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Thread: Calling all GAI Filler/Capper users

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    189

    Calling all GAI Filler/Capper users

    We've been using a GAI 3003A-Bier 12-head filler/capper for about 4 years now.

    Things are starting to wear, the manual is near incomprehensible and incomplete; so I thought it might be a great idea to get any users here together to share tips and suggestions and maybe brainstorm about solutions and preventative maintenance needs.

    BTW, the GAI 3003A is BY FAR the best filler/capper we have used in over 14 years of operation--and it's our third filler/capper. We run at 3,000+ bottles per hour, one or two days per week. No complaints, but, hey, we need to talk....

    Timm

    Terminal Gravity Brewing
    Last edited by TGTimm; 03-20-2012 at 02:19 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Mammoth Lakes, CA
    Posts
    73

    We use the same machine

    One thing that happened to our machine:
    Safety shut off on the crowner star failed so when we had a bottle jam the machine didn't stop and the edge of the crowning head came down on top of a bottle and actually bent up the bolts that hold the piston arms in place. Also, pushed most everything on the crowner out of adjustment. So now we check the safety switches under the machine more often.
    If your getting smashed crowns, go through the adjusting procedure outlined in the manual. It fixed one of our problems.
    It is a great machine.
    Is anyone using a rotary lobe pump coupled to a pressure switch to supply their bottling line with beer?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    189
    Thanks, jbs.

    I've heard the same warning about the capper safety from another GAI user, and consequently have started testing it at every start-up.

    So far, our biggest problem was an oversight in the manual. It does not mention anything about disassembling, cleaning, and lubricating the capper assembly--the part that puts the caps on (and which contains a couple of large, dangerously pre-loaded springs). As a consequence, the lower spring unit--the bit that has the closing cone and cap ejector--froze up completely and started shattering bottles. We had to replace almost the entire assy. I now take it down, clean, lube, and inspect it about once a month.

    We had a problem with caps getting mangled in the capper, but re-adjusting the capper (the way it's described in the manual is only part of the procedure and doesn't really work all that well) and setting the point at which the flipper thingy pulls the caps back, fixed that entirely. We are now getting perfect caps every time (oops, I probably shouldn't have said that).

    Our biggest problem is the cap feed unit. We have to tweak the frequency and amplitude at every start-up, and usually several times during a run. I haven't heard of others having this problem, so maybe it's our frequency drive.

    I'm putting together some photos of various parts of the GAI, which I'll put up on my Flickr page so we can, hopefully, discuss problems and suggestions without referring to parts as "that flipper thingy". The diagrams in our manual do not name parts, only giving a long part number, which is frustrating.

    Thanks again, and I'll repeat the call-out: If your brewery uses a GAI bottler, please post experiences, tips, etc. here! It is a great machine, but like all complex devices, requires care, maintenance, adjustment, and holding one's mouth just right.

    Timm.

    Oh, yeah--we use CO2 pressure to push our product, so no help with the PD pump.
    Last edited by TGTimm; 03-28-2012 at 10:58 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    189

    GAI solutions!

    It's time for our annual seal and o-ring replacement again, and the prices the distributor charges for these rubber bits is exorbitant. I spent some time doing my research, and found Cascade O-ring in Beaverton, Oregon. I sent Chris samples of all the o-rings, and we got enough for several years of annual and run-time maintenance for >$50!

    Hopefully Chris will be cross-referencing these rings to the GAI part #s.

    If you do your own maintenance, call Chris at Chinookor.com

    Another problem I seem to have found a solution to: The valves on the filler heads--particularly the snifter valve-- love to eat o-rings. This is due to the 45 deg. cross-bores, which are razor sharp where the rings must pass over them. I found a product called Flex-Hone, mfg'd by Brush Research Manufacturing, brushresearch.com The ones I bought, after consulting with one of the techs, are model BC58600, 5/8" dia, 600 grit, silicon carbide. I bought two, but one did all three valve bores on all twelve heads.

    These are abrasive brushes meant to be driven at low speeds with a hand-held drill motor. I used our cordless. BRM sells a special lube for honing with the brushes, but I rejected it as not compatible with beer contact, and simply used soapy H2O instead. About 45 sec. per valve bore seems to have worked wonders, following the honing instructions on the packaging and website. We've not had an o-ring failure in these valves since.

    Good brewing--

    TGTimm
    Last edited by TGTimm; 02-20-2013 at 12:28 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    13
    Quote Originally Posted by TGTimm View Post

    Our biggest problem is the cap feed unit. We have to tweak the frequency and amplitude at every start-up, and usually several times during a run. I haven't heard of others having this problem, so maybe it's our frequency drive.
    I see this post is a year old, but I used to have this problem with the GAI 3003 I run. Turns out a couple of the bolts that attach the vibration rods to the metal plate under the hopper bowl were completely split in half. We've since replaced most of the stainless steel bolts under the bowl with aircraft grade bolts and haven't had a problem.

