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ralphie513    0

I need a scale for weighing spirits and dont know what to get. Do these need to be legal for trade to satisfy ttb? or is it just the accuracy of the scale that matters.

I need something in the 1000lb range

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Huffy2k    24

Call Fred using contact info below, great customer service, great equipment.

Fred Herrmann
Sr Sales Executive
Prime USA Scales

Main Call Center | 511 F St. Suite 502
San Diego, CA 92101 | Tel: 858-484-8000
Direct: 858-405-3111 | Fax: 619-299-1800

Email: fred@primeusascales.com

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Thatch    2

Hi Ralphie513,

Why do you need to weigh spirits?  To be legal for trade the scale has to be NTEP, National Type Evaluation Program.  Since spirits are not sold by weight, who is telling you that you need a legal for trade scale?

You can find a lot of scales on ebay and Amazon by searching on "NTEP scale".  You can qualify it further by either size 24x24 or weight 1000 lb.

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PeteB    45
1 hour ago, Thatch said:

Hi Ralphie513,

Why do you need to weigh spirits?  ,,,,,,,,,,,,.  Since spirits are not sold by weight, who is telling you that you need a legal for trade scale?

 

For smaller volumes of spirit (that will fit on scales) the cheapest and most accurate way to determine volume is by measuring mass, density and temperature. Calculate volume from tables or computer program.

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ralphie513    0

Tom,

 I had already read the requirements for a scale in the CFR but it is not clear on what they want other than the minimum graduations. It does not specify legal for trade but shouldn't a scale have to be?

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Slippery slope.  More information than anyone probably wants or cares about.  I like weighing and can't fathom doing anything other by weight.  Spirits by volume?  You are wasting your time and are highly inaccurate.

The scale probably doesn't need to be NTEP, but it should be.  Non-NTEP scales generally can't be calibrated, and the TTB wants your measuring equipment calibrated.  Given this is used for tax determination, it could be arguable that this is a value exchange and NTEP should apply.  Dunbar probably has a good handle on this.

NTEP scales are typically higher quality than non-NTEP scales.  It doesn't mean a non-NTEP scale isn't good, it can be better than an NTEP scale, but generally, NTEP is there for a reason.  Generally you don't make a junk NTEP scale, but lots of people make junk non-NTEP scales.

Non-NTEP scales are typically sold based on readability - the display accuracy, the number of digits on the scale display.  However, you need to realize that showing more numbers on the display doesn't mean the scale is accurate to the digit of the display.  This is a massive misconception.  Just because the display shows it, don't mean it's so.  

You could make a 1000 pound scale with a display that reads 999.99 - but it doesn't mean that the scale is accurate to 0.01 pounds.  In fact, you have no idea at all if the scale is accurate to that level, because there are no rules to mandate that it is.  The numbers after the decimal point could be complete nonsense.  You think it's highly accurate because it shows more numbers, but that ain't the case.

That's where NTEP comes in.  Among other things, NTEP defines the number of "DIVISIONS" that the scale is capable of accurately resolving.  Legal for Trade means that the the display accuracy is equal to the accuracy that is defined by the division in one of these classes.  NTEP also means that the scale is independently verified to read accurately across a range of voltages, temperatures, and other operating conditions.

NTEP CLASS I - 100,000 Divisions and UP  (Precision Laboratory Use)
NTEP CLASS II - 10,000 to 100,000 Divisions (Lab Use, Precious Metals, etc)
NTEP CLASS III - 1,000 to 10,000 Divisions (Commercial legal for trade)

Accuracy/Readability = Maximum weight / Divisions

So, you can have an NTEP Class 3 scale, 1,000 pounds, with 1,000 divisions.  The display should read 0000 (1000/1000 = 1).  Nothing after the decimal point.  You would assume it is accurate to the pound only.

You can also have an NTEP Class 3 scale, 1,000 pounds, with 10,000 divisions.  The display should read 0000.0, and the scale will increment in .1 pound steps.  0000.1, 0000.2, 0000.3.  You would assume that it is accurate to a tenth of a pound.

