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2.5" (formerly known as 3") Bubble Column



  • with the 4" tri-clover, a shorty keg could be cleaned by hand, a 6" (or 5") TC for the 15 gal is ideal... you could heat water for HLT, you cannot really mash in it efficiently, but you can boil wort for beer indoors using a dryer vent to escape steam... and yes, you can ferment in it and even bright-tank, and serve beer in it.... you can make 15 gal of root beer for the kiddies, or 15 gal of Mojitos for the adults.... I swear will buy 20 or a pallet full right now to sell in my gift shop if I could sell for $150... maybe have this be part of the 5" proCap package... the ProKeggle.. make the 2" fill/sight a 3" glass with hinge assembly for hop additions :-)

  • I've got em, but i can't sell for that. It costs me that much (or more when freight is added) just for the empty standard keg.

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

  • @punkin, do those kegs still have the spear/valve assembly when you purchase them?

  • No mate.

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

  • The more options and add-ons to the little boiler and the more expensive it becomes. I'm struggling to keep it as cheap as possible because it is an entry level still and we all know how frugal Mama is. The whole idea is to make it as affordable as it possibly can be.
    It should have a drain and refill port because no-one wants Mama to do heavy lifting. A single element port would be good.

  • A 20 to 30 litre boiler doesn't absolutely need a drain port. At the end of the run the weight is reduced because you have removed product. How about a new lid for a commercial rice cooker. Dual purpose purchase? You could still use it as a rice cooker, or as a boiler.

  • edited July 2014

    Drain port is a must IMO not only is this a mama rig who probably wouldnt want to lift a weighty pot. Even 10kg can be awkward depending on shape of the pot. But Its a nice small rig for serious people without room or downscaling. Cheaper smaller could = casual mass market. If they see t500 etc having a tap it becomes a bulletpoint. That liquid in a wider vessel means more movement/sloshing as well as a potentially more awkward shape to carry over the electric urn cylinder shape.

    The wider your arms are apart the greater the force. Like trying to hold a small weight with your arm out straight. We are only talking small weights and distances but every small part helps. Then take in if its insulated are you doing two runs can you carry without knocking limb against hot sides. The splash of hot liquid. Small distance from your vessel to bottom of sink. How much will splash and hit hand. With the person panic and make situation worse.

    Having to turn it upside down means to me a handle at bottom that wont be hot if its tall or insulated bottom. Get a 20L pot in your kitchen and fill with water and try tipping using your wrist strength. No tap opens a heap of design issues that are so easily fixed with the tap. IMO

  • I agree completely @waxernz that a drain is necessary. To do multiple runs in one day without breaking down the still a refill port is also needed. Each adds convenience but also costs to the user.

    What is perfect to one person is price prohibitive to another and we're trying to find the sweet spot. If money is no object then I'd add sensor ports everywhere but every single fitting has a cost and I'm hell bent on keeping this project as low priced as possible.

    The best part is that this is modular and Mama can do any add-on that she can want and afford but the baseline must be within her budget or she will never begin.

    The Great Punkin suggested to start with a pot still and to add the bubble section as an upgrade and that makes insightful sense. Let Mama pot still and give her the upgrade path so she can get in for cheap and after some experience the bubble column is an easy plugin to her hardware.

  • Hah :)) if money was no object I would hae a 30 litre pot belly boiler!!

    The key seems to be finding a suitable pot that can be modified at reasonable cost. Cheap stock pans are a bit thin in my view. I think you need to go to commercial grade but that is more expensive.

    I keep going back to the 20 or 30 litre keg. They are not that expensive and when you compare the cost of modifying one compared to modifying a commercial stock pan, I come down in favour of the keg.

    You can go real cheap with a thin stock pan, I have done it myself, but I think now it is the wrong choice.

    I have only built one in this size and it was based on a comercial 30 litre pressure cooker - but it might be too expensive unless you bought the pans in bulk.

  • I saw lots of $50 (bulk price) kegs when looking around, not sure what this one is, but it already has the triclover fitting, just delete the spear... if you negotiated a price for a container load, I am sure $50 or thereabouts is possible... 50L beer keg @ Alibaba I have a friend that just bought 4000 kegs, which is two container loads.. regular beer kegs for his microbrewery expansion... he did not give me an exact price, but said it was 'ridiculously cheap'..

