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Separate Boiler / Columns

edited September 2014 in Configuration

Hey all,

I know this is a company focused forum and not sure if this thread is welcome as I don't see many non SD build threads. But thought I'd share, as a lot here are thought/share focused. Don't know if this idea could be something SD could bring to the hobbyist side? If inappropriate, please delete, admin.

I'm moving to NZ at the end of the year, as it's legal there, I want a permanent setup so I can switch from flavored to neutral at the turn of a valve. Something I don't have to pull down and hide after every time. Use it. I'm doing a 3 plate single cap column, and a lava packed column. Pics are the packed section ready to solder and a basic diagram of the idea.






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  • Each active column will flood without a bottom drain that leads either back to the previous column or to the boiler. That is by far the hardest thing to work out.
    At least if its a permanent setup, as in your case, then you have a chance because the columns will need to be bolted to a table and the piping necessary does not need to be re-assembled every time you distill.

  • Sorry, wasn't very informative with my diagram, yes, it will.have a drain with trap on each column back to the boiler. And yes they will be bolted down!.

  • edited September 2014

    We have an example of a system with an additional dephlegmator and VM styled take off branch installed inline after the first two plates/bubble tees above the kettle. Putting the lower dephleg into 100% reflux mode and opening the valve on the take off branch for drawing off whiskey. Or allow vapor to continue further up the rectifier for a cleaner product.

    Down side is that the system is quite tall as the VM take off adds 10-12 more inches.

    Googe are you moving specifically because of the distilling status?

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • Don't forget to add CIP, cleaning that will be a nightmare, and you won't be able to go from whiskey to neutral with just a turn of the valve.

  • Zounds.interesting.smaug, have a all?. My missus is a kiwi, she wants to spend some time.with family, that's the reason, plus the distilling perk lol. I will be putting a cip in grim, im hoping for flavor column, neutral type from.the other by switching the valve, wash appropriate.

  • is.this.a.phonething? Not being unpolite, just curious.

    A split column has its own set of complications to work out as does CIP.
    Both add complexity and, therefore, costs. CIP is easy, split column takes a lot more effort.
    I try to offer the least expensive solutions but for the commercial distiller the cheapest is seldom the most cost effective when labor and production volume is considered.

    We, StillDragon, offer low cost parts for you to use to accomplish your goals and most folks are clever enough to modify the parts and configurations to satisfy their needs.
    We can also provide bespoke solutions to the distilleries with deeper pockets to help them satisfy their larger product demands.

    Most of what you guys see here is opened up by us to public scrutiny and even to theft by those that shadow our innovations.
    We have worked on split columns in the past on this forum and all too often seen our efforts silently die when it becomes obvious that the still - from start to completion - needs to be setup as a split column and not cobbled together later.

    The boiler fabrication, the split columns, the table, the piping, everything must be geared from the beginning towards that goal.

    Its not an add-on.

  • Hi googe, You can take a small flavoured hearts cut and continue the rest of the run for neutral. Some of the packed column folks have been doing this for some time with sectional columns.

    However I suspect this is more about running an entire run through either 1 column or the other. Without breaking down the rig. Just use a valve to select which column to use. Is that what you had in mind?

  • Is dragon drop still available? I cant see it with this tablet - or possibly may not be looking in the right place.

    @ googe. It is an art tool that lets you play around with SD components to configure rigs. Might be usefull to you.

  • It's my tablet Lloyd, pain in the ass some times!. Very true, it's alot of work.and thinking, it's the hardest thing I've tried and I understand what your saying. Yep Myles, just switch to use each column. That tool sounds good, would like to play with it?.

  • Your build is welcome googe. We are a bunch of stillers, same as the next bunch and we all love seeing distilling gear.

    We have done a few table mounted setups, @awesome doesn't post much but his 8" Crystal Dragon was supplied with one boiler mounted column and 2 table mounted columns. I haven't seen the photo's of it all setup in Australia, but would love to.

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

  • @Myles said: Hi googe, You can take a small flavoured hearts cut and continue the rest of the run for neutral. Some of the packed column folks have been doing this for some time with sectional columns.

    However I suspect this is more about running an entire run through either 1 column or the other. Without breaking down the rig. Just use a valve to select which column to use. Is that what you had in mind?

    Yes Myles, that was the intent of the design.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • I have thought about split columns and how I would set up something like what googe is tempting. My take on it was column one comes off the boiler column 2 comes of a thump keg then you don't need to worry about the return to the boiler. Just a thought.

  • Thanks punkin, would be nice to see his set up, it's hard finding informative pics of split.columns, with good detail!. I will most likely do a tank for each column to drain into at a later date. Myles, where do I find the dragon drop thing?.

