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  • #91
    Timm, thank you very much for this timely write up on the filler heads. We have just experienced a filling problem on our machine, #7 started to not fill at all. Halfway through the run #8 also did not fill. And #10 was pretty consistent with a low fill and lots of foam. To finish the run we had to watch the machine and pull those bottles out. It hasn't been pulled apart yet, as I am going to Chicago for a week, and unless a Prospero rep comes it will have to wait until I return. One thing I was wondering, when you take the two screws out to remove the head, does the whole assembly come out or is it connected to the fill valve at the top of the machine? Another thing that has us puzzled is why there is occasional foaming during a run. The machine will be running fine and there will be a low fill and then it will be fine again. We run a caustic after every run, and a sanitize before, with an acid wash every two to three runs. The machine is rather new, and I wonder if we are doing the cleaning wrong which has caused the internals of the filler to freeze up.

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    • #92
      Sorry I forgot the particulars of removing/installing the filler heads.

      Before removing the two bolts that secure the head, turn the big triangular valve cam fully clockwise. This will allow the gas valve to slip off the fingers on the back of the cam. Installing the heads should be simple if the cam has not moved. After the head is back on, turn the cam CCW and then CW. The leveling tube will drop slightly when the cam is returned to the CW position. If it doesn't, or the cam will not turn full CW or turns past its proper position CCW, try again. It might be helpful to remove one of the cams from the bowl so you can visualize what's going on inside the bowl.

      I usually hold the head in place with one hand and turn the cam to check for engagement with the other. It takes some experience, but I can feel it when everything is right.

      If the fingers that lift the gas valve are not properly engaged, some serious but not irreversible damage may occur when the machine is run. The lifting fingers and/or the stem of the gas valve can get bent--not a good thing.

      Complete failure to fill is usually due to a bad bottle seal. Any damage whatsoever, including excessive wear, will prevent the bottle from forming a tight gas seal, preventing the equal-pressure filling valve from opening. Low fills can also be a symptom. The bottle seals should show a nice, clean, uniform circular mark from the bottle top. Anything else and it's time to replace that seal. Fortunately, if you have a drill press, it's a couple of minutes to switch one out once you get the hang of it.

      Bad foaming and over-fills often result from a bad product seal--the one on the bottom of the gas/product valve assy. Check for beer dripping or trickling out of the valve when no bottle is present and the valve cam is fully CW. Damage to this seal is not usually visible, so if it's leaking, replace it.

      Check that snifter orifice behind the center poppet valve on the face of the filler head. These get clogged easily, which will cause the beer to burst into foam when the bottle is released from the bottle seal. We originally used powdered caustic to clean, but the anti-clotting agents in the caustic, which are not soluble, would clog all the snifters, causing endless headaches. Switching to concentrated liquid caustic solved that problem.

      The trick with the Flex-Hone brushes is essential to keeping the snifter clear. Those damned razor-sharp cross-bores will almost always slice a little bit off the inside o-ring on the poppet body when you push the poppet back into its bore. Not only does this cause the valve to leak, but the tiny bit of rubber ends up clogging the snifter orifice. This drove me nuts until I polished the bores. It is not a problem any longer.
      Last edited by TGTimm; 07-01-2015, 11:53 AM.
      Timm Turrentine

      Brewerywright,
      Terminal Gravity Brewing,
      Enterprise. Oregon.

      Comment


      • #93
        Thank you for the info on removing the filler head, Timm. I will check the seals for the bottles, though they would not have any effect on the stream during cleaning, and I had observed no flow at all on the two heads, and low flow on two other questionable heads. I have had the poppet valves out, and cleaned the orifices before. I have not yet honed the bores but that will be on my list.
        One other thing that may give you some ideas, last week after the cleaning I was removing the dummy bottles, and #7 would not budge. I relieve the pressure in the dummys by depressing the ball valve on the bottom of them, there is a small 'pfft' and the dummys come off easily. When I went to relieve the pressure, gas gushed out of the valve, and the bottle would not budge until I had relieved quite a bit of pressure. it was still hard to remove, and once off, gas was coming out around the fill tube. I shut of the gas inlet and looked at manual and drawings, and worked the fill cam a few times, and that seemed to solve the problem for that run. It was in the following run that the no-fills occurred.