So what's the difference?  The 10,000 division NTEP scale is going to be more expensive than the 1,000 division NTEP scale.  What makes scales more expensive than others?  Not the total weight capacity, no no no.  It's the divisions.  The more divisions a scale can accurately measure, the more complex the circuity, the higher tech the load cells, the tighter the manufacturing tolerances, the more substantial the frame needs to be, and the more expensive the scale.

That all said, the scale used for a specific operation needs to be suitable for that operation.  Lets say you are proofing 50 pounds of 120proof spirit to 80 proof for bottling, that's going to be 28.154 pounds of water for a total final blend volume of 78.154 pounds.

If you have a 5000 pound NTEP pallet scale with a 1 pound accuracy, your display weight of 78 pounds is everything from 77.5 pounds to 78.4 pounds.  So you add water until your display reads 78 pounds.

In proof terms, it means you are anywhere from 79.7 proof to 80.4 proof, you'll have no idea unless you gauge again.  

If you read 80.4 - you'll need to slowly keep adding water and gauging, over and over, in little steps.  A waste of time.  If you read 79.7 proof.  Sorry to hear it, hope you have more spirit on hand to raise the proof, which you'll need to do slowly, re-mixing and gauging every time.

Now, if you had a 150 pound scale with an accuracy of 0.05lb (NTEP Class III - 3000 Divisions, actually LESS ACCURATE THAN THE 5000lb Scale).  You would add water to 78.15 pounds.

If proof terms, you are going to be better than 79.95 to 80.05.  Do you gauge again?  Of course you do.  But you'll be dead on, no fiddling around with trying to add an unmeasurable amount of water or spirit (proofing by trial and error).

I just hope someone bothers to get this far and at least got some bit of useless trivia knowledge out of this.

That said, EVERYTHING BY WEIGHT, NO OTHER WEIGH ... err WAY.

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ralphie513    0

Thank you James. That answer is exactly why I asked the question. CFR doesnt specify what they want for a scale other than .5 lb minimum for 1000lb.

So what to do

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Call up one of the suggestions above, buy a NTEP scale - not because you need NTEP, but because you want the quality associated with it, and the confidence of knowing you can trust it.

If you can spring for it, go 1000lb x 0.2lb - as it will give you a little bit more accuracy when working with smaller volumes.

Just keep in mind 19.186 - which means you can't weigh 10 wine gallons or less on the 1000lb x 0.2lb (or 0.5lb) scale.

§19.186   Package scales.

Proprietors must ensure that scales used to weigh packages are tested at least every 6 months and whenever they are adjusted or repaired. However, if a scale is not used during a 6-month period, it is only necessary to test the scale prior to its next use. Scales used to weigh packages that hold 10 wine gallons or less must indicate weight in ounces or hundredths of a pound.

And keep in mind the definition of package:

Package. A cask or barrel or similar wooden container, or a drum or similar metal container.

 

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HedgeBird    24

This is the scale we have been using for the past few years:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-NTEP-1000lb-0-2lb-2x2-Heavy-Duty-Floor-Scale-w-Stainless-Steel-Indicator-/181722115819?hash=item2a4f7b6eeb:g:-6EAAOSwy5ZXDKQC

They also have a non-NTEP version for a few dollars less:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-1000lb-0-2lb-2x2-Heavy-Duty-Floor-Scale-w-PS-IN202-Indicator-/162417821672?hash=item25d0db47e8:g:YN8AAOSw~AVYuhZ9

The product description includes the following helpful info:

1. Do you need a Legal For Trade scale? (NTEP approved)

This should be the first thing you need to check. If you are running a recycling center or any sell or buy by weight business, you need a Legal For Trade scale. If you use a non-NTEP scale in a Legal For Trade application, your scale may be confiscated by the local Weigh & Measurement officer. If you are not sure please consult with our specialist at 855-697-2253. NTEP is a national certification for the products in legal application. If the scale is NTEP approved, it is legal for trade. If you are in TX, RI, ND or VT, you don’t have to use an NTEP scale, however your scale will still be checked by your local Weigh and Measurement. If your scale doesn’t meet the standard, a red tag will be placed on your scale. You won’t be able to use your scale until it passes the re-check.

