Modifying a buffalo boiler

Discussion in 'General Beer Brewing Equipment Discussion' started by BeerCat, Jan 14, 2018.

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  1. Mar 31, 2018 #41

    BeerCat

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    I bought one of these splatter guards from Ikea for £3 and it fits nicely inside the boiler. There is a small gap but i don't think it will be a problem. I have not tried it yet but i might buy a gasket if anything gets through once i test it with the bag.
     
  2. Apr 1, 2018 #42

    AdeDunn

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    Going back to the lid question. As you know, I drilled my ACE lid for the return. I only lift the lid slightly to check on the flow whilst adjusting the mini tap, the rest of the mash the lid stays on. So having it go through the lid really isn't an issue. If I do need to remove the lid, there's enough slack on the silicone tubing to just lift it up and remove it with the return still in place. Once the parts come, I'm about to use a 20mm q-max cutter to add a larger hole to the lid, with a bulkhead type fitting and a T piece for the return when mashing, so that the wort is returned more centrally and higher up than when using the "jet" return. Mashing with the lid on means I lose less heat during the mash, which means the element comes on a lot less frequently, meaning less chance for scorching on the element. I have it insulated too, as Fil suggests, mine is with a yoga mat wrapped in the foil bubble wrap insulation stuff. Just because I can apply heat during the mash, doesn't mean I want to do it a lot. lol

    So now you have a contrasting opinion, just to fulfil the "10 brewers, 11 opinions" paradigm. lol
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018
  3. Apr 1, 2018 #43

    BeerCat

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    It would look neater going through the lid. As I am using a PID not so worried about scorching although if boil in it after mashing I clean the Bottom:-)
    I managed to autotune the PID first time around and it's mostly within 0.2c. Also found the wider pot makes recirculation much easier. Only problem I have had is after mashing in with the pump still on. It compacted the grain over the silicone pipe an squashed it. I wedged a paddle in there and it ran out again. Such an easier experience than I used to have on my old system.
     
  4. Apr 2, 2018 #44

    AdeDunn

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    Yeah, I went through the lid rather than the side for 2 reasons:-

    1) No need to fit a tap in order to stop anything coming out when the pump isn't attached, where if I went through the side wall there'd be wort splashing out during the boil if I didn't fit a tap to isolate it.

    2) You can separate the 2 parts of the lid whilst drilling or cutting, where to go through the side wall you have to go through the 2 layers at the same time.

    Like you, I rinse the boiler out between mashing and boiling, and it helps tons. I still get a bit of gunk stuck on over the hidden elements (ever since that fateful wheat beer brew day....) but it doesn't scorch, just trub sticking on. The biggest problem I have now is that with just the 1600 watt element I just about get a rolling boil, with the 1600 watt element AND the 900 watt element I get a mental bonkers insane boil.... I'd really love to have some power control so I could use both but with a tiny bit less heat. As it is I've just been using both, with a 75 minute boil instead of a 90, and topping up more in the FV, and have found this gives me the clearest wort.

    I've been lucky with the grain though, so far no noticeable compacting, and the false bottom keeps the bag of grain off the bottom. I just wish it was bigger, so I had more room at the top during the boil. Apparently, 7 inches is still very close when you're going full power... lol ;)

    We could do with somebody doing a purpose made mash tun/boiler that's about 40 litres instead of 30 eh? lol I suspect that my wife would start giving me the dead eye if I were to buy a boiler just to do the boil in..... :confused: But heh, she's come to agree that the pump has made massive improvements and was well worth the money. :thumb1:

    Once I do the planned modifications again on mine, I'll be putting the pics up. Might give you some ideas of how to go through the lid on yours, maybe even come up with an improvement on my plans. :thumb: I've been finding it much easier to tweak and improve when I have it in front of me, it's easier to visualise how to improve it.

    Just a thought, could you perhaps feed the silicone pipe through some SS braid perhaps? Might help the pipe to retain integrity when under pressure maybe?
     
  5. Apr 7, 2018 #45

    AdeDunn

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    All finished bud, with pics. Hopefully you can maybe get some ideas from my build that you can use in yours: Upgrading my ACE boiler...