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        • #94
          Hmm... it's starting to look like time to rebuild the filler heads. Gas coming out of the valve is probably the little gas valve atop the valve assy in the bowl--that little o-ring that's such a PITA to replace.

          If you've had any of the filler heads out of the machine before, be sure to check the gas valve and the fingers of the opening cam and see if they are bent. If the head wasn't engaged correctly, this can happen, with various symptoms.

          One thing to keep in mind when cleaning the bowl is that you're probably overfilling the bowl (proper for cleaning, not for running), which prevents the equal-pressure valve mechanism from functioning properly. We see some really weird behavior when cleaning. Sometimes a valve will stick open and emit a sputtering stream of fluid, and this is not a malfunction.
          Timm Turrentine

          Brewerywright,
          Terminal Gravity Brewing,
          Enterprise. Oregon.

          Comment


          • #95
            how dirty is dirty?

            We were having field day at the brewery today and someone cleaning the GAI noticed the vacuum tubing is pretty dirty. We do fill the vacuum tank and run it when we CIP.

            When does this need to be replaced?

            Where can you get this tubing? Closest thing I can find is tubing for truck brake lines.

            Thanks in advance.
            eatdrinkandbemerry
            Jon Hill, Brewer
            Atlantic Brewing Co
            jon at atlanticbrewing dot com

            Comment


            • #96
              The first thing to remember about this tube is that it is going away from the bottles--no chance of contamination.

              If you're cleaning the bottler properly, using the cleaning cam, etc, this tube will also get a good run of your CIP solutions. I see ours is quite yellowed, but otherwise clean.

              If you decide to replace the hose, try Googling "suction hose". Any suction hose that fits should work. Since the Vpump is a liquid-ring pump, the vacuum is limited by the vapor pressure of water (33 feet of H2O at STP).
              Timm Turrentine

              Brewerywright,
              Terminal Gravity Brewing,
              Enterprise. Oregon.

              Comment


              • #97
                capper not keeping up

                We are now having a problem where the vibrator does not move the caps fast enough to keep up with bottling. This is happening today even when we are running slow (2750bph) for full wrap labels.

                Pedro helped us rebuild the capper in August after we discovered the bearing at the back of the capper was broken but it worked fine for a month and a half after that. We haven't changed anything since.
                Attached Files
                eatdrinkandbemerry
                Jon Hill, Brewer
                Atlantic Brewing Co
                jon at atlanticbrewing dot com

                Comment


                • #98
                  Jon--I have no idea what the "bearing at the back of the capper" is, but it has nothing to do with caps feeding up the ramp. This is a function of the vibrator motor, the vibrator driver, and the caps reservoir mounting springs.

                  We had horrible problems with the electronic driver for the vibrator for a few years. It was entirely unstable--this was the old-style unit with two knobs located in the closed cover behind the control panel. We finally replaced it with the newer-style, with one knob on the unit and one on the front control panel. Much better.

                  We also had the plug that connects to the vibrator motor through the SS guard on the capper (crowner) head burn out, which took another driver board with it. I eliminated the plug, as it is entirely redundant and the driver boards cost a couple k$ or more.

                  The fiberglass mounting springs on the caps reservoir should be factory-adjusted and need no more consideration--unless something has come loose or broken. Check those out.

                  If the reservoir shakes at all, it's probably the driver board, and hopefully, it just needs tweaking. Let me know what style board you have, and maybe I can help--
                  Timm Turrentine

                  Brewerywright,
                  Terminal Gravity Brewing,
                  Enterprise. Oregon.

                  Comment


                  • #99
                    Originally posted by TGTimm View Post
                    Jon--I have no idea what the "bearing at the back of the capper" is, but it has nothing to do with caps feeding up the ramp. This is a function of the vibrator motor, the vibrator driver, and the caps reservoir mounting springs.
                    The bearing that rides in the sine wave track. That had broken from the rest of the capper. The sine wave track was also damaged.

