Kettles & Pumps
Kettles, Pumps, and RTDs
The kettles, pumps, hoses, RTDs are just like The Electric Brewery with a few small improvements. Kal did a great job designing this system. His website gives a complete parts list and instructions to do it yourself. The components are all top quality, and they work flawlessly. Here are some suggestions, cost-saving ideas, and a few minor improvements that I made on this part of the system.
Boilermakers - Blichmann Boilermakes are the top-of-the-line. I don't know if you can order the 20-gallon units without the Brewmometers. I have never even looked at mine, since I'm using RTDs to measure the temperatures. They get in the way of the lid when it's hung on the front handle, and you can probably save some dollars if they're available without them.
Pumps - I ordered two March 815-SS-C pumps from Tesco, and saved about $75. It's the same stainless steel pump as the 809-SS-HS-C, but with a slightly better impeller. However, the 815 pumps only have 3 foot long cords, so I added a two-gang outdoor enclosure under the equipment stand, and some 18/3 SJOOW cable to connect them to the control panel. All told, I still saved more than $50 this way.
HERMS coil - Just cough up the bucks and buy it pre-coiled from The Electric Brewery. If you try to coil the stainless steel tubing yourself, you'll end up kinking it right in the middle of the run, and be hating life. Don't waste your time, just throw down the bucks.
Wort Chiller - The Electric Brewery's method for attaching the SS fittings to the MoreBeer WC90 Chillus Convolutus wort lines did not work well. Mine was so wobbly that I feared leaks and a blowout were soon awaiting. I think the problem is the non-standard sized wort tubing on the chiller, and MoreBeer may have changed sizes during production. I probably could have pfutzed around with different size O-rings and made it work. Instead, I sent the WC90 ($189) back and ordered the WC90A ($239) version which already has 1/2" NPT fittings brazed on the wort pipe ends. I sent the SS compression fittings back to McMaster-Carr. Both happily did the returns, but the return shipping cost me a bunch. The WC90A setup is more expensive, but it is rock-solid.
Heating Element Wires - The SJOOW (300v) or SOOW (600v) 10/3 wire can be bought at Home Depot, Lowes, or an electrical supply store - cut to the length you want. If you mail order this heavy wire, the shipping costs will be pretty high.
10 foot RTD cables - The Auber Instruments RTDs come with 6-foot cables. I made all my cables - heating elements, pumps, and RTDs - 10 feet long. You can use CAT-5 or CAT-6 ethernet cable to make your RTD cables any length you desire. Auber also sells a neat "Deluxe" cable option, although it is only 8' long.
Color Coded Cables - Do yourself a favor, color code all your cables (heating elements, pumps, RTDs) to prevent mixups. The Techflex expandable braided sleeving is available in many colors. Mine are left-to-right: black, blue, red, but choose your own favorite colors. For the heating element cables, order the sleeving 1 foot longer than your cables - it loses almost that much length when expanded to the max. I found the eBay store furryletters very easy to work with - he supplied my sleeving and heat-shrink tubing to the lengths and colors I specified, not just those he advertises on eBay.
Equipment stand - I put casters on my equipment stand, so I could move it around my garage. The top surface is 36" off the floor, and my 5' 10" self has to stand on my tip-toes while cleaning the 20-gal Boilermakers. If you're my height, I'd recommend you make yours 2-4" shorter, but make sure the wort chiller will fit between the top surface and the bottom.
Control Panel Notes
Heat Sink - Par-Metal Products Inc. sells a large black anodized heat sink, their HS-0610-B, which looks good and works fine. I mounted it using eight of the holes for the removable top panel in the cabinet. The price in 2010 was $27 + $11 shipping = $38 Par-Metal Products Inc., Phone: (201) 955-0800, Email: Sales@par-metal.com
Pump Fuses - I added two 10-amp cylindrical slow-blo fuses, one for each pump. If a pump motor got wet, by the time it tripped your 30 amp circuit breaker, the motor or wiring or control panel innards might sustain some damage. I figured the fuses and fuseholders were cheap insurance.