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Dephleg hotter than column

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Hi everyone! I'm in desperate need of some advice. I bought an electric 600L pot still with a whiskey helmet and 2 side by side 7 plate columns from Hawke Probate Distillation services. I am having an extremely hard time getting my system to function properly. The second column won't get up to temp unless I overheat the still and then it pukes. Tonight, after my millionth attempt, suddenly I noticed the dephleg on the second column was at 90celcius and the column was only at 40celcius. What is happening?! Can anyone give me suggestions as to what to try next? If someone has a similar 2 column system, perhaps you could walk me through your process and maybe I'll catch something that I'm missing. I'm absolutely desperate as my supplier has decided to neglect his duty in supporting his client and backing up his product. 

Please help! Much much appreciated ! 

 

Jen

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Do you have antifoam in your pot?

Are they digital thermometers? Is column reading deg C and the dephleg F?

Does the water exiting the dephleg feel VERY hot? 

Post photos of your setup

 

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7 hours ago, PeteB said:

Do you have antifoam in your pot?

Are they digital thermometers? Is column reading deg C and the dephleg F?

Does the water exiting the dephleg feel VERY hot? 

Post photos of your setup

 

Hi! Thanks for the reply. I do not have antifoam in the pot and haven't seen any foam build up at all. The thermometers are both standard(not digital) and in degree celcius. 

 

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When the dephleg is so hot and the 2nd column so cold are the trays in the second column bubbling normally?  The only way I can see that you could get the dephleg so hot is if the vapor valve that is intended to isolate the 2nd dephleg (and main condenser) from the pot is passing hot vapor that should be going via all the trays and this vapor is going directly to the 2nd dephleg.  If this valve is passing then the trays will not bubble properly.  What is the temperature of the 1st dephleg when the second is at 90?

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Just curious, what type of material is the blue/green piping you are using for your cooling water?  I cant tell if its painted cast iron pipe, or some type of plastic.

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33 minutes ago, jenschmunk@gmail.com said:

I have turned off the cooling to the dephleg because it seems to be the only way to get the second column to heat up. The water coming out is hot, yes. 

I have designed and built over 30 systems with multiple columns with some having as many as 4 bubble plate columns.  They all work great. If you give me a call at 417-778-6100 when you are getting ready to do a run we can walk you through what you need to do to get your still to function properly.  I can help you some here.  First of all when you have 2 bubble plate columns split like that you are only getting 50% plate functionality on column one.  I can help you get full functionality of column one.   There are several distillery equipment venders selling stills with split columns that don't seem to have a clue concerning how to get full functionality of all plates

 

As far as getting things up to where you can at least do a run.   First I need to know how you have your final condenser and dephlegmators plumbed. 

Did you plumb your coolant into the final condenser then out of the final condenser and into the dephlegmator of column 2 and then out of the dephlegmator of column 2 into column 1?   and if so,  do you have a thermostatic valve to control your coolant.  Or did you plumb each dephlegmator and the final condenser independently in the bottom out the top?  

 

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Could be way off base, but did you check the flow of your 3 way valves and make sure they are set right? It is tough to see but it looks like it could be possible to have the first 3 way valve bypassing the column, but the top of the column open, forcing hot vapor into the top of the column, instead of the bottom.

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8 minutes ago, meerkat said:

When the dephleg is so hot and the 2nd column so cold are the trays in the second column bubbling normally?  The only way I can see that you could get the dephleg so hot is if the vapor valve that is intended to isolate the 2nd dephleg (and main condenser) from the pot is passing hot vapor that should be going via all the trays and this vapor is going directly to the 2nd dephleg.  If this valve is passing then the trays will not bubble properly.  What is the temperature of the 1st dephleg when the second is at 90?

The temperature of the first dephlag was around 50 deg celcius. Here are images of the ways my calves were opened.  

The first image is the 1st column. The 3 way valve is closed to the right, forcing the steam downward to the base of the first column. The valve that opens/closed at the top of the dephleg to the main steam pipe is open. 

The second image is of the second column. I have the valve closed to the right, thus pushing the steam returned from the 1st column, downward toward the base of the second column. The valve at the top of the second dephleg is open as well direction steam back to the main steam pipe. I have the valve to the gin basket closed off and the exit valve is open so the steam that has built up inside the basket from the backflow can exit. There are no shut off valves on the back of the backflow to prevent this. 

I have a backflow pipe that is attached at the base of each column and the gun basket that is open as well. 

 

Does anything look off? 

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5 minutes ago, Southernhighlander said:

I have designed and built over 30 systems with multiple columns with some having as many as 4 bubble plate columns.  They all work great. If you give me a call at 417-778-6100 when you are getting ready to do a run we can walk you through what you need to do to get your still to function properly.  I can help you some here.  First of all when you have 2 bubble plate columns split like that you are only getting 50% plate functionality on column one.  I can help you get full functionality of column one.   There are several distillery equipment venders selling stills with split columns that don't seem to have a clue concerning how to get full functionality of all plates

 

As far as getting things up to where you can at least do a run.   First I need to know how you have your final condenser and dephlegmators plumbed. 