  • I'm in agreement that a 30 l keg is one of the best setups mentioned so far. Order 100 and they will set them up with whatever ferrules you want.

    3/4 one on the bottom to clamp a drain valve and 2 x 2"ones on top or a 4"and a 2".

    The only thing you lose is the ability to store the column iun the boiler, but in a lot of cases you would not want to do that anyway as the law prohibits it in places like Australia ;)

    The other option is to try and track down where the neat little 20l stainless brewbucket style fermenter is made and talk to them about mods.

    Last and best option is to buy a boiler factory..... B-)

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

  • Even though it's not essential, a drain for the 30L boiler would be handy. How about selling the boiler without a valve (makes for a small upfront saving); just go with a butt welded bushing and plug.


    What I think Mama will want to do is clean the insides of the boiler. I'll advocate for a 4" triclover ferrule with a 4 x 2 short reducer as standard.

    Later on if Mama wants more frills; say a fill port - she can add a 4 x 2 x 2 Torpedo Half . . . . maybe together with a Thermo Endcap; or a Sight Glass kit or just a blank End Cap.

    for the drain.jpg
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  • edited July 2014

    Yes, i agree we could go without the fill port. Small column like that is easier to undo for multiple runs and it would save a fair bit on cost.

    A custom 4" end cap with two 2"ferrules welded to it would solve the problem without relying on the boiler to do it.

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

  • You can't put two 2" ferrules on a 4" end cap. Might be possible to weld a Y on it though.

  • Well how much more expensive would a 6" ferrule be and two 2" on a 6" thin cap... ie low pressure cap...& a 6" thin cap maybe less expensive than a branch Y style fitting...

  • edited July 2014

    These shape y are cool


    With its own boiler and height no longer an issue it would be a simple solution and modular so not required as basic package. Just have ferrule ends and people can buy one later if they want. I dont know why that never occurred to me for my keg which is insulated so I dont have to cut another hole or weld.

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  • The Y shape does look slick; however the existing stocked, 2 x 2 x 2" Stainless Triclamp Tee is similar and doesn't create extra inventory (folks may want to use a funnel with it).

    Having a 4" hole helps to clean out gin macerations; absinthe etc. The 4” provides a pathway incentive to acquire a 4” Dash later on.

  • I must admit, A 30L keg would be good. I normally ferment ~25L at a time so perfect size

  • I agree but I've spent a total of 6 days already (including today) without any results to show.
    Even tracked through @CothermanDistilling link above only they are not the factory but just a middle company and no changes (modifications) are allowed - other than printing your logo on them. Never forget there are lies, damn lies and Alibaba information.

    Not saying Mama will need to source her own boiler just yet but it'll take a bit more time and effort than I anticipated.

  • understand completely, @Lloyd !...

    Watching a video of how they are made gets me to thinking..

    When you do find the actual manufacturer, leave off the top ring, maybe make bottom ring taller with 4 handle holes for a built-in stand with room for a bottom drain, 6" ferrule on top, 2" on side, 3/4" on side and bottom.... ship in the container by tri-clover clamping 2 together with a 6" clamp...

  • edited July 2014

    As much as I love kegs, I use about 8 standard ones for my setup, for the kitchen/apartment setup I don't see that as the best option. And anyone who was willing to spend enough for a custom keg would likely spend a couple bucks more and get a 60L one instead.

    StillDragon is about modular: Start where you can, stop when you're content. To make this setup work for Mama, simple and low budget is key. A custom keg, with lots of fittings and expensive TC parts isn't budget. Especially when you need a immersion element and related controller setup.

    The T500 mentioned is new to me from reading this thread, but when I looked at it, it really looks like what I was picturing at the start, only with a 2" TC on the top to connect a 2" pot still and eventually a 2.5" Bubble Column. Looks like they're asking about $230 for boiler on it's own (in the US). For SD use, as long as there is an external support for the condenser, something similar would work fine without being unstable.