    Cheers,
    Nate
    Nate Jackson
    Packaging Manager
    Marble Brewery
    Albuquerque, NM

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    189
    Thanks, Nate!

    I found the main cause of our vibrator instability. It was the two potentiometers on the frequency control unit (FQ2). Unfortunately, there are no identifying marks on these, only that one is 22 kOhms, the other, 10 kOhms. $135 from Pros, but our frequency and amplitude rarely have to be adjusted now.

    I will take a look at those bolts, like maybe right now as we're doing a double bottling run tomorrow.

    Just checked--bolts and nuts are fine. Something to keep an eye on, 'though.

    Thanks again--

    Timm
    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise, OR.
    Last edited by TGTimm; 02-25-2013 at 03:36 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    189

    Wow! A miracle cure!

    I've just got to recommend the Flex-Hone fix to all you GAI users! We had a horrible problem every time our snifter orifice got clogged, since it was about a 1:1 chance the inner o-ring on the valve body would get sliced when re-inserting the valve. This would result in nasty foamers and a re-clogged snifter orifice--this time, with a little slice of o-ring rubber.

    Well, a couple of minutes per filler head with the Flex-Hone seems to have fixed this problem 100%!

    Not often one finds a quick, simple, and cheap miracle cure--

    Timm

    Terminal Gravity Brewing
    Enterprise, OR.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    13
    Never really had a problem with the sniffer other than the occasional blockage, though I'll probably look into getting a Flex-Hone anyway since I have cut a fair share of o-rings trying to slide those valves back into place.

    Another issue that popped up for me last week was the rolling wheels for the pedestals under the filler. Somehow one of them had just gotten shredded on the inside and was causing the filler to shutter violently as it turned to that spot. I replaced all 12 just be be safe, but I'm curious to see if you've replaced those or maybe it's a deeper underlying problem as to why ours would have failed like that. Here's a picture for reference.

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    Nate Jackson
    Packaging Manager
    Marble Brewery
    Albuquerque, NM

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    189
    That's very interesting, Nate.

    Our filler has a "shudder" at certain points in its rotation, also. I've been rather puzzled about what could be causing it, so I guess I'd better have a look at those rollers!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    San Leandro, CA
    Posts
    4

    Sterile water jet not sterile

    I was poking around under my machine today and found the water line to the sterile water jet was actually plumbed to the regular water line. Prospero said that foam inducing jet was sterile water, and I believed them. I had to move the line over to the sterile water line and plug the other hole. And since the bottle rinser and water jet run off the same water line, there isn't enough pressure coming through the filters to supply both.

    My next step is to run another water line from the regular water to the bottle rinser. This will save the filters and give me the pressure I need to rinse bottles adequately.

    Check your machines to make sure yours is plumbed correctly. Not only do many hoses fall off and many bolts unscrew themselves on our machine, but things aren't hooked up properly. Our crowner and labeler have never worked properly from day one. This is typical for Prospero, so make a quick check and make the corrections if needed.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    189
    Yeah, mpawl33, I re-worked that entire water system a while back.

    Our rinse water is micro-filtered, and our fobber water is a separate system of three Corny kegs, pressurized with micro-filtered air and sterilized with peracetic acid. We control the fobber jet velocity with a pressure regulator on the water line. I stole the fobber water solenoid valve from the water manifold and added it to the new system, so the fobber only runs when the machine is turning. 15 gal. of treated fobber water gets us through a 50 bbl. bottling run. We also changed out the fobber orifice for a finer, higher pressure one (Spraying Systems Co. Ultrastar mdl# 38170, 316SS, orifice dia. 15), which puts much less water into the bottle.

    The biggest waste I found, as set up by the pros, was the use of CO2 to blow the bottles dry in the rinser. We were using about 500 lb. of CO2 per 50 bbl. bottle run previously, now that I changed it to filtered air, we're down to ~ 70 lb CO2/run. The air compressor runs a lot more, 'though!
    Last edited by TGTimm; 04-02-2013 at 01:35 PM.
    Timm Turrentine

    Brewerywright,
    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise. Oregon.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    189
    Oh, yeah, Nate--

    I checked those wheels. They're FUBAR, but still working. I've ordered new ones and will probably replace them next week. Thanks for the heads up!
    Timm Turrentine

    Brewerywright,
    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise. Oregon.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    4

    capper and hopper for a 3003 GAI bier

    My company just bought one and this thing drives me crazy! I think crowns get stuck in the track and block up the capper until I get up there and pull the crowns out. Still trying to figure out the perfect frequency. Also, the actual capper that wraps around the top of the bottle every once in a while will not let go of the bottle and lift it up as the star turns and snaps the bottle into pieces. The manual is just about useless. Prospero is useless. I have asked at least 3 of their employees if they would send me a list of parts (parts that tend to break a lot) I should buy to have on hand so my machine is not down for too long and they all said that they keep ALL the parts in their place in New York. SO, the very first part that broke on me last week was a part they couldnt get to me for 5 days! I even had the part number from the manual, the part number was apparently different in the manual they had and they told me my manual was too new...

