Still V Still - newby questions

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Still V Still - newby questions

Postby NFI » Sun Apr 04, 2021 8:43 am

I don't want to start a civil war but I am really stuck on getting my head around which style of still to aspire toward.
Originally I thought the 2" Boka possibly with a pot head (as suggested by Carol & Stig), but the 4" modular is also of interest.

Using 5Star for referance
Still 1 - 2" Boka [no boiler] $679 + Pot head $355 ---- $1034
Still 2 - 4″ Modular Pot Still (comes with parrot and keg clamp)[no boiler] $650 (What else would I need to add to this to make it comparable to Still 1???)

I would prefer not to end up in the situation of wishing I had bought "the other one" a few months down the track.
I am wanting the best option as an all rounder product I guess, I want to make some over proof bio-ethanol, neutrals/vodka styles but also whiskey and rum, I am not really leaning towards gin but that could come down the track.
There is a lot written on "taking it to the next level" with a change in still but factually what are the benefits of one type of still over the other?
I know at the end of the day they all make a good drop but under what circumstances and in what ways is one better than the other or one the more appropriate option.
Is one type significantly faster (all up) and if so is the output better from the slow process or the fast?

Also, does anybody know if there is a post that lists "everything you need to get up and running", I have been keeping an eye out but have not come
across an all inclusive list of what is needed (equipment wise), obviously the still and the boiler, fermenters (with airlocks etc).
Do you need (or is it highly recommended to use) a parrot.
Do you use a parrot on a Boka?
I am just trying to put a costing on everything I need to put out my first drinkable product.

One last question, would the tank from an old electric storage hot water service be useful to make a boiler (I have not stripped it down yet so i am not really sure what style of tank it has).

Thanks for reading. Cheers
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Re: Still V Still - newby questions

Postby RC Al » Sun Apr 04, 2021 9:50 am

Have a bit more of a cruse through the newbies section before making decisions and here is a good post explaning the types of stills viewtopic.php?f=57&t=3117

Option one is a great start, both styles of production are covered and the 500mm spool from the pot can be added to the boka for better performance

The second one is a great place to start with a pot and upgrade path to a plated column for flavoured spirits (rum, scotch), but you will be adding a lot to it to make neutral

The Hws might be suitable with much additional fabrication, but only if the tank is made of stainless or copper - either of those are moderatly rare, many of the copper ones are on the thin side too

If you purchase a boiler over converting a keg, go the 100L, a bigger boiler is beneficial to both types of production in numerous subtle ways

Read up on the gin making methods, but get going with a few washes and decide if you want additional gear or not to cover that
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Re: Still V Still - newby questions

Postby Wellsy » Sun Apr 04, 2021 10:19 am

Happy Easter NFI, why don’t you just ask for the tattslotto numbers that might be easier :laughing-rolling:

Whatever you decide mate will be fine but you might need to refine what is most important to you to help in the decision process. I personally went the 4 inch path with the 50 litre boiler and could not be happier. I have no experience with the boka so can’t go pros and cons. I can tell you that bio fuel is not an option with my set up as the best I can get on a spirit run is 84% quickly dropping to 83/82. I suspect you will need higher abv for fuel.

Also look at what size ferments you have room to do, you will quickly discover you want to upscale the ferments lol. 50 litre boiler suits me but the downside is that I always need a larger volume as if the boiler drops below 10 litres the elements are exposed and there will be a Kerboom as they destroy themselves. That will be a couple of hundred dollar mistake to replace them. So consider that when looking at a 100 litre boiler.

My pot still gets great results on brownspirit and wheat vodka when I triple distill the WBAB wash. I was lucky that someone almost gave me a turbo boiler and I can convert my 4 inch pot still to suit the turbo boiler for small Gin runs. I have considered upgrading to a 4 inch bubbler which will speed up the process and give me the ability to get highs abv output. I have discounted that at this stage because I love sitting with my pot still in the shed and letting the world go by.

Take your time and read and read and ask questions until you understand. Even if you have to ask the same question a couple of times. I am certain whatever you do you will be adding to your collection over time. If high abv for biofuel is a dealbreaker then option 1 of your 2 options is your only choice. Talk toAndrew for a complete parts list and price.

Oh and I love the parrot for spirit runs ,it helps me identify potential cut points, only potential mind you. Over time as I gain experience I can see it becoming less necessary.

Take your time mate
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Re: Still V Still - newby questions

Postby Amberale » Sun Apr 04, 2021 6:27 pm

There are a few points I can think of.

