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A word from John Blichmann:
We have implemented some improvements and added some new features to the AutoSparge level control based on customer feedback. We have changed the brass body to stainless steel so it is now a 100% stainless product! We also changed the thread a bit so that standard NPT fittings thread on more completely. We've closed up the sliding piston clearances a bit to reduce leakage, and last but not least we've added an o-ring seal instead of the gasket. Don't forget that we have optional 9-inch and 12-inch float rods available in addition to the standard 6-inch rod. This increases the range of level control desirable in larger pots.
Newly redesigned - 100% stainless steel, improved o-ring mounting and 1/2" NPT thread.
Finally a sparging system that's a "set-it-and-forget-it" design! This elegantly simple sparge mechanism automatically sets the hot liquor flow rate and liquid level in your mash / lauter tun. As you change the sparge rate into your boil kettle, the AutoSparge automatically responds by increasing or decreasing your hot liquor flow to compensate and keeps a constant level in your tun. Awesome for RIMS systems!
Works great with gravity systems OR with pumps! Wort gently rotates on top of grain bed to reduce channeling, oxygen pick-up, and to increase extraction efficiency. WIth a constant hot liquor level over your grain bed, complicated rotating sparge arms are unnecessary complications!
Float ball and rod are stainless steel. Valve body is now also stainless. Includes 18" silicone hose and foam hose float. Requires a 13/16 mounting hole. Fits any pot larger than 12" in diameter including converted kegs. Adaptable to coolers.
To install yourself, you'll need to punch/drill a 13/16 hole in your pot or cooler. A 7/8" hole will work, but it's a little on the big side. We recommend using a step drill or a Greenlee knock-out punch. A great source for these is McMaster.com. The step drill is part number 8841A24 (89315A42 for TiN coating) or a punch 3449A999 - requires a 3/8" pilot hole. This particular punch (Greenlee model 730BB) is special order with a 3-day lead time. Slug-Buster types are available in their catalog but do not work well in this application. When drilling stainless steel a moderate to slow speed is best to avoid overheating the tool. While hole saws will also work, they are difficult to use in stainless sheet metal.
Installing into a cooler:
The threaded portion of the AutoSparge is not long enough to fit through a 1-2" deep cooler wall so you will need to use a 2" hole saw for clearance for your hose connection and a smaller hole for mounting the AutoSparge. To do this, drill a 1/4" pilot hole all the way through the cooler at the desired location. Then slowly and carefully hole saw through the outside layer of the cooler. Be careful so you don't accidentally drill all the way through it. Remove the outer cut-out and foam insulation inside the hole. Then drill the 13/16 mounting hole through the inside wall of the cooler with a step drill.
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I gave it 4 stars because I haven't installed it or used it yet. Everything looks like it will fit. I am glad I ordered the short rod as the others look like they would be to long for my igloo 10 gallon cooler. Now I need to order the Blichmann quick connects for this thing to work. So far, I'm happy with my purchase. Can't o wrong with Blichmann.
This is a great way to keep the flow balanced for sparging, no more constant vigil to adjust the water in or wort out. I have a single-tier system with two pumps and it was never easy to keep them even. The Auto Sparge works great for keeping a constant water level above the mash. However, the silicon tubing with the float ball on the end needs to be a little longer so the end doesn't point down into the tun and create a tunnel. I had to cut a longer piece and install it myself, no big deal. The kit is set up, I believe, for a 5 or 10 gallon tun, I have a 15 gallon tun so I needed to get the longer arm. The water control in the nice stainless steel body is a small piston that can be forced open by just a little water pressure. It's very twitchy so the pressure from the pump must be adjusted so it doesn't force open the flow valve. Once I fixed the little nits, it works great! I definitely will not brew without it.
My son and I have been all-grain brewing for a couple of years and one of our jokes is that we never brew the same beer twice. Mostly it's because of the sparge and not hitting our temps/times. We've done a couple of batches since we got the autosparge installed (using a cooler with a stepped cut for inner and outer layers) and it's like we're in the big time now. Set it and forget it. It just works.