Purchasable still reviews?

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Re: Purchasable still reviews?

Postby spiff » Sun Apr 17, 2016 8:42 am

Well, I got in my first use last night and this morning. It brought a lot of issues to my attention.. I'm not real happy with how it fits on the stove..and the license plates were a bad idea I think. I was taking pyrometer readings during the cleaning run and the license plates were getting around 250 degrees.. hotter than the stove around it. So I nixed the plates.. i think they were creating venturis of heat or something causing more heat not less. I pulled the knobs off so they won't melt instead. Then I put an eye screw in the wall right above the stove top..and used a vent hole in the interior of the top oven (have to run with with top oven open to make space for the tank to fit on the stove) for anchors to wire the thing down because the thing was giving me the heebie jeebies the way it sat on the stove. Now the only way it'll come off the stove is if the ceramic interior of the oven and a 5/16th eye bolt get pulled out with it. I also stood on the stove, testing my weight on different edges and surfaces because I don't want any surprises once I'm running 6 gallons or more. Its a 1950's model stove and is a tank I now know.. so now worries there.

For water I'm using the kitchen sink which I thought was nice to be able to keep the hoses as short as possible since its right there. The hoses on the floor would have been a major threat to pull this thing off the stove. Now I can keep them tucked up against the splash shield on the counter, totally out of the way of everything. A Y adapter on the faucet lets me still use the sink if I have to and I also put a 2ft lead on the other side so its just long enough that I could spray anywhere in the kitchen if I had to so its a great fire extinguisher.

I went through a cleaning run with 1 gallon of water and a gallon of vinegar last night. This morning I did the sacrificial run using another gallon of water and a gallon of cheap white wine. Mostly because I wanted the nice glass jug it came in. It seems like the power of my stove is perfect as I couldn't over power this thing at all. Rarely was I getting a solid stream.. usually just a steady drip. I think I got the coolant management aspect down.. tweaking flow to keep vapor from coming out. I never ran water to the reflux tower so I figure it'll be a lot slower still on a real spirit run when I am.

I'm glad I got a two piece stack because this allowed me to run in the fastest mode for a stripping run .. just the top stack without the middle piece. So I guess there was a lot less natural reflux going on without the extra height. In this configuration I was getting a stream about as thick as a thin straw at one point but mostly it was still just a really thin stream or fast drip but still a lot faster than the full stack at any given point. I did this test last when I considered the last cut took from my sacrificial run.

If there was any surprises it was the cuttings and readings I took. This jug of cheap wine read about 15-20 proof below zero.. I was thinking what the heck? It had a bit of natural carbonation that maybe caused that or some other additive? I took a water reading for a baseline and my tap water was right at zero. So I'm really curious how this wine read what it did. I'm sure someone here has an explanation. It was at room temperature. It was a cheap sweet white California called "Rhine". Even long after the fizz subsided this was a pretty steady reading. So I didn't expect jack for any content to be honest. I was picturing that I could probably line up some shot glasses for my cuts and it might be done in 10 minutes. So I was real surprised when I got about 6 12oz mason jars about half full each averaging around 80 proof on the first couple but tapering down to 40 proof on the last one or two. Go figure.
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Re: Purchasable still reviews?

Postby skow69 » Sun Apr 17, 2016 9:22 am

Congratulations, spiff. It sounds like you're on your way.

I was taking pyrometer readings during the cleaning run and the license plates were getting around 250 degrees.. hotter than the stove around it.

Sounds like the plates were dissipating the heat and keeping it off the stove. Isn't that what you wanted? The plates can't make any more heat than what is coming off the burner.

This jug of cheap wine read about 15-20 proof below zero.

Were you using a proof/trailes hydrometer or one made for fermenting? Could the wine have sugar added? It would have to have something extra to make it heavier than water.
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Re: Purchasable still reviews?

Postby skow69 » Sun Apr 17, 2016 9:40 am

Your collection was right on the money. If your gallon of wine was 10% ABV, then it contained 12.8 ounces of pure ethanol. If you collected 6 12 oz. jars half full that would be 36 ounces. If they averaged 60 proof (30% ABV) that would make 36 x 30% = 10.8 ounces of ethanol. If you left 2 oz. in the boiler, then it is all accounted for.

Alcoholometry will throw up a flag when something goes wrong.
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Re: Purchasable still reviews?

Postby spiff » Mon Apr 18, 2016 6:23 am

Thanks... yeah, I meant the plates to be heat shields but these were radiating worse heat than the stove itself. Especially where I had them overhanging to protect the control surface. It just seems better with out them.

