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Everything posted by Skaalvenn

  1. Skaalvenn

    Issues with a small equipment supplier

    I just timed myself on how long it takes me to go from standing at the man way of the still to pressing the emergency stop button at a brisk walking pace (not running). Distance: 34 feet, 6" from the manway to the control panel emergency stop. Control: 7.5 seconds to turn 90 degrees and casually walk over and hit the stop button Test 1: 4.7 seconds (face still, 90 degree turn to panel) Test 2: 4.5 seconds (face still, 90 degree turn to panel) Test 3: 4.9 seconds (facing away from panel, 180 degree turn to panel) And after realizing that I was not going to get an absurd amount of time to the panel... Test 4: 5.2 seconds (standing on one leg facing still, 90 degree turn while hopping on one leg to panel) If there's an emergency and the still is spewing hot steam or fire, I would imagine that time to decrease by a good second and I'd be going towards the exit of the building at the same time I'm hitting the emergency shutoff. If the time difference of 1 or 2 seconds extra is catastrophic, you probably don't want to be spending any bit of time near the still to attempt to hit the emergency stop button (it's not like someone is going to get caught up and wound into a machine requiring a close stop button). At least to me, saving a life is most important so I'll stick with my panel being further away so that myself or an employee is less likely to be harmed in the event of catastrophe. One could "what if" all day and say that "what if that 4 extra seconds was the difference?" Well, we can play that game until the end of time.
  2. Skaalvenn

    Issues with a small equipment supplier

    I guess I don't see why people put their control panel right next to the still? I had that in our old space and didn't like the idea of it so in our new space the panel is about 35 feet away, next to the exit door. Stills should be monitored close enough that vapor percentages in the explosive range is nearly impossible to reach. And if that happens, would you really want the panel with emergency stop button to be right next to the device with a bunch of fire around it? I'm working on wiring up a simple automatic shutoff into my still and panel. Output temp after the condenser hits X degrees and the panel shuts off and has to be manually reset. Looking in to how I can accomplish the same thing with pressure to shut it down before a pressure valve would ever have to do its job.
  3. If you are selling bottles the customers can not pass through the bonded area when they leave as tax paid alcohol would be passing into a tax unpaid area. For samples only it's probably OK, but the TTB will not allow bottles to be sold in such a configuration.
  4. Skaalvenn

    HAZ EX/OP Area - Mobile/ Cell Phones

    Interestingly enough, today I got a private tour of an ethanol plant which makes over 50 million gallons of pure ethanol each year--cell phones were most definitely allowed.
  5. Skaalvenn

    Rum Man

    2400sq feet is a decent start. We started in 1800 square feet with restrooms in a common area. The less expensive overhead of 2400 square feet dedicated nearly entirely to production allowed us to feel comfortable expanding into the 6,000 square feet we have today.
  6. Skaalvenn

    T Top (Bartop) issue

    It sounds like you'll need to either switch your bottles, or your corks. Cork company A will have cork sizes with a +/- tolerance. Bottle company B will have a bottle neck with a +/- tolerance If cork company A averages too small, and bottle company B averages too large, you will have problems and vice versa. Some manufacturers are just going to be far too tight or too loose.
  7. Skaalvenn

    Grain in mash pump

    Good to know. Thanks!
  8. There's also the fine line of having equipment sized so that it's affordable, allows you to earn profits, and allows you to grow. A 26 gallon still only meets the affordable part, and pretty soon you'll realize that you're spending a lot of time staring at the still and not making very much money. If you're spending a lot of time staring at the still that is going to cut into the time you could spend growing your business. You only make money after product leaves the door, so spend as little time as possible mashing, fermenting, and distilling because those phases cost money, not earn it.
  9. Skaalvenn

