Introduction: Build Your Own Stainless Steel RIMS (Recirculating Infusion Mash System) Tube - Round 2

Picture of Build Your Own Stainless Steel RIMS (Recirculating Infusion Mash System) Tube - Round 2

A while ago I built a portable stainless steel RIMS tube and I published this instructable outlining the process so that others could build their own. As a result a lot of customers asked if we were going to offer a RIMS tube kit. After about 2 months of saying no, I went ahead and started selling kits. I really did not think they would sell but I was wrong and now we sell RIMS Tube kits ob Amazon.com.

My original portable RIMS tube is not without issues, all relating to water and rust. Because the RIMS tube is vertical water can't drain past the bottom barb fitting. This is easy to take care of by tipping the RIMS tube on its side to drain, then once the water is drained you just disassemble the top from the bottom and wipe out the remaining water with a paper towel. But this brings up the second issue - rust. Leave water in your portable RIMS tube too long, as I did, and the surface of the threaded heating element will rust! It took a while but we figured out a potting process with food contact safe epoxy that takes care of the rust issue. This instructable shows you how to pot your heating element to reduce the possibility for rust.

Now I have a three tier brew stand and I wanted to mount my RIMS tube on my brew stand but at the same time I wanted to solve the issues I had with my portable RIMS tube, otherwise why not just continue using my portable RIMS? My new brew stand is made of 8020 T-slot framing, which along with their fasteners makes mounting just about anything a easy task.

I had a set of goals and I believe I achieved all of them this time!

  1. Mount the RIMS tube about 1/2 way up the side of my mash tun so that it self floods when I add my initial strike water to my mash.
  2. Self-purge air out of the RIMS tube.
  3. Make the RIMS tube self draining even though I probably will continue disassembling & cleaning it.
  4. Make it easily to disassemble for cleaning.
  5. Mount the RIMS tube in a location that's out of the way but is also convenient for cleaning.

Step 1: Select Mounting Hardware

Picture of Select Mounting Hardware

One nice thing about our electrical boxes is they make mounting our RIMS tube easy.

Also, 8020 has some neat little captive 1/4X20 nuts you just shove into the T-slot frame. They have a little rubber nipple you grab onto when inserting them and the other side of the nipple helps hold the fastener where you want it. I also chose some short 1/4X20 allen head screws to mount the RIMS tube.

Step 2: Drill Mounting Holes

Picture of Drill Mounting Holes

I started with one of the elements I epoxy potted per the directions in this instructable.

Then I drilled two 1/4" holes in the side of the electrical box. You'll notice that the holes are not even - this is intentional, I want the RIMS tube mounted so that it's sloped slightly up to help purge air.

Step 3: Pre-tape and Pre-assemble Fittings

Picture of Pre-tape and Pre-assemble Fittings

Then I pre-taped and pre-assembled the in / out fittings and the fitting for the thermocouple. This just makes assembly easier later.

Step 4: Assemble Main RIMS Tube

Picture of Assemble Main RIMS Tube

Next I assembled the RIMS tube body.

One fitting I did not use teflon tape on is the threads between the center tube and the outside tee. I used Loctite here instead. I will still disassemble & clean the RIMS and when I do I want to make sure the other end of the center tube unscrews & not this end.

Step 5: Electrical Wiring

Picture of Electrical Wiring

I grabbed one of the 6' 240V power cords we assemble for customers and wired up the RIMS tube.

Because the cord is pre-wired this step went by very fast.

Step 6: Cover Box

Picture of Cover Box

The last electrical step is to install the water resistant cover.

Step 7: Plug Into My Electric Brewery Controller

Picture of Plug Into My Electric Brewery Controller

All that's left to do is screw the thermocouple into the end of the RIMS tube then plug the thermocouple into my electric brewery controller!

Step 8: RIMS Tube Beside My Mash Tun

Picture of RIMS Tube Beside My Mash Tun

And finally here's a picture of my RIMS tune beside my mash tun.

I still need to mount my MARCH pump and run the plumbing but that part will be in another instructable.

Thanks, Tom
www.kegkits.com

Comments

jimmiek (author)2017-01-27

Just a thought Tom, but wouldn't it be better if you mounted the heating element at the top of the tube - not horizontal, but vertical, so that when you drain the tube, the water/wort, it won't be sitting on the element to rust it ......?

Also, I know they may be more expensive, but there are elements available that are totally stainless which will not rust like you show - these come to mind -- mine are Camco #02922, 4500W/240V ... and I'm sure there may be others ..... BTW, Home Depot carries some stainless elements as well, IF you know what you want to order ..... ;>) but, like you said, just be sure NOT to let any element sit in water!


