First run

Just starting out and need some advise? then post it in here.

First run

Postby NFI » Thu Oct 14, 2021 5:56 pm

I finally got time to run my first ever distilling process running a sacrificial TPW through the bubbler. I only had 20L of wash topped up with water.
I was using town water as my cooling source outputting to the pool, looked like it would take a couple of thousand litres so killing two birds. I had no problems getting the still into full reflux (I was using "The easy way" instructions) but trying to then get the water flow right for a drip every 2 secs. was not very succesful. I found the valves have a fair bit of free play and I could not judge the changers to the flow well enough and I was getting concerned about how much water was going through (I should have had a plan B if the pool got full - in the end it didn't but the concern affect my behaviour). In the end the run probably went to quickly but I took off 450ml as fores followed by roughly 2L before the stinky yeasty smell of tails arrived, was still reading around 40% at the parrot so I pulled the plug.
I don't have any thermometers on the still and being unable to detect the changers in water flow felt I was running blind.
When tails arrived the top glass looked fogged but not the first two (maybe I missed it).
I am sure I'll get there in time, any feedback/suggestions welcome.
Is there any point hanging on to the final product (for another cleaning run) for other uses.
Next up I think will be WPOSW and using an endless water supply either tank to tank or pool to pool.
Still loving it though :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: First run

Postby BigRig » Thu Oct 14, 2021 6:17 pm

Congrats on the first run. Sounds like it went well.

A 20L tpw would only contain something like 1.6 - 2L total alcohol so you will struggle to get the still to settle down and run properly. 4" rig holds a lot of vapour. A full boiler charge will behave a lot better.

Are you using gate valves ? I find they are not as responsive as what a needle valve is.

The fogging of the bottom sight glass will indicate tails but i actually call it long before it gets to that point.

Personally i think wposw is nowhere near as good as tpw or tffv. I keep going back to these 2 for neutral. Your call though.

These rigs do use a bit of water over the duration of the run so you definitely need to work out your recirculation set up.
Last edited by BigRig on Thu Oct 14, 2021 6:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First run

Postby Wellsy » Thu Oct 14, 2021 7:30 pm

Congrats NFI, nothing like getting g that first run under the belt.

It will get easier mate, I bet you are still smiling flyer both watching and controlling that beast, even better when you get to taste what you have made :)
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Re: First run

Postby NFI » Fri Oct 15, 2021 5:24 am

Thanks guys.
Wellsy wrote:even better when you get to taste what you have made
:handgestures-thumbupleft:

BigRig wrote:Are you using gate valves ? I find they are not as responsive as what a needle valve is.

The unit came from FSD with gate valves. I find if the tap is fully closed and you try to turn it on, it takes a full rotation of the tap handle before there is any movement of the gate so I assume when you change direction (opening->closing or closing->opening) it will have the same level of free play. If I had one of those spinning balls that use to be on petrol pumps many years ago (or some other kind of flow indicator) I would have some visual feedback as to the changers of the tap, I am just not sure what is available. Will keep researching. :-B

Any thoughts (anyone) on:-

Is the sacrificial output worth keeping for any other purposes?

On a techi side is there a common overall water chemistry (pH, TDS, EC, Total Alkalinity, Hardness) of a wash as optimum or does that change depending on rum, whisky, neutral etc. It is fine to say add gypsum or citric etc but I would have thought a lot of how much of each would be largely dependent on your initial water chemistry?
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Re: First run

Postby BigRig » Fri Oct 15, 2021 6:14 am

NFI wrote:Thanks guys.
Wellsy wrote:even better when you get to taste what you have made
:handgestures-thumbupleft:

BigRig wrote:Are you using gate valves ? I find they are not as responsive as what a needle valve is.

The unit came from FSD with gate valves. I find if the tap is fully closed and you try to turn it on, it takes a full rotation of the tap handle before there is any movement of the gate so I assume when you change direction (opening->closing or closing->opening) it will have the same level of free play. If I had one of those spinning balls that use to be on petrol pumps many years ago (or some other kind of flow indicator) I would have some visual feedback as to the changers of the tap, I am just not sure what is available. Will keep researching. :-B

Any thoughts (anyone) on:-

Is the sacrificial output worth keeping for any other purposes?

