Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wort Pump in a Toolbox #1 - Concept

This is the first in a series of three posts detailing the construction of a wort pump (March pump) in a toolbox housing for a home brewery. This post deals with the concept of the pump build and why someone would want a wort pump. The second post addresses construction of the pump and toolbox combination. The final post discusses alterations to an immersion chiller to allow the use of the pump to speed cooling.

Getting a high-temperature food-grade pump has been on my list of brewery upgrades for a while. Pumps can speed the process of cooling wort, when combined with an immersion or plate chiller. They also speed the process of moving wort to fermenters faster than a siphon or gravity transfer. In my particular case, the pump allows me to use my kettle's ball-valve assembly, which pulls through a stainless steel hose braid. My previous attempts to drain wort through the valve via gravity have failed because gravity draining does not overcome the resistance offered by the hose braid.

Wort pumps are often used on permanent brewing structures, especially those that operate on

a single tier or level. In these cases, the pumps are often mounted with a splash guard or shield because the pump housing is not sealed and the motor can be damaged if exposed to a liquid. However, my brewing system must be dismantled for storage after each use. So I needed a way to keep my pump portable, but to also protect it from the splashes that can occur during a brew day. Along came an idea I first saw in Brew Your Own (BYO) magazine - install the wort pump in a toolbox.

The BYO article, entitled "Pumped-Up Toolbox" (October 2009), provides detailed instructions for installing the wort pump in the body of a tool box such that the pump head, inlet, and outlet are outside the tool box, but the pump motor is inside. This protects the pump motor from splashes, keeps the pump mobile, and provides the brewer with additional storage for small brewing supplies and equipment. The article provides a nice step-by-step guide that provided me a good deal of inspiration. In addition, I spoke with several Charlottesville Area Masters of Real Ale (CAMRA) members that have pumps and capitalized on their knowledge. From these sources, I developed the following feature list I wanted in my pump build:
  • Pump housed in a large enough tool box to fully dissipate any generated heat.
  • Tool box has long extension cord that winds up for easy storage.
  • Pump is connected to a low-profile switch that allows for easy turning on and off.
  • Tool box has an additional outlet built in to provide power for miscellaneous brewing devices, such as a drill-mounted grain mill.
  • Pump output can be throttled down, which allows for slow distribution of wort to fermenter, without disturbing settled break material and hops.
  • Equipment makes use of quick-disconnect fittings for easy of disassembly.
  • Tool box remains fully functional and allows storage of small brewing ingredients or equipment.
Stay tuned for the next blog post that discusses the actual pump and toolbox build, including a parts list, instructions, and photos.  The additional posts in the series include:



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