Did you plumb your coolant into the final condenser then out of the final condenser and into the dephlegmator of column 2 and then out of the dephlegmator of column 2 into column 1?   and if so,  do you have a thermostatic valve to control your coolant.  Or did you plumb each dephlegmator and the final condenser independently in the bottom out the top?  

 

Hi! Thank you so much for your reply. It appears the coolant is piped individually.  Here is a pic

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4 minutes ago, Tom Lenerz said:

Could be way off base, but did you check the flow of your 3 way valves and make sure they are set right? It is tough to see but it looks like it could be possible to have the first 3 way valve bypassing the column, but the top of the column open, forcing hot vapor into the top of the column, instead of the bottom.

Hi Tom, 

I have pulled all the valves out and they are properly pointed. Where the handle is pointing on the 3 way is where it is closed off. 

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15 minutes ago, HedgeBird said:

Just curious, what type of material is the blue/green piping you are using for your cooling water?  I cant tell if its painted cast iron pipe, or some type of plastic.

Those are aquatherm pipes for the glycol cooling system. They aren't insulated yet so for now they are exposed. 

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It would have been better in this situation if it were plumbed the other way that I described, however we can make it work this way.  When you are running the coolant flow to the dephlegmator on column one, it should be turned down very very low and the dephlegmator on column 2 should have a higher coolant flow and a lower head temp than column 1.    As far as loading the plates and everything it is best if my head distiller walks you through it on the phone.  His name is Mike.  If you call my number during business hours I will put you on the phone with him and he will walk you through everything and get you lined out.  I won't charge you anything for that.  If you want to increase the plate functionality from 3 plates to 6 plates on column 1 I can help you with that.  The only thing that I ask is that you sign a non disclosure agreement.  I certainly don't want Hawke to learn my secrets.  Please email me for a copy of the non disclosure agreement.  paul@distillery-equipment.com

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8 minutes ago, Southernhighlander said:

It would have been better in this situation if it were plumbed the other way that I described, however we can make it work this way.  When you are running the coolant flow to the dephlegmator on column one, it should be turned down very very low and the dephlegmator on column 2 should have a higher coolant flow and a lower head temp than column 1.    As far as loading the plates and everything it is best if my head distillery walks you through it on the phone.  His name is Mike.  If you calll my number during business hours I will put you on the phone with him and he will walk you through everything and get you lined out.  I won't charge you anything for that.  If you want to increase the plate functionality from 3 plates to 6 plates on column 1 I can help you with that.  The only thing that I ask is that you sign a non disclosure agreement.  I certainly don't want Hawke to learn my secrets.  Please email me for a copy of the non disclosure agreement.  paul@distillery-equipment.com

Hi Paul, 

Yes absolutely I would sign that disclosure agreement. We wont be speaking to Hawke again anyhow. I will be calling. Thank you very much 

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The valves in the vapor line certainly look like they are correctly set, so that just adds to the mystery.  You did not say whether the trays in the 2nd column were behaving correctly.  Their behavior will be a good indicator of whether the vapors are following the correct path.

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1 hour ago, meerkat said:

The valves in the vapor line certainly look like they are correctly set, so that just adds to the mystery.  You did not say whether the trays in the 2nd column were behaving correctly.  Their behavior will be a good indicator of whether the vapors are following the correct path.

Hi! The trays appear quite dry as far as I can see. I can see the odd drip in a couple of them, but the base of each tray is quite dry. How do I fix this? 

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16 minutes ago, jenschmunk@gmail.com said:

Hi! The trays appear quite dry as far as I can see. I can see the odd drip in a couple of them, but the base of each tray is quite dry. How do I fix this? 

If your vapor is for sure passing through that column, you increase the coolant flow to that dephlegmator to load the trays.  Once you get on the phone with my guy Mike he will have you check some things and then he will walk you through how to run your still correctly and this will solve most of your issues, as long as the still was built correctly.   When you and I talk on the phone I can tell you how to gain full plate functionality on column 1.   I am ready to send you the non disclosure agreement as soon as you email me. paul@distillery-equipment.com

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The liquid flow to the trays can only come from the dephlegs.  With moderate heat on the still pot, open the water to the condenser and second dephleg.  I would close the water to the 1st dephleg and get the trays in the second column loaded first.  The aim is to get the 2nd column on total reflux to start with, but have water open to the condenser in case the vapor load is too much for the 2nd dephleg.  At this stage the 1st column and dephleg is just a pipe to get the vapor to the 2nd column.

