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Could I run a 5" CD with ProCaps?

I know that you guys are probably getting sick of my "what configuration should I buy" questions but here are a few more.

I know that I will be adding to whatever rig that I buy but I have had time to think about all of this and still have a couple more months to do so. The last thing that I want is to wish that I had gone bigger/better. I have been considering between a 4" Dash/ Dash 2, or CD. My thoughts are that a 5" would be the biggest that I could run, so why not? A 6" would be way too big so....

I have a 15.5 gal keg boiler that I like and will use. It has a 4" ferrule on top and a 5,500 Ultra Low Watt element run by a SD controller. I usually run 12-13 gallons at a time with no issues. Takes about 1 hour before fores start to drip. I run neutrals, whiskeys and am starting to do rum. Will do brandy this spring. So here's the questions:

  1. WOULD my boiler configuration run a 5" CD with 4 plates and Pro Caps?
  2. Would I get the benefit of the ProCaps with only 5,500 watts or should I go with standard bubble caps? Theoretically I could add another element as I have plenty of juice in the garage, but I would rather not go through the hassle.
  3. We have relatively warm water here in the summertime and I had planned on buying a SuperDephlemator for the 4" and possibly an extra PC. If I go with the 5" what would you recommend?
  4. I'm looking at this like it will be the last still that I will ever need (minus whatever extras or redacted that I might add later) so the extra $$ won't be such a big deal. Is the 5" that much better of a configuration?
  5. AND just to cover all of the bases, the 4" Dash vs CD question has pretty much been debated here before. Is there anything about the 5" CD or Dash that would be different?

I read a lot about 4" and 6" but not a lot about hobby guys with 5" systems (besides Lloyd). If you have a 5" let me know your impressions as well.

Thanks, FC

Which configuration should I buy?
  1. With the info I provided, which one should I buy?10 votes
    1. 4" Dash 2
    2. 4" CD 2
    3. 5" CD with ProCaps
    4. 5" CD with standard caps


  • Can you drive a car with a stick shift? We gotta quality the quiz your giving us.... B-)

  • Had a Dodge Viper GTS for 7 years...... ;)

  • The 5" is only available in Procaps. If you are not planning on a bigger boiler at some time then i would suggest sticking with the 4" other wise you'll be looking at pretty short run times.

    There's not enough alcohol in a 12 gallon wash to support the 5".

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

  • I have a 4" with std caps sitting on top of a converted keg, and very happy with run times and such.

    I do have a 100lt keg sitting at another members garage just waiting for me to do something with it. Perhaps apart from a larger stripping rig, I have no real plans to bother upgrading.

    The current 4" will allow me to strip a batch from start to finish somewhere between 1.5 or 2hrs max, so real easy to do one, two or even 3 runs in a day.

    A spirit run I allow around 6 hours tops , that's enough to enable me to run in the morning and have the afternoon free.

    I've thought about bigger, BUT then I need more ferments to supply product, larger/better cooling for no gain except maybe a shorter run time or more product per run.

    I cannot drink what I have made so far ( I do try! ) , strip twice a month, and roughly one spirit run per month, either whisky or neutral.

    In my shed I have over 100lt of bourbon ready to drink, over 50lt whisky ready, plus over 200lt whisky getting aged/oaked, plus always a couple of batches fermenting at any one time.

    If I was buying "new" it would once again be 4" but with procaps, ONLY because I have the power in the shed to maximize the potential they offer. In AU having the power to run in most household is the problem, as the standard is 10amp only, perhaps 15amp if lucky. I have 3 phase or 3 x 15amp that I can use as my shed was a mechanics garage and workshop at some stage.

    As @punkin points out, a std keg suits a 4" rig spot on.

    my 5 cents worth


  • @fadge +snap on that.

    I am still on my first 50L barrel from 4 years ago and the woman is always on my case why am I making more.

    50L kettle and 4" is way plenty for the man at home.

  • I agree too. I had planned a 5" but have scaled that back to a 4". 5" seems to be good for a professional recipe development still IMO.

    Or perhaps for a small group that were colaborating. If you happened to be somewhere where that was a feasible option.