Tom Hargrave (author)jimmiek2017-01-27

Mounting the element from the top was a consideration, but you have the opposite problem - part of the element is exposed to trapped air and over heats. The best solution is to mount your RIMS sideways as shown in this article because it naturally drains and purges of air. Regarding stainless steel - you have to be careful of what you buy. The market may have changed some today but at one time we bought one of every stainless steel element we could find on-line, including the ones at Home Depot. And every one we bought had a stainless element pressed into a mild steel base. The CAMCO #02922 element has a stainless element pressed into a zinc plated mild steel base. You can prove this with a magnet test - a magnet will easily stick to the base of the element.

We've gone two steps further with the ones we sell on Amazon.com, we use 100% stainless steel heating elements including the element base and we build them with a sanitary fitting in the middle so the tube can be split in half to drain and dry out. We have the elements made for us in China and I test a sample of every lot that comes in with a magnet. 304 Stainless will have a weak magnetic attraction while mild steel will have a strong magnetic attraction.

Bealski (author)2015-06-21

Now that you've been using this for a while, what changes would you make? Did you ever implement the RIMS/ HERMS setup?

Tom Hargrave (author)Bealski2015-07-09

My RIMS tube has evolved a lot since this project. One big change is I now use a 1-1/4" pipe union in the middle. The union makes cleaning easy because I just unscrew, rinse out and screw the union back together. Also, we have been selling the same design for a while on Amazon and we have received great feedback.

So, if you decide to build your own go ahead and invest in a stainless steel union fitting - about $20 on Amazon.com. Then use a short nipple and a 4" nipple plus the union as the center section of your RIMS tube.

I have not done a RIMS/HERMS setup yet, mostly because my RIMS X cooler setup works great, but a few customers have.

mattjeff (author)2015-04-06

What is the maximum volume this kit will handle and still be able to raise mash temps in a reasonable amount of time?

Tom Hargrave (author)mattjeff2015-04-06

Assuming you are doing a 5 or 10 gallon batch a 240V 5500 Watt RIMS tube will raise your mash from tap temperature to 145F in less than 30 minutes, then it's probably over kill from that point on. Most customers are ordering our 120V 1650 Watt RIMS tube and preheating their mash water. Then they use the 1650 Watt element to maintain mash temperature and do step mashing.

The key is to have a good controller and not a simple thermostat like a RANCO controller. You need something driven by a PID.

brewmaster c (author)2014-03-26

That's very interesting, using both rims and herms together, I may consider that it would make making "real" pilsners easier, those that need a protein rest and two mash temp changes, and. 170deg mash out... I can do that with my herms but it just takes me longer.. More time to head to the beer fridge though... Thanks for the info

brewmaster c (author)2014-03-25

Nice instructable man, I'm still using a copper coil placed inside the boil kettle that is full of water, works great but temp changes take a bit too long.

You are using a type of HERMS system and one downside to HERMS is the thermal mass of the water buffer causes your reaction time to be very slow unless you have a very good heat source. RIMS and HERMS both have their advantages.

Right on, I remember now why I didn't build the RIMS I was afraid I would scortch the wort, if I forgot and turned the pump off with the element on.. My pumping and heating is all manual as of right now. I'm building a temp controller soon.. Thanks for the info

One advantage to HERMS is you can manage temperature manually. The same thermal mass of the water that makes changes so slow also buffers your input and you can turn the heat on & off to manage temperature. Like I said, both have their advantages. If I were to build another system today it would be a mix of both. It would be a HERMS system with a 10 gallon water tank heated by a RIMS heater. I like HERMS systems but the temperature tends to stratify in the HERMS tank because heat rises. To me a HERMS tank with a RIMS type heater is the best of both worlds.

steveastrouk (author)2014-03-25

First rule of Acronyms.: DEFINE it. What the hell is a "RIMS" tube ?

Recirculation Infusion Mash System - And the benefits are stable mash temperature and easily changed mash temperature.

RIGHT, now immediately the article is much more useful. Put that in the top of the article, and some explanation, and you are guaranteed a higher view rate.

Thanks, I just did!

Great Ible Tom, but your link back to "kegkits" doesn't work. You need to ditch the "merchant2" off the URL

Thanks again!!!

Tom Hargrave (author)2014-03-22

Thanks for the feedback. I would not have known exactly how to build this one if I had not built the other portable RIMS tube a couple of years ago.

EngrDanny (author)2014-03-22

Really awesome setup. I've been in the planning stage for a year now. You've given me some great ideas.

If you have any tip on getting the wife to approve the build, I'm all ears.