Nightmare on Brew Day

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DJDave

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OK I know it's Friday the 13th.

A few weeks ago my Grainfather boiler started to trip out. Long story short, it had developed a pin hole somewhere & water was leaking from tank to the electronics below.

Today I was brewing a pale ale. Mash went OK sparge went ok, set to 100 - went up to 92, then started to fall.....tripped out,....reset ok for a few minutes tripped out. thought may be the thermometer on blink so pulled it out but still tripped out after a few minutes. Bypassed the control box, same result.

Pumped 15 litres into boiler, currently boiling with hops, will add protofloc 15 minutes before end. Intending to transfer that to fermenter, pump remaining in grainfather to the boiler, bring to boil and add protofloc - not intending to boil for full hour - no need other than to reduce volume to reduce gravity. transfer fermenter contents & boiler contents back to grainfather so I can add cooling coil (it's too big for boiler) cool &transfer to fermenter - what a ******** performance.

Grainfather & original boiler bought July 2018 so a couple of months short of four years old & today was the 158th Brew. Is it too much to expect things to last longer than this?

Now pondering whether to go a different brewing route. May ditch the recycle idea all together.
 

DJDave

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on the boiler there was a leak in the vicinity of the thermowell - no visible hole and it only leaked when boiling or near boiling. On the grainfather itself I have just looked & tested- no water visible in electrics and it merrily boiled a couple of inches, topped up to 15 litres and it bombed out at 89.

That really is my point there isn't a lot to go wrong hence annoyance. Was thinking about ss brewtech mash tun but they seem out of stock & have grown a free standing recirculation pump
 

Slid

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OK I know it's Friday the 13th.

A few weeks ago my Grainfather boiler started to trip out. Long story short, it had developed a pin hole somewhere & water was leaking from tank to the electronics below.

Today I was brewing a pale ale. Mash went OK sparge went ok, set to 100 - went up to 92, then started to fall.....tripped out,....reset ok for a few minutes tripped out. thought may be the thermometer on blink so pulled it out but still tripped out after a few minutes. Bypassed the control box, same result.

Pumped 15 litres into boiler, currently boiling with hops, will add protofloc 15 minutes before end. Intending to transfer that to fermenter, pump remaining in grainfather to the boiler, bring to boil and add protofloc - not intending to boil for full hour - no need other than to reduce volume to reduce gravity. transfer fermenter contents & boiler contents back to grainfather so I can add cooling coil (it's too big for boiler) cool &transfer to fermenter - what a ******** performance.

Grainfather & original boiler bought July 2018 so a couple of months short of four years old & today was the 158th Brew. Is it too much to expect things to last longer than this?

Now pondering whether to go a different brewing route. May ditch the recycle idea all together.
This sounds much like my experiences with #1 GF. I must have done around half the 186 brews using a method similar to the one you describe - mash and sparge in the GF and then transfer to a separate boiler using a plastic jug (via a BIAB grain bag) boil and then return wort to GF to do the chill cycle to the fermenter. It adds somewhere in the 45-60mins to the brew day but hurts neither efficiencies nor quality of output.

As regards the root cause, my thought are:
Not cleaning the bottom plate may cause frequent cut-outs resulting in some sort of deterioration in the fail safe cut out mechanism.
By passing the fail safe mechanism may be possible - if a tad dangerous.
Replacing the failsafe mechanism may be feasible.

I have done one brew now on the "new" GF and sort of missed my familiar routine and got worse efficiencies due to the amount of grain debris (not strained out by the BIAB bag on the transfer to secondary boiler) and not being able to strain out the hops (use a hop spider) on the transfer back to the GF.

First World problems, eh?
 

Agentgonzo

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I would definitely contact GF and see what they say.

Not cleaning the bottom plate may cause frequent cut-outs resulting in some sort of deterioration in the fail safe cut out mechanism.
As a question, how clean is your bottom plate?
A lot of heater elements have safety cutouts in the element themselves to prevent burnout. I don't understand the exact mechanics of how it works, but if the element gets too hot, it cuts out.

If there is too much build-up of 'old crud' on the heating element, then the following happens:
  • The crud insulates the heating element from the wort
  • That stops the heating element from putting its heat into the wort as quickly as it should
  • That means the heating element gets hotter than it normally would
  • The thermal cutout kicks in to prevent the heating element damaging itself.
I'm only on about 10 brews so far on my GF, so haven't had any problems with it, but my old plastic kettle that had a standard element in the bottom would suffer from this if I didn't clean it enough (especially after dark brews). It would cut out frequently, then restart, going from about 97 degrees, back to boiling, then click off and drop again. It was never as bad as you're seeing, but maybe the GF cutouts are more sensitive?

Anyway, I'm not questioning setup, just sharing experience in case it helps. I've noticed buildup of 'crud' on the element on the bottom of my GF and so before the next brew, I'm gonna get some descaler/barkeep's friend on it and get it back to new.
 

DJDave

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OK - after much soaking in white vinegar & elbow grease the GF bottom is carbonate free. Tested and it doesn't trip out, so that as Agentgonzo & Slid suggested is the cause, so thank you for that.

Which in turn raises the question how do you keep the bottom carbonate free on a routine basis? I have in the past tried vinegar but this wasn't really very effective - perhaps it wasn't acid enough. The vinegar I have just used is credited as being strong but needed a great deal of scouring as well.
 

An Ankoù

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Just a suggestion, but have you tried the stuff they use for descaling coffee-making machines. It usually comes in sachets and you have to run it through a cycle or two to get the scale off. I think it's mainly tartaric acid, but I could be wrong on that.
 
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To clean the crud off RO units we used a mixture of Acetic Acid (Vinegar) and Citric Acid (Lemon Juice).

I use it to clean the calcium off my kettle at home and after soaking for 24 hours whatever is left behind just falls away.
:hat:

PS
I’m fed up of watching SWMBO scrubbing out the inside of the house kettle; but apparently waiting 24 hours is anathema to her so …. :confused.:

I think the saying is “You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink!”
:D
 

Buffers brewery

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I use Wickes descaler for kettle elements etc.


P.S. the saying is "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make a woman think" :laugh8:

No! NOT FUNNY! I know! Just couldn't help myself.....sorry lady brewers out there :hat:
 

labrewski

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You could just clean immediately after brewing when it's still soft
my machine is spotless brewing on it for more than 2 years now every 2nd or 3rd week minimum
Washing up liquid and scourer job done
 
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You could just clean immediately after brewing when it's still soft
………….
Washing up liquid and scourer job done
“Agree” with cleaning immediately after use ….. but ….. “Disagree” with the use of a washing up liquid!

Washing up liquid is the only stuff I have totally banned from the Brewing Shed and don’t even allow it to touch my stuff in the house, (i.e. the wok, saucepan used for crispy rice, sauté pan & frying pan).

Washing up liquid is a detergent that combines with oils and fats to penetrate into the tiny scratches on the surface of utensils. IF the surface is “Non-stick” then fine, but if it isn’t then everything will stick to the newly cleaned surface; which in the case of a wok, sauté pan etc is a real bummer!

To get a non-stick pan I “condition” it with suet until it smokes and then wipe it with kitchen paper (three times with a new pan). Afterwards, all I normally have to do is wipe it with a bit of kitchen paper after a rinse in cold water.

IF food subsequently sticks, a quick soak in cold water and a clean with a SS scouring pad will bring it back to normal.
:hat:

PS
I know it may seem OTT, but we didn’t have non-stick pans or detergents back in the day; because they weren’t necessary!
 

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