    Grain in mash pump

    To be clear, I do wish I had a FIP pump as the centrifugal can be a bit tricky to work with. Examples being: Getting that last little bit out of the fermentation tank Vortexing when draining a tank (including CIP re-circulation) due to pump speed Getting an air bubble out of the pump head (I just learned a trick from a brewer to put a 3 way valve on the outlet to burp the air) Not having the ability to blast out a plug in the line (this only happens when we pump out our spent grain to the farmer's truck which has been settling in tank for a few days). I just hook an air line or water line to the end of the hose to blast it clear One way pumping. I'd like a reversible pump so I can just have a valved T for puimping in/out of the still without having to reconfigure hoses I can't remember what I spent on the pump, but it was used from a brewery and with motor and cart I think it was only $400 to $700. I'd really like a FIP, but I'd rather invest the extra money towards making even more money rather than solving a rather minor headache. That being said, if anyone has a used one from a reputable brand who still provides parts and service, let me know.
  10. Skaalvenn

    Grain in mash pump

    I've been using a 1.5" -> 1.5" centrifugal for wheat mashes for 3 years without issue. I just hit the mixer beforehand so that I'm not trying to pump settled grain.
  11. Skaalvenn

    Pre bottling filter recommendation.

    We throw away our 1um 10" poly pre-filter between each use as they only cost about $1 each. For the considerably higher price polishing filters (Type7, $30 ea) we dry them a just a little and then put them into a ziplock and into the freezer. We have found the 10" poly filters to be mediocre at best for final bottling, though they do work. We had an issue a couple times of some carbon dust making it's way into the bottles even with using two of them inline. Knock on wood, we haven't had the problem with the more expensive ones.
  12. Skaalvenn

    50ml Contract Packaging

    PM sent.
  13. Skaalvenn

    Branding/Packaging Question

    Prices vary widely, and you usually get what you pay for. You can hire an artist online for a few hundred dollars, or you can easily and quickly get into the 6 digits with a full creative agency. If you are looking for a first class partner to develop your brand, labels, website and some extra marketing materials to get you off the ground you are looking at the $50,000-$100,000 range depending on where you go. Feel free to PM me for any other details.
  14. Skaalvenn

    Ethanol from Almond Shells

    (USA only) You would first need to be sure that almond shells are GRAS (generally recognized as safe). I know it's crazy, but sometimes something you think should be GRAS actually isn't. Case example: I couldn't find the article, but there was a distillery that was mashing and fermenting the stalk of a common grain plant (I can not remember the type) but they had to stop as the plant itself wasn't GRAS, only the seed, and it was nearly impossible for a small business to add something new to the GRAS list. Someone else might have better luck pulling up the article.
  15. Skaalvenn

    Corking machine T-Corker

    I'm interested. How noisy is this one? I saw one a few years ago that made quite the racket when it was running and I'd like to know if anything has changed to deaden the sound of thousands of corks tumbling around. Thanks!
  16. Skaalvenn

    Hammer Mill w/ Blower

    How were they to deal with, and how does the mill's construction seem? That company is located a couple hours from us and I've been meaning to set up a time to bring a few bags of grain out to test a mill and maybe bring it back with me. The prices do seem attractive.
  17. Skaalvenn

    Security Cameras in tasting room?

    If anyone is considering building their own, I highly recommend you spend the extra on surveillance rated hard drives. During normal operation of your home computer it's hard drive is operating only occasionally, as most everything you do loads and works within RAM. In a security camera system the hard drive is reading/writing 100% of the time which will usually lead to a premature failure of a regular hard drive.
  18. Skaalvenn

    Cane Sugar Fermentation

    For granulated sugar types you'll need a lot of nutrient and you will need to constantly adjust the pH. We use a little over 1 gram of DAP per liter, and go above the beer brewing nutrient dosage for yeast nutrient. Remember that beer typically has grains with nutrients, and they only ferment to about 4-6 percent ABV whereas sugar has almost no nutrient and you'll probably be fermenting to 10-15 percent ABV. We use molasses in ours and typically have to adjust the pH one time only after the initial crash, and after that it stays fairly solid. With pure granulated and an overdose of yeast you will probably need to adjust every 12 hours for the first day or two, if not more often depending on activity. You should be able to ferment dry within 3-4 days. There are a lot of variables with plain sugar washes, what end product you are making, and how you want that product to taste. You'll have to play with it and figure out what works best for you.
  19. Skaalvenn

