Looking at building a 4" bubbler

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Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby B-Man » Thu Apr 02, 2020 9:53 pm

I have been running a T500 for a while and looking to upgrade but cant afford the dreams of a Mac 4 SSG so thought about building my own bubbler column.

I have a keg ready to make a boiler and looking at getting that setup. I have a good idea on design with that for now just waiting on parts and what to do for the element/s.

Im a little lost on the column.
Im hoping to build it so it can run as a bubbler in pot mode to still get some nice flavours but be able to also get it to do a good clean neutral.

would you have the section with 4 bubbler plates then a deflagmator (is this what is talked about as the RC?) above this out to a shotgun condenser?
I have noticed alot of stills that are 4" once at the top turn back into a 2" is this because its now turning into a liquid so you don't need the volume of the 4" anymore?

If you wanted to to do a neutral would you add a packed section above or below the bubblers and even add another bubbler plate or two?
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Re: Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby Bullrout » Thu Apr 02, 2020 9:56 pm

seems like ya answered ya own question
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Re: Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby db1979 » Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:04 am

In the 2" section the vapour speeds up, but is then condensed so it doesn't matter. Shotguns are very efficient and 2" shotguns can knock down plenty from a 4" column. 2" is cheaper than 4" and it's also less mass hanging off the side of the main column.

Bubble plates, then a packed section for neutral before the RC. You could put the packed section before the plates but the plates do a good job of cleaning up the vapour before it hits the packed section and leaves your packed section less manky. Remove packed section for flavoured runs.
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Re: Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby db1979 » Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:06 am

Packed sections are more efficient at raising abv so you're better off having more packed section than adding more plates. But a combination of two works really well.
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Currently having a makeover: 2" x 4 plate solid state bubbler (1" bubble caps, no sight glasses...maybe not for much longer!) on a bain-marie boiler.

Re: Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby woodduck » Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:00 am

You need to spend about a week in this section of the forum

viewforum.php?f=36

reading to get an understanding of what they are and how they work. It will also fill in some gaps on design :handgestures-thumbupleft:

Best of luck mate.
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Re: Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby B-Man » Fri Apr 03, 2020 9:57 am

Cheers guys i have read a fair bit but like to fully understand everything before i go ahead. And its good to get a direct answer to a question i had. And just a different opinion on things too.
Will definately read alot more yet.
Ill check out that forum link too cheers
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Re: Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby B-Man » Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:58 pm

i've done a small amount of searching for copper pipe and all my easy access points have come back negative except for a piece of 2" basically 700 long that i can use for the PC but have had a few bites on stainless in that size.
i have a few more local places to contact but its not looking good. I can basically get all the stainless I need for a box of beer.

While i'd love a copper column sourcing it and pricing is leaning towards using stainless.

How much copper do you need in the still?
would having the bubblers, the internals of the RC, the whole PC and maybe the elbows at the top in copper be sufficient?
am I able to make the internals of the RC with copper plates and pipe and solder or tig it to stainless pipe...


also on the soft solder I know I need lead free and do I need food grade stuff or something? what's the recommended stuff to get and a special flux or are they all the same?
Last edited by B-Man on Sun Apr 12, 2020 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby Birdman85 » Sun Apr 12, 2020 6:14 pm

Where do you live? Someone here might be able to point you in the right direction for buying the copper.

I got a bottle of flux from the plumbing section from the big green shed in a black container with red lid. About 11 bucks I think.

I got my 2" from eagles plumbing about 25 bucks a metre. They can sell me a metre of 4" for about 70 or so I think from memory. Otherwise google your local scrap metal collection places and hit them up to keep their eyes peeled
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Re: Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby Doubleuj » Sun Apr 12, 2020 7:18 pm

You don’t need much copper at all.
All I have is copper plates and the rest is stainless.
They are enough to strip all the sulphur taste out :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby db1979 » Sun Apr 12, 2020 7:59 pm

Yep if you can go stainless and still get your hands on 2" copper then you'll have what's needed for copper plates and RC internals as well as the PC sorted out. Just so long as you don't plan to solder the whole thing... Stainless soldering isn't easy.
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Location: South of the big smoke in banana bender land.
equipment: Eve - 4" x 4 plate solid state bubbler (sieve plates), 330 mm packed section on a keg boiler with 2 x 2000 W elements.
Currently having a makeover: 2" x 4 plate solid state bubbler (1" bubble caps, no sight glasses...maybe not for much longer!) on a bain-marie boiler.

Re: Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby B-Man » Mon Apr 13, 2020 12:04 am

actually come to think of it it might be a length of 3" copper im able to get. id rather 2". I think 3" will be more work and overkill for the 4" column.

on a totally unrelated note how big is too big a still? I might be able to source a stainless drum about 200L and if I had access to 6 or 8" pipe am i just going 'still crazy' now or is that totally acceptable :laughing-rolling: In other words when the missus says do you need to build one that big I reply with yeah all the other guys are doing it. :scared-eek:
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Re: Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby Doubleuj » Mon Apr 13, 2020 7:56 am

4” is the standard Bman, 6” is the maximum that is considered hobby size.
8” is considered commercial.
I’ve got a 4” on a 100L boiler and can make more whiskey than even I can drink.
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Re: Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby dans.brew » Mon Apr 13, 2020 8:04 am

Doubleuj wrote:4” is the standard Bman, 6” is the maximum that is considered hobby size.
8” is considered commercial.
I’ve got a 4” on a 100L boiler and can make more whiskey than even I can drink.

:text-+1:
Once i got my 4" bubbler up and running i was more limited by my fermentation setup than anything (30ltr fermenters). Once i got my 100ltr fermenter that fixed that problem.
Doing single runs speed things up soo much too.. no time wasted stripping.
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Re: Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby Professor Green » Mon Apr 13, 2020 10:34 am

To put things into perspective B-man, I run a 100 litre boiler with a 4" neutralliser and I do 200 litre ferments. From a single ferment I end up with enough neutral for 24 bottles of vodka @ 40%. I cut hard, usually only taking around half of what the still produces as hearts. I haven't run my still since 2018...
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Re: Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby B-Man » Mon Apr 13, 2020 10:35 pm

Ok thanks guys. Will try and contain myself.
Ive done about 25 runs on the T500 since probably feb. A fair few were stripping runs though. Been drinking and giving away a bit atm. Want to get a decent amount to age and then stockpile a bit. I agree will probably only do a few runs per year.
Planning to make a bit of everything. Got a heap of wine to distill hence the plan on a bigger unit to start with and heaps of fruit trees so looking at making a fair few brandy's and probably a sour mash or 2.
Ill start up a build thread when I source all my crap. I planned to work out what i need over easter but ended up cutting and splitting over 5 ton of wood. Apparently heating is more important :roll: . I think I have everything down pack. Still a little undecided on how much packing column for neutrals yet. But that can be done after. And need to look into the RC for quick responce and high efficiency. hoping I can use my 25w magnetic drive pump :think: but highly doubt it.
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Re: Looking at building a 4" bubbler

Postby woodduck » Tue Apr 14, 2020 7:01 am

Stainless is fine but your going to want to know what your doing with welding, stainless warps like a bastard when welded. I dont think stainless and copper will tig together, the weld cracks as the 2 metals cool at different rates but that's only my experience. And soldering the 2 can be a pain as well, I've found it quite fiddly but can be done.

Definitely no bigger than 6" mate that will put out more than any one man can handle.
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