T500 - A not quite newbie's guide

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T500 - A not quite newbie's guide

Postby clearspirit » Tue Apr 18, 2023 10:09 pm

First of all my disclaimer - I don't know shit other than what works for me (and my friends). I've brewed and distilled vodka maybe 20 or 30 times, and after HEAPS of reading and experimenting, a vodka connoisseur friend reckons mine is better than anything she can buy and describes mine as "smooth as fuck"

First of all a couple of T500 precepts – if you adjust the cooling water (CW) flow too high (open the needle valve (NV) and stop product output, all you are doing is increasing refluxing and getting less or no product – you only need to decrease CW (close/reduce NV) to resume product output, no harm done. When output stops and your outlet CW temp has dropped, you've simply put your reflux still into reflux mode with no product output. So you can't fuck it up running too slow, it just takes more time and power to get your product.

Second - when you adjust CW you will notice a difference in the output stream (stream/drip ratio) before you see a change in outlet water temp. You will notice the change in the stream drip ratio almost immediately/within seconds whereas the temperature change will take maybe 5-30 seconds (more like 10-20)

And lastly, watch your output more closely than your temperature. This drip/stream ratio is more important then outlet water temp. You want more drips than stream, and you definitely want the occasional stream. Although if you run at slofastdrip (no stream) you will still get great product, it will just take longer and more energy.

Although the output (drip/stream ratio) is more important than the temperature, they are related, and it's good to use both during your run. This will make more sense when you do a run...

I've mucked around with a bunch of different washes from turbo to Shady's sugar wash, changed how far the copper saddles cover to reflux coil, played with a voltage regulator so the output is cool, played with a pressure reducing valve so that flushing a toilet or filling a kettle minimises the effect on the still, bought a new needle valve so the tiniest adjustment doesn't make such a HUGE difference like the factory NV, and I'm pretty convinced it all gets down to one thing – drip drip drip dribble.

Doesn't matter if you've just bought a factory T500, or made the modifications above, what's important is 'drip drip drip dribble'. You want mainly drips with a pretty regular dribble. The temps are kinda' incidental although of use when determining whether to increase or decrease CW flow (or Voltage if you bought a regulator).

Yes I know most of us have been brought up on the 'scientific method' and we're used to data, and the first 20 or so brews I HAD to keep the temps between 55C-65C like the manufacturer said. Well here's a new 'data-point' – 'drip drip drip dribble'. You want mainly drip drip drip with the occasional dribble/stream (you DON'T want mainly dribble/stream with the occasional drips eg dribble dribble drip, although this is not disastrous, just more flavoursome therefore more filtering if you want neutral/vodka (and possibly less hangover)

And, kinda' forget the temps although it's handy to keep an eye on them.

On my T500 which has had all the plastic replaced, 'drip drip drip dribble' incidentally occurs somewhere between 47-52C depending on how early it is in the run, and more adjustments are always required towards the last third of the run. Cooling water (CW) needs to be adjusted almost constantly throughout the distillation, although there is a period in the middle where very little adjustment is needed. And the further you get into the run, the more you have to reduce CW to increase outlet water temp , until eventually you get to 65C and eventually there's no more product output at which point it's potentially best to shut down.

I've experimented with extracting distillate above 65C (up to 80C) and don't like the flavours and can't get rid of them even with double filtering at 1 drop/s.

So when you need to go to the loo, increase CW to 'slodrip' so you know it's not going to go to 'stream/dribble' while you're away ;) But for most of the run, go for drip drip drip dribble, not dribble drip. It does make a difference...
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Re: T500 - A not quite newbie's guide

Postby Drip Drip Dribble » Wed Apr 19, 2023 11:35 am

Well written & pretty much how i run mine :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: T500 - A not quite newbie's guide

Postby SBB » Wed Apr 19, 2023 11:52 am

Woooooohooooo , somebody gets it, the best way to run a T500 for sure. Nice write up Clearspirit. The single best other move is to run low wines, not wash.
Last edited by SBB on Wed Apr 19, 2023 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: T500 - A not quite newbie's guide

Postby The Stig » Wed Apr 19, 2023 12:53 pm

SBB wrote:The single best other move is to run low wines, not wash.

This is where I found my biggest jump in quality when I ran a T500 :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: T500 - A not quite newbie's guide

Postby Bradd79 » Fri May 05, 2023 3:51 pm

I have just started using this rather than the temp and its heaps better I'm running round the 44 to about 55 now with a heap better product though I am finding the product condenser very warm. I'm thinking about running them both on separate taps
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Re: T500 - A not quite newbie's guide

Postby ginandtonic » Sat May 06, 2023 10:24 am

Thanks ClearSpirit,
Drip Drip Dribble....... I like it a lot.
Do you use an extension at all, or experimented with different types of packing ?
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Re: T500 - A not quite newbie's guide

Postby clearspirit » Wed Jul 05, 2023 8:45 am

ginandtonic wrote:Thanks ClearSpirit,
Drip Drip Dribble....... I like it a lot.
Do you use an extension at all, or experimented with different types of packing ?

Gee it's been awhile since I've been here! Sorry for the late reply...

No extension, and I find the reflux condenser spigot inside makes it hard to slide a roll of copper mesh in. I did replace the plastic up top with copper (a plumber mate fabricated a new lid out of the top from a hot water system)

The only others mods are an extra 2 maybe 3 packets of copper saddles up top so the whole reflux coil is covered, and I wire-wheeled as much of the chrome as possible off the product condenser so it radiates more heat and runs cooler (?) Based on the theory that if you want to run a motor bike hotter you chrome the exhaust as the chrome reflects heat on the inside coz it's also shiny where it meets the base metal, and if you want to run it cooler, you remove the chrome if applicable and paint it with blackboard paint. So I figured removing the chrome would make it run cooler.
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