Upgrading my ACE boiler...

Discussion in 'General Beer Brewing Equipment Discussion' started by AdeDunn, Mar 12, 2018.

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  1. Mar 12, 2018 #1

    AdeDunn

    AdeDunn

    AdeDunn

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    I considered posting this on the ACE boiler thread, but that thing is already a behemoth, and I would rather this was easier to find. lol

    So, finally gotten around to ordering the parts to add a recirculation pump to my boiler! No Inkbird etc, as I have the ACE boiler with the build in digital temp control, along with switches for 900 watts and 1600 watts, or both together, so I plan to just leave the 900 watt element on whilst a recirculate the mash. I've also done things a teeny tiny bit differently.

    So, my shopping list (all nicely ordered, mostly from Brew Builder):-

    TS5 mini mag pump + psu (bit dearer than a solar, but I want to have flow control using a tap)
    2 x 1/2" elbows (these will be part of the return setup I've come up with)
    1/2 " xl pickup tube (actually part of the return setup again, I want to try to use it to create a whirlpool if I can)
    1/2" mini ball valve - female to male (will fit on the outlet of the pump, to control flow)
    2 x 1/2" female - hose barbs (1 for the pump inlet, 1 to fit on the mini ball valve on the outlet of the pump)
    5 x thumb drive hose clips (for everywhere I have a hose barb, to stop it falling off)
    1/2" cam & groove part C fitting (hose barb to cam & groove clamp - hose from pump outlet will attach to this)
    1/2" cam & groove part F fitting (this will go into 1 of the elbows, then clamp onto the Part C, basically so I can separate the return setup from the pump etc)
    1/2" BSP 40mm nipple (to attach the 1 elbow to the other elbow, creating a U shaped bend)
    lots of 1/2" silicone O-rings (to go in all those joints and hopefully prevent leaks, I already have plenty of plumbers PTFE tape)

    1 x stainless steel vegetable steamer (from Amazon) - this will go in during the mash and the sparge, basically to stop the returning wort from disturbing the grain bed.

    So, no diagram as I'm naff at drawing, but the plan is:-

    Kettle tap - hose to pump - hose barb on pump inlet - pump - mini ball valve - hose barb on outlet side - hose to return - c&g part C fitting - c&g part F fitting - elbow 1 - BSP nipple - elbow 2 - 1/2" xp pickup tube through boiler lid into boiler, aimed to the side to try to create a whirlpool. When cooling I am going to try to aim this through the immersion chiller too, to try to mimic constant stirring.

    I may need to drill a hole in the lid, but kinda hoping the pickup tube will fit through the vent hole. If not, once I have the bits I'll know the size of drill bit I need to make a hole of the right size.

    The boiler is 48cm deep, the pickup tube is 20cm long, so the deepest it will reach will be just under half way down. I'll have to fiddle with this to find the best position.

    Fingers crossed for no more using a 5 litre jug to recirculate at the end of the mash.....

    Once I put it together I'll post a photograph. Wish me luck. :thumb1:
     
  2. Mar 12, 2018 #2

    Bigcol49

    Bigcol49

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    Hi!
    Just had a quick skim through your post and have a couple of questions.
    How are you getting the wort from the ACE into the pump?
    How are you returning the wort to the ACE?
     
  3. Mar 12, 2018 #3

    AdeDunn

    AdeDunn

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    Ok, answers in colour (it's in the post, but guess it's a wall of text. lol)

    I've cobbled together a very rough diagram... O-rings will go where I see a need for them basically, along with PTFE tape on threads.

    boilerrecirculationdiagram.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  4. Mar 12, 2018 #4

    Bigcol49

    Bigcol49

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    Hi!
    The lid on my ACE is double-skinned and, because of this and possible difficulties lifting the lid during the mash, I have thought of fitting a male quick disconnect to the side of the ACE, just below the rim.
    However, because the mash is being heated during the recirculation, I wonder whether the extra work involved is actually worth it.
     
  5. Mar 12, 2018 #5

    BeerCat

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    Just a quick one but have you bought the pump yet? I am pretty sure that's what i bought and it was a bloody mare. Blocked so much it no longer works. I will post some photos up later to show the difference.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  6. Mar 12, 2018 #6

    Bigcol49

    Bigcol49

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    Hi!
    I hate to say anything contrary to @BeerCat but my TS5 has been excellent - however, I learned a lot by reading posts from members (including BeerCat) before I used it on the first mash.
     
  7. Mar 12, 2018 #7

    AdeDunn

    AdeDunn

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    Yeah, that's why I went with the camlock setup. The option is there that way to unhook to lift the lid. I probably should have fitted a second small tap though to act as an isolation valve, as I don't think camlocks close the flow when removed... lol I'll need to close the tap to remove this anyway, plus there's a chance with my plans I won't be removing the lid whilst mashing when the pump has started to be used anyway. The vent is basically holes in the 2 skins, so if it'll fit I may be using this to put the outlet through...

    Yup, it's been dispatched too, coming tomorrow by DPD.