    A few advantages over a 30L keg:

    • Big lid for cleaning/storage
    • Basically a built in hot plate that could be run with a smaller charge than an immersion element in a keg, good for small spirit runs
    • Non-suspicious appearance
    • Drain Built In

    Realistically, the unit looks like a commercial Coffee Urn (Percolator). @Lloyd, if you look to a coffee urn factory, maybe you'd be able to find a pre-made setup that just needs a better lid?

    For the basic hobby distiller, you could use a unit like that to heat/mix your mash as well (or as a Hot Liquor Tank for all grain) and then just drain it into the fermenter.

    OK, as long as I have such a long post, here's one more idea: Combination brew pot/fermenter/boil pot as one unit... sounds like an apartment solution to me. I know a few locals doing it this way for beer. Basically something like the conical fermenter shown, but with an immersion element. Add a 2-4" TC on the top and you're good to go. Heat and Mix your mash in the unit, do a BIAB all grain mash, then ferment in it, drain the trub, and distill it.


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  • edited July 2014

    The t500 boiler goes for about 160US in New Zealand retail although the mark up on that prob isnt huge. Being NZ and seeing how high part prices are vs stilldragon aliexpress etc I cant imagine the t500 original cost being over 60US. Considering its insulated and has element and tap already installed I can see why people go for it even if it isnt as hardy as the fermenter above. The Grainfather appears to be the same thing with a circulating pump, stainless insert and temp control unit. Then they will sell you a still head extra I believe, but it's expensive. As in base unit rumored 700+ retail. The distill side is no doubt a master of none style add on.

  • That T500 boiler at 1600 watts looks very attractive.
    Is there a power adjustment knob on it? Would that need to be modified so it doesn't cycle on and off?

  • edited July 2014

    Havnt actually used one but I dont think they have power knob. Just runs flat out the whole time. They are set for their heads to work without customer having to control. They came in 2 sizes. Not sure if still do. there is 2000w version as well in nz. I think the copperhead are 2000w as well. Im pretty sure copperhead sell two different power models as well depending on pot or reflux. For the avg joe automatic overheat boil dry cutoff etc are nice features as well that these have.

    I know what they wholesale for in nz so as I said they should be relatively cheap if you know the source. Unless the wholesaler isnt making as much as they appear to on all their other products in nz.

  • Me too, I've never actually seen one before. I worry the lid is too flimsy.
    The higher power than is need but "runs flat out the whole time" could be a good thing if plugged into a DIY controller.

  • edited July 2014

    No power adjustment on the T500 boiler and if I remember right the 110v is 1800 watts and cost around $250. That was my first still. A friend of mine has it now I did rig a dimmer on a cord to cut the power back. The lid is pretty light ss as is the boiler. Reminds me a lot like a 50 cup coffee pot.

  • I might be able to get a sample T500 boiler but I really fear it is not strong enough to support Mama's 4 plate 2.5" Crystal Dragon with dephlegmator, product condenser and parrot assembly.

    Can't piss off Mama! After many, many decades she was the only one to ever beat my ass.

    Others tried but only Mama was successful. So gotta do the right thing. Can't take the risk.

  • Was looking at the cooperhead boilers yesterday in the HBS and in NZ the 2000w boiler has a switch to cut from 2000w down to 1000w, but as with the other options like this the lids are rather thin, but in saying that they do still take a fair amount of weight, I have had a 1.5m tall 50mm packed copper column on one without any issues.

  • I'm thinking that maybe we don't have to reinvent the wheel here?

    These boilers are available all over the world to suit the various supplies, they are cheap and have the internal storage capacity.

    Rather than us trying to find a supplier, match the price on something that is not really in the quality we are used to supplying and then have it modified to fit the still....why not modify the still to fit the boiler?

    I haven't got one to handto measure. If someone has one or can drop into a shop and measure one?

    All we need is a 2"TC to whatever adapter and decent backing nut? That way we are in direct competition with the T500 and like products without trying to eat the costs of importing air.

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

  • beer keg is $50 in bulk, comes in short 30L and tall 60L, and made from stronger metal.... mods should only make it marginally more expensive... especially if the only mod is just a 4'" or 6" triclover top... just sayin if ya want a wheel that is already invented and sold by the millions already...

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