Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Reflux still design and discussion

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

Postby Mitcon » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:17 am

Well did my first run with the T500 yesterday, while it was 5 hours roughly for the run and that seems slow I strangely found it fun and exciting...lol well it was my first time, I can't believe I sat watching a pot boil for 5 hours 8-} but hey it's better than Tv anyday.

Did lots of things wrong, first mistake was I should have made sure the temp probe fitted more snug. I had read that others have had water jets lol, well I washed the roof down yesterday lmao. But many towels later and a bit of PTFE thread tape, back on the water goes hehehe. I was only doing a turbo-wash using it as a practice/cleaning run (got TPW already fermenting and will stick with those) so all good, forgot to use the included foaming control liquid :teasing-blah: so on the boiler goes and about 45 mins it's starting to boil.

Slowed water flow down to get drip...drip...trickle... and left it there (temp was low 40's) I adjusted the flow every so often to maintain a drip...drip..trickle.. though I noticed the temps go up slowly, I know keep the flow rate and don't go by temp. But is there a temp we shouldn't go above as once it went above 65c I was a bit concerned but had not got a decent amount of product out of the still, so I just get the drip..drip..trickle...Temp hit highish 70's, I thought at this stage I'd get more product overall in output but thought I don't like the temp and only late tails now anyway almost finished just stop it now.

End of run!, took out the first 180-200mls of fores (is this any good as a cleaner etc) then took 3 x 150mls of heads, then collected 1.5L of what I think was hearts and about another 1L which still tasted/seemed the same. I think I collected in all just under 4L (was expecting around 4-5L or close for some reason) to be honest I can tell a difference in the different cuts but they all kinda taste similar and none of them taste bad lol. Not sure my taste buds work well. I did leave a litre or 2 in the bottom of fermenter, that black turbo crud does not look appealing and didn't want it in the still. Maybe why I got slightly less output but meh, it's all fun and new atm.

Left everything open airing (with tissue over tops) and will revisit tasting them after watering down. It was fun, just how high should we allow temps to go before having to worry? I think it all worked ok but, meh I'm a noob and looking forward to the TPW wash. Used 300L of water (half filled my 600L ibc) no idea if this is too little/normal or who cares lol.
Last edited by Mitcon on Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Rolls912 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:36 pm

‘ 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.’

Does this compress the heads / make a difference with the T5? Might give it a go if it does.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby StillBrewing » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:40 am

Rolls912

I read somewhere that it compresses the heads so I tried it out. It works for me, it really does. When running a basic sugar wash very similar to Teddysads FFV (without the bran) I take off 300ml of heads and then run into a different glass vessel for the hearts. Once the hearts have been aired for two days and its been proofed down I bottle it up and leave it for a few weeks. I can honestly say it goes down like milk. No burn on the throat, not even that much warming as it goes down.

A couple of days ago I opened up a 2 litre glass jar that was about half full of neutral. Gave it a sniff and thought some bugger had put water in it. Had a sip and still thought it had been watered down. I had to take two spirit hydrometer readings just to convince myself it was 40% abv, and it was. Last year I thought I was making good neutral. Now I look back and realise it wasn't good enough even as drain cleaner.

Another tip I picked up was from the post here on running a T500. That was to start running the water as soon as the boiler is turned on, not too fast, just like its supposed to run throughout the distillation process. As the boiler heats up the water is creating reflux as well. I run mine low and slow. My temperature gauge never goes above 53C, unless one of the kids flushes the bog !.

I've done a lot of experimenting over the last nine months and have really made an effort to create a neutral that is clean as possible. Like I said earlier, some knock the T500 and say decent neutral can't be made in it. I say they are wrong, with a little effort you can make a cracking drop. The wash has a lot to do with it as well. I say its got to be clear, or near as. Once I degass I add gelatine and then leave it for up to a week.

I now have copper in my column. That has made a massive difference as well.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Arismac » Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:40 pm

When I first purchased a ran my T500 about 18 months ago, I didn't have a clue. Then I ran into a barrage of T500 "knockers" on line.

Now I am a big supporter. I am producing a quality spirit and proud of it. I strongly recommend the T500 to all small producers and especially those with mobility and similar issues.

"All of Dan's stillers and all of Dan's sellers can not do any better".