    My plan is to re-circulate during that last 15-20 minutes of the mash, starting just before I start to raise the temp for mash out, and continuing during mash out. My understanding is that this will give the grain bed time to settle before I use the pump. I may re-circulate a small quantity with a jug first too, make sure any escaped grain doesn't reach the pump. I read through the posts in the huge thread on ACE boilers before planning this too. If you have any tips on prevent blockages, I'd be grateful for sure. When I am mashing I have the bag, false bottom under that and then my upgraded bazooka filter.
     
  8. Mar 12, 2018 #8

    Bigcol49

    Bigcol49

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    Hi!
    I don't do BIAB - I use the false bottom with a pressure cooker gasket laid loosely over the top. I've never used a bazooka filter.
    I condition the grain before milling and always use unmilled flaked barley as a base for the grain. I underlet the mash and never stir it - I recirculate constantly throughout the mash time - this, to me, is similar to stirring.
    I've never had any problems with the pump getting clogged.
     
  9. Mar 12, 2018 #9

    AdeDunn

    AdeDunn

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    Hope you don't mind me asking, what kind of efficiency do you get with recirculating rather than stirring? I would much prefer to do this than stirring to be honest myself, but I can get over 80% by stirring. I don't mind a small hit to efficiency though, as anything to reduce the work I have to do. ;) lol The whole point of the pump upgrade after all is 2 fold, to get clearer wort going into the boil AND to reduce the amount of work I have to do. lol
     
  10. Mar 12, 2018 #10

    Bigcol49

    Bigcol49

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    Hi!
    I haven't bothered to measure or record mash efficiency - that's on the cards for the next mash. However, I do a stepped mash (hochkurz) and take refractometer readings throughout the mash to monitor conversion. The last beer I made was spot on the suggested OG in the recipe.
     
  11. Mar 12, 2018 #11

    AdeDunn

    AdeDunn

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    Cool, thanks bud. Guess I'll give it a try and see what happens. :thumb1:

    Part of the reason I chose that pump was this though:-

    "Fitted with stainless ends and a redesigned impeller that will make light work of any stray debris designed solely for brewing"
     
  12. Mar 12, 2018 #12

    Bigcol49

    Bigcol49

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    Hi!
    it's a great little pump - pleased with it, so far.
     
  13. Mar 12, 2018 #13

    AdeDunn

    AdeDunn

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    Makes me wonder if Beercat got the one prior to the "redesigned impeller"? Would explain the completely different user experience.

    Anyway, I should be able to assemble it all some time tomorrow and get photographs up. Next brew planned is a braggot/saison hybrid that I'll try it out on. My wife finally allowed me to pour the awful Bad Cat kit beer down the drain, then promptly announced that she wanted it filling with hydromel.... I managed to talk her into letting me brew a braggot/saison instead (braggot, but fermented with Belle Saison. lol) instead. She thinks I am going to make it at a sessionable strength, but I ordered 2 packets of Belle Saison... So shhhh, don't let on she'll be cross if she finds out my actual plans... lmao
     
  14. Mar 12, 2018 #14

    BeerCat

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    I like your idea of putting a ubend over the top to return the wort. From your description i am fairly sure i don't have the same pump as you. I started a thread about the problems with mine here.
    I have an older version of your boiler so not sure what comes with yours but most of the blockages i used to suffer from was from grain falling through the bottom plate and getting sucked into the pump. Often there was just not enough drainage to maintain the flow. When i lost the plate i switched to a BIAB bag which was suspended off the bottom which works much much better. You could also put one of these inline filters before your pump. Put some photos up when you get it all going.
     
  15. Mar 12, 2018 #15

    AdeDunn

    AdeDunn

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    Had a look, posted a link to some lubricant that might help your solar pump not to stick so much. ;)

    I know it doesn't help you anyway, but I am very relieved it's a different pump. My wife would have killed me dead if I had bought a pig in a poke... :laugh8:

    My boiler came with pretty near everything to be honest. Bottom upwards: small bazooka (replaced with a longer one, with a coarser mesh, as the small one blocked stupidly fast...), stainless steel false bottom, BIAB bag. I've been mashing with it all in, then once the grain is out of the way I removed the false bottom. I tried leaving it in, but instead of the whole hops forming a filter over the bazooka, they formed one over the false bottom, but let a load of fine trub reach the bazooka and clog it up.... So I whip the false bottom out before I boil, the fine trub just goes around the sides as no gasket so there's a .5 or so mm gap around it in places which the hops don't cover very well. I get the odd bit of grain still gets into the boiler though when my wife misses the BIAB bag slightly whilst pouring for me... Since I started doing a vorlauf I've caught them all back in the bag though, or in the stainless steel colander I pour the wort through.....

    I know I'll need to watch my flow whilst mashing too, read about the bent false bottom. ;) That's part of the reason for the mini ball valve on the outlet of the pump, so I can start it quite slowly so as not to end up with too much pressure on the bag.

