Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

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Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:53 pm

Ok some time ago I posted plans I was working on for my first build. The response was not all that good. After reading and being on the forum for 6 months I know why. :roll: :lol: Well I had started the build before I found HD. Then added to the plans the more I read. Then I read the Flute talk thread yes and 3 times! :crazy: I then decided to build a 4" flute. Again what was I thinking I know. :crazy: I am still building the flute that will be another thread at a later time. But I have grown impatient and would like to get something going a little quicker. So I am falling back to the original plans. That I already started. Yes I know its not the norm. Yes I know the first design I will finish is not the optimum still to build. But it is what I have working and I want to finish it. With that being said here we go.

The first phase of the build will be the CM head and column. I chose a 3" water jacket condenser 2" column CM still. Modeled after the Mile Hi stills. This will also later be used as part of the reflux condenser for the VM and LM heads by adding removable parts. I had a request to show how I made the 3" water jacket from Kentucky Shiner. So here it goes. I have a few pics to upload so bare with me till I get done please.

I first found a steel pipe that fit inside the 3" L copper pipe. It is 2 7/8" OD with around a 1/4" wall thickness. Its what I had? I found if I wrapped some electrical tape around it a couple times it fit nice and snug in the 3" pipe.
CM reflux condensor (1)crop.jpg


I then rounded the edges so it would give me a nice round place to bend the pipe over. So the sharp edge wouldn't cut into the copper while hammering it over.
CM reflux condensor (2)crop.jpg
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:12 pm

So then I realized if I put this pipe inside the 3" and bend the edges over. I would never get it out. So the brain went into overdrive and this is what I came up with.
I would cut the pipe to the length I wanted the Condenser Jacket to be - 1/4" for the pipe wall roughly. Then cut the pipe into quarters so I would be able to get it out after I bend the ends over to fit the 2" pipe. Note: When you cut it into quarters number them and mark the sequence that they fit together. This will help more then you think.
CM reflux condensor (3)crop.jpg

Now how are you going to hold the 4 pieces in place inside the 3" pipe you ask? I bought a automotive exhaust pipe expander at Harbor freight for like $19. Now I placed the 4 pieces of pipe inside the 3" and the expander inside that.
CM reflux condensor (4)crop.jpg

Then I slid it into place with enough of the 3" copper overhanging to bend over to make a 2 1/8" hole for the 2" column to feed through.
CM reflux condensor (5)crop.jpg
Last edited by Prairiepiss on Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:26 pm

Here is another pic of it in place.
CM reflux condensor (6)crop.jpg


With it in place I started bending the edge of the copper pipe over the steel pipe inside. I placed it on a towel on top of a hard workbench so it wouldn't mar the copper. Start on the end that the expander is not poking out of. Using a hammer I slowly worked my way around the pipe. Bending it a little more each time I rotated it. Until I got it fairly flat.
CM reflux condensor (7)crop.jpg


Then I moved to the other end and did the same thing. When it was closer to being flat I sat the whole thing up with the expander poking up. And I continued to flatten it out the rest of the way. By doing this both ends were getting flattened. The one on top from the hammer the one on the bottom from the 1/2" steel workbench. Again I placed a rag under it to keep the marring to a minimum.
CM reflux condensor (8)crop.jpg
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:35 pm

Ok now that I got the copper formed like I wanted. I had to remove the tools. It was a very snug fit to get the expander out. I had to clean the hole up with a die grinder to the 2 1/8" required for the column pipe. And the expander barely fit through it without taking it apart.
CM reflux condensor (9)crop.jpg

CM reflux condensor (10)crop.jpg

CM reflux condensor (11)crop.jpg

Then I fished the 4 pieces of steel pipe out through the hole. It was tight but they came out pretty easy.
CM reflux condensor (12)crop.jpg
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:44 pm

Last thing to do was to flatten out the ends from the inside. In some places it had worked inward more than I liked. So I set it on end and with a long punch I tapped the hi places back down flat. Flipped it over and did the same for the other end. Then with a die grinder I finish fitted it to the 2" pipe. And here you have the finished 3" CM water jacket condenser ready to be soldered to the 2" column. After you make the inlet and outlet ports of course. That's in this other thread if you want to check it out. http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=21258
Here are pics of it on the 2" column piece.
CM reflux condensor (13)crop.jpg

CM reflux condensor (14)crop.jpg

CM reflux condensor (15)crop.jpg

CM reflux condensor (16)crop.jpg
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:47 pm

Ok now let me have it. What do you think? I will have more to add a little latter.

