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Grain auger problems

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  • Grain auger problems

    Hi all, were brewing the 1st batches on our new system. We burnt our auger motor out last week and found out we had a bad bearing in the topside of our auger. The auger Also jammed up completely on our second batch when we used Maris otter. Don't know if the maris had anything to do with it.
    But it got me thinking, our brewer has been augering grain in with low water flow or sometimes no flow in the hydrator. Our hydrator is the style with a China hat in it to force grain outward in a whirlpool of grain and water. Is it necessary to have high flow liquor running through these? Will they jam up without water flow?

  • #2
    Yes they will jam up. I am sure there is a recommended flow rate for lbs per minute you are running. The manufacturer can tell you. Otherwise you are going to have to tune it in the old fashioned way. I recommend a gate valve below your hydrator as well. Long and short of it is if the grain flow rate is higher than the water can wash grain out, it will clog and put a big wrench in the works of your system. I would not be surprised if the dough did not build up and burn out your berring. You should be able to look in the mash tun and watch to make sure wet grist is continually flowing out of the hydrator. I would keep a very close eye on it for the first few dough ins. If it stops prior to you being all in you know you have a clog and need to stop the auger asap. Clean out start over. Good luck.
    Joel Halbleib
    Partner / Zymurgist
    Hive and Barrel Meadery
    6302 Old La Grange Rd
    Crestwood, KY


    • #3
      Your auger should have a switch in it to stop the motor in the event that the output hopper backs up. We use probably the same kind of hydrator you have, it works great but there is definitely a point at which the flow is too low to be effective, but it also leaves the grain very dry. So if you adjust it to keep a good wetness to it, you shouldn't see problems. Always disconnect the auger from the hydrator immediately after mash in, the steam will get up there and gum everything up, things will start to rust and grow as well. And also clean out the hydrator after every batch so dough doesn't build up and narrow the openings.


      • #4
        Is this a chore-time set up? Did you do the start up as written in the manual? Check your gear box on the motor has oil, they come dry. Check that you have proper rotation, and flex. Check that it was installed properly, Ie max angle 45deg, avoid left hand turns ect., is it properly supported. If the bearing was bad it should be under warranty.

        Flow through the hydrator should not be dependent on water flow, dry grain should drop though. I do like to start water first then start the mill though so there's water in the tun when grain starts. You should match water and grain flow for good mix, usually your mill will grind faster than your auger so use the slide gate on the inlet of the mill to control. Note that your water meter has a min and max flow for accuracy so stay within that. it should take about 15-20 mins to mash in so for example 500/20=25lbs/min and at 1/3gl/lb, 8.3gl/min. Trial and error to find the right opening on the slide gate, but then you can keep it there. If you have a grist case still choke down the mill inlet, time grist-in with slide gate above hydrator.

        The only grains you might have a problem running though should be flaked products and rice hulls. You should add these 1/2 bag at a time and swap in and out with base malt. Add rice hulls directly to the tun.
        Brewmaster, Minocqua Brewing Company
        "Your results may vary"


        • #5
          Thanks for all the input everyone! Helps a lot!


          • #6
            Is the intake port made by the auger manufacturer? If not, you probably need to choke it way back. If the center of the auger fills up at any time or place, it will jam.
            Timm Turrentine

            Terminal Gravity Brewing,
            Enterprise. Oregon.


            • #7
              Originally posted by BrewinLou View Post
              I recommend a gate valve below your hydrator as well.
              My hydrator has a built-in gate valve at the top.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Ted Briggs View Post
                Flow through the hydrator should not be dependent on water flow, dry grain should drop though.
                Depends on the hydrator design.
                Some squirt jets of water inwards from the sides, these will allow dry grain to drop straight through if there is no water.
                Some (including mine) have a central deflector (often "China hat" shape) to send falling grain outward to meet the water which is swirling around the outer part of the hydrator. This kind can easily clog up if the water flow is throttled back too much.