The alcohol meter was from Mile HI, I'm presuming its a proper one when I bought it with the still..it does show proof and that's what I was using. I didn't know there were different types.. but I would think a proof rating would be consistent, right? You probably called it with the sugar.. it is a very sweet wine, unnaturally so. Probably expected with the cheapest wine I could find. That's very interesting to me to see such a wild reading.. so you think it should be reading 20 proof so it had enough sugar to throw it off around 40 points.. wow.

I can't wait to run this Birdwatchers wash now... the bubbling has been slowing down every day.. I haven't popped it open yet to take a SG reading yet. I just ordered another fermenter so that I can start a rotation.
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Re: Purchasable still reviews?

Postby crazybean » Mon Apr 18, 2016 11:57 am

Is 400V iStill just a though, or is it real possibility. My house has 3x20A main surge breakers. I would very much prefer running on 3 phases than overload single phase.
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Re: Purchasable still reviews?

Postby spiff » Mon Apr 18, 2016 12:03 pm

Was that meant for Odin or me? I'm using natural gas
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Re: Purchasable still reviews?

Postby skow69 » Mon Apr 18, 2016 12:27 pm

crazybean wrote:Is 400V iStill just a though, or is it real possibility. My house has 3x20A main surge breakers. I would very much prefer running on 3 phases than overload single phase.


That was all totally tongue-in-cheek, at least on my part. 400 VAC is not practical with American residential electric service. Maybe it is a standard in the Netherlands, I don't know. If you are in the states, I guarantee your house runs on single phase. Don't know about the rest of the world. Odin just kind of dropped that 400 volt bomb and walked away. You could PM him and ask what he meant.
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Re: Purchasable still reviews?

Postby Odin » Mon Apr 18, 2016 12:45 pm

My homedistiller size rigs (13, 25 gallons) run on 205-240 volts, phased, around 18 amps. It's the big units for professionals (65 to 800 gallons) for the non-USA markets that use 400 volts, not the smaller ones. In Europe we have 230 volts at home and 400 volts as industrial strength, by the way.

Hope this clarifies things.

I think the misunderstanding came from me explaining that in order to see how far my new column upgrade can go in terms of performance, then I'd need to upgrade its power. 230 volts at 16, maybe 17 amps is what we can draw here on 230 volts. So if I want to go higher in power input, I'd have to switch to 400 volts. Not going that way. I think 4 kW's is more than enough.

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Re: Purchasable still reviews?

Postby skow69 » Mon Apr 18, 2016 2:38 pm

Right. Then Ga Flatwoods wanted 400V, Freemountain Hermit came up with a solution, and I couldn't resist jumping in the pool. I guess my sense of humor doesn't come over well in text. It needs the voice inflection and body language.

There was only one guy on the forum who knew that 400V is a European industrial thing, and he wasn't talking.
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Re: Purchasable still reviews?

Postby spiff » Tue Apr 19, 2016 11:19 am

I was seriously considering a 220v electric setup.. but I couldn't find any decent nema plug converters.. I would need a L6-30r to L6-20R socket adapter but for the life of me couldn't find one. There are some cool converters out there, but not this one. I found some online RV supply outlets that seemed to have everything related to that.. I'm guessing liability is big reason it might not exist. In hind sight though I'm glad I went with using it on my stove.. its too convenient.
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Re: Purchasable still reviews?

Postby Jeffrich » Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:01 am

I've heard mention of an approved vendor list. Or even a list of known bad vendors. I've search the site using the HD Google search and can't find a list. Can someone point me in the right direction?

Thanks!
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Re: Purchasable still reviews?

Postby cob » Tue Jul 19, 2016 6:17 pm

spiff wrote:I was seriously considering a 220v electric setup.. but I couldn't find any decent nema plug converters.. I would need a L6-30r to L6-20R socket adapter but for the life of me couldn't find one. There are some cool converters out there, but not this one. I found some online RV supply outlets that seemed to have everything related to that.. I'm guessing liability is big reason it might not exist. In hind sight though I'm glad I went with using it on my stove.. its too convenient.


just replace the cord end with the one that plugs into your receptacle no adapter needed.

I'm glad the stove is working for you, but if someone had told you that you don't need a thermometer in your still

you would not have needed to shorten your column.
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Re: Purchasable still reviews?

Postby cob » Tue Jul 19, 2016 6:37 pm

Jeffrich wrote:I've heard mention of an approved vendor list. Or even a list of known bad vendors. I've search the site using the HD Google search and can't find a list. Can someone point me in the right direction? Thanks!


those lists don't exist per se as lists. the venders good and bad are discussed in many threads but not organized.

larry at stilldragon (LWCTS) spent years here as a member and mod waiting for some dust to settle around the other arms of SD.

Mike at mile high is a member here last I knew. I'm sure there are other good vendors, but the opinion seams to be that

the louder they holler about how good their stills are or the fewer cloths their models wear the more caution you should use.

so the lists you seek are actually the ones you build in your head reading countless opinions here in this library.
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