Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

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Jef
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Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

Post by Jef » Tue Jun 16, 2020 5:16 pm

This sort of thing has been done a bunch of times before, I know, because this build is based on information I've gleaned from these forums. Hopefully some of the info below will be a useful reference for anyone else wanting to hook up a Maxi110 to a Grainfather Conical Fermenter. I think the ballpark cost was £150, somewhere around there. Cheaper than the Grainfather Glycol chiller and more importantly a better size for my use.
024 - Copy.JPG
The result is a dual purpose fermeter/product chiller with a controllable, configurable temperature. It is capable of pulling the coolant down to -20°C (as I accidentally discovered), also works well for a more usual fermenting/cold crashing temp range. The python pump can be manually switched on/off, or automatically switched by the output from the Grainfather conical fermenter. The fermenter connects to the Maxi110 box for power and control. When the fermenter calls for cooling it switches the Maxi110 python/recirc pump to push the coolant round the fermenter. As a bonus, if your fermentation temp is in the right range, you can service a fermenter at the same time as chilling down a beer on tap.
Before putting this together I had tried using a Peltier based cooler, that did work to chill down a reservoir of cool water, but ultimately did not have enough power to cool fermenting beer more than a couple of degrees below ambient temp. This setup is more complex, but makes me happier.
The rather jaunty image shows the chiller in dual use for fermenter and serving (ignore the mini keg also present, lockdown over indulgence).
IMG_6584 - Copy.JPG
  • Maxi110 off ebay (price varies wildly, but if you can collect should find one under £100)
  • STC-1000 (12V version) £6
  • 12V power supply £6, rated at 36W/3A to provide power to heater in fermenter
  • coolant £15, about 5L of Prestone antifreeze, I really confused myself on antifreeze types & metal corrosion, but settled on this
  • 3/8 beer line
  • John Guest fittings £? expensive but neat. To connect to the fermenter I used 2 John Guest Straight Adaptor 3/8 inch Tube OD x 3/8 inch BSP Male Thread, PI011213S
  • pipe insulation £3 10mm x 9mm Air Conditioner Heat Insulation Pipe
  • Thermowell £3, Stainless Steel OD6mm - I had a temp sensor fail (^ see observation about -20°C), this will make replacing the sensor easier, next time
  • 3-way mains switch £?. I had some left from another project
  • 4 pole panel mount socket to connect the fermenter to the cooler £3, Sensor Connector M12 A Type 4 Pins, I couldn't find 3 pin versions cheaply, the pinout is the same between 3 & 4 pin versions
  • 12V relay to switch the 240V Maxi110 pump, you may be able to purchase a unit, I was sufficiently confident to build & appropriately insulate my own circuit
  • Wago connector blocks, personally I prefer these over the 1/4" spade connectors
009 - Copy.JPG
You would want to be confident in altering mains voltage circuits if you undertake this work, it is not hugely complex, but requires some thought. Ultimately your device will be sitting there in a metal box, unattended for hours on end. You will definitely be voiding any warranties and might even be invalidating your house insurance.

Usually the recirc/python pump is not running, this means that the agitator propeller is also not running. This has not caused a problem but probably reduces the efficiency of the whole thing. I would like to build in separate pump & agitator motors, but that'll need to wait for my next fettling in the shed appointment.
If it is of use or interest, maybe I should post more details of the build, but otherwise thank you for all the information on these forums!
Last edited by Jef on Tue Jun 16, 2020 6:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

Post by Cobnut » Tue Jun 16, 2020 5:40 pm

Could you post the missing attachments?

I'm thinking of a second fermenter and avoiding repurposing my beer fridge as a second fermentation chamber appeals, so could consider this approach.

Thanks.
Fermenting: Schonramer Helles clone
Conditioning: London Porter
Drinking: Banks's Bitter clone, SMASH Keeping Ale (Chevallier, First Gold, Voss Kveik), Haflinger (rather odd weizenbock), 'Ol 'Enry Brut IPA, Cherry Chocolate Dubbel Trubbel, A Galaxy Far, Far Away Black IPA (or maybe it's an American Stout?), Quickie Voss Kveik IPA, Make American Stout Great Again, Amarillo Golden ale, Summer ale, Quick German Pilsner
Planning: Sussex Bitter, Dunkelweizen

Jef
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Re: Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

Post by Jef » Tue Jun 16, 2020 6:14 pm

oops, hope that's better now

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Re: Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

Post by guypettigrew » Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:53 pm

In case it's of any help, here's a schematic (drawn up by a talented friend of mine) of how I use my Maxi 110 to control the fermentation temperature in the fermenter.

The Maxi is on all the time, so there's always an ice bath with water at about 0°C available. The pump is controlled by an STC 1000, so just comes on when the temperature gets to 0.5° C above the set temperature. It's run as a closed system, as the schematic shows.

Brewing Cooling Setup.jpg
Guy
Last edited by guypettigrew on Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

Post by guypettigrew » Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:29 pm

Triple post!
Last edited by guypettigrew on Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

Post by guypettigrew » Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:29 pm

Double post!