On a techi side is there a common overall water chemistry (pH, TDS, EC, Total Alkalinity, Hardness) of a wash as optimum or does that change depending on rum, whisky, neutral etc. It is fine to say add gypsum or citric etc but I would have thought a lot of how much of each would be largely dependent on your initial water chemistry?


Yep mine came with the gate valves, i eventually changed the defleg to a needle valve and kept the gate valve on the product condenser.

Consider this;
the gate valve took 8 full revolutions to go from fully open to fully closed (& vice versa). That's 8 full turns to move the gate internally 8mm. So 1 turn = 1mm, 1/4 turn = 1/4 mm etc.

So whilst it does appear that you are turning the gate valve without much change that's likely because you are. When using the gate valve i always did 1 full turn at a time and let it stabilise for a couple mins before going again. The product condenser is set at 3/4 open and never touched.

A flowmeter is what you are looking for to measure the water flow rate. One of the members, whose name escapes me has one on the water inlet but you could easily rig it on the output hose.

You could use the sac run product for weed killer. Don't use it again on the still.

I am on town water so have never worried with any of the water parameters, honestly wouldn't even know what they are. I just follow the recipe and have never had any issues.
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Re: First run

Postby howard » Fri Oct 15, 2021 11:27 am

people use anything from well water to expensive RO units.
i personally use a water filter on the tap water.
i do use a PH meter occasionally, it's probably a good idea to know the ballpark PH of your water before you go adjusting it.
mine is generally around the 7.3 mark, and i add citric acid to drop it, and now i have a good idea of how much to use without using the meter.
but this obv depends on the recipe and adding acidic backset/dunder/trub, using enzymes etc as well.
submersible pump in a pool-can't get much more constant temp water than that.
gate valves- i fitted them on my RC & PC, one day i'll change the RC to a needle.PITA
i put camlock fittings on all my water stuff, condensers and cooling coil so it's all interchangeable.
handy for quickly chilling beer wort, cooling corn & grain mashes etc.
the small gin still uses recirculated pool water in winter, but in summer, it uses tap water which is returned to the pool to top up.
so when the pool needs topping up, i have to make gin :))
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Re: First run

Postby Wellsy » Fri Oct 15, 2021 5:02 pm

Hello NFI I still use the gate valve on my Reflux Condenser . I actually drew an arrow on it so I knew which was was opening as I get confused easily. When my tank water was sub 10 degrees it only needed to be open a half turn. Open arrow at 6 o’clock on my notes, another advantage of having the arrow on the tap. Now the temp has increased to about 14 degrees it takes about a full turn open. I have found once I get the ABV right I can then adjust the flow rate more successfully with the voltage regulator. It is definitely a combination of both but the regulator can make a big difference in output speed.
I oversimplify things mate so I look for a nice steady stream from the downdroppers then I know refux is cool and then I play with power. Every run is a little different mate so hang in there you just need to build the bond with your new baby :)
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Re: First run

Postby RuddyCrazy » Fri Oct 15, 2021 6:23 pm

I just use a 5,000 gal rainwater tank for my cooling and use a needle valve for the RC which only needs to be a 1/4 turn from fully closed to get 2 litres an hour, now with my PC the flow is not restricted by a valve and besides if I did put one on my 20+ yr old flowjet would complain about lack of flow. On my last few runs I am still getting water vapour coming out the spout as the tank water is so cool.

Now for Wellsy putting a pointer for direction on his tap, well a VB swilling Vic who after 3 or 4 cans wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Arthur and Martha :laughing-rolling: :laughing-rolling: :laughing-rolling: so yes a direction arrow would be needed where for the average Joe would already know clockwise to close anticlockwise to open would be too hard to remember. What the bet Wellsy backs the collywobbles :laughing-rolling: :laughing-rolling: :laughing-rolling:
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Re: First run

Postby The Stig » Fri Oct 15, 2021 8:37 pm

I also have a marker on my gate valve , not for direction but so I can see where the handle is .
I’m like Wellsy , always use gate valve and fully open for full reflux then close it and open a 1/4 turn then use power to push past the reflux to get the desired output rate .
And yes , every run will be slightly different and using power to control instead of water will allow you to run a little faster .
Ignore the rude prick above
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Re: First run

Postby NFI » Sat Oct 16, 2021 5:56 am

BigRig wrote:Yep mine came with the gate valves, i eventually changed the defleg to a needle valve and kept the gate valve on the product condenser.
Glad to know it is not just me then - I'll either get the hang of it or go down a similar path - I'll see how the next run goes.

