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Trying to optimize my all grain set up

Just brewed another Kama citra batch and it’s time to get my set up optimized. I don’t have a garage to build up a 3 tier system on wheels to roll out, so I need to lug all my stuff up from the basement,
Looking at a 3 tier system my HLT would end up sitting on a 58" high platform which would be a pain I think.

So I was thinking just raise my mash tun up on a 32" high platform/ table, and then I would have the right elevation to drain the wort into the boil kettle sitting on my Dark star burner. Then perhaps just get a small variable speed pump to move the sparge water into the mash tun and maybe use the pump to move the heated water from the kettle to the HLT.

I have found I kind of like doing the fly sparge, but I don’t like having to wait for my 7.5 gal of wort to fill the kettle before lifting it up onto the burner as I have to now. I would like to get the heat on the kettle so that when its full, I am reasonably close to a boil temp. Also picking up the kettle to dump 170-200 deg f water into the HLT is not without risk so to be able to use a pump would be nice.

Do you guys think leaving the HLT on the deck and use a small pump is a viable option here?



No reason it wouldn’t work and there are a number of systems available that use a 2 tier system and utilize a pump to move sparge water and gravity to the BK.

I been brewing lots bye my self. So dont want to move lots of things bye my self. So once i got my system set up. Start using a pump to transfer the hot water. To the mashtun. Once mash done. Atach the pump to the sparge arm. Seems to work. Now need to wait untill all my products do come in so can build my new system. O yeah dont even ask why my brew friend. Does not come over. Weird shit. Depressed

I built a 3 tier stand a long long time ago, in another… Anyways, it worked great for a long time too! I started by figuring the carboy sitting on the ground, so my boil kettle spigot was a mere 1" or 2 above the opening. From there, my mash-tun sat at the next level, a mere 1" or 2 above the rim of the boil kettle, My mash tun wasn’t heated, it was a round water cooler… Then on the top tier, was the HLT… It was all set up for gravity, no lifting other than the carboy… Once I got a pump, I cut that sucker up and am now down to one level. You don’t need a variable speed pump, you put a valve on the output side. It won’t hurt your pump at all. I may have a picture of my current setup in my electric build up, in the brew gear area… I wished I would have tried a pump right from the get go… Sneezles61

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Thanks guys. I am looking at the blichmann riptide pump. Seems to be pretty well set up. I really just want to move hot water around with it. Good point about not needing a var speed pump Sneezles, I didn’t realize that the flow can be adjusted with just an output valve.

I agree with @sneezles61. That’s how I regulate flow as well. I haven’t seen the Blichmann pump but I’d guess it’s expensive because…blichmann… One of the best investments I’ve made in brewing equipment is the Chugger Pump with poly head that I bought about 3 years ago. It’s a real workhorse.

The Blichmann is a bit pricey but it has an integrated linear flow valve, a stand, and a nice little on/off switch. It will be nice to simplify things a bit on brew day, not to mention getting the boil started about 30 min quicker.
i will need to read a few more reviews on the blichmann before I decide.

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Most of the brew pumps are not self priming so make sure to work the pump location into a lower than the incoming valve in your design. I have two March 815s one with the 819 impeller upgrade (a great improvement) and found out the hard way I could not pump upward while trying to to make a recirculating ice water pump set up for my chiller.

But its built for the sole job to pump brew… Sneezles61

I do not have one but that’s a nice pump with great features at that price point. At only roughly $50 more than a chugger pump… you’ll have that wrapped up in 2 additional ball valves with a March/chugger to act as a bleed valve and to control the flow rate. Plus I do like that taking it apart is easy peasy.

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One review said it did not do well at low flow rates when sparging. Not sure if that is a true statement or not but being able to sparge with it is important.

Another consideration is that the flow rate should be restricted on the out side of the pump. Just place a ball valve on the side leaving the pump and close it partially off.

Ya I was thinking that. So maybe having the integral flow valve is really not that much of an advantage if I need to add a ball valve on the output. It’s still a neat package and I will prob get one.

One question I have is I know you need to be careful not to run dry or cavitate, so on the input side is it ok to feed from the barbed fitting on the bottom of my HLT ? I could prob increase the size of that barb to 5/16 , but I may do a quick connect set up I saw on the NB site. I am not concerned about the sparge as it will be restricted at the output. I am thinking about when moving the initial 4 gallons of hot water from the boil kettle ( also has a ball valve and 5/16 barb) to the mash tun before mixing in the grain.

I have run both my March pumps dry but not for very long. The March, if not all, the brew pumps are magnetic drive so the impeller isn’t directly connected to the motor. As for tubing size I think my tubing is 1/2" but it’s just a guess because I’m a long way away from my real brew stuff.

I have to believe that the reason you do not restrict the flow in is to not run the pump dry so i would still be careful about that.

You definitely want to restrict the flow on the discharge side of the pump…that way you keep the impeller wet. As long as Teflon washer that’s on the impeller shaft and will cause it to emit a loud whine. I keep a few of the washers on hand just in case. Very easy to replace.

I use half inch ID (interior diameter) silicone tubing on my setup. After the pump the next upgrade you may consider is a plate chiller or counterflow chiller. That will reduce your chilling time and shorten your brew day. Also helps for temperature specific whirlpooling.

Last spring when I started mine up for the first time no water went in and that whine was horrible. I quickly shut it off, disassembled and found nothing wrong not knowing it was just dry. Put it back together and made sure some water ran through and all is well.

Useless trivia… you don’t want to restrict the inlet of a pump because if the pressure drops too low (especially with a hot liquid), you can cause cavitation in the pump which leads to all kinds of bad things. Restricting the outlet of the pump keeps the inlet at a higher pressure, which will prevent vaporization of the fluid and damage from cavitation.

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That’s actually useFUL and not really trivial…haha…what I was trying to say but you said it much more eloquently.

Other useful info for the OP…how is your pump oriented? inlet/outlet ports horizontal or vertical? I mounted my pump on my brew cart the way that someone here told me. I think it was @mullerbrau but not sure… He said to mount it so that flow is vertical and the outlet points up. That way it’s easier for the air to escape and the pump will prime better.

Lately I’ve been thinking of switching it. I feel like I get an airlock between the pump and the kettle sometimes. The ball valve on the kettle is about 10 inches higher than the pump…about a foot above the invlet since it points down so when I open the ball valve the liquid should flow but sometimes even with the extra bleeder valve on the outlet side of the pump open I can’t seem to get liquid flowing. I have to remove the line from the inlet and let the liquid flow then hook it back up. Of course exposing myself to the opportunity for very hot liquid to splash on my hands…

The ball valve with the black handle is flow control. The blue one is a bleeder valve to allow air to escape and improve priming.

Wow the picture is worth a thousand words as they say, thank you!

My pump will be portable for now (until we move south in another year or two). So I can easily make sure it is sitting lower than the source liquid and pump up to the destination. I guess I want to look for quick disconnect fittings that do not restrict the flow. In looking at the available QD’s it appears most are 1/2" and not restricted so I will go with that set up.

You might be trapping air inside the volute of the pump. It’s a little tough to tell where the outlet of the pump intersects the volute itself, but liquid will only fill the volute until the liquid level meets the highest point on the outlet port, and the rest of the air will be trapped. If this trapped air bubble covers too much of the impeller, it won’t be able to prime and you’ll just recirculate the air/liquid mix inside the volute. In this case, you want the inner walls of the outlet port (if that makes sense) to be at or near the highest point of the pump, so whatever air is inside the volute will purge as soon as you open your bleeder valve. In this case, it might be where the inlet/outlet are oriented horizontally, but with the outlet tangent to the top of the pump.

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