And If you didn't notice. I forgot to take pics when I did it. So I took these after the fact. What was I thinking? :crazy: :crazy:
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby condensificator » Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:03 pm

looking great dude. you are very persuasive with that copper!
how often did you anneal it while you were working down that lip?

how bigga balls does that harbor freight expander have to expand copper...like could you turn 2-1/2" into 2-3/4" or 2-7/8"?


i went down that same path with the mile-hi style water jacket CM in copper. worked well, but i did a modular set up that included a VM/LM/boka head, and once i figured out how to drive that, i never hooked up the CM jacket again.

good to see your project on the move!
good luck, keep us posted.
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:13 pm

condensificator wrote:looking great dude. you are very persuasive with that copper!

i went down that same path with the mile-hi style water jacket CM in copper. worked well, but i did a modular set up that included a VM/LM/boka head, and once i figured out how to drive that, i never hooked up the CM jacket again.


Coming from you I will take that as a big complement. Thank you.
I expect I will do the same once I get it all built. But I will at least experienced it for myself.

And if anyone is wondering about the plans I posted 5 months ago here they are. I am still going for the same thing just a little different in places.
http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=18964&p=6881288#p6881288
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Sun Apr 17, 2011 10:31 pm

And before Rad jumps in about the centering rings. I got it covered. 8) Sorry Rad had to do that. :lol:
I took a 1 1/2" X 3/4" reducer and flared the 1 1/2" end out to 2" to fit nice and snug inside the column. So I could place it where ever I want. I'm thinking about soldering a band around the lower part that is not flared for stability. That's still up in the air at this point. Here are some pics of it. Yes its a little crooked. I'm not happy with it at all. But it will work. If I get the chance I will make a new one.
CM Head Build (4)crop.jpg

CM Head Build (3)crop.jpg

CM Head Build (5)crop.jpg

CM Head Build (8)crop.jpg
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Sun Apr 17, 2011 11:02 pm

condensificator wrote:how often did you anneal it while you were working down that lip?

how bigga balls does that harbor freight expander have to expand copper...like could you turn 2-1/2" into 2-3/4" or 2-7/8"?

good to see your project on the move!
good luck, keep us posted.


Sorry didn't see these questions the first time.

#1 Your not going to believe me but. I didn't anneal it at all for any of the work I have done to it. On the 3" condenser jacket that is. :esurprised: It was harder to work with but it was doing what I wanted it to. I just didn't want to change it by annealing it. I think If I would have annealed it. It wouldn't have turned out so good.

#2 Not impressed with these at all. I bought all 3 sizes they have. The problem they have for us is the sizes. The one that fits in 2" is the middle one. And 2.5" I think is its max. I did play with it a little on 2 " but stopped because of the outcome. It kinda makes it octagonal. You have to run it out a little then rotate it a little and run it out again. Doesn't end up round. The next size up will not fit into the 2" and fits 3" about the same as the one does in the 2". So if you want to use it like I did get it. If you want to use it to expand copper pipe. Save your money. Oh and this is what I tried to use on my centering ring I just posted pics of. The problem there was it only fit half way in. So when I tighten it it flares out on the open end. it flared it a little with a lot of work. And I annealed the shit out of it.

I've been working on it a little here and a little there. I've got some really cool shit built. I just don't want to let the cat out of the bag on that just yet. When I get closer the the end of the tunnel I will. That stuff goes with the 4" flute build for a latter thread.
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Samohon » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:20 am

Nice out of the box tutorial PP, beats the hell out of buying those 3" x 2" fittings... :clap:

Keep us fixed with those piccies... :ewink:

Thanks for sharing man... :thumbup:
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby aqua vitae » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:24 am

Very nice build PP :clap: :thumbup:
I'm very impressed by skilled coppersmiths as I'm really lousy at it :wave:

When you are running vodka/neutral you want to run it at full reflux for at least 30 min to concentrate the heads before you bleed them out, and there is a risk that vapour will be able to pass the condensor when the only cooling comes from the column walls. Think of it as an upsidedown product condensor. The reflux ring will induce some turbulence that helps and some scrubbers/mesh will also help but I don't know if it's enough.
This could be fixed with a little reflux coil, cold finger or something in the center of the liebig, you might want to continue build it so that could be easily incorporated in the design if it turns out to be necessary. :)