BigRig wrote:A flowmeter is what you are looking for to measure the water flow rate.
I have seen one on the forum but as I am not needing to know exactly what the L per min. rate is, I was more thinking along the lines of early petrol pumps that had a spinning ball as the petrol flowed that would get faster or slower depending on the speed of the flow - so more of a velocity meter than a flow meter. Completely mechanical with no bells or whistles.

howard wrote:it's probably a good idea to know the ballpark PH of your water before you go adjusting it.
mine is generally around the 7.3 mark
Yeah it seems a lot of the additives (gypsum, Epsom salts and to some extent citric acid) are there to condition the water and the amt in the recipe works for the creator using their water it may well be required in different amounts for some other water source. So knowing what the target is for the wash just prior to pitching the yeast would be helpful. I'll keep researching that one.

Wellsy wrote: I actually drew an arrow on it so I knew which was was opening as I get confused easily.
I can appriciate that, my memory is shot which is one of the reasons I like the forum - I can go back to, or print out a section I need when I need it. Once I have done it a few times then it will stick. ~x(

The Stig wrote:I’m like Wellsy , always use gate valve and fully open for full reflux then close it and open a 1/4 turn then use power to push past the reflux to get the desired output rate .
To do the heat up and getting it into full reflux I had both elements running flatout. Once in full reflux I kill the top element and leave the lower element (via controller) running flat out. At what point (and what extent) do you set the controller to a lower voltage so as to have room to increase it to push past refux? If that makes sense.

Thanks all!! :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: First run

Postby The Stig » Sat Oct 16, 2021 8:45 am

Leave 1 element on full, use the second element on the controller.
Being glass you may need to turn it all the way down and slowly bring it up.
I cut the controlled element to about 50% and push up from there but your will be lower.
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Re: First run

Postby BigRig » Sat Oct 16, 2021 9:46 am

NFI wrote:
BigRig wrote:Yep mine came with the gate valves, i eventually changed the defleg to a needle valve and kept the gate valve on the product condenser.
Glad to know it is not just me then - I'll either get the hang of it or go down a similar path - I'll see how the next run goes


Absolutely get the hang of the still in its current format before making changes. I had maybe 30 or 40 runs on my rig before i decided to change 1 of the valves only.

By your 3rd or 4th run the penny will drop. With the sac run being the 1st, if you did a couple stripping runs and really played with the still you will have a better grasp of the still by your first spirit run, which is the money run.

AND if you bugger up you can always re-run it.

I use stigs method to run the still.
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Re: First run

Postby Wellsy » Sat Oct 16, 2021 12:48 pm

I am still learning my still and am on 1 element only at this stage.
As the weather warmer, and more importantly the cooling water I am leaving the gate valve open wider and using more power. I dare say in a month I will be using both elements. It also probably explains why my abv is just under the 90% and not just over like many members who use a bubbler. I will get there but am sneaking up on it as it suits me just fine the way things are lol
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Re: First run

Postby NFI » Sun Oct 17, 2021 5:52 pm

Thanks guys. Great feedback!

The Stig wrote:Leave 1 element on full, use the second element on the controller.
Being glass you may need to turn it all the way down and slowly bring it up.
I cut the controlled element to about 50% and push up from there but your will be lower.


The glass bit, I think I am running the same still as yours for the most part, not a full glass still like the Visualizer.
I will give it ago, thanks. :text-thankyoublue:
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Re: First run

Postby The Stig » Sun Oct 17, 2021 7:11 pm

Sorry I thought you had full glass tower .
My mistake 8-}
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