    Ooh, another question just came to mind. Do you chaps clean in place, or dismantle and clean it that way? I currently take it up to the bathroom and clean it like I do with my FVs, soaking them in percarbonate, then giving them a rub with a clean dish sponge, then rinsing over and over with clean water. I take the head off my shower (and remove the washer) and use the pipe as a hose pipe to fill and rinse.:nod: I think my wife gets fed up of having to put the shower head back on when I don't bother...... :thumb1:

    Anyway, will definitely take pics once it's together.

    Oh, and as well as the U bend made of 2 elbows, I'm going to use one of these for the return: https://www.brewbuilder.co.uk/1/2-pickup-tube-xl.html. See if I can get a bit of a whirlpool, or at least push wort through the immersion chiller when chilling, using that bend in the end. Might need bending more though to work, hoping not though.
     
  16. Mar 12, 2018 #16

    BeerCat

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    Lube indeed. :) I think the buckled false bottoms were due to insufficient drainage. Ended up with an air pocket and a stuck mash. Restricting the flow did not really help as Did you get a very fine bag with yours? I found mine blocked way too much and went back to a cheapo youngs one with much bigger holes.
    Good idea to remove the bottom plate before boiling as you cant scrape the bottom plate otherwise. Ruined quite a few batches from scorching.
    I ditched my bazooka long ago as it always blocked and i would rather have some trub in the FV than not be able to lauter. I don't normally get any though if i leave it to settle a bit after chilling.
    I clean mine in the bathroom, put some very hot water in and leave the lid on until it softens the crud then rinse and dry. I run some clean water through the pump as they probably stick when left with wort in them. Never tried a pickup tube as i am using lots of hops but i have put a 45degree bend on last few batches when i have put the pellets into one of those tea balls.
     
  17. Mar 12, 2018 #17

    AdeDunn

    AdeDunn

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    The pickup tube is actually for the return pipe. Since getting a bigger one, and using whole hops, the bazooka hasn't clogged once, and only a tiny bit of trub makes it to the FV. Helpful, as I find it hard racking when there's a lot, my tremor guarantees that I'll disturb it. When there's only a bit I can just use the tap and a length of sanitised hose, so I can transfer nearly all of the beer.

    Sadly yes, it's a fine meshed bag, it still let's flour out though. Will have to be trial and error I guess.
     
  18. Mar 13, 2018 #18

    Bigcol49

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    Hi!
    I set the flow from the pump quite low to make sure the recirculating wort doesn't disturb the grain bed. Like you, I use a vegetable steamer (Wilko) to disperse the recirculating wort as it flows onto the mash. Even on a low setting, the wort must be circulating several times during a 1 hour mash.

    I have a second tea urn thet I use as a HLT.
    Following the boil I put some water in the HLT to heat up. Then I clean the ACE, just to make sure I get the gunk off the bottom plate. I use water only and a sponge for "scrubbing". I then rinse the ACE and run the hot water from the HLT through the pump and into the ACE to make sure that the pump is clear of wort.
     
  19. Mar 13, 2018 #19

    AdeDunn

    AdeDunn

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    Thanks Col.

    At some point I'm planning to fit a tap to the 33 litre pan I use for sparging, so I can do a pumped sparge using the same pump. Until then I'll continue to clean as usual, but add a pump and pipework cleaning step.

    Courier is coming between 13:15 and 14:15, so got a wait still to get started on this. :eek:

    In better news, we popped and bought 5 jars of cheap honey last night (I don't see the point of using good stuff when it's going to be boiled and fermented, any extra flavour will just get boiled off or blown out of the airlock! So plan is to prime the finished braggot/saison with a better quality honey, probably some nice Mexican orange blossom). I already have the grain, hops etc, so should be able to brew it tomorrow (too late in the day today, as I like to prepare my water the evening before as I dilute with reverse osmosis water that can take a few hours to filter through).
     
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  20. Mar 13, 2018 #20

    AdeDunn

    AdeDunn

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    Right, as promised, photographs. Obviously I only sat it on my bin for the photograph, when in use the pump will be cable tied to the table I use to brew on.

    First up, the impeller is definitely the open kind:-

    impeller.jpg

    Pump model number is TS5-A12-1403 for anybody wanting to know.

    First up, I separated the 2 parts of the lid, and drilled and filed a hole for the return to pass through. I ran my finger around it on both sides, not a scratch.

    makingahole.jpg

    I then, with my wife's help (she put the gasket back on), put the lid back together again, and fitted the return, U-bend and part F for the cam & groove fitting. All threads were wrapped in at least a couple of layers of PTFE plumbers tape.

    UBend.jpg

    You can see in this one how the return pipe passes through the lid.

    Return.jpg

    As you can see, liberal use was made of PTFE tape on the joint threads.

    Then the time came to measure and cut the tubing, and put it all together.

    installed.jpg

    Last of all, a pic of the veg steamer in the boiler, just for the heck of it. lol

    vegsteamer.jpg

    Next on the to do list, fill the boiler with just water and leak test it. Hoping that the PTFE means no leaks...

    At some point I want to fit an elbow on the inlet of the pump and the boiler tap, that way I won't need as much tubing between boiler tap and pump.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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