Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Reflux still design and discussion

Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby 62woollybugger » Fri Aug 24, 2018 2:03 pm

I've had my Copper T500 for a while & thought I'd add my 2c worth. I picked it up second hand & the first thing I did, after reading the article on how to run it on here, was ditch the plastic output tube & put a copper one on. I found some 3/8" tube at Reese plumbing, which is just slightly bigger than the plastic one, so a couple of layers of heatshrink over the outlet spigot & it fits perfectly.
As we're on tank water, I had to get one of the Still Spirits flow regulators to overcome fluctuations due to the pump cutting in & out. The other big advantage of this is that as our tank is under the house, I run the cooling water back into the tank, so don't waste any water. The only downside is that in winter the water is around 13*C, which causes the temperature to run away if I try to run the output temperature above about 55*C, as there just isn't enough water flowing through. On todays run I've got the inlet tube tucked up against the boiler to try to pre-heat it, which seems to help a bit. The advantage is that I can get virtually 100% reflux to compress the heads.
As I said in my intro, for someone who just want to make drinkable spirits, I'm happy with the T500.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby ozwi09 » Sat Sep 22, 2018 1:59 pm

Hi all. It's taken me a little while to post this but I followed WJs advice on this using two TPW washes and running my T500 exactly how he describes it. I cannot believe the difference it has made. If you have been running your T500 by the book like I have for the last 3 years, you absolutely must try it this way. My first run this way and my first crack at doing cuts resulted in a neutral that is the best I have ever made. Gone are the days of running my neutral through a fuselex filter for two days only to end up with something that's only good for cleaning windows. Thanks WJ for a great post
The results speak for themselves. :happy-partydance:
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby ruskie » Mon Oct 29, 2018 6:59 pm

Hi All

I've been using an Airstill for a while now running TPW through it but got tried of the length of time to run a 25L wash through it. So I upgraded to a T500, don't know why I didn't do it sooner.

One question when you turn the water on at the start should it be all open and at a certain flow rate? What are the outcomes of not having it on enough/too much?

TIA
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby brisvalleymoonshiner » Mon Oct 29, 2018 7:06 pm

From memory i think they state 500mls per minute. Also i think they also tell you that the outlet temp should be around 55 deg. Try running a few batches through and then get enough to put back in the boiler and water it down to about 30% abv and then run it with the water temp outlet thermometer around 38-40deg makes a better spirit and also read up about doing cuts
:handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby woodduck » Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:37 pm

ruskie wrote:Hi All

I've been using an Airstill for a while now running TPW through it but got tried of the length of time to run a 25L wash through it. So I upgraded to a T500, don't know why I didn't do it sooner.

One question when you turn the water on at the start should it be all open and at a certain flow rate? What are the outcomes of not having it on enough/too much?

TIA


I would have a read of page one. First post will take you to a link that will take you through a step by step process to run the T500. It will answer your questions :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby ruskie » Thu Nov 15, 2018 2:31 pm

Thanks for the advice guys.

brisvalleymoonshiner, yep familiar with cuts have been doing cuts with the air still for awhile now, although on my first run of the T500 and doing 200ml cuts I couldn't smell much difference between the cuts.

woodduck, yep I read through all this post and the original post before starting and asking the question, the only unsure thing I had was the water flow as the first post says to open it all the way, my tap runs pretty fast so it was pumping @ 15 sec/l so thought that would be way too fast.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Rock » Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:07 am

ruskie wrote:Thanks for the advice guys.

brisvalleymoonshiner, yep familiar with cuts have been doing cuts with the air still for awhile now, although on my first run of the T500 and doing 200ml cuts I couldn't smell much difference between the cuts.

woodduck, yep I read through all this post and the original post before starting and asking the question, the only unsure thing I had was the water flow as the first post says to open it all the way, my tap runs pretty fast so it was pumping @ 15 sec/l so thought that would be way too fast.

When I was running a t500, I'm pretty sure I dialled in about 3 l/min to stay in reflux then use needle valve to decrease your reflux and start collecting slow, dont rely on water discharge temp only to run the still, try and concentrate on the speed of collection, but ballpark, i ran mine around 52° and aprox 2.5l/min.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby ruskie » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:28 am

Thanks for the advice Rock.

