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Fw: [Distillers] Re:Re:I've seen the light

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  • darryn
    ... From: darryn To: DAVID REID Date: Wednesday, January 01, 1997 1:19 AM Subject: Re: [Distillers] Re:Re:I ve seen the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 1997
      -----Original Message-----
      From: darryn <darryn@...>
      To: DAVID REID <nzag@...>
      Date: Wednesday, January 01, 1997 1:19 AM
      Subject: Re: [Distillers] Re:Re:I've seen the light

      Hi David
      Thanks for your help,Iknow that you're a busy man and lengthy replies like the one you wrote to me take time.Thanks alot.
      I too bought John and Mikes book,but only after I had built my still.Since then I have been in contact with Mike a fair bit and he has helped me heaps,so I'm going ahead with my plans to build a still of their design.I'm hoping to start very soon,so if you have any spare time it would be great if you could give me a short description of the new mods that you have made so that maybe I could incorporate them into my new still.What diameter column do you have ?
      Until Mike explained it to me,I never realised that you could produce 95% alcohol that still had nasty congeners in it if you don't push them all out at the start by running the still under total reflux for some time to equilibriate the column.
      Sorry that I haven't replied to you sooner but I have been in Thailand for the last 2 weeks.
      Thanks again
      -----Original Message-----
      From: DAVID REID <nzag@...>
      To: darryn <darryn@...>; Distillers@egroups.com <Distillers@egroups.com>
      Cc: DAVID REID <nzag@...>
      Date: Friday, June 02, 2000 1:55 PM
      Subject: Re: [Distillers] Re:Re:I've seen the light

