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Eye Level Gin Basket on 380L Pot Belly Boiler and 8" Crystal Dragon

I'll be making single shot gin from grain mash with 2 passes through an 8 plate 8" crystal dragon setup using a gin basket (or 2) as a carter head on the second pass/spirit run. For OH&S reasons, so I don't have to climb up and down ladders all day to replace botanicals, I'm planning to position my gin baskets at eye level. This means I have to have loop in the vapour line, with a down pipe from the head to the basket and then an up leg to get back high enough for the condenser, with the gin basket(s) and a bypass on a 3 way valve setup at the bottom of the loop (see picture). The bypass will be used for stripping runs, heads, tails etc and I switch over and put the heads through the gin baskets. The gin basket has a drain valve but I'm wondering if I'll need to put an extra drain point or even a return to the pot at the bottom of the loop for when its running on bypass. Has anyone tried anything like this?



  • edited October 2014

    Mate, could you put your valve and bypass at the top point and divert to the gin basket when you want to? That would save the need to go below the GB4 with the piping and you could just have a long handle or chain on the valve handle?


    Your tricky new boiler is ordered by the way. Should be a cracker.

    385 x 482 - 19K

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  • edited October 2014

    I'd put the 3-way valve after the GB4 so it would stop the flow of vapor through the GB4 during basket swaps. No additional drain would be needed. I'd insulate the piping and the GB4 to reduce the passive reflux.


    401 x 488 - 14K
  • I like your plan better Lloyd! I'd prefer to have the valve and bypass at the same level as the GB so I don't have to climb ladders during a run and also because it will look a lot better. The tasting areas going to be adjacent to the still so if I insulate it needs to look good. Also thinking of a couple of GB's in parallel with a 3-way T on the inlets so i can run either or both (but no blank end) - no need to put the system into reflux to swap baskets and I can separate and stagger my botanicals if I want to (not stagger with my botanicals!). Or will that give me a passive reflux problem and a face full of vapour each time i open one?

  • I have long advocated two GB4's with a 3-way valve between them. If you do it let me know with plenty of pictures.
    Not trying to vend more GB4's (only because I have to hand assemble and pack every single one!!) but for a pro setting with a 8" still it just seems logical as there is near zero down time.

    A really huge gin basket, sadly, never got enough traction for someone to step forward and order one so I'd be forced to make it. Yes it would cost thousands of dollars instead of only $400 or so but my vision for it was about 8" diameter and about 20" tall.

  • This arrangement may act as more of a condensate trap than others - there is significant piping length, and the pitch of the majority of it has the condensate falling back into the basket.

    One upside to this, is that the arrangement really looks like a thumper setup. I suspect that once you get enough condensate to pool at the bottom of the piping, it'll be acting as a thumper in addition to a gin basket.

    I'm really not sure if it's going to present any kind of problem, but you could potentially insulate your plumbing to keep vapor temp up, or reduce your piping size to keep vapor speed very high.

  • edited October 2014

    @grim, it's going to be a meter down and a bit less back. Was planning 2" because that's the GB4 in/out diameter. Could go less but that means more reducers, what do you suggest?
    If I get significant pooling in the gin basket I can drain it so the main issue is when its on bypass.

  • Lloyd, will be doing a parallel 4 sure. Photos will follow. Just have to work out inlet and outlet manifold lengths to match without $$$ for a local custom build. Strangely, the simplest will be to use identical 3-ways on inlet and outlet but that compromises my no blank end rule. Staying alert & a pressure relief on the pot should fix that!

  • I'm here to help you @HurdleCreek and I will help in any way I can, promise.

    You intend to deploy 2x GB4s? If so you have my attention.

    I don't have the power to run a 8" column (I can do up to 5" here OK) but I'll try to help in any way that I can.

    Remember that my 5" can supply more booze in an hour than I can metabolize in a month or more!

  • edited October 2014

    Any potential condensate build-up problem, if one even exists, is minor compared to the risk associated with dead-ending. I wouldn't solve for the theoretical condensate problem by introducing a real world safety problem. Draining is a minor hassle, especially with the basket at the new lower level. Hell, put a bucket under, crack the valve for a second.

    You might look at an alternative approach that uses the modularity of the setup. Your whole gin basket assembly could be made to be removed, and replaced with simple piping and flanges. It might require just a little bit of fab. But you'd have no valves at all ($$ savings), and to swap components only require two TC flanges. Arrange it in such a way that you could use a "long 180 special bend" inverted (see Simple, fast, it wouldn't take more than 2 minutes to swap.