So the speed of collection should be a drip..drip.. dribble?
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Rock » Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:34 pm

ruskie wrote:Thanks for the advice Rock.

So the speed of collection should be a drip..drip.. dribble?

Yep that sounds about right, even, drip drip drip drip dribble. As they are pretty water effecent , and it'll still take a while, i think I was around 4 to 5 hr from turn on boiler.
Tpw was about 9% think I was getting about 3 lt and cutting hard keeping around 1.2lt at 93%.
I found it a good learning still, while you will find endless hour's of reading here following thread's and absorbing valuable information.
I lucked on a good value 5 plate bubbler with packed section, so upgraded earlier than I anticipated, good luck stilling my friend and if ya can spare/afford a buck drop past the donor button.
Great library here. :D
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Hairyleg » Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:57 pm

I just finished 7 hours, from turning on the boiler to hosing out the boiler.
For a 25l TPW with 5kg sugar.
This is about normal.
“Drip drip dribble drip drip dribble” is about right.
I don’t follow the temperature, other than to monitor it to make sure it is stable (a hose pressure regular from Bunnings smooths out any fluctuations from other water users).

I set it to a “drip drip drip” for the first approx 100ml of Foreshots (runs about 43 degreees on the water output).
Then turn the needle valve in a tiny fraction to the normal “Drip drip dribble drip drip dribble” and don’t touch it for the next approx 5 hours of jars of heads (typically 300-400ml), hearts (typically 2100-2300ml of 92%) and tails (about 250ml).
This runs about 54 degrees on the water output, but I use the drip rate as the guide, not the water temperature (which can vary based on the mains temperature on the day).
I know it’s finished because it drops to a “drip space drip space drip” and smells strongly of tails.
Even if I then crank up the temperature to squeeze the last drops out, I will only get another 200ml at most, of less than 70%, of extremely tails funky stuff that’s not worth the effort (I normally save up my heads and tails and redistill them).

I leave the jars (330ml beer bottles actually with 100ml in each) opened inside a cupboard for 2 days before confirming the exact point for the cuts.
Having now finished 18 batches of identical TPW ingredients, recipes and temperatures, I find the hearts boundaries very predictable (plus or minus 100 ml each time), so I can confidently take out the middle 1500ml into a single jar.

All very simple, and I can do other things while it is running, but I need to make sure I have the full 7 hours without needing to go out.


When I do a batch of Turbo with 8kg sugar it takes too much effort monitoring the cuts, so I have given up (the extra output is not worth the effort, and it has a LOT more tails).
When I do a batch of heads or tails it takes a lot of concentration, so I tend to stockpile the stuff.
When I try any other recipe I waste time in taking and testing cuts with little or no benefit.
So I think I will just keep up the TPW in “production mode” .... this is the lowest effort for the best outcome, for my tastes at least.

Cheers
Last edited by Hairyleg on Fri Nov 16, 2018 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby bluc » Fri Nov 16, 2018 11:30 pm

7hrs for 1500ml hearts :scared-eek: :crying-blue: now thats dedication... :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Arismac » Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:13 pm

My golden rules:

Buy and use a Water Flow Regulator from the 5 Star Store
Run the still at 55C NOT 60C
Always double still (run two 23 litre fermentors on TPW and still over three days)
Only use copper mesh from the 5 Star Store and copper saddles in the reflux column
DO NOT over pack the column or "puking" may result. (leave top 500 mls empty)

PLUS: For a 5 star result use fresh clean copper mesh for re-stilling on day three.
Last edited by Arismac on Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Rolls912 » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:24 pm

I have made some mods to my T500 including 1m extension with 5 x copper rolls, insulation, using the milk can with two elements - one of which is on a voltage controller plus some other stuff.

Each run is taking 8hrs plus and the time sacrifice is a killer. I usually run it in on one element turned down, otherwise the spirit output is too hot / temp too high.

It appears to me that whats letting me down is the water flow regulator... it just doesn’t seem to push the water through fast enough. If I can push more water through, I assume I can crank up the elements which would result in a faster output without sacrificing the quality of the neutral. Is this logic right?
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Woods314 » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:23 pm

Rolls912 wrote:I have made some mods to my T500 including 1m extension with 5 x copper rolls, insulation, using the milk can with two elements - one of which is on a voltage controller plus some other stuff.