If you have a few more dollars to spend, it is always a good choice to buy an NTEP scale – even if it is not required by law in your application. An NTEP scale model has been tested by NCWM through their official labs before the certification is issued. NTEP floor scales have to use NTEP load cells and an NTEP indicator. Both components must come with temperature compensation. That’s why NTEP scales are usually more expensive. A well- built non-NTEP scale will also provide great performance in accuracy while NTEP ones can give you a little more confidence. The decision is yours.

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Generally, legally I mean, Legal-for-Trade is typically determined by your State Division of Weights and Measures.  Usually, just having an NTEP scale in place doesn't automatically mean you are Legal-for-Trade - this usually requires state level registration and regular inspection.

How many distilleries are registering their scales with their State, and having state inspectors come out to provide a Weights and Measures seal on a regular basis?  The CFR we are talking about are all Federal requirements, Legal-for-Trade is a State requirement.  Not to mention, the rules for Legal-for-Trade will differ, sometimes SIGNIFICANTLY from state to state.

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Can you tell I like scales yet?

Every distillery should have 3 scales.

Yes, get out your pocket book, you should have 3 scales:

Scale #1 - Sized for the maximum amount of spirit you deal with in Production.

Scale #2 - Sized for the maximum amount of spirit you produce in Processing.

Scale #3 - Sized to check weight a filled bottle for verifying filling accuracy in Bottling.

If you deal with similar weights on a day to day basis in Production and Processing, than the same scale would suffice.  But if you are working with totes of GNS in Processing (needing a max capacity of at least 2000lb), and producing 50 pounds of distillate at a time out of your still, you probably want two different scales.  What is a good accuracy when dealing with a tote is not a good accuracy when trying to proof 50 pounds of distillate.

If you deal with small volumes in production and processing (under 10 wine gallons), keep in mind 19.186 above, this will all but GUARANTEE you need three scales, since you will not find a high capacity scale with enough divisions to accurate read to the hundredth place.  Generally, this kind of scale is going to be under 100 pounds maximum capacity.

The third scale is for checking your bottle fill accuracy, and it is going to need to be accurate to the gram.  We use a 2kg x 1g scale which works perfectly for us (750ml is our largest bottle, and the glass is a little bit over 900 grams), but you are going to need to know your bottle glass weight and volume to determine if 2kg is sufficient or not.  You weigh a bottle, tare it, fill it, then check against the table.  Allowable fill variation is pretty wide, so 1g accuracy is enough.  You can find inexpensive high quality scales for this, and it is significantly easier than attempting to verify bottle fill volumetrically.

You can find my bottle verification check weight chart here for 375 and 750ml: 

 

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Skaalvenn    24
32 minutes ago, Silk City Distillers said:

You can find my bottle verification check weight chart here for 375 and 750ml: 

 

That post needs to be pinned to the top of the forums.  Thanks for that!
Here's the direct link to the post for anyone. http://adiforums.com/index.php?/topic/8376-bottle-filling-calibration/#comment-46887

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58 minutes ago, Silk City Distillers said:

Can you tell I like scales yet?

I agree with every single part of your posts. Distillers would be well advised to take this advice to heart. Volumetric measurements are useless other than for anecdotal information. Weight is the only way to go and, as Silk City points out, three scales for various functions around the distillery are imperative. Thanks for posting.

2 hours ago, HedgeBird said:

I would caution against buying consequential equipment from eBay or Amazon, especially those that the TTB considers gauging instruments. As stated above, scales need to be calibrated and, occasionally serviced. Unless it is explicitly stated by the manufacturer, it is less than likely that you will have the level of service and support necessary to maintain this equipment. Buy from the manufacturer or dealer with good warranty coverage and service. 