      Hi Darryn,
                     I see you are progressing well and continuing to experiment by making various models and trying out different ideas. I also see you are keen to help and are proving an asset to the members of this n.g. on your side of the ditch. Both these are the quickest way to learn and as I have said a number of times before you dont have to try very hard to beat most of the stills out there for the home distillation market.
      The trouble is a lot of the people who designed these stills thought they understood the principles of distillation but didnt and obviously still dont as they continue to foist some of their shoddy designs on the innocent unsuspecting public. Talk about the blind leading the blind. This problem comes about largely because these people are largely business people without any design flair or engineering experience or ability. Years ago a good friend and good designer himself taught me about a design concept or philosophy called "Sufficient to the need." in relation to design which is basically that a good design is not necessarily the best design but a design that is suited to the needs of the moment or requirement. eg. Bailley bridges are ideal in times of war, emergency, and flash floods but their longterm potential in terms of aesthetics and one or two other aspects including sometimes even practicality is rather limited. In short  every design has a limited and certain timespan. In the case of NZ  and one or two other places elsewhere "sufficient to the need" in the case of still design meant cheap shoddy stills that were and are sufficient to move reasonable quantities of mediocre essences. In my opinion a lot of these stills have well and truly exceeded their use by date and it is well and truly time for better stills.
      As I have said a number of times in the past there is an old english saying that "A bad workman blames his tools", but that a good workman invariably has good tools or at least knows how to use them properly and compensate for them in the case of the poorer quality ones he may possess or use. This is why I have pushed so strongly for an improvement in the quality of stills. Admitedly there are a lot of other areas that badly need attention and emphasis but I believe stills are one of the first we need to concentrate on. You dont see a modern army fighting with bows and arrows do you?
      With regard to your questions regarding particular still design I am still mucking around with a number of designs but at this point and any one point tend to dwell on one particular design to try and get that right. When I mentioned I got 95.5% purity the facts I omitted to mention was that I only started with a 6% wash and have yet to fine tune the controller properly. If you bring the still to its proper equilibrium giving it time to establish the true separations this is not too difficult or a problem but the fact that I could do it after only 40 minutes of bringing the wash up to temperature (40 L wash)  means I am doing something right. This is no mean feat.
      In regard to the specific design with this one this is basically a slight variation on the original John Stone design. John' original book was one of the first I got my hands on that made a lot of sense to me. Please remember John worked for a company for a number of years that specialized in making pharmaceutical grade ethanol. In this case the column is approx 1050mm long (a lot longer than normal) being approx 970mm to the centre of the takeoff tee and with the condenser arm turning and going up vertically another 600mm. Condenser coil comes down inside this 420mm  with the takeoff point being on the outside of the bend so I takeoff the already condensed returning distillate and not the rising vapour or the distillate sitting on the bottom. Overall this is rather a tall still standing 2150mm to the top of the condenser and 2290 to the very top because of the add ons. Boiler is 560mm high with a reducer leading into the column and is set on a small angle iron frame to prevent it being tipped over or heat being transferred to the floor. (angle iron upside down with edge resting on floor). My second still is quite an improvement on this but have yet to fire it up properly and to fine tune it. I suspect and believe this will more than outperform the other one.  
      To summarise and reiterate some of the points I think are important are as follows:
      1) PACKING. As real estate agents say Location, Location, Location. In this case PACKING. PACKING. PACKING. 
      2) VERY EVEN  ACCURATE TEMPERATURE & TIGHT CONTROL OF THIS. Next to good quality packing this is probably the most important factor and one which quickly separates the better stills from the more inferior. Without this you are never going to achieve proper separation and even if you do you are then going to mix up those separations. A lot of stills available in NZ have no control over this apart from being off or on.(about as subtle as a sledgehammer). Unfortunately this costs. If people believe you can achieve proper separation without this or distilling twice or more they are living in cloud cuckoo land and are welcome to the moonshine they will produce. Just dont me and others with a little discernment to join them. Darryn you are lucky to be an electrician and in this aspect the cost is not a lot to you. Mike Nixon and Dave Pickles have done a service to this group by publishing their respective triac designs. These are both a step in the right direction and at present for most people "sufficient to the need".
      3) SUFFICIENT COLUMN LENGTH. Not necessarily so with good design and quality packing  but in this case covers for insufficient packing or inferior packing which almost everyone is using.
      4) INSULATION. Most important and minimises hot and cold spots allowing proper separation to occur. It is senseless to allow vapourization to occur if the vapour is only going to meet  cold spots further up the column to be continually condensed. This only stuffs up your reflux and means that the azoetrope gets further up the column with more getting into the final distillate thus reducing overall proof or %.
      This is a point that bears quite a lotof thought and reflection as too much insulation means the separtion occurs further up the column particularly on a hot day while too little means the creation of hot and cold spots. With very packing the column can be considerally shorter. Also note that ss scrubbers are not a structured packing but a random packing. Nevertheless while they have their inadequacies and are not perfect due to cost they are the next best thing. (sufficient to the need at present but only just). Stuctured packings, pall rings, raschig rings, and ss scrubbers are definitely superior to glass marbles and other solid packing.
      5) A clean wash so you dont contaminate the still as fast and dont get deposits build up. Particularly true if you are using ss scrubbers for your packing.
      6) A sightglass or inspection port so you can visually inspect the  the wash and obtain exactly the right temperature. What you need is a gentle simmer or a rolling boil. If you can see the top of the wash at all times you can quickly make minor adjustmernts and quickly learn how to distill.
      All in the meantime. Hope this is of help to you.
      B.r., David
      ----Original Message-----
      From: darryn <darryn@...>
      To: Distillers@egroups.com <Distillers@egroups.com>
      Date: Monday, May 29, 2000 1:00 AM
      Subject: [Distillers] Re:Re:I've seen the light

      Hi David
      My original still was from Spirits Unlimited,it was well made but the 50mm diameter column was way to short at 300mm so I could only manage 90% tops and that was only after I made a power regulator to fine tune the system.
      At the moment I'm trying some different still designs and I noticed that your still is running very well (95.5%).Would you be able to give me a short description of your still as I have read heaps of books but I'm curious to see what is actually being used out there.
      Thanks in advance.

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