Each run is taking 8hrs plus and the time sacrifice is a killer. I usually run it in on one element turned down, otherwise the spirit output is too hot / temp too high.

It appears to me that whats letting me down is the water flow regulator... it just doesn’t seem to push the water through fast enough. If I can push more water through, I assume I can crank up the elements which would result in a faster output without sacrificing the quality of the neutral. Is this logic right?

Mate, I’m no expert on t500 mods and I’m not having a go at you, good on you for having a go, but I suspect you are putting lipstick on a pig. I’ve done about 150 runs with a t500 and I can tell you most things about the changing input temperature and flow with regards to output quality and quantity of a standard t500, and from what I’ve found, the speed of the out put of the distillate pretty much determines the quality, but I have found that a higher input temperature of cooling water tends to smear the heads no matter what speed the distillate output. So maybe you can relate this to your problem some how I don’t know, but I would be guessing that your extension and copper is causing too much reflux so maybe more power and water would do the trick, but then again, maybe removing the extension and running it as standard may do the trick also. Experimentation is the essence of this hobby.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Professor Green » Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:34 am

If you want to collect your product faster, you'll need a column with a larger diameter than the T500.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby southern45 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:44 am

Rolls912 wrote:It appears to me that whats letting me down is the water flow regulator... it just doesn’t seem to push the water through fast enough. If I can push more water through, I assume I can crank up the elements which would result in a faster output without sacrificing the quality of the neutral. Is this logic right?


Maybe. Maybe not. How hot is the cooling water when exiting the tower?

A faster water flow rate won't necessarily lead to an increased cooling rate (but it could do). Plus if it does and you crank up the heat/speed, it won't necessarily lead to the same quality of product. You may end up sacrificing quality and operating it more like a stripping run. The T500 isn't designed to run at high speeds. Not to say it couldn't work, so it's probably worth experimenting with to find out.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Rolls912 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:48 pm

I guess it’s just a fun experiment to see how far I can push the T5 with some basic mods. I agree they are pigs so no offence taken. Although the milk can change makes a huge difference IMO. Eliminates the scorch.

Just thought it would not take a lot of adjustments to adjust my setup to pump more water through. And given I have the twin element milk can I could crank up the power as required. I’m guessing one element on full and the other on 40%.

I intend to move to a stainless 4 inch Boka although from what I read they are pretty slow too.

As I’ve stated in other posts I’m time poor. So it a balance of quality versus time. I guess most people are in the same boat.
Last edited by Rolls912 on Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Woods314 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:07 pm

Rolls912 wrote:I have made some mods to my T500 including 1m extension with 5 x copper rolls, insulation, using the milk can with two elements - one of which is on a voltage controller plus some other stuff.

Each run is taking 8hrs plus and the time sacrifice is a killer. I usually run it in on one element turned down, otherwise the spirit output is too hot / temp too high.

It appears to me that whats letting me down is the water flow regulator... it just doesn’t seem to push the water through fast enough. If I can push more water through, I assume I can crank up the elements which would result in a faster output without sacrificing the quality of the neutral. Is this logic right?

Just a thought, but how high does your water regulator have to pump, ie. how much head? They have supplied them to only pump to the top of a standard t500 on a standard boiler from the same level as the boiler, if you have added an extension, the little old pump may be struggling to pump the extra height.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby StillBrewing » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:57 am

Hey Guys

Thought I wouls add my thoughts about the T500 and water flow regulator.

I bought my T500 about two years ago. Its one of the newer version with only one temperature gauge for the water flow output. Don't know why but it took me about eight months to take it out of the box. A bit of me thought I would blow myself up as I had only used an Airstill before. I was a little naive at the time so I started reading up, and reading and reading.

Now I'm very confident with my T500, I love it. Some knock them, but hey, its the only one I'm going to have for a while so I might as well use it to the best of its ability. Nowadays I make sugar washes that contain 10kg of sugar in a 50L fermenter. This is enough to make nearly two boiler full batches at 10%. From the start I just used the SS saddles that came with the column. Later on somebody advised me to ditch the barrels and fill the column with copper. I spent quite a few British nights in front of the tv chopping copper. 15mm pipe chopped into 10mm rings, each of those chopped into three equal pieces. Each of those pieces were bent over to make a half moon type shape, pretty much the same as the ones you can buy from Still Spirits.

