Very Important Safety Message

Guys and gals, If you knew this already disregard.

I had a major hot oil spill happen yesterday because one of my tri clamp seals on my elements degraded and failed. I used the ones the manufacturer gave me (NOT STILLDRAGON) and they were not right. I switched them out for the hard teflon ones. Luckily nobody was burned, and there was not a fire but it was my worst nightmare. It all happened right before a corporate event tour too.

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Comments

  • Glad to hear it was a mess and not a disaster. Be safe.

  • edited April 6

    Ours would have likely burned up too. The oil has the capacity to get so hot.

    My personal feeling is that you should convert to the water. Heat up time will be really reduced and will be super easy to pull maintenance with respect to the "mess" factor. Also jacket temps will never exceed 250 F so you will not have melting as long as there is water in your reservoir.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • I had distilled water at first but kept blowing elements. It dident matter how much water I put into it they would just blow. Checked power multiple times. I went through 8 elements in 5 months.

  • my personal comment is to ..... not use silicone gaskets in your application as above and I say it for the following reasons.

    1 Rather use EPDM. I find that its supplied shore hardness is generally harder. This is the main reason. 2 I find that the silicone hardness (generally supplied) is far softer. 3 EPDM has great chemical resistance as does silicone 4 EPDM is good for elevated temperatures (not quite as high as silicone). My preference is to always use it for steam. Just note that it does require frequent changeout in this case.

    So in your case I suspect that it was a poor quality supplied seal. When I buy my seals I only get German kieselmann seals or very reputable similar. Sorry but never Chinese or Indian. I have had too many failure cases and am dealing with another Chinese failed O-ring in another filter application.

  • edited April 7

    .

  • Richard sometimes i wonder if you think things through. We are the StillDragon forum, all our equipment is supplied through China, including the gaskets and you come here and rubbish our equipment just because of the country it's made in?

    Did you really think through what you were saying and the impression it would make?

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

  • No, it's not meant like that. You get some stuff ex China that's really good.

    Let me expand. People, they see prices ex China by comparison to local or elsewhere and they are brilliant and you can not compete and they purchase based on that. Unfortunately the cheapness bites them in the butt down the line.

    Case in point, I build really high end, smart and sophisticated kegging plant and compete on the international market. Like every other country there has been a boom in the micro brewery business where all to often a kegging plant is required. Unfortunately +80% of the time a Chinese kegging plant is purchased because of its cheapness. You look at such machine and you thump your head against the wall. Valves are installed back to front, the technical machine process design is flawed, the build is crap with super low quality, there is no machine safety considered etc. etc. To cap it all, the machines generally crash after one year and there is zero support not to mention zip guarantee.

    So back to the seals, my supplier was importing Chinese seals as were many others. Repeated failures with poor quality corrected this and they now only import the correct ones.

    So unless the importer really knows what they are importing with correct QA knowledge there can only be problems and this is the point more that I am making.

    Yes SD are importing from China and no doubt they have their finger on the pulse as they ought have. Perfect.

    In the post at the beginning .. Local Goat mentioned from another supplier. Surely a quality problem.

  • edited April 7

    This would probably be a good location to use a high-end PTFE envelope gasket or a gasket with even higher temperature resistance. What is the temperature your oil is hitting? You may be out of the safe range of any standard elastomer gasket. If you are using a mineral oil based thermal transfer oil, it is likely only marginally compatible with silicone. This could be a big factor.

    For example, Rubberfab Tuf-Steel Gaskets - probably the best option as they are tested for hot oil duty:

    TUF-STEEL Gaskets (PDF)

    Or a higher-end Teflon/EPDM Envelope Gasket:

    TUF-FLEX Gaskets (PDF)

    Even better would be a Teflon/FKM envelope gasket, a little bit harder to find but they will offer better temperature resistance than EPDM, but the Tuf-Steel is probably the best you are going to get.

    These gaskets should be used only once. Once installed, and removed, they should be replaced and the old gasket relegated to hose duty. Yes, they are expensive, they cost nearly $10 for a single 2" gasket. However, realize why they cost that much, and how rarely you need to replace them. Cheap insurance if you ask me.

  • edited April 7

    Another lesser known fact.

    Replace the wing nut on your triclamp flanges with a washer/lockwasher, and a nut, and use a torque wrench. Over tightening a gasket can deform it, and when subjected to the heat, will really do a number. This isn't a joint that needs the convenience of a wing nut to open and close it 10x a day.

    Respect the gasket manufacturers torque ratings. For example, those Tuf-Steel gaskets need to be torqued to 50 pounds, as do the hard teflon gaskets. Otherwise, 30 pounds is the top end before deformation. However, any good manufacturer will provide the recommended gasket torque. You may not be able to get to 50 pounds finger tight.

    Or get some of these fancy things, fairly spendy compared to a nut and a torque wrench though.

    Torque-Rite® Clamp Nut @ Austenitex

  • This way, you'll only be cracking open the jacket and inspecting it once a year, if that.

  • edited April 7

    I personally could not give a rats arse where the equipment came from. I like the equipment. Plus I am sure StillDragon do have their figure on the pulse and have no problem someone pointing out their view on deficiencies. Any impression it should make should only be seen as a point of consideration for possible improvement or show the need for more information on use.

    Thanks @grim for both those posts as I had not seen those gaskets before though the nuts are a bit over the top

  • I am no expert in distilling but point to almost any manufactured item nowadays that isnt made in China. Very very few. What I like about SD and the gear is that you guys care about quality. I work in mining project construction and if you buy Chinese gear most of the time its not worth it but if you do you had better send a couple of people to the factory 24/7 or you will get shit quality. SD seem to very much care about quality and the products that I have bought from you guys really work.

  • Yeah you can get a decent torque wrench and a few nuts for less than the price of 1 of those fancy bits.

    I'd never use these on hose connections, but if you are using hard-piping or semi-permanent process piping, why bother with a wing-nut? They are easy to kick, get caught on a hose, and all the sudden you have a loose connection.

  • edited April 7

    Plus, they have a cute dog in the logo.

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  • Thanks grim for the links. I replaced the silicone gaskets with PTFE. I now have a checklist before I start the still to check for loose connections due to worn gaskets. I'm up and running again and will be hitting 190 for the first time on my big still today. Yippi! I found that all the down units on my bubble plates were lined up perfectly with the drain on the one below it so it wouldn't allow water to rest on the plate. I adjusted and installed flow meters on my Dephlegs, and condenser. Its going to be a good day of Neutral. Im starting my first bourbon next week. 51%white corn, 34% Triticale, 15%Barley.

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