  • Its a tough choice if you can only have just one still, but I have several to choose from in my "shed".
    My 5" x 6 plate CD sitting on a 70L insulated custom boiler would be great for filling a barrel. Trust me, filling a 200L oak barrel is a lot of work for a hobbyist, I've done it before and it takes a lot of effort.
    My 50L beer keg with 4" CD also sits in the corner unused lately as all of my jugs are full.
    My Ace of Hearts on a ~30L T500 boiler gets a workout about once every two weeks or so and I'm still accumulating more than I consume but its just me consuming. If I had friends dipping in then I'd need to run a bigger still or run more often.

    I'm thinking, but could be wrong:
    An Ace for 1 or 2 people's needs
    A 4"er for more rapid stock buildup
    A 5"er for filling kegs and barrels for long term aging

    Once everything is filled and stocks are built its easy to maintain with a smaller still.

    Pro folks are in 8" or above to simply keep up with demand.

  • edited February 2015

    This is just my rough stab based on my interpretation of probable power availability, run times etc. Other folks will have different opinions and to be honest you can run a smaller column on a bigger boiler.

    However, it is difficult to run a big column on a small boiler.

    Ace on a   30 to   50  litre boiler
     4" on a   50 to  150  litre boiler
     5" on a   70 to  200  litre boiler
     6" on a  120 to  380  litre boiler
     8" on a  500 to 2000  litre boiler
    12" on a 1000 to 5000+ litre boiler

    My reason for dropping from 5" to 4" was power. I would have needed to put in more power or switch over to gas generated steam. For me at this time that would be inconvenient.

    Often it is actually helpful to think about what run time you want and work backwards. I know some folk think nothing of doing a 30 hour spirit run, but for me it just isn't practical.

  • edited February 2015

    If time is a factor, 12" on a 500l boiler makes perfect sense, and 8" on the 380l - at these sizes we're talking commercial.

  • @grim said: If time is a factor, 12" on a 500l boiler makes perfect sense, and 8" on the 380l - at these sizes we're talking commercial.

    So if I put a 12" on my keg, I would be the first?

    I'm thinking that Punkin pretty much answered the only question that really matters when he replied "There's not enough alcohol in a 12 gallon wash to support the 5". A 4" CD all decked out with a superdephlem and extra plates with ProCaps should be all that I will need. To add a plate/chimney to that system is relatively cheap and I can go as many as I want.

    As far as quantity, my wife can drink her weight in vodka and I really like whiskey. I also have 3 brothers and a lot of friends who drink but I really don't want many people to know what I am up to (I AM in Florida).

    The shame is that I have power in my garage that most would kill to have. I have a 200 amp box and only use it for lights and the still that I have now. I will occasionally use a welder too.

    Guess just because I can doesn't necessarily mean that I should. If by chance a 200l onion showed up on my doorstep tomorrow then I might just go for the 5" but that is a check that I don't want to write. My converted keg boiler is probably just right for what I need.

  • edited February 2015

    Just cut 3 or 4 kegs, weld them together, and put the plates IN the keg stack! :). Why bother with 12 when you can have 16!

  • Unbelievable idea. I've just sent Smaug an order for 16" ferrules and 16" tri clamps. If shipping goes as usual, I should have them by Monday and begin work. Is it true that a 16" copper plate really holds 122 caps?

  • I prefer 113 over 122

  • Pro Caps I presume? I like your number better as it will save me $225 per plate.

  • It is time for bigger ProCaps.... B-)

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • I like your chart Myles, but agree with Grim that the last two entries need to start a size lower.

    There are so many 380/8" combo's operating round the world and they are sized so perfectly to a days run that they can't all be wrong.

    Other than that your chart lines up with my page perfectly..

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

  • I agree completely with what @fadge has said. I keep dreaming of upgrading but I have no need. I'm happy with my 4 hour run times.

    I've been slack lately and haven't run the still in the last 6 months. I was supposed to have a busy summer in the shed to fill up my aging vessels due to stocks getting a little low. Summers not over yet so still might fill up one of the aging vessels.

    Just to get off my arse

  • Same here Jonno, just finished putting down the new ujsm wash again. Hopefully no infection this time. I need to do faux scotch for the Bourbon Girls Cronie and i have no rum left for my mate who drinks it.

    Like you said, summers not over yet. 8-}

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

  • @punkin you see more of these than I do, so I will go with what you say. Unfortunately I couldn't follow your link because it is blocked in UAE. Will have a look when I am back in UK.

  • It was just my turnkey systems page where i list the most common packages for sale Myles.

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

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