RIMS Build Page 4

Here is my RIMS Build page 4, almost done!  I've gotten a lot done since I posted the last page. Here are some of the things I've finished:

  • Wiring the Ignition Modules to the gas valves.
  • Running the gas lines from the gas valves to the burners, and I figured out how to get the orifice/valves plumbed where they won't stick out too far.
  • Stainless tubing run to the suction side of the March Pumps and to all the vessels. I also put in an isolation valve and two purge valves into the line.
  • Return line to HLT drilled and plumbed. This is where the cold water will return from the Immersion chiller in the Boil Kettle.
  • Stub-up for the IC fitted with cam-loc fitting.

Here are a few pictures:

Brew Stand as of Aug 04, 2010

This is the stand from the front. Not much detail but you can see it's coming along.

Purge Valve and ball valve on brew stand

Purge Valve Plumbed Inline

This picture shows the stainless tee with the purge valve on top. The bottom fitting is a 1/2" MIP x 1/4" Compression fitting that will hold the 1/4" Love temperature probe. I took the ferrules out of the fitting and will use o-rings to seal the probe from the wort. The ball valve will isolate the MT and BK from pump 2.

Left side with purge valve #2

This picture shows the left side of the stand. You can see the second purge valve which will purge the air out of the line for pump #1. You can also see the stub-up for the "out" line on the immersion chiller. I have put 1/2" stainless cam-locs on these to reduce cost and keep these lines airtight when the IC is not in the boil kettle.

Still to do:

  • Wire the Ignition Modules to the transformer and Love controllers inside the control box.Plumb-in the Blichmann Auto-Sparge. I'll have a tee and valve going to the return side of the IC. This will allow me to use pump #2 to pump ice water from the HLT over to the IC inside the boil kettle.
  • Plumb in the fitting to hold the Love temperature sensor in the HLT.
  • Mount the last Ignition Module inside the ammo box.
  • Fabricate a whirl pool attachment to go in the immersion chiller.
  • Finish plumbing the IC with cam-locs and silicone hose.
  • Drill out and plumb the line in the BK which will be attached to the Blichmann HopBlocker.
  • Possibly install a sight glass in BK.Grind out the holes in the keggles to hold the glass lids I ordered.
  • Lastly I need to wire up the pumps and get the transformer in place inside the control box. I also need to get all the other items wired up and then I can get the LED lights working as well.



UPDATE: 11 Aug 2010 OK, I've completed most of the items above, plus some that I thought of as I worked on the plumbing. Here is a pic of the system as of today:

RIMS Build as of 8-9-2010

RIMS Build - Installed Blichmann HopBlocker

I've pretty much finished the mechanics of the build, although I may add one more ball valve to the line going into the HLT. This will allow me to isolate the line and use the filter housing and plumbing (without the carbon filter) to run tap water through the Immersion Chiller to chill it down first before adding ice to the HLT.

Here is a shot of the Blichmann HopBlocker and Immersion Chiller with whirlpool attachment in place, remember this is a 26 gallon boil kettle so it makes the HopBlocker look pretty small, but it's actually fairly big.

Blichmann HopBlocker and IC with whirlpool attachment

Here is the line coming out of the HopBlocker. It will drain the wort into the fermenter after chilling and settling.

I attached my carbon filter to the stand and plumbed it so I could fill my HLT with filtered water off the stand.

RIMS Build - Installed Blichmann AutoSparge

This is a picture of the Mash Tun with Blichmann AutoSparge installed. The AutoSparge will add sparge water to the top of the grain bed and keep a pre-set amount of water above the grain to keep it floated. It will also act as the wort return line while recirculating the wort during the mash. The black foam "float" will keep the silicone line just at the surface of the wort and the pump will add the wort gently to the top of the grain bed.

Blichmann AutoSparge in MT

Here is a side view of the system so you can see some of the plumbing.

I set up the Immersion Chiller (IC) lines with Cam-Lock fittings because they were much cheaper and a lot smaller and lighter than the tri-clover clamps. I have 1/2" silicone lines fitted to the IC with male Cam-Lock fittings on the other end. When not in the boil kettle, the female Cam-locks have male plugs which are hanging nearby on ball-type chains (similar to an old fashioned sink stopper). The seals will allow me to design the system so that I don't need to put ball valves on the lines. As long as the plugs are in place, that line is dead and is bypassed.

How I Installed the Ignition Modules in Ammo Box

I had a question on one of the Homebrew forums about how I mounted my ignition modules inside the ammo box. Here is a pic of how I did it.

Ignition modules mounted inside ammo box

So now comes the fun part, wiring the control panel. And once that is finished comes the testing. Everything has to be water-tight and the propane side needs to be leak-free and working. There are some adjustments that may need to be made to the gas valves and pilot light/ignitors. For one thing, I'm not sure that the spark plug wires I purchased will work. I had to cut off one end and found that the core was not wire but carbon impregnated nylon string. So, I'm not sure that the connection I made there will carry the spark from the ignition module to the ignitor/pilot lights on the burners. I have to wait until I get the control panel wired to see if they work.

Flame Retardant Wire Conduit for Safety and Looks

UPDATE: 9-3-2010

I have my control panel wired (pictures later). I purchased some flame retardant chrome wire conduit from O'Reilly Auto Parts for $15.99 each per 4' of 3/4" conduit and 8' of 3/8" conduit. It looks like this:

Chrome Wire Conduit

Here is a pic of the wiring with the conduit loosely in place:

Wiring with Chrome Conduit in Place

The conduit gives the stand a "polished" look. I also bought some chrome tie wraps to attach the conduit to the stand.

