Direct Fire Kettles
We just purchased a 15 Bbl JVNW direct fire kettle. We received 2 400K BTU burners with the kettle, one set up for propane, and the other for natural gas. There are 3 openings on the back. One is for the burner assembly, one for the cold air intake, and the third for the heat exhaust.
Is there some sort of special heat resistant flooring you need under the kettle? I ask because we can see the floor under the kettle from where the burner assembly is supposed to be.
What is a good BTU rating for the burner you would use? Any other tricks or things to lookout for with a kettle like this would be useful.
Aww....man.......Rippy.......I have 11 years with direct fire.
THE biggest thing I would look out for is separated, cracks, or gaps in the insulation in the combustion chamber. I have repaired brewkettles thaty have burned thru because of this and it is costly and not fun. I have a MIG (aka, "Maybe I'll Grind") welder and it has definitely earned it's keeep.
We have a 300K BTU burner on our 7 Bbl at our first Brewery and the wort jumps out of the kettle at boil. Lower BTUs means waiting for a boil. I'm a bit surprised at the cold air intake.............we don't have one and our kettle runs operated pretty good. Usually, the burner is a conversion burner that has a squirrel cage blower on it to dam in air, so a separate inlet isn't required on ours. We have a "Make-up Air" vent for the Brewerry to bring air in for the combustion (required by code).
The second thing I would look for is cracks in the kettle tub itself. Leaking wort will make for havoc in the combustion chamber! Unfortunatley, cracks can happen during transport, and don't have to be too huge to cause an effect. You should be able to see them, however. They can also occur during service, based on the welded sub-structure of the tub to frame. I welded (2) patches in the kettle tub because the manufacturer welded the tub to teh angles uthat passed through the combustion chamber. The structure expanded........pulled the tub skin..........and these dime size cracks appeared. Then, wort come from the combustion chamber. NOT good.
BTW - I want to say for the record that the manufacturer of our 7 BBl kettle was certainly not JVNW, and I am making no statement on their quality! The quality of the equipment is based purely on how well it was maintained and how it was transported to you facility. The "Bigs"...........JVNW, Specific Mecahical, Stromberg Tanks.............do a reall good job of designing, buildng, welding, and testing their equipment prior to sale to the original owner. Used Brewing equipment is like used cars...........what you see is what you get! Our kettle was built by a comapnty that had never built one before (obvious now after repairing it so often) although they're a great fabricater of metallic components.
400K BTUs should work............just begin heating after you get a couple of barrels in the kettle from the mash run-off and don't dally on the sparge. Don't rush it, eother, though.....................