Thanks to support in this community, you are a great group of hobbyists. Thank you
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby StillBrewing » Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:22 am

Arismac

You have hit the nail on the head with that response. I spent 25 years working and running kitchens, always working at 100mph, running up stairs with sacks of potatoes because time was precious. Now to present day, my back has had it. Due to spinal nerve problems I can barely walk any more than a metre at a time some days. On these days I'm usually bent right over at nearly 45 degrees and my mobility is shot. I'm not like this all the time, one minute I'm fine, the next I'm in absolute agony.

I considered building a much bigger still at the beginning but I knew all the lifting and carrying would be a no go when I was having a bad day. This is why I went for the T500. Its the perfect size for me and everything associated with it is pretty easy to lift and carry. It took me a while to get it right but I'm there now. There are lots of us that have been there at the beginning, not knowing what to do, spending hours searching the web for the right answers and seeking a little reassurance from the more experienced brewers/distillers.

Tbh the T500 is far big enough to keep me going. I hardly drink anything and must give away 90% of what I make. I just love making it, experimenting with different flavours to see if I can make something new and tasty from the neutral. I have my sugar wash brews down to a fine art now. I can guarantee they have gone from start to finish in seven days. Started a 10kg sugar batch in a 50L barrel last Tuesday evening and have now just checked it. Its just touching sg 1000, by tomorrow it will be at sg 994/992. Now that I sort of know what I'm doing I like to help out others that don't.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby dans.brew » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:05 am

Hats off to you StillBrewing for having a crack despite a few limitations.. same to you Arismac! :clap:
Getting past the first step of just having a go can be our biggest limitation sometimes. Im in the same book as you as im not a big drinker by any stretch of the imagination, but it's that enjoyable making the stuff that its hard not to keep making and trying new things.
For me thats what this hobby is all about and i get just as bigger kick out of sharing it with mates and seeing them enjoy it.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Mitcon » Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:55 am

Wow, tried a 2nd run (TPW) and though a novice can certainly tell the difference in taste (smell was same for me but am ex smoker) and thought I'd try collecting slower. Kept it round 43-45c for most of the run and finished it off about 55c, not sure if running it slightly slower is better or worse for final product but sure uses a hell of alot more water.

First run used 3ooL 2nd used 5ooL of water :think: Oh well it's all saved for later use either way. Almost scored a deal on 3 2nd hand fermenters but someone beat me to it :sad: , next thing is to try with a bit more copper in the condenser (just got the standard Copper saddle and the SS scrubbers/barrels atm) as that can't hurt I'm sure. Do you folks empty clean and repack (loosely, I took a few of the SS scrubbers out) your condenser/column every wash or every few washes?

Think I'll have to start hunting to see if I can find a oak barrel I can afford as I'd love to fill one and leave it a few years :D , already dropped some oak chucks in some 40% and was surprised at how quickly it starts to take up some colour within just hours.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Arismac » Thu Feb 14, 2019 1:41 pm

Mitcon wrote:Do you folks empty clean and repack (loosely, I took a few of the SS scrubbers out) your condenser/column every wash or every few washes?


I am getting a much better neutral spirit since I got rid of all the saddles and replaced with copper mesh below the spirit/cooling water outlet in the condenser. Thanks to a community member I will soon be trying out a Botanicals Basket full of copper mesh as well for the second run. Just keep the mesh clean ...
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Arismac » Thu Feb 14, 2019 1:43 pm

dans.brew wrote:For me thats what this hobby is all about and i get just as bigger kick out of sharing it with mates and seeing them enjoy it.


:text-+1:
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby dom187 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:18 pm

Newbie here so please bare with me. i have read as much as I can find/ navigate but im still learning how to navigate this forum.
Just did my first TPW through the T500. few thing I did was replace the plastic output hose to a copper 3/8 one as discussed. would the neutral take chemicals / toxins from the plumbers thread tape?