                    Here is what we have behind the control panel. The relay on the right was replaced sometime this summer.

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                    eatdrinkandbemerry
                    Jon Hill, Brewer
                    Atlantic Brewing Co
                    jon at atlanticbrewing dot com

                    Comment


                    • What model of bottler do you have? How old is it?

                      That panel looks nothing like our 3003A Bier... but the board set sideways beside the VFD (?) appears to be the vibrator driver--which looks different from either of the two I'm familiar with.

                      Anyway, there should be two potentiometer control knobs-one for frequency, one for amplitude. Basically, set the amplitude to a low-to-middle range, adjust the frequency (this may be very delicate) to get the loudest buzz from the vibrator, then fiddle with the amplitude until the caps are moving up the spiral ramp, but without too many falling off. The freq. should not need to be changed again--try just changing the amplitude.

                      There are probably several fuses on the driver board, cleverly concealed in little green (I assume they're the same as ours) plastic housings. Check these out--I was able to find replacements without too much trouble (Radio Shack, IIRC). DO NOT REPLACE ANY FUSE WITH A HIGHER AMPERAGE--one of the techs at Pros. suggested I do this, and I ended up buying a new driver board. If fuses are blowing (needing to be replaced after being replaced once), the problem is elsewhere and must be found and cured! In our case, it was a cooked connection at the crowner.

                      Don't try to run the vibrator driver board with anything disconnected--this will also blow fuses or cook the board.

                      These driver boards are very finicky devices, and, as I mentioned, we've had to replace a couple at considerable cost.
                      Timm Turrentine

                      Brewerywright,
                      Terminal Gravity Brewing,
                      Enterprise. Oregon.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by TGTimm View Post
                        What model of bottler do you have? How old is it?
                        It is a 1997 3003 Bier.

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                        Is this what you expected to see?
                        eatdrinkandbemerry
                        Jon Hill, Brewer
                        Atlantic Brewing Co
                        jon at atlanticbrewing dot com

                        Comment


                        • Uh, no. I'm just surprised how much more electronics our 2006 3003 Bier has packed in that box.

                          The vibrator driver board is the board with the big coil sitting sideways next to the big control box--probably a VFD. I'll bet this is where your problem is, but whether it's simply adjustment or needs to be replaced is the question.

                          Do you have any potentiometers or knobs labeled anything like "Frequency" and "Amplitude"? They may be on the board, on the front panel, or one on each.

                          Sorry, I've never seem a 3003 that old, and there have been a lot of changes since that one was made.

                          The unit you're holding in the last picture appears to be a time-delay-relay. I don't know what it runs, or if it's delay-on-start or delay-on-stop--most can be used as either. It probably has nothing to do with the caps feed, but, then, it just might.
                          Last edited by TGTimm; 11-20-2015, 12:47 PM.
                          Timm Turrentine

                          Brewerywright,
                          Terminal Gravity Brewing,
                          Enterprise. Oregon.

                          Comment


                          • Another crowner disaster

                            Back on page 5 of this thread, Nate Jackson showed a nasty problem with the crowner where the 8 bolts securing the bottom of the upper drive shaft sheared off.

                            Last Tuesday, it happened to us. The crowner drive cam just quit driving, and could easily be turned by hand. Not good. As far as I know, there was no forewarning--it just broke.

                            I don't know if this was the result of repeated insults of various kinds, or just eight years of wear and tear. Those eight little 6mm bolts don't look very stout compared to what they drive.

                            It's Friday now, I think everything is good, but my back hurts badly and I'm covered in grease. I'll try to explain what happened and how to fix it--if it happened to Nate and us, it'll happen to some of you, too.

                            I'll continue after lunch in the next post.
                            Timm Turrentine

                            Brewerywright,
                            Terminal Gravity Brewing,
                            Enterprise. Oregon.

                            Comment


                            • Whew. Lunch over, crowner tested, tweaked, tested, passed.

                              So, towards the end of a long bottling day, the crowner drive cam suddenly stopped rotating. After determining that it was really, really broken this time--the cam turned easily by hand--we called a stop to the run and sent the bottlers home.

