the other . Ive read about cast iron stills in old days. They grease them up before use.Seems Ive also read that iron in fermenting water doesnt make yeast happy.Those sub still you are referring to were made of sheet metal thin steel and wood .Some were even made outta galvanized metal and wood .They were used by people who wanted to make money not giving a damn about quality of their likker .

You are right about not believing hearsay. But that goes both for no-no and for yes-yes!

I never fermented in an iron vessel, and it indeed is written that the deadman and submarine stills were mainly used to make a large profit in short time and with low costs. A choice I myself would make different!

I myself used an iron still for some time, but I must admit I had a copper cooling spiral and I always put some copper boiling coins in the kettle. In hindsight that might have been stupid, for even small amounts of copper greatly enhace the corrosion of iron. Maybe iron or zinc coins would have been better.
I was always concerned about storing the kettle dry, so it would not rust. Unfortunately it had only a very small opening on top, so I was never sure. Bad design. I burned linseedoil on the outside, which gave it a very resistant coating. Once I also oiled the inside, but it took at least five runs to get rid of the frying pan flavour! :thumbdown:
It will please a lot of people to hear that eventually it got a hole in it, so now I abandoned it. :mrgreen:
But that was not for bad taste or lousy performance!

As for the grandpa's still of dokbeat: I would be glad to give it a try. First clean it, of course, run it with water and check for leaks, blockades and other problems. Check the electrical safety first and foremost.
Maybe find some craftsman to look at it, both for material and for distilling alcohol. There are some distillers from Danmark here, maybe one of them lives close enough to take a look.
It has been used (I suppose) and it has survived prolonged storage without visible damage.
What is the risk in running it with water??
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby just sayin » Sat Sep 30, 2017 10:36 am

A agree with Swede. If your rig is stainless and copper, I would get it a shot. Replace the gasket and give it a vinegar cleaning run followed by an alcohol cleaning run just as if it was newly constructed. I don't think the through tubes will hurt you much.
If a rig was built and used by my Grandfather there is no way I would buy anything else before I gave it a solid testing. Enjoy discovering your family heritage!!!
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby NZChris » Sat Sep 30, 2017 12:29 pm

Replace the rubber gasket with ptfe gland packing and give it a run.
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Re: What do we have here?

Postby Shine0n » Sun Oct 01, 2017 1:57 am

Looks like a liebig condenser on a pot still to me, just take away all the rubber and non stainless parts, add some copper and let her rip. I like it and wish my grandfather left his to me but he passed long before I got into the hobby sadly.

It looks well built and I like the square design!!!

How old is it, Do you know the year he made it or close to the time frame?

If you can source a natural cork for the top it will complete the still and you'll be running in no time :thumbup:

How will you fire it up? Gas, wood, electric?
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