    xpress fill reviews xf460hp

    That screen is only designed to protect the pump and the valves inside your filler, it is not designed to filter your product. You can buy filter housings off ebay, but you have to be careful with used ones as they could have been used in non-beverage applications which is a no-go. St Pats of Texas sells complete units and filters. You'll want to get a cheap pre filter before the pall filter as you don't want to clog up an expensive one all the time. You can get a 10" stainless steel water filter housing and use cheap filters with materials rated for ethanol. Be wary of the ones with plastic end caps as the glues are oftentimes not compatible with ethanol.
  20. I've never seen that company but I am really interested. $23k isn't bad at all considering what it does. https://cda-usa.com/our-products/labelling-machines/wine-beer-and-spirits/auto/regionale/ One item that we have spent some money on for increasing our bottling speeds are rotary accumulation tables. If you don't have enough staff for every step of the process the rotary tables reduce the amount of time one spends switching back and forth, or moving bottles down a table. They cost roughly 3 grand each and take up a lot of room but have also saved us a lot of time. Sonny, is there any thing about that CDA machine which you do not like?
  21. Skaalvenn

    xpress fill reviews xf460hp

    We run PALL filters between the spirits tank and the unit. One minor disadvantage of a timed flow unit is that you have to keep a slight eye on the fill levels because as the filters get clogged up their flow decreases. It's not much of a problem if you're only doing a thousand bottles of vodka at a time, but if you're doing something with a high sediment load you would potentially have to increase the fill time slightly if there's too much resistance in the filter. If that happens, a couple quick presses of a button are all you need. For vodka we run a 1um followed by a .22um and have no troubles. We calibrate ours to the weight of the spirit we're bottling. The nice thing about digital control vs setting an overflow nozzle height is you can be very precise and it's quick to adjust. You will need to adjust or calibrate any bottle filler before you bottle to ensure you are meeting the fill standards. Since the temperature of the spirit changes day to day you need to make minor adjustments each time you bottle, and sometimes in the middle of a session.
  22. Skaalvenn

    xpress fill reviews xf460hp

    We purchased the regular XF460 approximately 16 months ago and we like it. The only thing we don't like is that all 4 bottles have to be filled at the exact same time which leads to a few moments of rapid paced movement of removing and replacing bottles and then waiting about 25 seconds for the fill to be completed. This can be a benefit though as it may give you time to cork and band the bottles while you wait. We have needed minor service that was able to be resolved by a brief phone call. It's not a complaint, it's a compliment as they picked up the phone and the person answering knew the machines inside and out. Fills are very accurate. We are thinking of buying a second unit so that we can fill bottles quicker.
  23. Skaalvenn

    Still agitator

    I like the idea of the Teflon "rope" packing that my brawn mixer has. If it starts leaking (after 2.5 years it has not) I can tighten the bolts slightly to squeeze the Teflon more. If and when the Teflon wears out and needs replacing I can't see it costing more than $10-20. My mixer from MXD had a seal that went out and allowed a small amount of vapor into the gearbox which then caused the bearings in the gearbox to fail. MXD refused to warranty their equipment even though before the warranty ended I notified them and said it was making noise. The local brawn rep/engineer spent a lot more time taking measurements and ensuring that I had the exact mixer I needed. They also provided me with the critical speeds to avoid (where the natural vibration/harmonics will tear any shaft driven prop to shreds). MXD basically said "what size tank? What kind of fitting? Ok here's a mixer". I had no previous knowledge of critical speeds and there is the possibility that I was unknowingly running inside those ranges which would have caused premature failure, but I'll never know because I was never given any real specs. Food for thought. There's plenty of people who just want to quickly sell you something and move on to their next customer. The broken agitator shut down any grain-on distilling for over a month, I'll never take the cheaper route on something like that ever again.
  24. Skaalvenn

    Industry news/research websites/magazines?

    Similar topic. What is everyone using for finding used distillery, brewery, and winery equipment?
  25. Skaalvenn

    Still agitator

    I have a Brawn mixer on my still and it's been a great piece of equipment. Avoid MXD/MixersDirect.