Trouble Getting Past Hot Break

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Binkie Huckaback
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Trouble Getting Past Hot Break

Post by Binkie Huckaback » Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:36 pm

So, today is my second brew day after a long break and I'm not having a lot of luck. I bought a second-hand Baby Burco boiler (the old cream and blue one with no simmer stat) on Ebay and you can imagine my excitement when I discovered the capacity was seven gallons compared to the usual five. It seems to hold a boil OK, but this afternoon (hottest February day for ages) I can't seem to get it to a rolling boil. The hot break appears, but the boiler doesn't seem to be able to get past it. I removed the break material, but have now given up as it's only going to get colder out, meaning the boiler will struggle even more.

Is there any point in my trying again tomorrow with the same wort earlier in the day, or will I just be wasting time, electricity and hops? I must admit I didn't start the boil until later than I'd intended and maybe it was already too cold outside to get it to boiling point, but I did draw off saucepans-full of wort and boil them on the stove to give it a helping hand.

I've noticed on the manufacturers plate that it's 2.5kw which must be what my last five gallon boiler was, although I thought it was 3kw. Could it be it's just not powerful enough to boil that volume of liquid outside?

Any help/suggestions gratefully received.

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Re: Trouble Getting Past Hot Break

Post by guypettigrew » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:40 pm

If you're boiling outside on a cold day loads of heat will get lost through the wall of the boiler. I don't think the baby Burco is an insulated design, is it?

You'll need to wrap something round it to get the efficiency up. I use a couple of Tesco camping mats round my boiler. Not a Burco, but it is just a single skin stainless steel boiler. It was able to hold a rolling boil outside in the depths of a very cold winter last year.

If you can get a couple of mats fairly quickly then you should be fine.


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Re: Trouble Getting Past Hot Break

Post by Dave S » Tue Feb 26, 2019 1:51 pm

It is also possible that some of the element segments have blown. From my recollection of the old Burcos their elements are made up from a number of small segments. Can't remember if they are connected in series or parallel. If in series then if one goes you'll get no heat at all. But if in parallel if one or more go you'll still get power but at a reduced rate.
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Re: Trouble Getting Past Hot Break

Post by Robwalkeragain » Tue Feb 26, 2019 2:19 pm

We use 2kw per 160L so i think you should ve fine in terms of element power. If you want to brew outside i would look at insulation first!

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Re: Trouble Getting Past Hot Break

Post by Kev888 » Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:40 am

As above, it could/should be sufficient so yes, check the elements are working properly, consider insulation and also partially (not fully) covering with the lid.

Another possibility is that the simmerstats don't let it properly boil, and may need bypassing. But that is usually with hot water urns rather than true boilers (urns can compromise in order to minimise steam). Similar can happen with safety/overheat/boil-dry protection if it has any, especially if scorched wort or debris start to insulate the element.

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Trouble Getting Past Hot Break

Post by LeeH » Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:39 am

Insulation is key on an arguably under powered boiler like the one you have.

2kW/160L obviously works on a brewery scale, indoors and a well insulated kettle but that’s not my findings at all. I added an extra 3kW to my 75L uninsulated pot in the garage to maintain a vigorous boil all year round.

Wrap the cheapest camping mat around it to test.

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Re: Trouble Getting Past Hot Break

Post by Touchstone » Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:19 pm

I bypassed the thermostat on my Burco, then it keeps on boiling

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Re: Trouble Getting Past Hot Break

Post by Binkie Huckaback » Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:17 am

Hi Guys. Thanks for all your suggestions and apologies for not replying sooner. The boiler had got to a rolling boil when I boiled my water initially. I think the problem was that I dumped all the wort into the boiler at once rather than getting some up to a boil and then heating in pans on the stove first and adding to get it all up to the boil (which is what I'd done to boil the water the day before).

Guy, Rob, Kev and Lee, I think you're right about insulation. I wrapped the hot water cylinder jacket I use around my mash tun and it helped, though a REALLY rolling boil was only reached when all hops were added and they stopped much of the steam escaping. The beer is happily bubbling away and hopefully will be OK.

Dave - you're right about the heating element in the old Burcos. I think they're made from mica and I never thought to test each one and keep those that weren't 'blown' as spares from previous boilers.

Kev & Touchstone - the element is concealed, so no chance of build up of any kind. Also, the blue and cream Baby Burcos are too old to have simmerstats.

Thanks once again guys.

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