    It definitely looks neat, like it's meant to be there. :thumb:
     
  6. Apr 7, 2018 #46

    BeerCat

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    Hi Ade. The buffalo boiler is not double skinned so it should be fairly easy to cut out holes.
    The splatter guard is working well apart from its not quite large enough. Hopefully the pressure cooker gasket should help when it arrives. Have thought about making a hole in the top but last brew i changed tactics a bit. Instead of recirculating the sparge water i used the hoses to rinse all the grains through the splatter guard. Got decent efficiency doing this so going to keep it intact as losing heat is not an issue
    I have not had any more problems with a squashed pipe as long as i remember to turn the pump off but a bit of braid would be a good idea.
    I would also like to replace the pot with an on/off switch although not sure if its worth the effort. My pump stoppe working again but luckily right at the very end of sparging.
    Even though the boiler is really only on full power when step mashing i still get a decent amount of crud on the heater . A voltage controller attached directly to the boiler would be good as half the power would be enough. Or some way of restricting the maximum PID output. Perhaps not worth the hassle as i will be boiling in a larger pot soon enough. Even with a 40l boiler its not easy to end up with 28l in the FV.

    121.JPG
    122.JPG
     
  7. Apr 10, 2018 #47

    BeerCat

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    Been thinking about removing the thermostat dial and swapping it for a voltage controller. Possibly this 5kw one or this 10kw version. Not sure if i need it but would be a nice touch. Would also like to fit an illuminated on/off switch if anyone can suggest one. I will need to get a dremmel.
     
  8. Apr 11, 2018 #48

    Bigcol49

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    'Ow do!
    I've mounted a voltage regulator in a project box, added a cooling fan, and wired it to a mains socket fitted on top of the box. No hacking at the boiler needed.
     
  9. Apr 11, 2018 #49

    BeerCat

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    Good idea. I may have to do that as well. What do you think is more suitable the 10kw or 5kw? The 5kw has a heatsink around it but the 10kw should stay cooler (or maybe not). Perhaps i should look for a different model.
     
  10. Apr 11, 2018 #50

    foxbat

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    5kW is enough with several kilowatts of headroom to spare. Even given the Chinese propensity for specification inflation that's going to be fine.
     
  11. Apr 11, 2018 #51

    Bigcol49

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    Hi!
    Yes, the 5kW will be more than enough - if you are mounting it in a box, I recommend some ventilation holes and a fan - a 240V fan will be less hassle. This one is from our Oriental buddies, but is a good price.
     
  12. Apr 11, 2018 #52

    BeerCat

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    Being able to wire that straight up to the mains sounds good. I wonder what RPM they are? Might be good for a heavy duty stir plate. I wonder what size voltage controller would be needed for that?
     
  13. Apr 11, 2018 #53

    Bigcol49

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  14. Apr 13, 2018 #54

    Fil

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    check out resistance controlled SSRs, all you need is an electric guitar volume knob aka 500kohm linear potentiometer to hook up across the 2 control terminals of a SSR, a heatsink, and box with a £10 AMP/VOLT meter and you have a simple power controller with a measured power display allowing you to re-create heat profiles accurately between brews..

    mine ;)
    [​IMG]
    (yes i had the voltage meter hooked upto the input and not output whoops..)


    bits
    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Solid-St...758681&hash=item41b01f7287:g:PGQAAOSwHoFXqJYL

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1-5-10-2...hash=item2a23c4d12c:m:mSeUFwhBM2w8PnYD2qmXXSA

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Blue-LCD...862775?hash=item2edcdb6a77:g:554AAOSw5cNYePW5

    (just examples not sellers i can recommend..)
     
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  15. May 4, 2018 #55

    BeerCat

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    This is the inside of the boiler showing the thermostat. Looks very easy to replace with a VC but then not sure what to do with the green and red LED's. Also would have to fit an on/off switch would be handy as i keep forgetting to switch it back on.
    204.JPG
     
  16. May 16, 2018 at 4:15 PM #56

    BeerCat

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    Finally got around to cutting the holes. Thanks to @Bigcol49 for the loan of the tools. It was easier than I expected with the pilot hole being the most difficult due to the crap drill bit. Leaked a fee times as I forgot the tape then needed to add some extra washers. All good now so very happy with it and will confidently drill holes in a bigger pot.
    DSC_0380.JPG

    I went positioned the thermometer 12cm above the tap in case I do a small mash and for a more accurate reading.
    DSC_0379.JPG
     
  17. May 20, 2018 at 10:16 PM #57

    BeerCat

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    A few more mods. I ditched the thermowell as it was reading a few degrees out. I have the probe going directly in now and the reading matches what i am getting from putting a digital into the middle. Also found another hosetail to prevent the pipe squashing from the weight of the grain. I managed to mash 9kg of grain in 30l with this unit and ended up with 50l in the FV. I split the wort and boiled half in the ace boiler i use for the sparge water.
    067.JPG
    069.JPG
     
  18. May 20, 2018 at 11:38 PM #58

    AdeDunn

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    Looking good bud. :thumb:
     

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