I wanted to show everyone what my sight glasses look like after calibrating them with water. I got an empty milk jug and "tared" it on my postal scale to zero the measurements. Then I added enough water to weigh exactly 8 lbs 5.44 ounces (which I figured equals 8.34 pounds per gallon (ppg), or the weight of one gallon of water. I made a mark around the top of the jug where the waterline was, then began filling up the keggle with water. It took 4 gallons before the water showed up in the sight glass, so that was the first calibration mark on the sight glass. Here is a pic of the finished sight glass:

Calibrated Sight Glass

If you would like to purchase these vinyl calibration numbers from BrewHardware.com, click here. I also purchased a couple of nickel plated hangers at the Wally World on sale. These are the ones from 3M that allow you to remove them by pulling on the tab of the two-sided stick on tape. I figure to use them to hang my power cord on (as seen in the pic) and also I can hang a glass lid on one while I'm stirring the mash. Here is a pic:

Nickel Plated Hangers

RIMS Build Page 4 - Problems

I ran into a few problems while doing the initial testing of the stand, specifically, the burners and gas valves. I believe one problem is that I need to increase the gas to one of my pilots. I had to return one pilot light assy. because it would not sense the flame, it just kept "sparking" through the pilot flame. So, since it never sensed the flame, the gas valve never turned on the main gas to the burner. The problem may lie in a connection to the ignition module however, since this is the Robertshaw model 712-008 Retrofit kit. The other two are Honeywells and they seem to be working fine.

I did run into an immediate problem with the one burner that was working well. There was a casting defect in the side of one of the "spokes" of the Hurricane Burner. I don't know how I missed it, but my flames were yellow for no reason. I turned off the gas and looked at the burner, and there was a small flame coming out of the "casting defect". Hurricane Product's customer service was awesome. Even though I was not the original buyer of the burner, and had no receipt, they said that they would send out a new burner right away. Now that's what I call standing behind their products.

Here is a pic of the casting hole:

Casting Defect on Hurricane Burner

I also had to re-plumb the orifice valve (jet) going into my burners. Instead of pushing propane into the venturi of the burner, it was escaping out the vent holes in the rear. So, I put the low pressure orifice valves directly into the burners and after a trip to the hardware store, re-worked the gas lines by adding a stainless coupling to the Swagelok 1/2" compression fitting and adding a 1/2" elbow with a couple of close nipples. It is not as pretty, but works like a charm. Here is a pic:

Re-worked Gas Plumbing

At this point, I'm waiting on the new hurricane burner and replacement pilot light to arrive so I can continue with the testing and hopefully, I'll be brewing on this baby soon...
UPDATE: 9-14-2010 I have most all the bugs worked out now. I received the new burner from Hurricane Products and installed it. The pilot ignitor/sensor is still not here but should arrive in a couple of days. Some lessons learned are:

  • If the pump inlet fitting is 1/2", use 1/2" tubing and fittings. I used 1/2" OD which is very small. One of my pumps sometimes cavitates due to lack of fluid because the lines are so small. I have to shut off the discharge and slowly open it up until I get the flow I need.
  • Two identical gas valves can output different levels of flames on the main burner. I had to drill out the orifice on my MT burner to get more propane and better flames. It would not have been too much of a problem except that when I want to do a step mash, you want your temps to move up to the next step as quickly as possible. This is mainly for the protein rest to keep the enzymes from breaking down all the proteins and leaving you with no head retention and a thin beer.
  • Keep electronic copies of all your receipts that you receive by email. If you need an order number for a return, it is much quicker to locate it in your email folders.
  • No problem is overwhelming. Use the forums, especially HomeBrewTalk.com or your local club forum if you have an active one. Search out guys in your club that have some expertise in your problem. Keep the troubleshooting basic. Start at the beginning, work through the plumbing or schematic one piece at a time. It does you no good to do too many things at once because even if you do fix the problem, you have no idea which thing you did fixed the problem. If it reoccurs, you'll have to work through the entire series of steps again.

Here are a few pics of my finished system:

Pics of Finished RIMS System 

My Finished RIMS System

My RIMS

First Brew-Day Problems Found

UPDATE: I brewed my first batch of beer on "Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day" . There were some problems that I need to address on my RIMS. Everything technically worked, but there are some pretty big problems none the less. Number one is the burners. I need to get a lot more BTUs from my burners. I posted the question on HomeBrewTalk.com, and one of the Guru's there, kladue is his ID, suggested drilling out the orifices to 3/32" at least.

Click here to see the Low Pressure Orifice Chart. I used the 11" WC (Water Closet) column for LP Gas (propane). I was advised not to go bigger than 7/64". To see if you have the biggest opening you can handle, check to see that you still have a blue flame with the air intake fully open. The point when you start getting yellow flames I'm assuming is the point you went a little too large on the orifice.

Another problem was my chilling setup. The 26 gallon pot was just too wide for the small immersion chiller. It didn't help that I made a Belgian Wit and had Kumquats floating around which clogged the valve to the whirlpool. I'm going to reconfigure for a Therminator I believe, but still use the ice water in my HLT either as a pre chiller or to recirculate through the Therminator. I haven't decided this part out yet.

One last small problem was the fact that I put the temperature probe for my HLT too high. It works fine when heating 10 gallons of strike and sparge water, but once the strike water is transferred to the mash tun, the water level drops below the thermocouple and I can no longer measure the temperature of my sparge water, which needs to be raised from strike temp up to sparge temp. So, I'll have to put a cap on my 1/4" Swagelok fitting and put another fitting much lower on my HLT. Not a big deal, just annoying.

The good news is that the Belgian Wit seems to have turned out fine. I ended up having to boil for two hours to evaporate enough wort to get close to my OG. I was shooting for an 1.050 and got a 1.047. Not too bad for all the propane I had to use. It is sure cloudy though. Maybe I'm on to something with the super low boil speed. I'll have to wait and see.


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