Turned on the boiler and ran water as fast as i could without having it squirting out the top , unfortunatly its summer here and the water temp was 35c from the beginning.
any way about 1 hour in temp started climbing on the water output kept it at 43.2c for a dripdripdripdrip..drip..drip..drip (this was as low as i could keep the temp using a run to waste setup (straight from the tap) collected the first 200mls fores in a seperate glass jar.
for the rest of the run kept the temp between 47-48c and would get about 5-10 fast drips then dribble dribble , then repeat (does this sound about right?). in the last 30mins -45mins temp was between 48-49.5c then i shut it down once i got to a drip..... drip..... drip.... then a few faster drips , repeat

so i collected 200mls fores , and about 2.4L of around 93- 94%. (which should be around 5.5L @ 40%, about what I was expecting)

i didnt do cuts as i plan on doing another run the same, then combining these 2 runs for a second final run on which i will try cuts. question - what is the minimum i can put in the standard 25L T500 boiler ? was planning on running it at 40% but is there a minimum say 10L? and what happens if I water it down more to say 35% or less for the run?

also i have just stored the neutral (94%) in red dot mason jars, they have some kind of plastic coating on the metal lid which i didnt like so ive put 2 layers of foil over the top and then put the lids on... is this ok? will be in there for maybe 1 month. and is this ok for long term storage of my falvoured spirit at 40%?


also i didnt do i vinger / cleaning run (brand new T500 kit) as i have only just read about it. should i do one or is it too late? and will the collected neutral still be ok as im running it again a second time (double distilling as i cant do a stripping run) at a later stage?

do you pull the condenser apart and clean after every run?

sorry for all the questions and im sure i will get better as i workout how to find everything on the forum, only found the search box about 20 mins ago :techie-typing:

thanks for all the support
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby RC Al » Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:47 pm

[quote="dom187"]
i didnt do cuts as i plan on doing another run the same, then combining these 2 runs for a second final run on which i will try cuts. question - what is the minimum i can put in the standard 25L T500 boiler ? was planning on running it at 40% but is there a minimum say 10L? and what happens if I water it down more to say 35% or less for the run?
With any electric still You just need to cover the element, i believe that the newer t500 boiler has an covered and thereby vaguely boil dry proof element, so a litre or two left at the end of the run will be fine


also i have just stored the neutral (94%) in red dot mason jars, they have some kind of plastic coating on the metal lid which i didnt like so ive put 2 layers of foil over the top and then put the lids on... is this ok? will be in there for maybe 1 month. and is this ok for long term storage of my falvoured spirit at 40%? All i use

also i didnt do i vinger / cleaning run (brand new T500 kit) as i have only just read about it. should i do one or is it too late? and will the collected neutral still be ok as im running it again a second time (double distilling as i cant do a stripping run) at a later stage? Better safe than sorry, save it for future cleaning runs
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Arismac » Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:55 pm

Welcome to the wonderful world of T500, a wonderful beast after you break it in. So that I don't post a heap of repetitive stuff here, send me a PM if I can help.
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby dom187 » Thu Feb 14, 2019 6:11 pm

Thanks RC AL, and I have sent you a message Mac, thanks :smile:
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby mojoz » Sat May 25, 2019 1:05 am

I have just replaced the copper saddles for new one's and replaced the ceramics with stainless and jammed as many in as i could, but after reading some of these very good suggestions i tipped them all out and loosely repacked the copper and stainless saddles as i had a couple of puking issues last time i was running my still and never knew why.
I also read an article somewhere that pushing the lower temp probe to far into the hot water outlet could restrict the flow of water possible causing things to overheat
which apparently has had a design change on newer models to rectify this problem, but us with the older versions might need to keep and eye on how far we stick it in the hole :laughing-rolling:
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Joshis123 » Fri May 31, 2019 7:01 pm

I would like to say thank you for this post , I'm very new and was one of those fools who got sucked in buying a t500 , I will making the changes tomor,
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Doubleuj » Fri May 31, 2019 8:50 pm

Glad we could help josh :handgestures-thumbupleft: the t500 served me well for years before I got sick of the slow speed. It can make a good drop though. How about popping into the welcome centre and posting up an intro thread?
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Re: Running a T500, the Proper Way - Discussion Thread

Postby Rolls912 » Fri May 31, 2019 11:08 pm

Doubleuj wrote:Glad we could help josh :handgestures-thumbupleft: the t500 served me well for years before I got sick of the slow speed. It can make a good drop though. How about popping into the welcome centre and posting up an intro thread?


:text-+1:
A better boiler will also remove the burnt sediment aftertaste.
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