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I'm a long term homebrewer but I have always done single step infusion mashes. I've always wanted a RIMS or HERMS system but I don't like the space a full system takes up and I've always backed off because of the cost. But what about a self contained portable RIMS tube system? Something I could use with my existing 10 gallon GOTT cooler mash tun? Well, that's how my portable RIMS tube was born. It's light, only 17 pounds and can easily be stored the 20 something days of the month when I'm not brewing beer. So, it keeps the wife happy too because I'm not taking up so much space in the garage.

This is a step by step guide for building your own portable RIMS tube.

Here is an updated instructable, showing you how to attach a more permanent RIMS tube to your brew stand.

Since posting this instructable we have been answering email requests for a RIMS tube kit and we finally put a kit together minus the pump and base. You can find our RIMS tube kit here!

Step 1: Parts List

1 – MARCH Pump model 815-PL, P/N 0809-0196-0600
1 - Pre-assembled 30A, 240V power cord with twist lock plug (available Here as part of a kit)
1 - 15" Stain Round Panel (round piece of wood)
1 - 8" X 1-1/4" SCH40 Stainless Steel Pipe Nipple (center section)
2 - SCH40 Stainless Steel 1-1/4" Tee
2 - SCH40 Stainless Steel 1-1/4" X 1/2" Bushing (inlet & outlet)
1 - SCH40 Stainless Steel 1-1/4" X 1" Bushing (heater element)
1 - SCH40 Stainless Steel 1-1/4" X 1/4" Bushing (temperature probe)
1 – Water tight electrical box with three 3/4" holes (available with hole already drilled for element Here as part of a kit)
1 – Water tight electrical box cover (available Here as part of a kit)
1 - Liquid tight PT100 RTD temperature sensor (available Here for $29.95)
1 - 5500 watt 240V screw in style stainless steel water heater element (available Here as part of a kit)
1 - 1/2" stainless steel nipple
2 - 1/2" stainless steel barb fitting
2 - 1/2" nickle plated brass nut for barb fitting
2 - 1/2" silicone O-ring for barb fitting
1 - 1/2" CPVC Tee
1 - 1/2" CPVC 90 Elbow
1 - 1/2" CPVC ball valve
1 - 1/2" CPVC Pipe X 1/2" MPT
1 - 1/2" CPVC Pipe X 1/2" FPT
1 - Short piece of 1/2" CPVC pipe
4 - Stove bolts, nots, washers, lock washers for MARCH Pump
2 - Brackets for to mount RIMS Tube
6 - Wood screws to mount RIMS Tube
6 - 1/16" Rivets or screws & nuts
1 - Teflon Tape
1 - CPVC Glue


Required Tools:
Hand Drill or Drille Press (easier to work with)
Assorted drill bits
Large slip joint pliers
#2 plillips screwdriver
1" adjustable wrench
Assorted wrenches
Water heater element socket

Step 2: Trial Fitting

Start by trial fitting everything.

Knowing the RIMS tube was going to sit on top of the electrical box, I just stacked the parts up then made sure everything would line up.

Then I pre-assembled the stainless steel parts and trial fit the heating element.

Even though this element needs 13-1/2" it fits fine in the parts I bought. You can see the end of the element reaching 1/2 way into the second SS tee fitting.

The element also fits 1-1/4" stainless steel pipe even though others on-line told me the element would not fit.

So, don't always believe the "experts"!

I went ahead and test fit the PT100 RTD temperature sensor on it's 1/4" bushing adapter and it fit fine.

I want the probe tip to protrude far enough to get a good measurement but not be real close to the heating element.

And here it is threaded into one of the Tees. Water turbulance will keep water swirling around in the tee and I should get very accurate temperature measurements.

Step 3: Drill Mounting Holes

Mark the MARCH Pump mounting holes and the outline of the RIMS tube base.

Drill the MARCH pump mounting holes. I used 1/4" Stove Bolts & drilled the 1/4" holes with my drill press.

Step 4: Mount MARCH Pump

1. The stove bolts I used. It's also important to use flat washers and lock washers because of pump vibration.

2. The order the washers & nut should stack-up. The washer goes first then the lock nut then the nut.

3. The nuts should be tightened to the point where they just start pulling the stove bolt heads into the wood.

4. Here is a good picture of the other side. The bolt on the left is a little over tightened.

Step 5: Drill Hole in Back of Electrical Box.

Drill a hole through the back of the electrical box to clear the heating element.

Check our Electric Brewpot article for more drilling details.

Or you can buy a element wiring kit from our Electric Brewery section - the boxes that ship with our kits are all pre-drilled.

Step 6: Attach the RIMS Tube Mounting Brackets

Apply a strip of 2 sided tape to both long sides of the electrical box.

Decide what you will use for your RIMS Tube mounting brackets. I used two pieces of 3/4" aluminum angle because that's what I had laying around.

Temporaraly install the cover on your electrical box Peel the paper off the outside of the 2 sided tape then place the electrical box face down on a flat table top. Stick the mounting brackets to the double sided tape. Because the sides of the electrical box are not straight the brackets will not be flush with the table top but this is OK.

Flip the box over and depending on the brackets you use, it should look something like this.