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HedgeBird    24
1 minute ago, Quinta Essentia Alchemy said:

I would caution against buying consequential equipment from eBay or Amazon, especially those that the TTB considers gauging instruments. As stated above, scales need to be calibrated and, occasionally serviced. Unless it is explicitly stated by the manufacturer, it is less than likely that you will have the level of service and support necessary to maintain this equipment. Buy from the manufacturer or dealer with good warranty coverage and service. 

If you have insecurities with Amazon or eBay you can pay $775 more (plus another $150 for shipping) and purchase it here:
https://www.prime-scales.com/product/certified-scale-5000lb-x-1lb-4x4-legal-trade-ntep-floor-scale/

Both units are the same PS-IN202SS:
http://www.prime-scales.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/PS-IN202SS_Operators_Manual_EnglishSpanish.pdf

My local scale service company did not seem concerned with where I purchases it from the two times they have been out to calibrate it.

 

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Speaking of Ebay.  If anyone is anywhere near Puerto Rico - This is an unbelievable deal:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mettler-Toledo-2888-1000-lbs-DECKMATE-all-Stainless-Portable-Scale-/262926057121?hash=item3d379d3ea1:g:5lwAAOSwDmBY5ksZ

Mettler Class III Indicator, stainless/sanitary deck base, 1000 pounds 0.2lb accuracy, explosion proof/battery powered.  You'll probably be dead before you break it.

This is a $5,000 scale.

 

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11 minutes ago, HedgeBird said:

If you have insecurities with Amazon or eBay you can pay $775 more (plus another $150 for shipping) and purchase it here:
https://www.prime-scales.com/product/certified-scale-5000lb-x-1lb-4x4-legal-trade-ntep-floor-scale/

Both units are the same PS-IN202SS:
http://www.prime-scales.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/PS-IN202SS_Operators_Manual_EnglishSpanish.pdf

My local scale service company did not seem concerned with where I purchases it from the two times they have been out to calibrate it.

 

If the manufacturer is willing to support the equipment, by all means get the best deal you can. To be clear, though I am not really talking about calibration (which I assume you are paying for), but warranty support and service. I have had numerous issues with a scale I bought years ago and the only salvation was that I could hold the manufacturer accountable. Caveat emptor.

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nabtastic    13

Don't you also need a permanently attached gauging method for spirit tanks over 60 wine gallons (load cells)?

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101 gallons and up need a permanent measuring device.

All of the CFR references to scale tanks refer to tanks on scale beams or load cells.  Not tanks sitting on scales.

But really, a 200 gallon Letina tank sitting on a floor platform sounds pretty permanent to me.

We gave a 400 liter tank sitting on a 1000lb base.

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Natrat    3

On a recent visit to a freshly opened distillery, the inspecting agent communicated that it was perfectly acceptable to weigh totes of spirit on a properly sized portable floor scale, and that permanent devices only need be installed on vessels that are sessile and are used for official gauging operations. The issue that she had was that vessels needed to be properly marked with their tares. Also, portable totes that arrive in your facility need to be tared when they are empty. She recommended having a scale log for all operations, so that tares can be verified. 

Getting your certification to calibrate your own scales is pretty easy. The calibration weights are a bit expensive, but the process is pretty straightforward. It took me about $300 and 3 days to get my NTEP and ATOCT certifications, and the only set of calibration weights I have are for my lab scales. The 1 kg weight was about $200. Individual load cells need to be able to be dismounted from their tank to be properly calibrated. 

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biodzldan    0
On 7/22/2017 at 10:53 AM, Natrat said:

Individual load cells need to be able to be dismounted from their tank to be properly calibrated. 

Do they not allow the tank and load cells to be calibrated as a system? For large tanks and hoppers it is not uncommon to measure an amount of material on a smaller, calibrated scale (say, a tote in our case), and then pump that liquid into the tank being calibrated. Repeat several times. As long as you start with sufficiently accurate calibration weights and are mindful of things like creep, you can maintain a good level of accuracy in the final system. It has the advantage of taking into account reactions forces and deflection that you weren't able to fully prevent. This is how I am planning to calibrate my fermenters.

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Scale tanks have all sorts of problems, it's not a panacea.