                              I remembered a post by Nate a while back (pg. 5, this tread) that made me break out in a clod sweat just thinking about it--eight little bolts that hold the lower end of the upper shaft of the crowner drive together, sheared off. I was pretty sure this was our problem. Indeed, it was, and the cold sweat was fully justified.

                              Here's what we did to fix it:

                              Tools: Just bring the whole shop to the bottling line. You'll need it all. A tube or two of red Loc-tite thread locker will be needed for re-assembly. Get a back-brace, a bottle of your favorite liquid mechanic, a couple of strong young helpers (preferably very skinny), a medic, some battle dressings, and a couple of morphine slappers. If you have a lift installed above the bottler, kudos. If your ceiling is high enough to get a forklift over the crowner assembly, good for you. We have neither.

                              Here's what broke:

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                              The upper pic is the bottom of the upper driveshaft, the lower pic is the splined fitting that should be attached to it, with one of the sheared-off bolts.

                              Unfortunately, this little problem lives under everything on the main pedestal of the crowner: The caps hopper, the vibrator motor and plate, the giant steel drive cam, etc.

                              Turn the machine off and tag/lock it out.

                              Remove the crowner assembly and lower caps channel from its carrier and the cam follower assembly.

                              Remove the caps hopper by taking the shrouding off and removing the eight big Allen-head bolts that secure the hopper to the big fiberglass springs attaching it to the motor plate. Top or bottom, doesn't matter--but note that there are two different lengths of bolts and two or more fiberglass shims--these need to go back where they came from. There's also a ground wire attached from the hopper to the vibrator motor, neither end of which is accessible. Just cut the danged thing in the middle and plan on using a quick-connect to put it back together. Check the big bolts for hidden cracks--two of ours were cracked, one badly enough I was able to break it by hand. Set the hopper aside.

                              Unplug the vibrator motor from the power cable. Check this plug for signs of over heating. If it's toasted at all, replace it (I used spade-spade quick connects to replace ours). Remove the four Allen head bolts that secure the rubber isolators to the lower plate--you'll probably need a pair of Channel-lock pliers to hold the bottom of the rubber bits while you unscrew the bolts. Be careful to keep track of the eight metal shims--two per mount, one thin, one thick. Set this assembly aside--it only weighs a hundred pounds or so.

                              You can remove the entire hopper/vibrator assembly as one piece. I did this once. I won't again. It's kind of heavy.

                              There's a big bearing on top of the plate you're now looking at. Remove the Allen head screws that secure its mounting, and get a couple of 8mm x 1.25(?) X 40mm bolts. There are two threaded holes in the mounting plate--put the bolts into these holes and gently work the plate out, alternating a half-turn or so on each bolt:

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                              The plate will make a nice loud crack and pop out. Set it aside.

                              Remove the six large bolts that secure the now top plate to the four posts. Again, you'll probably need a pair of Channel-locks to hold the posts, but be very careful not to mar the posts. Two of these posts carry the crowner body, and the other four can be used as spares if you don't chew them up. Set the plate aside.

                              Slide the crowner carrier off its posts and set aside.

                              Remove the bolts securing the bottoms of the posts. Set aside.

                              Now for the fun part! This would be an excellent time to remove the crowner drive cam--all 175 lb of it--but how are you going to get that damned big, highly torqued, Locitited, left-handed nut

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                              off when the shaft spins freely? Not to mention, who has the tool to remove it? We decided to remove the cam and shaft as one piece. Not a great idea, but it worked.

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                              That assembly weighs well in excess of two hundred pounds. My back hurts.

                              Well, I've hit my limit for attachments in this post, and I think it's beer-thirty. More later.
                              Last edited by TGTimm; 11-20-2015, 04:48 PM.
                              Timm Turrentine

                              Brewerywright,
                              Terminal Gravity Brewing,
                              Enterprise. Oregon.

                              Comment


                              • Now you have everything out, but there are those sheared-off screws in the bottom of the shaft, and the splined bit sitting in the bottom of a long tube, over the splined shaft within. We were able to jam a long dowel into one of the screwholes and pull it out--YMMV.