The double sided tape stays on the box. But trimming off the excess 2 sided tape sticking out from under the brackets makes the box look better.

Step 7: Drill Mounting Holes and Fasten Bracket

Drill mounting holes through the brackets and sides of the box at the same time - I drilled three holes down each side.

Attach the brackets to the sides of the box. I used rivets because rivets don't loosen up but you could also use machine screws. But don't use any type of self tapping screw or screws with sharp points. Any sharp point inside the box could rub into the wiring and cause a short later.

Here is a good picture of the inside of the box showing the hole I drilled through the back earlier and the rivets.

Drill holes in the other side of the mounting brackets. I drilled 6 holes, 3 on each side.

Step 8: Assemble the RIMS Tube

Start assembly - a vise is not necessary but it helps. If you don't have a vise you probably need help from a friend to tighten all the pipe fittings.

This is probably the easiest part of the entire project. You just wrap the male pipe fitting threads with teflon tape and screw the parts together.

The stack-up order is:
1-1/4" X 1" adapter
1-1/4" Tee
1-1/4" X 8" Pipe Nipple
1-1/4" Tee
1-1/4" X 1/2" adapter

Once you have everything assembled just turn the very top fitting until everything is tight.

Install the second 1-1/4" X 1/2" adapter in the bottom Tee fitting.

Install the 1-1/4" X 1/4" adapter in the top Tee fitting.

Step 9: Install the Heating Element

Turn the assembly over in the vise. You can place the box on the 1-1/2" X 1" adapter and see that it lines up nicely.

Put Teflon tape on the element threads.

Drop the element through the hole in the bottom of the electrical box. Push the square gasket that came with the element onto the element threads.

Thread the element into the 1-1/4" X 1" adapter then tighten with a water heater element wrench or socket.

When installed, the element should look like the last picture.

Step 10: Wire the Element Then Re-install the Cover

Disassemble the water tight fitting the power cord will run through. Slide the outside nut & rubber bushing onto the power cord in the order they came off the fitting then install the main fitting body into the electrical box.

Attach the wires to the heating element and to the ground screw. The green wire goes to the green safety ground screw - Don't skip the ground wire - this is a very critical safety connection!!! The white and black wires go to the heating element terminals and the order does not matter.

Slide the rubber bushing up the wire & into the fitting then tighten the compression nut.

Re-install the box cover

Step 11: Do the CPVC Plumbing

Now we start tying everything together. The CPVC 1/2" Pipe X 1/2" FPT needs no sealer - it has a neoprene gasket already installed. Thread the fitting onto the MARCH Pump outlet.

The CPVC 1/2" Pipe X 1/2" MPT fitting that threads into the bottom RIMS tube tee does need a sealer so I applied Teflon tape then I screwed the fitting into the RIMS tube tee.

Cut CPVC pipe and trial fit everything before you glue parts together. I do not give dimensions here because your RIMS Tube will not be set-up exactly like mine, but here are the parts in the order I assembled mine.

CPVC 1/2" Pipe X 1/2" FPT screws onto MARCH Pump outlet
CPVC 1/2" Pipe from MARCH pump fitting to CPVC 1/2" Tee
CPVC 1/2" Pipe from top of Tee to CPVC 1/2" Elbow
CPVC 1/2" Pipe from Elbow to CPVF fitting screwed into RIMS Tube
CPVC 1/2" Pipe from right of Tee to drain valve
CPVC 1/2" Pipe from right side of drain valve

Only when you are happy with how everything fits, glue all of the CPVC parts together with CPVC glue.

Step 12: Fasten the RIMS Tube to the Base

Before you attach the RIMS tube to the base, make sure the screws you plan to use are not too long. I measured the screws I was going to use and they were too long, but I had some stand-off spacers laying around that I used to take up the extra length.

Use the screws to attach the RIMS to the base. You can see the spacers I had to use for my screws - if I had not checked I would have screwed the base down to my table top. Wife would not have been happy!

Step 13: Final Assembly

Apply teflon tape to the PT100 RTD Liquid Tight Sensor threads then screw the sensor into the top Tee of the RIMS tube.

Apply Teflon tape to the 1/2" stainless steel nipple and screw the nipple into the top of the RIMS tube.

Assemble the inlet & outlet fittings. The 1/2" barb drops into the 1/2" nut. The silicone O-ring goes inside the nut after the barb drops in. The two fittings screw onto the MARCH Pump inlet and the nipple you screwed into the top of the RIMS tube earlier

And you are DONE!!!!!

Step 14: Pictures of Final Product

For more information please visit http://www.kegkits.com/RimsTube.htm.

Thanks, Tom

Step 15:

9/30/12 - I finally had time to do a leak test and a flow test today and both were a success.

It's going to be a great brew season!

Step 16: Update - Rusty Element

I discovered after ruining a batch of beer and spending hours cleaning rust out of everything that the face of screw-in water heater elements are not made of stainless steel. The rust occurred after I let water sit in my RIMS tube for about two days.

Now I disassemble my RIMS tube and dry out the water after every batch and the rust has not come back.

Here is an updated instructable, showing you how to attach a more permanent RIMS tube to your brew stand.

We have found a great solution to this rust problem - you can read about it in this instrucable.

Tom - www.kegkits.com

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