Also the centering ring might be too narrow, smaller than 26 mm (1") in 51 mm (2") columns at 2 kW (1 475 ft*lbf/s or 0.2039 bhp) has been known to choke.
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:07 am

Samohon wrote:Nice out of the box tutorial PP, beats the hell out of buying those 3" x 2" fittings... :clap:

Keep us fixed with those piccies... :ewink:

Thanks for sharing man... :thumbup:


Thank you Samohon. Wait till you see my 2"X3" reducers:
Time is a little short but I will keep at it.
And I just hope it inspires someone with new ideas for their build.
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:24 am

aqua vitae wrote:Very nice build PP :clap: :thumbup:
I'm very impressed by skilled coppersmiths as I'm really lousy at it :wave:
Thank you.


When you are running vodka/neutral you want to run it at full reflux for at least 30 min to concentrate the heads before you bleed them out, and there is a risk that vapour will be able to pass the condensor when the only cooling comes from the column walls. Think of it as an upsidedown product condensor. The reflux ring will induce some turbulence that helps and some scrubbers/mesh will also help but I don't know if it's enough.
This could be fixed with a little reflux coil, cold finger or something in the center of the liebig, you might want to continue build it so that could be easily incorporated in the design if it turns out to be necessary. :)

I have a coldfinger in the works as part of the VM LM addition. All the parts are here ready for it to be built just in case. Just change a couple little things and its installed. I want to play with it as is for now to find my limitations. I want to find out how much power it will actually knock down. With and without scubbers in it. I have some other ideas to. More to come on that.

Also the centering ring might be too narrow, smaller than 26 mm (1") in 51 mm (2") columns at 2 kW (1 475 ft*lbf/s or 0.2039 bhp) has been known to choke.

I have another one in the works that will be 1". A New and Improved model to come soon.
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby rad14701 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:51 am

Prairiepiss wrote:And before Rad jumps in about the centering rings. I got it covered. 8) Sorry Rad had to do that. :lol:
I took a 1 1/2" X 3/4" reducer and flared the 1 1/2" end out to 2" to fit nice and snug inside the column. So I could place it where ever I want. I'm thinking about soldering a band around the lower part that is not flared for stability. That's still up in the air at this point. Here are some pics of it. Yes its a little crooked. I'm not happy with it at all. But it will work. If I get the chance I will make a new one.

I like the adjustable centering ring which is the way I would have made it... You'll be able to do some experimenting with it to see if there is a sweet spot for its location... Nice to see the project moving along... Keep us posted...
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Mon Apr 18, 2011 8:50 am

Rad here is my plan. I will run it first without for a couple 3 or 4 runs. Get bearings straight on it then start experimenting with the centering ring. After thinking about it many times over. I will start with the centering ring contact point just above the bottom of the reflux condenser. I think there it will act like a heat sink for the condenser. Possibly make it more efficient? Who knows? But that's why I made it a slip fit. So as you said. Find the sweet spot.
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:46 pm

Mite as well post this up to. This is my 15 gal Keg boiler. I welded my bungs in for the drain and two heating elements. I'm holding off on the 4" triclamp flange I have for it until I get the 4 incher done. I took a 3/4" and a 1" stainless unions and cut them in half with a large hole saw and cleaned them up a little to weld on to the keg. The 3/4" is for my drain got a nice 3/4" stainless ball valve for it. The 1" are for the heating elements. I placed the drain half way between the carry handles on the keg. I thought that would be the best place to put it. So it wouldn't take out my shin when carrying it. I then placed the two 1" bungs on the other side of the keg at roughly 90 deg from each other. And 45 deg off center of that side. Yes its a crappy weld job. What do you expect? I haven't welded in 4 years. :wtf: Oh it was a wire welder with stainless wire and 3 gas.

I only have the $20 I paid for the keg invested. All the rest are freebees. :clap:

Heres the unions. one uncut and one cut

Keg  Boiler (1)crop.jpg

Keg  Boiler (2)crop.jpg
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:49 pm

Here is Heater bung number 1 or the lower one.
Keg  Boiler (3)crop.jpg

Keg  Boiler (4)crop.jpg
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:50 pm

Here is Heater bung number 2 or the upper one.
Keg  Boiler (5)crop.jpg

Keg  Boiler (6)crop.jpg
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:55 pm

Here is both Heater bungs.
Keg  Boiler (7)crop.jpg

Keg  Boiler (8)crop.jpg
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:57 pm

And the drain valve.
Keg  Boiler (9)crop.jpg

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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Kentucky shinner » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:00 pm

Prairiepiss wrote:
condensificator wrote:how often did you anneal it while you were working down that lip?

how bigga balls does that harbor freight expander have to expand copper...like could you turn 2-1/2" into 2-3/4" or 2-7/8"?

good to see your project on the move!
good luck, keep us posted.