  • You could try a pm to him mate, he may have notifications switched on.

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

  • @googe dragon drop used to be available on one of the distributor websites. I think it was listed in the accessory section. Unfortunately they are blocked from my current location so I can't check for you. @punkin do you still have it on your site?

  • edited September 2014

    If you've got an explosion proof pump, technically you can pump the reflux pool from the bottom of the second column back to the top of the previous column, which would allow your secondary column to sit on the floor. In addition, you'd only need one deplegmator. Some kind of peristaltic pump would probably be best, or even a small double diaphragm.

    I'm not sure anyone has ever tried this, but I know there are vendome setups that utilize only a single condenser and a reflux pump setup, but only in a single column.

  • Hi, the dragon drop feature was installed on the older SD USA website. I'll see what we can do to move it to the new version.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • @grim there are as you say some split columns that run with only 1 reflux condenser. I have seen a few options in print. One option pre charges the plates in the first column with water. Another takes a liquid outlet from under the RC to supply the 1st column.

    I suspect a lot depends on operating conditions. You might find that once charged your plates will maintain themselves at certain vapour speeds without the use of a reflux condenser. Probably just for flavoured product though. My gut reaction is that you couldn't run a vodka column like this.

  • edited September 2014

    Going through some docs and it appears that Vendome also has a 12" side mount vodka column that uses structured packing and a reflux pump arrangement. I wonder how much money is being saved overall by not requiring multiple condensers in this setup. Thing cost more than a nice well equipped 3 series.

  • Thinking I need to solve this but so much on my plate at the moment.
    It can't be hard. It just needs to be done.
    We have this forum as the test bed and $$ of support.
    If we really do want this it can happen. So far the need has been VERY limited.
    I'm not going to commit big bucks to someone's pipe dream but big bucks have been spent on less - including my pipe dreams! I've worked on the split column before without any commercial success.

    Saying its hard to spend the dollars to produce the goods when folks wish it to happen but don't buy.

    Like @grim and his 12" column perhaps SD needs someone committed enough to help us to develop the split column.

  • edited October 2014

    Got some work done on the product condenser column. Not really what I wanted but will do for now!




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  • I hadn't put it together before, but you have gone for a table mounted product condenser. Nice option. Not how I would have done it but am sure it will work fine. What will the condenser core be?

  • Yeah I just wanted to keep the table mounted theme Myles, all this is just getting built as a base to work off, im sure ill be making some changes as i come accross areas im not happy with. How woukd you have done it?, just curious. How would you have done it?. It's the same as my current bubbler rc, 4x1/2" inner tubes.

  • Shotgun condenser with the outlet into a T. Bend inside the T to take the product via the branch to the parrot. Lower branch of the T just to provide a blanked of support to take the weight.

  • Makes sense to me to table mount the product condenser if you table mount the split columns. The new SD flex pipe could be your friend for connecting the boiler to the table goodies but with your copper working skills you probably don't need it.
    Post a revised drawing when you get a chance please.

  • @googe I spent a couple of minutes to play with a quick sketch.
    Its far from detailed or perfect but hope it gives a few ideas.
    From the boiler, the pipe that supplies the vapor to the first column also drains that column.
    The second column has a void space to allow it to drain to the first column by gravity to under the fluid level of the first column.

    With so many valves and the potential to block all vapor flow a safety vent on the boiler would be mandatory.


  • A bit more thought and A and B, and C and D, valves could be replaced at the junctions with just two 3-ways valves but it adds a bit of operator complexity without x-ray vision to see the internal path of the valves.


    split column flow_ 3 way valves.png
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  • That would work Myles, a reducing tee might be neater also!. Funny you mention that flexi stuff Lloyd!, was just thinking about some flexi line in the system would handy. Lol I've got about 50 drawings of different configurations!, it's been a lot of thinking!. Your diagram is very close to how I originally wanted it, but decided to try keep the vapor lines low to minimise gangly copper hanging high and in the way, and will be easier to build, hopefully!. My original idea was to have separate valves to control each column, so I could play with one column while the other sits there equalizing, just for experimenting purposes. I'm scared I won't have a good enough pressure relief system to make it safe though, mechanical pressure reliefs arnt a guarantee and I can't think of a 100% fail safe system. Unless I tweak Myles idea of using the deflags as a operating system, which I've thought about, and have thought I could have a deflag separate from the columns and put it down near the vapor tube coming out of the boiler and use it to open or close a column.

  • I like the idea of separate control valves. The vapor lines in the sketch were just easier to draw and see, they could/should be plumbed for esthetics.
    Maybe more than one pressure relief valve to add redundancy?

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