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Need some help figuring out how to set up CIP on plastic conicals

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  • Need some help figuring out how to set up CIP on plastic conicals

    Hey guys,

    First, an introduction: I'm the new brewmaster for a nano-brewery in Hillsville, VA. I'm piecing together the brewery (literally) and before I began working here the owner purchased 5x 60gal plastic conicals, so it's what I've got to work with. I know the drawbacks of plastic fermenters because I've used them in previous brewing. Given that, I'd really like to set up a CIP system to minimize getting my paws in there as much as possible.

    Here is a link to the Conicals I'm working with:

    Here is a link to the lids that are on the conicals (I ordered a couple extra, because I'm going to have to do some drilling and well, let's be honest, I could screw it up):

    So there's a 2" hole in the lids, and I think dropping a CIP sprayball in one of the spares would be the way to go, but I'm not exactly sure what would be the best way of affixing that in the lid. I'd like to be able to remove it if I can to clean it but maybe that wouldn't even be all that necessary? I'd be using it for all CIP cycles - caustic and sanitary. I'd also be boring another hole in the lid as a vacuum break.

    I was looking at this pump to use as my "portable" pump for those sort of applications...

    Should I even attempt that, or just fill and soak the conicals? I've read on these boards that someone had done that when they had an infection, but it seems like that would be a waste of chemicals? What chemicals would you recommend for plastic? Like, would PBW suffice since it doesn't have to be extremely hot to be effective?

    I just want to limp through for the next 6 months on these conicals and hopefully we can upgrade to some stainless 2bbl jacketed unitanks by then.

    I'll be brewing on an Alpha Ruby 50gal electric brewhouse with all the bells and whistles if you were curious.

    Thanks in advance for your help folks (I'm sure this will be far from the last questions I have since I'm not the most mechanically inclined brewer out there), and cheers!

    Lee Westmoreland
    508 N. Brews & Co.

  • #2
    I use a polysulfone version of that pump on a small CCV, and it has enough pressure and flow to spin a very small sprayball I got from Glacier Tanks, but not much more. I think this is the one I use.

    I've tried the pump with this sprayball, and it doesn't work very well; there's not enough head or flow. So I use a submersible pump with that one, which works better, but it's still not ideal.

    I'd suggest buying a stainless irrigation sprinkler pump. These will produce a lot more pressure, but generally won't work at high temps. I think 160F is the max, but that may even be too much for them. It's a pity they won't handle hotter liquids, as I like to use heat to sanitize.

    You can get a cheap one from Harbor Freight, and a much nicer looking one from Amazon. I haven't ordered one yet, but I'm getting ready to.

    Mike Sharp


    • #3
      I've got a spray ball that is attached to a stainless tube with a cotter pin. The other end of the tube has a tri-clamp fitting. I've got an extra lid that I drilled a hole through to fit the diameter of the tube. Slide the tube in through the hole and attach the spray ball. I would definitely recommend getting a more powerful pump for CIP. The homebrew sized ones just don't have enough oomph to get it done.

      Also, I'd recommend removing the fittings and getting a soft brush to clean the plastic threads at the bottom of the tank where the fittings attach.

      On a side note, funny that the brewery tricked out the brewhouse and went with plastic fermenters.
      Troy Robinson
      Quirk Brewing
      Walla Walla


      • #4
        we bought a pressure washer to clean ours. easy peasy.

        washer has two little tanks on it. fill one with a strong cleaner solution and go to town on it. the only bummer is that you cant get the top of the tank with the sprayer since its too large to fit, but we just hit it manually with a soft sponge. (we rarely get huge krauzens)

        once thats done, we get out the CIP lid we made and run sanitizer. since that one only needs to be in contact and not performing sheeting action a low pressure scenario is no problem.

        its more work, in the sense that you have to do the spraying, but also faster than running a 15-20 min clean cycle. washer comes in handy all over the brewery, great tool to have.

        if you absolutely wanna do traditional cip then get a better pump. i'd check with user augiedoggy about an ebay pump he picked up from china. stainless, washdown, and like 3/4hp i think. wanna say they're like 300 bucks? i looked at them long time ago but havent needed a new pump yet. nice to know he seems to like his.


        • #5
          Yes the pump works fantastic, I usually throttle it down a bit with a butterfly valve as its super strong. Using it with a cheap sprayball on my plastic conicals that have stainless cooling coils in them and it works fantastically. I also use it for cleaning kegs and whirlpool.

          I bought a 17gpm polysulfone pump like the one already mentioned and tried it recently and its barely strong enough to spin the ball it seems and does not spray with any cleaning force... The larger 3ts pump works MUCH better.

          This is the one I bought, Click here

          This is the powerful one we use for cip only we bought the one with the wheels and a 2 year warranty protection plan. Click here

          I have found replacement seals for $4 on ebay as well as the head oring seal for the tc clamp.
          Last edited by augiedoggy; 01-02-2019, 08:37 AM.