Once you see that you have the trays in the second column loaded and bubbling then you can bring the 1st column on line.  Open the water to the 1st dephleg a bit to start the liquid flow to the trays in column 1, and maybe a bit more heat to the still, and get the trays in this column loaded.  If this causes the trays in the second column to run dry you have too much water on the 1st dephleg (or not enough heat in the still).  Run the unit like this on total reflux with all the trays loaded for a while to get a feel for what is happening, and then you can gradually decrease the cooling water flow to the dephlegs so that some product goes over to the main condenser.

Its hard to summarize all this in a few words.  I am sure that a chat with Mike will give you a chance to ask the questions that are difficult here.

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56 minutes ago, meerkat said:

The liquid flow to the trays can only come from the dephlegs.  With moderate heat on the still pot, open the water to the condenser and second dephleg.  I would close the water to the 1st dephleg and get the trays in the second column loaded first.  The aim is to get the 2nd column on total reflux to start with, but have water open to the condenser in case the vapor load is too much for the 2nd dephleg.  At this stage the 1st column and dephleg is just a pipe to get the vapor to the 2nd column.

Once you see that you have the trays in the second column loaded and bubbling then you can bring the 1st column on line.  Open the water to the 1st dephleg a bit to start the liquid flow to the trays in column 1, and maybe a bit more heat to the still, and get the trays in this column loaded.  If this causes the trays in the second column to run dry you have too much water on the 1st dephleg (or not enough heat in the still).  Run the unit like this on total reflux with all the trays loaded for a while to get a feel for what is happening, and then you can gradually decrease the cooling water flow to the dephlegs so that some product goes over to the main condenser.

 

Jen,

 

The above is a very good explanation of what you need to do.

 

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15 hours ago, jenschmunk@gmail.com said:

.................The second column won't get up to temp unless I overheat the still and then it pukes.........

Maybe we speak a different language in Australia, to me what you have described is foaming in the still pot that rises up into the helmet then eventually into the column, but in your reply you said no foaming in the pot. What do you mean by "puke"?

With all these tests you are running I assume you have alcohol in the pot and not just water? I know very little about this type of still but wondering if  trays will fill with just water.

How much heat are you putting into your pot? Too few Kw. could cause some of the symptoms you have.

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Jen,

Mike said that he helped you to get your still functioning correctly.  Is everything still working okay?   If you need anymore help just let us know.

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I've been following this thread.  If Paul, Mike and Meerkat actually solve the problem for Jen they get my championship trophy.  GREAT effort guys!

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7 hours ago, Thatch said:

I've been following this thread.  If Paul, Mike and Meerkat actually solve the problem for Jen they get my championship trophy.  GREAT effort guys!

Hi Thatch! Paul, Mike and Meerkat have been absolutely incredible help! I have to say, I ran my still for the 1st time successfully using both columns today with their help! I owe them the world! They 1000% deserve the Championship trophy! Thank you SO SO much guys!!

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On 11/12/2018 at 4:20 PM, PeteB said:

Maybe we speak a different language in Australia, to me what you have described is foaming in the still pot that rises up into the helmet then eventually into the column, but in your reply you said no foaming in the pot. What do you mean by "puke"?

With all these tests you are running I assume you have alcohol in the pot and not just water? I know very little about this type of still but wondering if  trays will fill with just water.

How much heat are you putting into your pot? Too few Kw. could cause some of the symptoms you have.

We have it lined out now, but to answer your question.  Puke is the term used by mountain moonshiners when their still is pushing liquid or foam from the pot through the column and the line arm into the final condenser.  This happens when the still is overfull or ran too hot and fast or when excessive foaming occurs.  Some moonshiners would use a slobber box  just past the head so that they could run the still faster without puking through the line arm into the condenser.  Of course puke means to throw up.  The slobber box would allow the puke to run back into the still pot while the vapor went through the line arm and condenser. 

Here are some other interesting moonshiner terms.  Backins = tails. Tamping jar =  a jar used to proof liquor.  The Bead = The bubbles that appear in the liquor in a tamping jar when the jar is shaken. Beading the liquor = to proof in a jar by shaking and determining the proof of the spirit by the nature of the bubbles and the arch as well as the ethanol running down the sides of the jar on the inside.  When I was 12 years old I could proof shine to 100 proof plus or minus 2 proof points with nothing more than a small jar, or I could check the proof of a quart jar of moonshine by tamping it. 

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Thanks for those translations Paul. My confusion was Jen said "The second column won't get up to temp unless I overheat the still and then it pukes." but later he said in a reply to me "I do not have antifoam in the pot and haven't seen any foam build up at all."  It doesn't matter now because it appears he has it running.

 

As I said above, I know very little about the type of still Jen has. I learnt quite a bit from this thread but don't understand why the dephleg could be hotter than the column?

 

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