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Reflux tower top plug?

Natural materials such as cotton and natural rawhide fit here. But it could be dough or water too.

Reflux tower top plug?

Postby tgell001 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:14 pm

Ok so i've made my first reflux column and i'm very proud of it even tho its nothing special and the design is 100% stolen from stuff i saw elsewhere. But, its open on the top for ease of cleaning and packing. I've seen online some manufactures provide a rubber stopper for the top. I've read (on here) people rave about not using petroleum based materials like rubber and plastic. Even with natural rubber i feel there would still be leaching.

So i'm leaning toward natural cork. Its stupid cheap and easy to poke my thermometer thru. Anybody out there have comments, criticisms, or better ideas?
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Re: Reflux tower top plug?

Postby wolfman1961 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:27 pm

i use cork all the time,,don't know why its not used more in place of silicone :shock:
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Re: Reflux tower top plug?

Postby myles » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:31 pm

1. why on earth would you want a thermometer (probe) right at the top of your LM or VM reflux column? If your reflux condenser is working properly the only thing to measure here is the air temperature. If you ever get alcohol vapour above your reflux condenser you are in big trouble.

2. the only time to put a thermometer in that position is if you are running a CM type column. If that is what you are doing can we please see a schematic as there are better options than the cork bung. I would fit a cap with a compression fitting for the thermometer and use PTFE tape - in the same sort of technique as gland packing on the stem of a valve.

Can we please have a bit more detail on the type of still you have? I (and many others) are always interested. :)
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Re: Reflux tower top plug?

Postby prairiepiss » Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Myles its a jacketed cm still. I just read his other thread.

I've seen any thing from a piece of oak cut to fit to a potato shoved in it.

I personaly would go get a copper pipe cap and solder it on it and be done with it. You don't need the top open for cleaning. Trust me just run some hot water through it and drain. You could drill a smaller hole for a smaller cork. To hold your thermometer. But again I don't run one in my cm.
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Re: Reflux tower top plug?

Postby myles » Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:30 am

Well by all accounts a CM still is probably the most efficient tool possible for fractionation, just a bit fiddly to use. I would solder a cap on too, but fit a short bit of 1/2" tube to it first and use a straight compression fitting to fit the probe. Just wrap some PTFE tape around your thermometer or probe to make a bung, and use the compression nut to gently tighten it all up.

For cleaning just remove the probe, connect a hose instead and back flush the packing into the boiler.

This was a more permanent fit in a bigger connector, as I used it on a boiler refill port to monitor the headspace vapour temperature in a pot still but the principle is the same.

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Re: Reflux tower top plug?

Postby Abussive » Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:18 am

Just a sanity check (because you say this is your FIRST column):-

Many stills have only one vent to atmospheric pressure - at the output end of a condenser.

If there are two or more such vents and free passage for pressure to vent between them, then, OK, closing one with a bung (holding a thermometer, for example) is fine.

Otherwise, choosing a suitable material for the bung is the least of your problems!!!!

Your now-closed still might work just fine whilst the coolant keeps running. Any internal drop in pressure (caused by condensing vapours) will be replaced by more vapours evolved from the pot.

However, if the coolant cuts out (condensation is impeded or stopped altogether) then internal pressures will rise fast. Blowing the bug out if you're lucky.
Much worse if you're not......
:shock:
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Re: Reflux tower top plug?

Postby myles » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:12 am

Adonis, unless he does something silly through an oversight, that open pathway via the product condenser should still be available. If the coolant fails it should just blow hot vapour out of the product condenser.

We haven't seen his schematic yet but there should be nothing to block that pathway. There is no need for example to fit a valve anywhere on that type of still.

The only thing it might be possible to do, would be to plumb in a parrot, but even that should include an air vent. If there was no air vent and he did have a coolant failure, his hydrometer would get propelled through his ceiling.

tgell001, please post a diagram of your still layout, it is actually quite easy to have an oops moment and do something that you had not intended to do. I speak from experience. :doh:
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Re: Reflux tower top plug?

Postby Abussive » Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:29 am

I agree with Myles. A well-sited picture will dispell any remaining fears.
At least you can see that people here care!!!!!
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Re: Reflux tower top plug?

Postby airhill » Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:45 pm

Wrap some ptfe tape over the 'rubber' bung after you have shoved the thermo probe through, its cheap and still allows access to the top of the column. :)
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Re: Reflux tower top plug?

Postby tgell001 » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:33 am

Its not a schematic but the progress picture will probably do. I haven't added the reflux jacket yet (waiting on the mail) and i havent attached my water fitting for the condensing jacket yet (waiting on my buddy to let me use his drill press). The top is open, and thats what started this thread. I thought about just getting a pipe cap and soldering it but i thought being able to just push the packing out with a broomstick would be really easy. Also thought about adding something threaded at the top but i'm almost at my break even point for purchasing one and i'd like to say i saved money by making it myself haha (foolish pride)

Whats hard to see is my condensing jacket design.... off the 45 degree 1 inch, internally theres a reducer to 1/2inch, then 24 inches of 1/2" internal. Then i took a 1/2 -1" reducer and fit it on backwards and pressed it over the 1/2" portion so it sticks out a little then soldered a 1" pipe over the whole thing for 22" mating right up the to the 1" 45 elbow making that surface the seal for the water portion.
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