Those bloody Grainfather silicone seals

Discussion in 'General Home Brew Equipment Discussion' started by Harbey, Feb 11, 2019.

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  1. Feb 11, 2019 #1

    Harbey

    Harbey

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    It was an early start. Got the mash going by 9am and giving the grains a good stir. I was determined to have a great brew day. Then, as I stirred in the grain I felt something at the bottom of the basket. Straight away I knew it was the silicone seal which I had gone to great lengths to ensure was snug and in place before I started (or so I thought).

    Weighing up my options, 'sod it' I thought. Worst that can happen is I'll get a cloudy wort, so I let it go and everything seemed surprisingly clear by the end of the mash.

    Sparge time! I lifted the basket and began adding my sparge water. About 2 litres in and holy chuffing lord on a bike! One huge crash and a kitchen decorated in sugary wort and porridge as the bottom of the basket dropped into the 19L of hot liquid.

    I think I saved it in the end by throwing everything into a bucket and then refitting the seal but those things are pretty tricky. It's such a good system yet those two bloody seals seem to have been a Friday afternoon rush job.

    Anyone got any tips for keeping them in place? Or similar stories of incompetence to make me feel better?
     
  2. Feb 11, 2019 #2

    foxbat

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    If you're going to have a comedy brewday the time to have it is definitely before the boil. I'm sure your beer will be fine athumb..
     
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  3. Feb 11, 2019 #3

    MmmBeer

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    Harbey, I feel your pain every time I brew, although fortunately haven't had a catastrophic cycling lord moment, yet!

    I try the recommended trick of moistening with warm water, but usually end up pushing it into place millimetre by millimetre using the tips of my finger nails on the outside of the silicone.
     
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  4. Feb 11, 2019 #4

    MyQul

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    I dont own a GF but these silicone seals seem a rather large flaw in it?
     
  5. Feb 11, 2019 #5

    Saisonator

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    I don’t know if there are slight variations in manufacturing. I give the mash tube a few squirts of Starsan and push the plate down at an angle till it reaches the bottom, when I straighten it into place. Goes in first time and takes seconds.
     
  6. Feb 11, 2019 #6

    aamcle

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    The 1st GFs didn't have the seal around the perforated plates they were added cause owners complained that the malt pipe was getting scratched.

    The plate shouldn't fall out, were you pressing for on the top plate?

    aamcle
     
  7. Feb 11, 2019 #7

    Harbey

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    Yep, that's what I do but more often than not, the seal pops off or at least goes a bit out of alignment. I do try wetting it all first as well. Tbh it feels like the seal is just a bit too big for the plate. I might just buy a new one incase mine's been stretched somehow. I was thinking about tying it with a bit of cotton but I have visions of choking on it when trying the first bottle!
     
  8. Feb 11, 2019 #8

    Saisonator

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    I think mine have actually shrunk a bit since I for bought the unit, 30 odd brews ago.
     
  9. Feb 11, 2019 #9

    Harbey

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    Nope, just the weight of the wet grain and the additional sparge water. Without the seal, the plate does slip through the bottom of the grain basket quite easily.
     
  10. Feb 11, 2019 #10

    Harbey

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    I'm still learning how to get the best - I'm only 5 brews in on the GF so plenty left to learn.
     
  11. Feb 11, 2019 #11

    HoppyTommy

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    I don't have too much bother myself with a few quick sprays of Starsan. However my dad struggled a bit. He now pops the plate (complete with seal in place) in his freezer for 10-20 mins and the big cylinder in his nice warm bolier cupboard. I think the plate shrinks slightly but I suspect the main advantage is the seal is much more rigid making it less likely to slip off /distort whilst trying to get it into place.
     
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  12. Feb 12, 2019 #12

    Harbey

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    That sounds like a great tip!
     
  13. Feb 12, 2019 #13

    Keruso

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    I had the same problem, the whole grain basket emptied back into the system when I lifted it out to sparge. Nightmare. I got a bit too enthusiastic when stirring during mash in. My paddle hit the pipe work which dislodged the bottom plate and seal. Now I’m more gentle and ensure I never hit the pipe work. Never had the problem since.
     
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  14. Feb 12, 2019 #14

    Ghillie

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    The Robobrew also has a silicone ring, but only for the top screen. I have noticed to difference between using it (suffering the misery of trying to get it in place) or brewing without.

    In fact, the new units aren't even shipped with them and a lot of guys leave the top screen off as to periodically stir the mash.

    Not sure if you could get away without using it again, but might be worth a shot?
     
  15. Feb 12, 2019 #15

    Zephyr259

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    My plates don't fit through the bottom of the basket, I often try when I've got it upside down in a bag emptying out the spent grain. Best method for me getting them in place is running them through the milled grain, the dust lets it slips right down to the bottom, then a careful press with my fingertips gets it flush. Only pops off while positioning very occasionally.

    I do the same for the top plate, but once the seal is wet and the mash compacts it's often popped off slightly when I sparge, I don't care overly about the top one and will just remove the seal for sparging.

    Hope the beer's good and you didn't damage anything with the spill.
     
  16. Feb 12, 2019 #16

    the baron

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    Further to Gjillie and the Robobrew it has had a very good review by that bore David Heath who has admitted it is virtually as good a buy as the Grainfather at half the price all in his latest video. I am sure that most Grainfather own will view this with interest for their next possible purchase. Sorry off piste but for those with the silicone issue it may be of interest
     
  17. Feb 12, 2019 #17

    Zephyr259

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    Have you had the GF for long? Just a thought, but if your bottom plate fits though the basket then it's only the seal that's holding it in place. As far as I know it's not designed for that and is more to stop grain passing into the kettle. I'd contact GF and see what they say as a heavy grain bill could easily cause it to drop again.
     
  18. Feb 12, 2019 #18

    Harbey

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    Nice to hear it's not just me athumb..

    You're right tho, I'm going to be reyt careful from now on.
     
  19. Feb 13, 2019 #19

    DrGMc

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    I must admit that after a bit of use (25+ brews), the silicone rings begin to get a bit difficult. I've taken to having the basket in the 20 L odd of water at 40 oC (acid rest temp) so its nice and wet and then gently pushing a wetted bottom plate (with seal) into the water at about 90 degrees as I lift the basket up to meet my shoulder - its then poking out of the bottom and I slowly turn it horizontal as I tease the seal to make sure it does not pop loose (but still sometimes it does) and then I fit on the bottom screw and mash pipes.
    I have to say I've never yet dumped a grain bed out of the bottom (and hope I never do) but I'll take care to watch for that from now on and like Keruso I use a double paddle to elminate doughballs and so far have never dislodged a seal but I would think anything other than manually stirring might cause a problem.
    Sorry to hear of your woes Harbey ...
     
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  20. Feb 13, 2019 #20

    Dutto

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    I don't have a GF but if no-one has mentioned it then silicone tubing is readily available in a variety of diameters from most aquarium shops and Amazon as per ...

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=silicone+tubing

    I have made a variety of lid-seals over the years by choosing the right diameter of tubing, cutting along the length of it and then sliding it over the edge of the lid.

    Depending on what I have needed the seal for, I've also used a wide variety of systems to close up the ends of the tubing ranging from Araldite Epoxy to self adhesive aluminium tape (as used for emergency repairs on car exhausts) to a tiny length of stainless steel crimped over the tubing and the edge of the lid.

    Enjoy!
     

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