Feb 4, 2012

First of many...

So, while Eric and I are figuring out our mash tun and boil kettle situation, I decided it would be good to go ahead and purchase/create some things I know we want.  One benefit of this is I can use it now for extract batches until we get up and running with the all-grain setup.

The first thing I invested in was the quick disconnects (QDs from here on out) and high-temp tubing.  The QDs are sold in 2 pieces, male and female connections.  They are simple enough to install, assuming that all your sizes are compatible.  Since everything was 1/2", I was golden.  Funny how things like that work when you plan ahead.  Anyways, I just slipped the barb from the female QD into the hose and clamped it on with a screw clamp.  Simple as that.

I got three hoses, so six female connections.  All it took was a screw driver.  I got a few male connections which will be attached to mash tun, boil kettle, and the pump.  There are a couple of them down below.

High temp hoses with QDs installed.
I don't have a whole lot of plumbing/connection knowledge, so I don't really know what I am talking about here, but the picture shows male QD with the female NPT.  Here is the part I googled: NPT stands for "national pipe thread," so the threads are male/female as well as the connection.  (I apologize to those of you to whom this may be obvious and to those of whom I have offended with my simplistic plumbing-term knowledge.)  I got a few male QDs with male NPT, too.  Why the difference?  Well, as I mentioned previously, some are for the pump and some are for the kettles.  Ball valves, as you will see in a minute, have female NPT and need a male NPT to fit but the pump was coming with male NPT and I needed a female NPT to fit.  Whew.  That makes sense in my mind.  Hope it makes sense in digital format.
Male QD with female NPT

But... it turns out I forgot about the ball valve on my pump, so I needed to do a quick order of 1) the ball valve for my pump and 2) a stainless connector from the valve to the female end of a male QD.  A simple stainless steel 1/2" nipple does that.

Ball valve with QD installed.  
And finally, I worked on the ball valve which will be installed in my kettle.  It will have a QD, too.  It was easy enough to assemble.  I made my first use ever of some plumber's tape (I've also seen it around as teflon tape).  The point of the tape is to make a better seal on connections where two things are screwing together.  Just wrap it around three or four times, making sure to wrap the right way, clockwise, so that it doesn't bunch up.  Bunching or wrapping wrong will give you a worse seal than not using it at all.  It expands the male NPT just enough to give it a tight fit and better leakage protection (sounds like a commercial for adult diapers or something...).  After hand tightening, I used a wrench to really tighten it up.
Completed ball valve.

The tape itself was $1.06 from Home Depot, so it isn't a huge investment.  The QDs and valves I ordered from bargainfittings.com.  They are great.  They have everything I needed, it is all organized, cheaper prices than anywhere else online, and it shipped quickly.  I could not have been happier with their service and selection. If you are in the market for any connections for your setup, check them out.

My next step will be to install the ball valve on my kettle, which will take a whole post in itself.  Looking forward to that one, aren't you?  For now, I have some valves and hoses hanging out in our dining room.  I should probably move those.

Until next time.