Sorry didn't see these questions the first time.

#1 Your not going to believe me but. I didn't anneal it at all for any of the work I have done to it. On the 3" condenser jacket that is. :esurprised: It was harder to work with but it was doing what I wanted it to. I just didn't want to change it by annealing it. I think If I would have annealed it. It wouldn't have turned out so good.

#2 Not impressed with these at all. I bought all 3 sizes they have. The problem they have for us is the sizes. The one that fits in 2" is the middle one. And 2.5" I think is its max. I did play with it a little on 2 " but stopped because of the outcome. It kinda makes it octagonal. You have to run it out a little then rotate it a little and run it out again. Doesn't end up round. The next size up will not fit into the 2" and fits 3" about the same as the one does in the 2". So if you want to use it like I did get it. If you want to use it to expand copper pipe. Save your money. Oh and this is what I tried to use on my centering ring I just posted pics of. The problem there was it only fit half way in. So when I tighten it it flares out on the open end. it flared it a little with a lot of work. And I annealed the shit out of it.

I've been working on it a little here and a little there. I've got some really cool shit built. I just don't want to let the cat out of the bag on that just yet. When I get closer the the end of the tunnel I will. That stuff goes with the 4" flute build for a latter thread.


Thanks for this tutorial.. very nice work.
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Samohon » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:51 pm

Looking good PP, with Rad on the adjustable centering ring... Now that will be interesting... :thumbup:
Still waiting on those 2" x 3" reducers, guess you'll get round to it soon enough. Glad to see your build progressing...

Thanks for sharing mate' keep it coming... :thumbup:
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:16 pm

Sam I was waiting on some solder. And I got side tracked changed direction. I will get pics up soon.
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:00 pm

Sam the reason its taken me a little longer is. I had it out to where I wanted it for a 3" to 2" reducer. But I then decided to push my luck and go for 4" to 2". I need one for my flute build. It was so easy getting it to 3" I just had to see how far I could push it. And I'm here to tell you 4" is my limit with the tools I have. It's not finished. I need to cut it on the 2" side and clean up the 4" side. I have to get some solder on order tomorrow. I need it to finish it completely. I will be soldering a ring of 4ga copper wire around the 4" end and 6ga on the 2" end making flanges for my triclamps. Here is a pic that I took tonight. Sorry it's a phone pic. The tool I used has an OD of 4". This should give you an idea of what I did.
1303430137-picsay.jpg
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Samohon » Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:59 pm

Awesome PP, speechless... :clap: :clap: :clap: :thumbup:

Consentrating on finishing my flute build right now, but this is definitely on my to-do list...

Thanks man... :thumbup:
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:35 pm

Thanks Sam.
Here are some better pics of the process. So all I did was flared a 2" pipe out to a little over 4". I'm not going to say it was easy to get to 4" But 3" is very doable. just past 3" its gets really hard. So my 3" reducers will be a lot easier to do. The fist pic is the pipe from witch this section came from. And this is the piece of 2" pipe I am making my 4" plated column from. More on that latter. :ewink:
Easy flange (8)crop.jpg


This is the chunk of oak I used to keep the other end of the 2" I was flaring from getting mangled. By the way you cant tell from looking at the pipe. Its in great shape.
S6302137crop.jpg
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:40 pm

Here are the two tools i used to do the flare. One is a? Its 4" round with a 45 deg tapper on it made of aluminum. The other is a tailpipe shaper. Will do both inside and out. I haven't tried the outside yet. Going to play with it latter.
Ruducer build (12)crop.jpg

Ruducer build (10)crop.jpg
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:42 pm

Here are a few of the flare from the start.
Ruducer build (4)crop.jpg

Ruducer build (1)crop.jpg

Ruducer build (3)crop.jpg
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Re: Prairiepiss's Modular CM, VM, LM pisser build

Postby Prairiepiss » Thu Apr 21, 2011 7:46 pm

Here are some up against my 3" condenser. The last one was just about perfect for a 3" reducer. Before I decided to see how far I could stretch 2" pipe. :lol:
Ruducer build (6)crop.jpg

Ruducer build (7)crop.jpg

Ruducer build (9)crop.jpg
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