View Full Version : Erratic Bottle Fills

Gary Atlas
11-01-2005, 05:22 AM
From reading some of the great inputs from the Meheen topic I was wondering if folks could offer suggestions for this ‘erratic’ bottle fill situation.

I use a ‘Custom Brew’ 3-head long tube system. Here’s the system description; After the bottles are manually positioned into place & a safety shield is manually lowered, the operator presses the start button which activates a PLC to control the CO2 purge & fill sequencing of the operation. The bottles fill at different rates & eventually the system times out with either 2 or 1 bottles with a satisfactory fill. Having ‘3 for 3’ successful fills consistently is a rarity. At this point we can try to complete the fills by re-running the partial fill bottles. ‘Custom Brew’ is no longer in business & the documentation is non-existent. So much for factory support. Count your blessings (again) Meheen & PPM users!

Here are some specifics;
> Beer is dispensed from a 15 gallon storage keg at 36 degrees. We haven’t tried any other dispense temps.
>The incoming CO2 pressure is 25 psi. The valves for the fill head are just barely tweaked open to allow beer to fill to the bottles. If they are opened wider, it definitely doesn’t work.
> In the back of the system is an adjustable pressure sensor which we never touch. It is set so that the bottles fill & are not held back by the counter-pressure of the purge.
>The fill heads are probably fairly standard. Each one consists of a single flexible long fill tube. Recessed at the top of the head that seals on the bottle is a metal sensor which allows the circuit to close when it comes into contact with the beer. This metal sensor is next to the CO2 port of the head.

Overall, The fill head appears to be very difficult to clean. We’ve actually removed the fill heads & used a 5hp power washer to blast the recessed sensor to remove build-up that wasn’t reachable by hand. This actually did remove much of the build-up on one head which previously was retired. Now that fill head is functional, albeit as marginal as the other fill heads. The daily CIP is to run a caustic thru the system at the end of use & follow it with a water purge. Short of using a very-very-very small & long brush, we’re not sure how & how often to clean this. Trying to ‘wick-dry’ the sensor before or during use is nearly an impossibility.

Any suggestions on what to do next. I definitely don’t have access to a PLC programmer, so I can’t change any of the sequencing. What other info can I provide that would help to facilitate some recommendations. Should I be reducing the input CO2 pressure? Lower temperature by a degree or 2? Use a different cleaning procedure?

Regards & thanks for inputs,
Gary Atlas

11-01-2005, 05:37 AM
I'm not sure if this will help or not, but here goes....

We are using a 3 head HDP filler/capper, I'm not familiar with Custom Brew, but maybe there are some similarities. I have found that the absolute most important thing for fast & consistent bottling is to make sure the pressure on the dispensing tank is 2 to 4 psi lower than the CO2 going to the bottle filler. I watch these settings throughout the bottling day and have to adjust them as they will change as the dispensing tank is dropping in volume.

Also....our machine has a pressure switch for each fill head. Every few months I disconnect the plastic tubes running to the fill heads and clean out a pasty build-up that could throw off the pressure switch settings (and has before).

AND I should say that we are bottling soda - not beer. However, all the equipment we use is brewery style stuff...and all the advice I'ver been given is from brewers! Also our soda is carbonated to 30 PSI (at around 32 degrees F).....so we're running our bottle filler with very high CO2 levels.

Hope this helps!!

11-01-2005, 06:35 PM
Did you check with HDP. I have 4 bottle fillers from Custom Brew with their logo tag, all were made by HDP, of Canada and they have been great at getting manuals and parts. Worth a try??

Gary Atlas
11-06-2005, 04:30 PM
Thanks for the replies. Very Helpful in getting us going in the right direction.

We have contacted HDP.
Also verified that our pressures are 3psi lower in the dispensing tank. Will concentrate on the hose cleaning & other advice from this forum & HDP.

I'll update everyone once we get some results.