They regularly drift, meaning the displayed weight is not accurate.  If you have visions of putting 1000 lbs in a tank, and coming back in two weeks and seeing an accurate weight, sorry.

Impossible to re-zero without dumping contents, unless the tank has an integral lift to unweight the load cells (I've seen this).

Permanent hose and wiring connections on the tank become problematic as they throw off your tare and calibrations, they may need to be disconnected for weighing and zeroing.

For a while I thought about fabricating and selling universal flat bottom tank scales.  For example, for standard Letina, Marchiso, etc wine tanks.  4 legs, stainless frame, integral load cells, integral level, and a lip to keep tanks centered.

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Natrat    3

That's a good idea. 

One of the problems with calibration is that the tech has to make calibrations at different percentages of the maximum capacity of the scale. For individual load cells, there are now portable devices that can load each cell to capacity using a calibrated spring or hydraulic load. Easy to do if you can dismount your cells quickly. But imagine putting a big, dirty chunk of lead or steel weighing over a thousand lbs in your conical bottom mixing tank. Eeeek! 

I buy my load cells from automation companies and set up individual tank scales like that. You can use whatever interface you want, once the load cells are installed. A wifi or bluetooth signal is easy to use, and you can set up a panel similar to your fermentation temp panel. However, the previous poster is absolutely right, static load cells drift over time, which is why most places restrict their gauging to a tank dedicated to that purpose, rather than having them on everything. 

When I worked in Japan, they required measurements in mass rather than volume in the brewery. Keeping all the tanks calibrated was almost a full-time job. In the end, we just did our reporting by measuring the weight of the filled kegs at the end of the process, and backdated our records to the tanks. It was more accurate, and way less work. When we installed a new tank, and the inspector came, I just stuck some red wires under the legs of the tank, and they passed it, thinking they went to load cells!

I'm on board with the 3 scale idea, but I think you can usually use just one for Production and Processing (unless you do huuuuuge stripping runs!), another for bottle checkweighing, and a hyper-accurate lab scale for proofing, assays, and lab work. I also like to have a "dirty" scale for stuff like grain and cleaning supplies and the like. I don't get too crazy about keeping it calibrated. 

Having said that, I admit to having....uh....11 scales.

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biodzldan    0
On 7/24/2017 at 3:10 PM, Silk City Distillers said:

They regularly drift, meaning the displayed weight is not accurate.  If you have visions of putting 1000 lbs in a tank, and coming back in two weeks and seeing an accurate weight, sorry.

Impossible to re-zero without dumping contents, unless the tank has an integral lift to unweight the load cells (I've seen this).

Permanent hose and wiring connections on the tank become problematic as they throw off your tare and calibrations, they may need to be disconnected for weighing and zeroing.

Read through the CFR referenced above and realized that the TTB won't care about how I weigh my fermenters, since that is not where I'm calculating tax. In that application, you frequently have the opportunity to re-zero. It's also helpful that what I really care about is differential weight and not absolute weight, and being within 1-2% of absolute is sufficient. For permanent connections to tanks, you just try use flexible, horizontal connections where possible to reduce reaction forces. I doubt they would account for more than 1% of the total load in my my application.

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On 7/21/2017 at 0:36 PM, HedgeBird said:

If you have insecurities with Amazon or eBay you can pay $775 more (plus another $150 for shipping) and purchase it here:
https://www.prime-scales.com/product/certified-scale-5000lb-x-1lb-4x4-legal-trade-ntep-floor-scale/

Both units are the same PS-IN202SS:
http://www.prime-scales.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/PS-IN202SS_Operators_Manual_EnglishSpanish.pdf

My local scale service company did not seem concerned with where I purchases it from the two times they have been out to calibrate it.

 

I just bought an eBay one, and the PS-IN202 display unit actually dropped shipped form prime-scales...  so you can rest assured that the same model is available for less and was 1lb away on a measured 2130lb shipment from what the shipper weighed, I am completely happy with my $425 3'x3' 2500lb NTEP floor scale.  

 

Now, making a formula to do the calculations for % v/v to proof gallons...  that is my next task

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