How much space do you have?
A 4” multiplate bubbler on a 100litre boiler is a wonderful beast that will give you very good neutral quickly or break it down a bit and it will give you dark spirits also fairly quickly.
However, it will be up to 2.5 metres high and you will need at least two 60-80 litre fermenters to feed it so you need a high ceiling height and a fair bit of wet area space.
A corner of the laundry wont cut it.

$$
If you try go too cheap you will end up upgrading anyway.
If you are here then you drink spirits.
Almost any still will pay for itself over a couple of years, sooner if you drink like a fish(I may resemble this remark).
I’m not talking about selling moonshine, just what you will save on purchases and you will be drinking a far better quality spirit.

I also enjoy sitting, scratching my arse and watching my bubbler but, unfortunately, I usually have a lot of other things to do so the extra expense of a 4” system was worth it for my time.
I’d love a 6” and so would the missus.

Andrew @ 5Star is wonderful with advice and always happy to help with tips on running or problem solving.
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Re: Still V Still - newby questions

Postby NFI » Mon Apr 05, 2021 12:53 pm

Thank you all for your responses.
100L boiler, I'll need those winning tatts numbers before I can set my sights that high - maybe start off spending what I can on the still and wish for a bigger boiler down the track. I have an old two car weatherboard garage with a iron gabled roof so it is quite high in the center, miles over my head and I am 6 foot but as I have already stated some that big would only be in my dreams.
My wife had a nasty fall from a ladder yesterday and has been hospitalized so my hobby interests will of course need to take a back seat for a while. I'll try to keep reading when I can ( up here in QLD they wont let visitors in due to Covid so I may have some time to read.) :angry-banghead:

Thanks again for all your advice.
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Re: Still V Still - newby questions

Postby RuddyCrazy » Mon Apr 05, 2021 1:41 pm

G'Day NFI,
First welcome to the forum mate :handgestures-thumbupleft: now we are a bunch of hobbyists here and there are a heap of build threads and tutorials for you to look at and have a good read.

If your handy with the tools why not have a go at making your own still and start small with a 2" pot still, there are heap of designs on this forum for them and it will be a great starting point where brown spirits can be made etc. As your confidence grows keep reading the build threads to get a good knowledge of how it's done. The fact for those that have made own still's and make great spirits well for me is a great feeling and i'm sure every other member that has built their own will say the same thing. :handgestures-thumbupleft:

50 litre beer kegs come pretty cheap and a 2" triclamp fitting will fit straight on the keg so one can going straight away, but filling and emptying it can be a bit of a pain.

Go have a read on the easy flange threads and you will see with patience one can do it easily, also look at the soft soldering threads as there are some great tips and tricks to doing the job right the first time with 1st class results.

Cheers Bryan
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Re: Still V Still - newby questions

Postby Professor Green » Mon Apr 05, 2021 6:30 pm

Hi NFI,

Sorry to hear about your wife, hope everything works out OK.

I'm assuming you want go with a off-the-shelf option here.

If you are trying to start out on a budget, I would recommend that you chose a particular style of spirit you want to make first and then perhaps go with a 30 litre boiler and the appropriate 2"Still for the given spirit (boka for neutral and pot for whiskies etc) then add the other still type (or conversion components) later. This will get you going for the smallest spend.

The main difference between the 2 and 4 inch stills is running speed and the amount of room required to run them. 2" stills are slower than 4" ones but take up less room.

If you start off with a 2"still and decide you want to up-size later, the resale value on quality gear is quite good and there will possibly be an upgrade path that may allow you to re-use some of the 2" components; for example, the 2" boka could be sold on and the pot still accessories for it could be re-used a part of a 4" system - the beauty of modular stills!

A parrot isn't an essential piece of equipment but they do help with running the still.