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orlando
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Re: Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

Post by orlando » Wed Jun 17, 2020 7:44 am

Single post! :lol:
I am "The Little Red Brooster"

Fermenting: Riders On The Storm
Conditioning: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother (Wee Heavy) till December.
Drinking: Kings & Queens (Eldridge Pope Royal Oak clone), Gyle brewed Little Red Ruth(ster) & Red(Ruth)Rain 1867 recipe, From Russia With Love (RIS)

Up Next: Stout! In The Name Of Love, Elusive Butterfly
Planning: Autumn drinking Beer

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Re: Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

Post by Cobnut » Wed Jun 17, 2020 8:37 am

I just looked up the GF conical...££££ :shock:
Fermenting: Schonramer Helles clone
Conditioning: London Porter
Drinking: Banks's Bitter clone, SMASH Keeping Ale (Chevallier, First Gold, Voss Kveik), Haflinger (rather odd weizenbock), 'Ol 'Enry Brut IPA, Cherry Chocolate Dubbel Trubbel, A Galaxy Far, Far Away Black IPA (or maybe it's an American Stout?), Quickie Voss Kveik IPA, Make American Stout Great Again, Amarillo Golden ale, Summer ale, Quick German Pilsner
Planning: Sussex Bitter, Dunkelweizen

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Re: Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

Post by Jef » Wed Jun 17, 2020 10:06 am

Cobnut wrote:
Wed Jun 17, 2020 8:37 am
I just looked up the GF conical...££££ :shock:
maybe don't look up the cost of the Grainfather glycol chiller then? ...££££££££ - but it will chill 4 of those fermenter's :D. That's far too much hobby even for me. Yes the Grainfather things have a price tag, for the most part I think them worth it (not that I have experience with any other single vessel system). Their bluetooth controller software I have a rocky relationship with, but that's another story.
The fermenter is dual wall and well designed. It can be disassembled to inspect & repair electronics (no repair required so far) and is adaptable with fairly standard tri-clamp fittings. It can easily be put under pressure for fermenting or transfer. I like it.

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Re: Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

Post by Cobnut » Wed Jun 17, 2020 10:21 am

I know of a couple of local HB-ers who own the GF conical and they seem pleased with it.

I need to review my business case ;-)
Fermenting: Schonramer Helles clone
Conditioning: London Porter
Drinking: Banks's Bitter clone, SMASH Keeping Ale (Chevallier, First Gold, Voss Kveik), Haflinger (rather odd weizenbock), 'Ol 'Enry Brut IPA, Cherry Chocolate Dubbel Trubbel, A Galaxy Far, Far Away Black IPA (or maybe it's an American Stout?), Quickie Voss Kveik IPA, Make American Stout Great Again, Amarillo Golden ale, Summer ale, Quick German Pilsner
Planning: Sussex Bitter, Dunkelweizen

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Re: Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

Post by Jef » Wed Jun 17, 2020 5:17 pm

guypettigrew wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:53 pm
In case it's of any help, here's a schematic (drawn up by a talented friend of mine) of how I use my Maxi 110 to control the fermentation temperature in the fermenter.
and here is my adaptation of that graphic, I hope Guy doesn't mind the travesty. I thought it would help for comparison purposes, but just looks like a mess crammed into the Maxi110 box. Which, come to think of it, is about right.
Brewing Cooling Setup alt.png
I tend to run the 'ice' bath around 6 degrees below the target fermenter temperature, so 12°C for an 18°C fermenter temp. Any more than that and when cooling is turned on the fermenter temperature tends to overshoot the target temperature and turns the heating on.

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Re: Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

Post by barneey » Wed Jun 17, 2020 10:41 pm

The GF conical is a good piece of kit, Jef I would suggest the jacket for one is also a good investment. Been using mine with a converted Maxi for quite a few brews now, might even be a post on JBK somewhere (who knows lost track of posting), basically I hook the GF controller to control the Maxi on/off function. All depends on the brew or yeast to determine if a a chill in the FV is required. If running with a coolant other than water I use a non toxic glycol mix, belt and braces in case of leakage.

If I had the funds I would buy a GF chiller but a Maxi does the job just as well.

Just looked at the cost for the GF FV's, those things have gone up £80 to £100 now :roll:

The only thing I dislike about the GFFV is the connection between the controller & the machine relying on a clip and magnet, if you ever break the clip have a look on Thingyverse & if you have a 3d printer, print one off. :wink:

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Re: Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

Post by Jef » Wed Jun 17, 2020 11:29 pm

I completely agree about the insulating jacket. At the moment I'm using a piece of carpet underlay, cut to a precise fit and does a job, but just wouldn't look good here!

In my first photo there's a piece of masking tape that was intended to redirect condensation away from the control unit. On later internal inspection this is unnecessary, but the photo does show the location of the cooling jacket quite nicely.

Thanks for the Thingiverse tip, duly downloaded that file; https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3711186

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Re: Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

Post by barneey » Wed Jun 17, 2020 11:40 pm

;) just see the note I left in the 3d file about a slight adjustment to the print, it will make all the difference.

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Re: Maxi110 cooler meets Grainfather Conical Fermenter

Post by barneey » Wed Jun 17, 2020 11:42 pm

& have a think about toxic coolants ;) better safe :)

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