    Your condenser and vapor tubing assembly will need to be separately supported anyhow, that piping arrangement will absolutely not self-support itself.

  • edited October 2014

    Regarding custom fab - I haven't actually had my hands on the gin basket, but I suspect that unless it was specifically made with appropriate 90's to present an absolutely perfect flange alignment, your piping arrangement here will require custom length triclamp spools to be made.

    Maybe Lloyd can weigh in here, but looking at pictures, if you put 2 90s on the gin basket, facing upwards, you wouldn't have a standard length spool to get the flanges to the exact same height - which would be required to get any cross-piping to line up appropriately.

    GVC can make custom spool for you at a reasonable price, assuming your alignment only requires 1/8th increments.

  • edited October 2014

    See below for what I mean, the same applies to any horizontal tubing, so you may require two custom spools (unless the alignment is perfect with a standard sized spool). The other issue is 90' triclamp bends from different sources can be sized slightly differently, they are not all interchangeable.


    800 x 600 - 49K
  • SD can do custom TC pipe sizes but it typically takes a few months to get them to the distributor :(

  • Interesting concept. If you wish to change botanicals mid run then I would agree with Lloyd and use 2 GB4's with a selector valve on the input. However, there is still a vapour feedback problem from the in-use GB4 to the open one that does need to be considered. Easiest option is to use 2 ganged valves with valves on both input and output of the GB4's.

    If you don't want to use 2 valves you may need to configure pre-condensers in the vapour paths to eliminate the unwanted vapour route back to the open GB4. It is a more complicated option though. Either that or just run parallel product condensers also to eliminate the common vapour path.

  • if you did not mind 20-30 seconds of non infused vapor, you could have the double ganged valves do the bypass... easy-peasy..

  • I'm far from an authority (yet), but if you start to build up condensate in the basket, what will you pick up in the liquid? Would plugging up the vapor path this way cause back pressure into the still, and perhaps surges of distillate and floaties through the condenser? Would it make more sense to lower your condenser (alas, I am not a gifted artist, so you have to imagine this)? Instead of the inputs on the left and bottom of the "T" and out to the top, how about in from the left and bottom and straight out to the right to an elbow to the condenser?

  • I have a stack of 50mm and 40mm tube here from a custom order where the customer let me down ages ago, i can get locally welded TC pipe in any lengths up to 900mm.

    Lloyd, Hurdle is the one getting that nice gas fired boiler to go with his 8" CD. This will make a fantastic setup once complete.

    It seems to me that your original drawing with the valve before the basket Hurdle will get you the bypass you need. If the valve is after as per Lloyds drawing then once you open the basket vapour will flow down the inlet pipe to the open end. Maybe it would do that both ways.

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  • With only a single 3 way valve, no matter where you put it, there is always an unwanted vapour path into the open basket. Some vapour will find it. This is because the 2 GB4's are commoned into a single product condenser.

    You need to close that vapour path, or eliminate it.

  • edited October 2014


    twin gin heads.jpg
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  • It would be easy enough to that off one of the 2" ports on the boiler if it didn't need the second run through the column, or if you were running a third time. A dedicated 120 or 200l boiler for the gin with that setup would be brilliant.

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  • +1 Punkin

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  • edited October 2014

    A separate gin condenser isn't a terrible idea either, especially without any kind of CIP system. Cleaning that whole tail end after a gin run will be a headache. Or, well, just a whole gin rig.

  • Will definitely need custom pipe length - will contact you directly Punkin once I've done the maths. I though about doing a separate gin run via the 2" port - I've also got a selection of kegs up to 100lt I'll use for testing & specials - but that means more gas and more process time so I'd prefer do it on the fly with the spirit run when I can. I think it should be possible to set up a cip loop with the parrot off, reverse flow in through the condenser outlet and up to the head of the column to clean the lines and baskets. I probably don't want to run gin soaked detergent down through the plates so will break the line at the head and attach a cip recovery hose to complete the circuit and do the plates separately. It'll be a case of trial &* error till I get it right!

  • No worries mate. Happy to help wherever i can.

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  • @grim said: A separate gin condenser isn't a terrible idea either, especially without any kind of CIP system. Cleaning that whole tail end after a gin run will be a headache. Or, well, just a whole gin rig.

    +1 for the dedicated gin rig :)

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  • @Smaug said: image

    This is exactly the gin setup I'm looking to build using either a 75/150 pot belly boiler. Do you have more pictures or a product picking list for this?

  • @spbowler, please send us an inquiry by email and we will equip you with the necessary gear.

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