As far as everything you'll need to get going, consider the following:
  • Boiler
  • Still
  • Coolant hoses and connections
  • Valves for controlling coolant flow
  • Temperature controller for boiler
  • Fermenter to suit size of boiler - most of the ones home brew shops sell come with a tap, stick on thermometer and air lock
  • Heat pad/belt for the fermenter if you live in an area that gets cold
  • Mash paddle for stirring washes
  • Cuts jars - these can be old stubbies, soft drink or juice bottles, pasta sauce jars etc.
  • Alcometer for measuring spirit strength (get two - they are fragile and you will break one at some stage)
  • Hydrometer for measuring specific gravity of washes (get two - they are fragile and you will break one at some stage)
  • Spirit bottles
  • Something to age flavoured spirits in - demijons are good for this.
  • Measuring cylinder to suit your hydrometer and alcometer (Glass not plastic for the spirits unless you plan on throwing the liquid you're measuring away)
  • food safe hoses for siphoning of washes to the boiler

The following re also useful but you can probably just nick them from the kitchen:
  • An assortment of measuring jugs and spoons
  • Set of scales
  • Metal funnels

I'm sure others will add anything I've missed here

(Edited to fix the bullet points)
Last edited by Professor Green on Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Still V Still - newby questions

Postby Carol » Mon Apr 05, 2021 6:41 pm

Excellent list - Professor Green!

it is really what suits you. The 2" boka and pot works for me. Happy to answer any questions you might have. Wellsy has the 4" pot and I am sure he is happy to help too.

Hope your wife is recovering from the fall.

Cheers
Carol
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Re: Still V Still - newby questions

Postby BigRig » Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:45 pm

Copper mesh would be needed for sulphur removal
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Re: Still V Still - newby questions

Postby B-Man » Mon Apr 05, 2021 10:06 pm

what type of person are you?

are you content with stuff or do you have to get the next best?
how much time do you have?
What do you want to drink?

I started with a T500.
upgraded to a 4" keg bubbler within the year.
I feel like running 2x 4" keg bubblers at the same time so it halves the time it takes... if im running 1 I might aswell run 2. im a little time poor so thats my biggest issue and one of the reasons I went with a 4"
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Re: Still V Still - newby questions

Postby NFI » Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:30 pm

Thank you all for your responses and well wishes.

Professor Green, that list will be very helpful and is the kind of thing I was looking for (maybe the list, or one similar could be added as it's own topic in the newbie corner). I just did not want to shell out a fair bit of money and then realise I also need this or that and the money just keeps flowing before you have had any output of product. Buying things later on because you want them rather than need them is a completely different thing.

B-Man, I am the kind of person who makes do with what I have got even if I have to make a few mods or unconventional workarounds (but metal fabrication is not something I have had a lot to do with). I am certainly not the type who needs the latest because it is the latest and I don't like wasting money on brand names or advertising gimmicks (unnecessary bells and whistles) but I have to admit that I do like to know I have a manufacturers warranty with most things(of any real value).

Copper mesh - is that just with the likes of the 4" modular or is it used with the Boka/Pothead combo as well? (I still have a lot more reading to do).

RuddyCrazy wrote:50 litre beer kegs come pretty cheap

Where do you find them, I have had a look on ebay and a quick look on gum tree did not see very many. Anyone know where I might find some (or at least 1) I am in the Bundaberg area QLD.

Just to not leave it open ended regarding my wife they put numerous screws a plates in her wrist yesterday, she has fractured a couple of vertebrae and they think she has a hair line fracture in her ankle, she will be in hospital for a few more days yet I would imagine and out of sorts for quite a while longer.
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Re: Still V Still - newby questions

Postby The Stig » Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:59 pm

Copper needs to be in ALL stills one way or another .
The Boka will use about 1kg of copper or you can use a smaller amount and fill the rest with stainless scrubbers, all the pot stills (that 5Star sell) come with a small roll to pop in one of the bends.
You would also benefit from some sort of recirc system. These “big” stills use a lot of water.
Cheers
Last edited by The Stig on Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Still V Still - newby questions

Postby NFI » Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:13 pm

The Stig wrote:You would also benefit from some sort of recirc system. These “big” stills use a lot of water.


We have an above ground swimming pool I have seen posts about using that. It is a salt pool though and that may cause issues. Other than that we do use a couple of rainwater tanks (taste much better than town water) so maybe in and out of one of those. Or maybe out of the tank and into the pool, they generally need a lot of top ups (although the last couple of days it has been more about dropping it down)
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Re: Still V Still - newby questions

Postby The Stig » Tue Apr 06, 2021 4:06 pm

Cool , the water is sorted all you need is enough hose and a pump
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Re: Still V Still - newby questions

Postby BigRig » Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:47 pm

NFI wrote:
RuddyCrazy wrote:50 litre beer kegs come pretty cheap

Where do you find them, I have had a look on ebay and a quick look on gum tree did not see very many. Anyone know where I might find some (or at least 1) I am in the Bundaberg area QLD.

Keep an eye out in the classifieds of the forum. Kegs and keg built boilers pop up every now and then.
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