after my first carboy slipped thru my firm grip and shattered on the concrete, i decided maybe glass wasn't the end all of cheap homebrew fermenting vessels.
i found these plastic Speidel fermentors NIB but half price on ebay, and decided I was ready to try plastics. But i was unsatisfied with the petcock they came with and my sticky "Fermometer" was unable to hold tight thru a PBR soak and wash.
This instructable walks a use thru the process of installing a Stainless Steel ball valve with adjustable neck for picking up the just the liquid above the sediment, and a thermowell/thermometer for accurate temp readings.
I went the expensive route and bought my bits and pieces from SS brewtech.
Step 1: What Are We Replacing?
this simple valve doesn't quite fit my requirements, my siphoning hoses don't quite fit on the nipple, when full the 60L fermentor is a bit awkward to move around, and that valve is dangerously close to the ground to get smacked and broken, possibly draining 15gal of brew!!!
just the thought of all those hours worth of effort pouring onto the ground made me cringe. So i decided it was an easy fix to order up a few stainless steel pieces to enhance an already respectable fermentor.
also it doesn't have a thermometer, a very important part of fermentation is temperature! so we should be able to easily keep track of fermentation temperatures, without opening up the top and taking a temp reading the old fashioned way.
Step 2: The Ball Valve Installation
you really need to use the right size bit for this, 17mm to be precise.
- Use the bit to drill a hole in the center of the solid cap that was sent with your spiedel fermentor.
- clean the edges of your hole with sandpaper
- remove the nut, racking cane, and inner o-ring from the ball valve
- push the ball valve thru the hole, and put the o-ring and nut back on, don't overtighten the nut! or you may mess up the seal and o-ring, luckily they give spare o-rings in the order from ss brew tech.
- screw your newly modified cap into the lower fitting on the fermentor. once tight, adjust the ball valve so the lever is on top for ease of use.
- from the inside, put the racking cane back on the valve, adjust as desired for expected trub levels.
Step 3: Installing the Thermometer and Bulkhead Fitting
- using a 1/2" bit, drill a hole above the highest expcted trub levels
- sand the new hole with sandpaper
- install the stainless bulkhead fitting with o-ring outside, then plastic spacer, o-ring and nut inside in that order. again being sure not to over-tighten the bulkhead fitting nut.
- wrap the thermometer threads heavily with teflon tape (plumbers tape) and mount the thermometer into the bulkhead we just installed. tighten with wrenches for leak prevention, you could also use a bead of silicone on the threads if your unable to get a leak proof fitting here.
Step 4: Leak Test
fill the fermentor full of water, and wit back and wait for it to leak. if it doesn't, pat yourself on the back! if it does, drain, and re-do the fitting that is leaking, likely there is a ruptured o-ring from over-tightening. For me it was the threads on the thermometer going into the bulkhead, I had to do 3 layers of teflon tape on the threads to get it not to leak.
Step 5: Use It!
This 60L Speidel is going to be my sour mash fermentor, so the neck on the drain valve is really going to come in handy for siphoning off the beer from the corn. The thermometer is a joy to read, but after the upgrades, the fermentor cost as much as the amazon listing, so my sweet bargain has been defeated. But I'm much happier with my purchase after the modifications and am looking forward to a few good years of service from the plastic Speidel.