    Any solutions to these little problems? Also, would any of you other GAI 3003 bier users like to send me a list of parts you have had to order?

    Thanks!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    189
    Brian-- Welcome to the wonderful world of Italian machinery!

    Adjusting the freq. drive for the vibrator is a a pain, but not really all that difficult. Start with the frequency and amplitude around 5-6 on the dials. Fiddle with the frequency (very small increments) until the crowns make the most noise. This should be about optimal. Now get someone to observe the crowns while you fiddle with the amplitude. The lower crown channel will need to be open while you do this, so the crowns can feed freely. The amp. at which the most crowns feed through the crown channel, without too many getting booted off the ramp, is the best.

    As for the danged crown channel and the bit that rejects upside-down crowns... yeah, that takes some serious messing with. I'll take a look at ours and try to remember everything I did to get it working well.

    Spare parts: everything rubber on the filler assembly heads--have at least two spares of these. This includes the seals and o-rings. I could send you a list of these parts, as I keep an inventory to make sure I have enough stock and keep track of frequency of repairs and rebuilds. I try to replace all these part at least twice a year, but this will depend on your usage.


    The springs in the filler head valves (three per head, behind the numbered plate) should be replaced about once a year, too. Be sure to note that there are two different spring for these--the stouter one goes in the lower valve.

    Be sure to read what I wrote above concerning polishing the bores these valves fit into. Flex-hone is our friend.

    The springs on the assembly that carries the bottle seal need replacing about once a year or so. Be sure you lubricate the rods on this assembly before every bottling run, with your mineral oil lube. The springs are SS running on SS rods in an SS tube, so very prone to galling and breaking.

    Check out the roller assembly that drives the crowner frequently. It's got a serious weakness due to a design flaw. Our broke and we ran with it broken for who knows how long, fighting crowner problems until I finally noticed it. Keep this and the rails the crowner runs on greased well.

    I've gotta get to work fixing our World Tandem labeler--but that's another thread.
    Last edited by TGTimm; 04-08-2013 at 12:55 PM.
    Timm Turrentine

    Brewerywright,
    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise. Oregon.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    189

    Setting capper

    Brian--

    If you have bottles getting stuck in the crowner, it is adjusted very wrong. This is a serious problem and can result in some expensive repairs if not dealt with ASAP (see some of the posts above).

    On page 76, Use and Maintenance, in our manual, is a diagram of the crowner assembly. Ignore most of the instructions on this and the following pages.

    With crowns in the channel and a bottle in place, slowly bump the machine forward on Manual until the crowner is at its lowest point. Part A on the diagram should just move upwards a tiny bit. If it does not, use the Manual Heights input on the touchscreen to lower the crowner, 1mm at a time, until it does. Now run a few bottles through, and check the crown crimp with a go/no go gauge (ask your crown supplier for specs). If the crown is too tight (as it will be given your problem), raise the crowner using the touchscreen, loosen the three grubscrews B, and screw pin A in a turn or two, then re-set the height as above. Repeat as necessary. When the crowns are too loose, loosen the pin A a fraction of a turn at a time until the crimp is within tolerance. The center pin, pin A, should still be moving upward about 1mm or so with every crowning. Tighten the three grub screws (B) to lock the adjustment in place.

    As for setting the compensation spring (pg. 77), check with your crown supplier for the proper downforce, and use the chart provided.

    After every bottling run, remove the lower crown feed assembly from the crowner and give it a good soak in hot water. Do the same with the lower spring housing of the crowner. Do not attempt to take the spring housing apart!--just back off the grub screw on the right-hand side of the main spring assembly (5mm Allen) until you can pull the spring housing out and give it a good soak or two. Let dry. Use a very small amount of silicone lube--not petroleum--on the outside of the spring housing when re-assembling, and, if it's spray lube, let it dry overnight before reassembling. I learned this the hard way when the grease I was using Dieseled, pretty much trashing the lower parts of the crowner and scaring the hell out of everyone in the room. I consider us lucky to have had a warning shot!

    Now for some really fun news: The springs within the crowner assembly must be lubricated on a regular basis. Since there's no mention of this in the manual, we did not, with catastrophic results. The big problem here is the pre-load on those large springs. You could seriously injure or kill yourself or others if you take this assembly apart improperly! This is probably a good thing to take to a knowledgeable and skilled machinist, with that diagram on pg 76 so they can see what's what.

    Got things to do--like rinse the crowner--
    Last edited by TGTimm; 04-08-2013 at 02:26 PM.
    Timm Turrentine

    Brewerywright,
    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise. Oregon.

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