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My Steam Generator

edited September 2014 in Accessories

In the gb4 test three, @Manofconstantsorrow said:

Any chance on expanding on the steam generator?

Rather than clutter that thread, I started a one.

I based it on Pintoshines one on AD. I use my 6kW keg boiler with a 4" to 2" reducer. On top of that I tri-clamp a 2" end cap that's been drilled & tapped to 3/4". A standard brass plumbing fitting screws into that. 3/4" copper pipe is then soldered in.

It runs up to a 3 way valve - 1 side is open to the atmosphere, the other goes to the wand. I mounted a t piece with a 15psi rated steam certified pressure relief valve. I used 2 unions so I could adjust the arm up & down as may be needed (I have a couple of different size vessels I use to mash in depending on batch size). the sparge ring is 3/8" with a heap of 1/8" (?) holes drilled in the bottom.

These pics should explain it better



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  • You know, I did some work a year or so back with a guy who was setting up a steam room in his basement. He was plumbing in a 6 or 9kw steam generator, not sure what kind of sauna unit. I know it was 240v single phase though. It had a water inlet that was connected to municipal supply, an integral safety valve, and some basic controls, on/off/timer.

    Just perusing ebay, there seem to be quite a few of these units available. Anyone ever experiment with these?

  • Hi @grim, I looked at them before making this. Thought they were a neat solution, but cost won out.

  • Thanks @crozdog, I have seen pics of your setup B4 I believe on another post here but did not put 2&2 together. I actually have a steam shower in my master bath but the Misses get a little tense when I dissect things, I mean really they let me pull a nuclear core apart at work and she won't even trust me to replace a light bulb. :ar!

    I have read Pints post and will need to revisit once the new still is finish, but will probably require some hand holding as I get ready to head down that path. Nice set up and pretty straight forward.

    The day you quit learning is the day you start dying!

    "I am an incurable gadgeteer, and I like enormously to set up a theory and then track down the consequences" Murray Leinster

  • @Manofconstantsorrow, Once I got my head around Pint's build I looked at my copper supply & pipe fittings & found I only needed to buy a couple of parts on top of the end cap / 3 way valve & PRV.

    If you can pull apart a reactor, I'm sire you can make one like this - just don't tell the Mrs or do it at work ;-)

  • My ones is almost the same as that if you need more pics?

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

  • edited September 2014

    I made one too using a propane heated keg as the kettle. My only issue was that I brazed the joints with a 56% silver solder. In the process I annealed the pipes so they got a bit soft and needed support. Just something to think about. Probablycould have got away with soft solder as there is not much steam pressure involved.

  • @crozdog how long does it take to get a 15gal mash up to temp with this setup, and about how much water do you use ?

  • If anyone on here is near Boulder, CO, get pics of Steve's keg boilers at Boulder Distilling, he has maybe 6 or 7, and they are all even simpler than that... no valves, just the exit hose into a bucket of water

  • Ill throw up a pic of my steam generator tomorrow, its pretty simple and has enough power to bring 150 gallon mashes up to whatever temp i desire

  • @brewsmith, its been a while since I last used it. I typically use 10kg corn + a few kg of both malted barley & rye mixed in at l:g ratio of 3 or 4:1 i.e. 45-60l

    from memory that took about 30-45 mins to get to the boil. can't be exact as I didn't take any notes :(

  • edited September 2014

    If you want one that maintains its water level, build one of these:


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  • @Telluride Could you elaborate a bit on the water level maintainer? Slick design if it works as simply as it looks.

  • edited September 2014

    @Cambo said: Telluride Could you elaborate a bit on the water level maintainer? Slick design if it works as simply as it looks.

    Yes please help us understand better.

    FYI, I do stock 2" 3" 4" SS split ring pipe hangers that can be used in lieu of the plumbers strap.

    Found here:

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited September 2014

    Very, very interested in this and listing it as a stock part @Telluride . Some drawings and an explanation would be fantastic.

    Parts list would be great too.

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

  • So the small tank that is connected via some flare fittings houses a liquid level control switch and a solenoid valve. I had to offset these items so that the rapid boil wouldnt affect the level switch. I got the liquid level switch from auber instruments and wired it directly to a 120v solenoid valve that the water line is connected to. Ive ran this thing for close to 12 hours straight doing 4 brews in a day. At one point i had it set up to a pid controlling a solenoid valve off the temp in the mash tun, but ive found it easier to just control the amount of steam that enters the mash tun with a needle valve, now that pid just reads the temp inside the mash tun for me.

  • No love for the pipe hangers? Hahahaha

  • edited September 2014

    @Telluride said: No love for the pipe hangers? Hahahaha

    Long as they get the job done. :D

    I am pretty sure I could get Punkin to rub your feet if there were a way to illustrate the functionality with a flow chart/diagram or the like. This unit is fascinating.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • Ill draw something up, i could use some help on the 12 plates and CD pieces im going to order to build the first SD pot/whiskey/vodka still hybrid with offset columns, you might be interested in the final continuous stripping still and the mini bain marie element guard mod i've been running on my stuff for the past couple months, especially that mini bain marie mod would prob sell like mad to the keg and milk can users....

  • instead of the flare stuff, maybe have 3/4" TC and have the water level maintainer piggyback right on the unit...

    or maybe customizing a 4x2 reducer with a 3/4" TC? really, only the heating element needs to be 2", for the others, maybe a 4"-3/4" bell reducer with a 3/4" TC also on the side of the bell? mate the top two reducers to each other, use a j-bend or TC flex pipe to connect the bottoms...

    maybe 3 elements in a 4" end cap for super steam or lower watt-density?

  • The water level maintainer, or "stilling well" is the proper term, needs to be further away, you cant have it piggy backed right on the unit, this is due to the transfer of heat, right now it is just far enough away so that the stilling wells water doesn't start to boil after prolonged use. If the stilling well starts to boil, the liquid level switch bounces around and floods the system. The problem with switching the steam generator to a 2" from a 4" has to deal with the temperature change that the added water would have. I dont have a problem with maintaining at 260f in my current setup, if i were to decrease to a 2" it would decrease the volume of water to 1/4 of the amount in the 4", and surely would be quite a bit more affected by the incoming cold water to keep the water filled properly. Think of it this way, with a 2" you hold 1 quart of water boiling water, if you add 1/4 cup of 50 degree water, there is a greater affect on the temperature than if you were to add the 1/4 cup of 50 degree water to a gallon of boiling water. I have definitely thought about running a few of these, if i was doing cereal mashes I would, but i stick to a single malt for our whiskey and only have to bring the temperature from 140 to 155. Only takes about 10 minutes currently.

  • What size batches are those @Telluride?

  • @Telluride this contraption could be awesome but I'm still trying to get my head around it.
    Waiting for your diagram/flow chart.

  • So is that a vertical inline boiler? You boil a small volume of water and keep topping it up as steam is produced? What size element?

  • 5500 element, ill try to draw something up as soon as i find time, had to fly to chicago for a wedding so it might be a few days

  • edited September 2014

    Here you go


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  • Thank you.

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

  • Exactly what function does the top tube connecting the reservoirs serve?

  • equalises the pressure allowing the liquid to flow.

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

  • Wouldn't water flow by it entering the source tank and by the lower pressure in the generator tank? Wouldn't steam also go from the generator to the source tank heating it up?

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