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After jumping into this I've learned a few things, as is typical when I learn a new area of brewing.
Connections - I originally bought the Blichmann quick connectors that are supposed to work for any 1/2" NPT (National Pipe Thread) fitting. These work well for high-quality threaded outlets such as the ones on the Blichmann Therminator, and on a few of the stainless nipples I had on the kettles, but for the other various connections such as the pump and the fill wand, these parts were troublesome and were leaky unless carefully tweaked, and in most cases the o-ring was forced into the tubing before I got a good seal. I tried the o-rings dry and lubricated, but the problem was the variations in the connectors on the various vessels, not the Blichmann product itself. I kept a few of them for using to connect to the Therminator, and for some accessory tubing in the system as they work well in some cases.
Polysulfone connectors were the next choice as they are able to withstand the high temps, and they can be grabbed even when hot liquid just flowed through them without burning your hands.
Currently the brewery uses Tri-Clover sanitary fittings. Although there are still some threaded fittings, they are not in areas of concern for sanitation. Although these are not as fast as the polysulphone connectors, they are solid and allow for an overall better setup. They also mean there is no female or male ends to deal with and all connections fit together at any time.
Hose Clamps - I wanted to use some high quality non-perforated worm-gear hose clamps for ease of disassembly, but found them to be $4 a piece at the local marine supply, and not even the Goodyear/Parker fittings store had anything better. They only had two, so I had to make the first assembly of the system with common stainless hose clamps from Home Depot that I hate. Of course as I tell everyone, these are piles of crap, and should be avoided for many reasons. The major problem I had this time wasn't damage to the hoses, or uneven pressure, but rather they had so many sharp edges that my hands were still healing a week later from all the cuts I received while just setting up the mockup of the brewery!
I ended up using my all-time favorite Oetiker Stepless Stainless Steel Ear clamps for the final assembly of the hoses. They are always my first choice, and they are not going to slice open my hands! These give a nice even pinch to the hoses and are the best choice.
Hose - I'm currently using silicone hose from MoreBeer and other suppliers.
Pumps - two pumps, one for water, one for wort. Both are March 809HS upgraded with March 815 impellers. You don't need two pumps, but it's nice when you want to fly sparge or simply do other tasks such as recirculating cleaners or sanitizers or boiling water through the chillers for sanitation while the wort pump is working on the brew.
Chillers - Two Blichmann plate chillers, one for tap water, one for ice water (when needed). You don't need two as you can recirculate back to the kettle and then swap water sources, but this is easy and quicker. See the chilling page for more info.
|Oetiker stepless ear clamps! Enough said!|
|Blichmann quick connectors. Good for connecting to the Therminator and other 1/2" pipe connection that has some flat surface on the face for the o-ring to seat well|
|Polysulfone connectors. Heat resistant and easy to use. Available at many places such as Northern Brewer, McMaster-Carr, and MoreBeer.|
|Thermoplastic or Neoprene hose. Stands up to boiling temperatures.|
|March 809/815 pump|
|Blichmann Therminator Plate Chiller|
|Here is a pic of an older configuration during the mockup and first boil test.|
|Email me at Dean_Palmer@jabil.com if you find errors, bullshit, or have questions.|