Old Burco boiler for BIAB

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Tanglefoot

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Although I'm happy with the beer I've been making I'm looking to stretch myself and move beyond extract kits to all grain.

A while back we aquired this elderly Burco boiler ( basically a tea urn ). As a first step I thought it might be suitable for BIAB brewing.

After a bit of fettling it is working fine, has anyone had success with something similar ?

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samale

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What's the volume, can it hold a boil
 

Tanglefoot

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What's the volume, can it hold a boil
I haven't measured the volume, I put a couple of gallons of water in to test the element and judging by that perhaps 10-12 gallons.
As yet haven't tested it's boiling capacity though I know the element is functioning.
 

samale

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I have a newer version, 30 litres. I use biab. I normally get around 21 litres in the fermenter
 

SteveB.

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WOW! an ancient Burco 10 gallon boiler. I used one of those for years and years, well until last year anyway. Made dozens of brews with it it's a good piece of kit. The tap does need replacing with a ball valve but that's all I did with mine. Mine must be older than yours as it has a better heater arrangement. There are six heating elements on mine which are fitted underneath the base of the unit so not in contact with the wort. Also they can be switch in or out so allowing different power levels. Never did BIAB with it though just the boil. Converted picnic cooler for mashing. If you do use it to boil the wort make sure you do not fit the heater cover as the hops tend to get stuck underneath it which is not a good thing.
Found mine in a skip..!
 

Binkei Huckaback

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I successfully used a couple of old 5 gallon burco boilers ror years when I started with extract and then all grain.

I wouldn't bother moving or replacing the tap, it's easy to control the flow rate. I had one seize once, but only because I hadn't cleaned it properly after a brew day.
 

rocketman_k

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I use one of these (with an electronic temperature controller) as a pasteuriser for my home made apple juice, holds about 16 500ml bottles. (Made a wooden trivet so the bottles don't sit directly on the base)
 

The-Engineer-That-Brews

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Seeing that reminds me of a story from my old work days... we had a 24hr operation going, and the night shift had a little kitchen area where they could make themselves a cuppa etc. Of course it had one of these Berco boilers in it. So one shift team was always complaining about the milk making the tea taste funny. The other teams seemed alright with it, but we changed milk supplier and the complaints kept coming. Eventually we worked out it wasn't the milk at all... it was the cleaner on that shift, who was sneakily boiling his socks in the Berco before hand-washing them in the sink. Bleaurgh!
 

The-Engineer-That-Brews

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I too use a Burco as my wort boiler (although I don't BIAB); but it's the newer type with a thermostat (Burco Cygnet 30L). I had to put in a bypass switch for that because it wouldn't hold a full boil - but that was easy to do.
The other thing I've found with mine is that it helped to use a power controller with it so that I can manually adjust the power when it does get up to the boil, as it only needs about 40% power in order to hold the boil with the lid on.
 

Tanglefoot

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Thanks for all the replies so far athumb..

I need to find out it's boiling capacity and controllability.
It just has a simple knob with 0 - max in 5 graduations.
So far I know the element is working but just began heating a couple of inches of water to test.

I've been looking at bags, most are round - is this likely to be a problem given it's shape ?
Would I be better finding a square one ?
I saw in another thread there's a seller on ebay who will make to measure.

But then I could get a round bag big enough to sit inside( internally it is 37cm, 52cm diagonally,
so a 58mm or 60cm bag would fit ) which would make hanging to sparge easier ?
( Though I read not everyone sparges and some just let it drain in a sieve )

The square opening might also mean I'll be forced to suspend the bag after boiling unless I can find
a square colander or similar.
How heavy is a wet bag if I'm making a full capacity brew of 23L ? ( I have a timber ceiling/rafters I could
fix a pulley to ).
I'd appreciate your further thoughts !
 

The-Engineer-That-Brews

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I have a timber ceiling/rafters I could fix a pulley to
I've done that - rigged a 2:1 pulley above my brewing area; and I'd highly recommend it. Safer than trying to lift full buckets by hand, especially ones full of hot mash liquor. Never just by the handle though - always a sling underneath, and a spreader bar at the top :-)

Anchor point: 4" vine eyes screwed into a 250mm joist above
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Bottom pulley and spreader bar (dry run without sling)
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The-Engineer-That-Brews

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If you do decide to replace the tap then you might find one of these useful: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01AAXAHY0 (£6.84)
It's 3/4" BSP on the outside and 1/2" BSP thread all the way through on the inside, so you can easily fit a 1/2" BSP ball valve or whatever.

You want to avoid brass to stainless contact to prevent electrochemical corrosion though; so I recommend binding the outer thread well with PTFE tape where it goes through the body of the boiler :-)

Another good tip is to fit a bit of silicone tubing on the inside (e.g. via a barb connector) with a weight on the end to make sure it siphons down to the lowest point of the boiler

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The-Engineer-That-Brews

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I need to find out it's boiling capacity and controllability
I did calibrate the thermostat knob on mine - it's repeatable enough, but in terms of controllability it's pants: there is about 10ºC dead-band on the thermostat.
I would strongly recommend controlling it by a cheap PID controller (Inkbird, or just a generic one which is basically the same but cheaper). DO be aware though that every single 'FODEK' solid state relay (SSR) I've ever had from eBay or Amazon is a knock-off that isn't really rated for the marked current. So as you're controlling a proper 3kW load I'd chuck it away and use a real one like this: RS part no. 9032964. Also you'll need to put it on a decent heatsink like this one
 

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