Idle Hands and CIP?

With an 8" crystal dragon and no fire in the boiler yet I've been thinking about how to install CIP? Has anyone considered a segmented line of spray balls running through the trays up inside the column?

To try my idea, I made a couple of spray balls from two 15 to 20mm copper reducers joined with some old 20mm pipe and with a short length of 15mm in the base to slot into the top of the spay ball below. I put a ring of silicon in the top outlet of the spray ball to seal the downpipe from the spray ball above. Drilled 2 rings of 8 x 1.5mm spray holes in the top of each spray ball. The top ring as close to 10 degrees from vertical as I could and the second ring at around 45degrees.

My concept is that each plate would have a new 15mm holed drilled in it to take the 15mm downpipes & as the column is assembled a spray ball would be dropped into each plate, connecting to the ball below, making a continuous line of spray balls. The bottom pipe would extend below the plate into the boiler and have a fitting to take the CIP line from the pump. The top spray ball is capped off.

But before I drill holes in the plates, I rigged up a 2 plate concept test through the centre bubblecap holes and connected a garden hose. It definitely puts out enough water so I think it'll clean well (couldn't upload an mpeg so attached a few frames, hope they're not too small to see what's happening).

Now to the $60k questions:

  1. Is this something that's been tried before and didn't work?
  2. How will it affect the operation of the column if I drill a 15mm hole up through each plate to fit the CIP pipes? They should fit pretty closely so the only change would be the potential for vapour to bypass the plates up through the spray balls, will this be significant?
  3. If I go ahead and install the system, do I leave the bottom CIP inlet open during a run or close it off? Or maybe add a U-bend so there's effectively a small sump to limit vapour influx but allow condense return to the boiler?






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  • I can't see from your pics and don't really get the explanation, but general thoughts on CIP with the standard caps you have is to flood a citric acid wash in from the top 180 bend and rinse it through the plates. But to drill a small hole less than 1mm in the plate to allow the rinse to drain after rinsing the acid wash out.

    I know it doesn't address a spray to wash the lenses though.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • edited December 2015

    Hi @punkin,

    Does this help? There's a sprayball in between each plate (shown in blue - not to scale!) all fed from a single inlet just in side the boiler manway. If it works it cleans the underside of the plates and the lenses and then drains down through the plates back to the boiler.

    Also if made in copper it should look pretty good!


    484 x 706 - 17K
  • In the current drawing the cip supply provides a vapour bypass to each plate. You'd need to install a liquid trap to the supply of each spray. A small check valve on each would work, until it didn't.

  • edited December 2015

    Flooding a 12" column easier said than done, we have a really big pump, and it doesn't even come close. I guess we're probably pushing through 30 gallons a minute through a 1.5" hose. Not even close. Problem is, the faster we pump, the more back-pressure forcing the liquid down.

    Next time we CIP I'm going to try to try adding some additional surfactants to the PBW-mix to see if I can get more foam. I can get the top plate to fill with foam, which cleans everything up nice, but the lower plates won't. Foamy bubble bath seems like a good model here.

    Rinse, PBW, Rinse, Citric, Rinse.

    It gets it pretty clean, but the bottom of the plates and the tippy top of the caps.

    Last run through the citric rinse was very brief, it doesn't take much. It isn't worth it etching do deep to get it bright orange. Give it 20 minutes post cleaning, and you are already losing the color, I don't see why you would waste the copper to etch so deep every time.

    I have no weep hole, it's not a problem at all, a few seconds of refluxing at the start of the run pretty much cleans out the standing water.

    We were going to drill the glass to add CIP (gasps of horror) - but really, we're not going to bother - flushing the column gets the job done, is very simple, has nothing to break or worry about. It's the way to go.

  • I get 'OK' cleaning of an 8" by just pumping hot stripping backset through it...

    hmmm... an offset column with a 2-3" feed could be valved to be able to fill it.....

  • I know it's a lot of volume, but could you not pump from the boiler up?

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • I bet we could work out a good cleaner recipe that would build enough foaming action to get a very effective cleaning without any of the complexity.

    Filling the kettle would require significantly more chemicals to be added to the liquid to be effective.

  • edited December 2015

    I'll take some video of the cip next time.

  • edited December 2015

    why not try a short tee and butterfly valve. can pump from boiler into bottom of column up and back through a spray ball. Everything cleaned and simple sip. This is what I plan to do with mine in the future.


    219 x 625 - 8K
  • edited December 2015

    I like the sound of @grim's foamy gin bubble bath!

    Back to CIP idea, might look for some 18mm stainless ball bearings next time I go to town. One in the bottom of each spray ball + extend and modify the down pipe from module above, it will act like a non-returm valve. Might even work like an extra bubbler?

  • on @vooharmy 's post, to keep it from beign a 8" or 12" butterfly valve, you could have a bowl reducer on top and bottom and use a 3" valve for the 8 and a 4" valve for the 12", and to keep the column stable, you could build all this inside of a 8" or 12" section of pipe (OK, this is too complicated and specialized...)

    OK, simpler... one of the short T's and instead of a regular ProCap plate, have an empty ProCap Plate with another empty ProCap plate on top of it that has been reduced on the outer diameter and has a pivit screw in the center, when aligned, it flows, when misaligned, it blocks enough flow to allow cleaning..

    actually, make it stainless, have the ports be really big, maybe 3 of them, the larger plate needs to hold some serious weight, so maybe reinforced with a truss on the bottom..

  • Ordered some Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) to add to the DIY-PBW mix to see if I can get a good solid foam buildup.

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