My neutral washes were a problem at the start. They were taking ages to ferment, sometimes stopping half way through. I played about with a recipe and now I can guarantee every wash finishes on day 7 at sg994/992. Once racked off, degassed and cleared they are ready for the T500.

The boiler is filled nearly to the maximum mark, veg oil and saddles added, power turned on. At the same time I start to run the cooling water. Once up to temp I adjust the needle valve and take off the fores, they start around 46C. I take these off very slowly, just a drip--drip--drip. Fores now taken off I increase the water flow to stop any distillate coming out. I leave it in full reflux for half an hour and then take off the heads. My heads start coming off around 47.5 - 48C. From then on its plain sailing, I rarely have to touch the T500 all the through the rest of the process. Collecting vessel is changed to collect the hearts and I run it low and slow. On very rare occasion I have to slightly increase the flow, but not often. The whole process from start to finish takes me about 5.5 hours. Some say you don't get tails with the T500 but I dissagree. By the time I have taken off 2.3 litres of hearts it starts to change flavour. This is when I stop and turn off.

Now to the water regulator. My wife bought me one last October for my birthday. I only got around to using it for the first time last week. What a disaster that was. Started filling it with water like the instruction said and it kept filling, all the way to the top, water leaking out everywhere, even from the middle where the top plastic casing joins the bottom. Turned out the float valve wasn't set right. It was at an angle, touching the side of the casing, stopping it moving up with the water flow. I sorted that out by straightening it and plumbed it in. Started running it with my still and it was a nightmare. I spent more time adjusting the valve on it in that one session than I had throughout every other session without it. Without the regulator my T500 might move a maximum of point three of a degree. With the regulator it was moving up to three degrees at a time. This was happening in a couple of seconds, it was doing my head in.

Looking at the regulator it seems to me not enough water is being pushed through. Off the top of my head I can't remember the sizes, but I seem to think the water inlet barb is smaller than the actual tubing attached to the pump inside the regulator. The outlet barb attached to the pipe that then attaches to the T500 isn't much bigger. I had air bubbles running through this pipe and it obviously the reason why the temperature gauge was jumping up and down like it was. The company I bought it from in the UK (Love Brewing) were fantastic. I sent it back, no hassles and they refunded me real quick. Now I run the T500 without one. It runs like a dream.

Would I recommend the T500 to others. Yeah, definitely. If you are not interested in building your own, only want a small setup, this is the one for you. Early last year I was new to making neutral. I thought it was the best and it couldn't be beaten. I now look back and realise the neutral wasn't even good enough for drain cleaner. Now I make fantastic neutral, if I say so myself. I've sent a few samples away to online friends to critique in the last few months. I was really expecting negative reports. I don't know why, its just me. They came back fantastic. From 'this is gonna be dangerous with coke' to 'its as good as mine, totally neutral, no smell, very, very, very smooth'.

This morning I decided to make up a couple of bottles of flavoured drink using essences. I opened up the glass vessel and took a sip. Took another sip and thought ' who has watered doen my 40% neutral'. It was like water. So, so smooth, no burn at all, not even any real warming as it went down. I took two spirit hydrometer readings just to convince myself it was still 40%abv, and it was.

So, if anybody says you can't make decent neutral with a T500, I dissagree. Run it low and slow and the Angels will shine down on you. See what I did there !!!.

Finally, before you all reach for the rope to make a noose due to reading boredom !!, I've also just bought the Alembic dome setup. Know nothing about it yet but I'm an eager learner. I really want to produce some decent Brandy, Single Malts and other flavoured products in the future. Any helps with links to learn from would be appreciated.

Cheers all, T500's ROCK !!!.
Last edited by StillBrewing on Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Ravvin » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:47 pm

With my T500, I noticed that the tails weren't so much a bad flavour or odour, but more like an actual burning sensation in my mouth and on my tongue.
The Hearts had a burn also, but it was like a gentle heat with a grab in your throat. The tails were more like the burning sensation you get on your tongue from a hot chilli.
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