                                In the picture above, you'll notice an Allen-head screw and washer just below the big plate. There are two of these screws, one on either side, screwed into a dowel pin. Remove one of the screws and push the dowel out. Now the lower part of that shaft can be slipped free. If you have a decent shop, drill the sheared-off screws out and use an Easy-out to remove the broken ends. Otherwise, take the shaft to a machine shop and have them do the job. The threads are metric 6 X 1.0 if they need to re-thread them.

                                I bought 8 grade (class) 12.9 bolts to replace the sheared off ones. These are m 6 X 1.0 X 30 mm Allen-head cap screws.

                                Here they are with the splined insert they secure to the shaft, after some cleaning:

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                                With the sheared-off bits removed from the shaft, use the new bolts to secure the splined insert. I looked up the max. torque value for the grade 12.9 screws, which was 12 ft lb, so I torqued them to 10 ft lb. Tighten in a star-shaped pattern to keep the stress even, then go around and re-check each one. I used some red Loc-tite to keep the buggers from backing out--I don't want to do this again!

                                Here's the splined insert attached to the lower shaft:

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                                This seemed like a good time to get that big cam off the shaft so we don't have to lift the whole damned assembly again. I re-attached the lower shaft to the rest of the assembly, then cranked it down tight in the ol' tri-stand, using a pipe jack to support the cam end. Using a diamond-point chisel, lots of heat, and a BIGGER hammer, I eventually drove that big, left-handed nut off. Only took an hour or so. Then the cam was, of course, stuck on the shaft, so I used a couple of automotive scissor-jacks to put some pressure between the cam and plate, then carefully hit the end of the shaft a few good whacks using a ball-peen hammer, ball-side in the depression of the shaft, and a 2 lb single-jack hammer.

                                Now I had two parts, one weighing 175 lb (the cam), the other only about 100 lb. Much nicer.

                                Put it all back together. Have fun. Have a beer. Grease everything that needs greasing. Use plenty of red Loc-tite on the screws and bolts, and especially on that left-handed nut that secures the cam--and drive that on really hard. I used the diamond-point chisel and 1 1/2 lb ball-peen to drive it back on.

                                BTW--if your machine still has the big tin can "guard" around the cam, seriously consider leaving it off. This 'guard" makes it almost impossible--and very dangerous--to clean the accumulated grease, bottle caps, and broken glass out of the cam groove, and makes it completely impossible to clean the area beneath it.

                                All that work, and now you'll notice that the timing of the crowner is off. Or not. There has to be a chance you actually put everything back just perfect, but it's unlikely.

                                Here's ours before re-timing:

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                                Not good. I took a look at how the various drives for the crowner go together, and it looked like this:

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                                seemed to be where I needed to do the timing.

                                Rotate the machine on manual until the crowner starwheel stops with a slot below the crowner--rotate it back and forth a few times to be sure the wheel is in the middle of its stop.

                                There are two large Allen-head grub screws in the collar below the upright bevel gear. One of them will probably be behind the shaft and hard to see or get to. I removed both, and the damned gear wouldn't budge. Fortunately, Nate was able to help here: hidden behind the shorter of the two grub screws is... wait for it... another grub screw! Back that one off, and the gear will drop right down, probably on one of your fingers.

                                Now, when you turn the machine, the starwheel will stay put, but the crowner will go up and down. I found the best place to position the crowner was about half-way down, on the downstroke, with the wheel placed as above. It took a couple of tries. Get the bevel gear re-engaged, tighten all those grub screws, and test it out. Repeat if needed.

                                Her's the crowner after timing:

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                                This took me and an assistant about 12 hours, start to finish, but we both were called off on other tasks, so it's hard to say how long we actually worked on this.

                                We're running our first bottling since fixing this right now, and it seems to be going just fine. The crowner sounds different that it did before it broke, but that's likely because it was breaking. I wonder how long we ran with those screws partially sheared off.

                                Many thanks to Nate for his help on this!!
                                Last edited by TGTimm; 11-24-2015, 04:02 PM.
                                Timm Turrentine

                                Brewerywright,
                                Terminal Gravity Brewing,
                                Enterprise. Oregon.

                                Comment

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