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GAI 3003 capper/crowwner semi-annual R&R--photo tutorial

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  • TGTimm
    replied
    I'm up to my a$$ in alligators right now, but I'll try to get some measurements. I made mine from scrap, so the cost was low.

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  • Augie
    replied
    Before we tear down the capper for a refurbishment I would like to build a spring compressor. I was hoping I could get some dimensions. You mention you made yours long, and I was wondering what diameter pipe I need to make it out of.

    Thanks! Augie

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  • TGTimm
    replied
    Howdy, Jeremy.

    We also had to replace the vibrator board (twice). The original just about didn't work even before it melted down, and the new ones, while much better, are still problematic.

    First, and very important: DO NOT RUN THE BOARD WITHOUT THE VIBRATOR MOTOR PLUGGED IN! When I was trying to diagnose the first new board we got, a tech from Pros recommended we try this. The board started blowing fuses, so the tech had us put in higher amperage fuses and the board burned up. Guess who paid for the new one?

    Check the connection to the vibrator motor on the crowner. The plug on ours also burned out, so I simply bypassed it.

    Check the fuses--there are three of them in little green plastic boxes. Radio Shack (do they still exist?) stocks the equivalent fuses, but in glass instead of ceramic. Don't over-size them, regardless what you might be told.

    Check the two potentiometers--the dials. They should be ~10 k Ohms (the ones I have here measure 9.5 k Ohms and 10.5 k Ohms) across the outer contacts, and should vary smoothly from there to ~0 from the center to either of the outer contacts as the dial is turned.

    The Pros. guys say the internal (frequency) adjustment should be set to ~50 hz, but ours runs much better at something around 42 Hz. Set the dial on the front panel--amplitude--to somewhere around 8. With crowns in the hopper and the vibrator set to Manual, fiddle with the frequency dial until the buzzing is loudest. Take a look at the crown hopper with the lower part of the crowns channel open (crowns falling out) to see if too many crowns are getting thrown off the ramp. If so, turn the amplitude down until most crowns make it into the gate where the upside-down (actually, right-side-up) crowns are rejected. If the crowns aren't moving fast enough, turn the amplitude up. This usually requires some fiddling and two people make it much easier.

    Best of luck--

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  • CrownValleyBrew
    replied
    Vibrator adjustment

    Tim thanks for all the wonderful information. It has made my job much easier!

    I am having a problem with the vibrator, it has a new control unit thanks to a almost fire that fried the other one. I have the inside dial set to 50.1 Hz and the outside dial is all the way up. The inside display reads 255 and the crowns will not keep up with us running at even 2300 bph. Any suggestions? The unit just does not shake the crowns like it should. I have been on the phone with Prospero but no real luck in getting it solved. One thing I did get was the clearance needs to be perfect between the motor and the magnet and I feel like I am very close there.

    Cheers!

    Jeremy Gilbert
    Crown Valley Brewing and Distilling
    Brew master

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  • TGTimm
    replied
    Bump--it's that time again!

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  • TGTimm
    replied
    Hmmm....

    The driver for the vibratory crown feed has changed a couple of times over the years. The original one on our 2006 machine was under-powered and very problematic. This unit had two potentiometers mounted on the face of the unit, and required opening the back of the control panel to access the pots. Correct adjustment was a PITA, and would change during the run, requiring near constant fiddling to keep the crowns feeding. Fortunately, that unit finally went belly-up, and we replaced it with a newer unit (for $2,600). The new one has only one potentiometer mounted on the unit, with a second pot mounted on the face of the main control panel, next to the touch screen. If this is the one you have, the settings are much simpler. The knob on the unit itself adjusts the frequency, which should be set to 50 Hz using the display on the unit. The knob on the front panel adjusts the amplitude of the vibration. I set this by sound and by watching the crowns as they feed--a convex mirror mounted over the crowns bin greatly simplifies this (and makes keeping the bin full much easier). What you want is the highest amplitude (most noise) that does not cause crowns to jump off the feed ramp before entering the covered portion that rejects up-side-down crowns.

    That covered section is also very finicky and needs to be carefully adjusted. The main adjustments are the clearance of the cover of the channel over the crowns as they feed. Place a crown on the feed ramp, and using a feeler gauge, make sure the clearance is about 0.010" (at least, this is what works best for us, using 26mm crowns). The clearance at the exit end should be the same.

    Next, the little gate that allows up-side-down crowns to drop through the ramp must be adjusted properly. This is mostly a matter of trial-and-error. I push the crowns through by hand and set that gate to where the right-side-up crowns just stay in the feed. This gate on our machine broke loose--there's a screw that attaches the crescent-shaped gate to the arm that holds it, which is tack-welded, and the weld had broken, allowing the gate to rotate on the arm. A tiny bit of mis-alignment stopped the crowns from feeding. I was able to line the broken weld back into place and re-weld it.

    One more thing to pay attention to--the crowns bin and the feed channel around it MUST be kept dry. A very little bit of moisture here completely gums things up.

    Our machine currently has no problem keeping up with the crowner at 3,000 bottles/hour. It can be done, but I beat my head against the wall for a couple of years before I finally got it right!

    Now if I can just find the cause of the irritating flurries of bent crowns that suddenly appear after the crowner has been running flawlessly for days....

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  • PoorSon
    replied
    Your tutorials have been incredibly helpful! After 4 months I'm still trying to learn and understand this machine and frankly, a lot of it has been over my head. Have you had any experience with crowns not feeding into the machine at the rate they should? I've adjusted the vibration numerous times but we still cant get it right.. It causes low fills and slows the rate at which we run. I'm going to do maintenance on the capper tomorrow as not much has been done after a year but I feel like it's some type of issue with the vibration level.. any insight?

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  • TGTimm
    replied
    Semi-annual reminder!

    It's time again, folks.

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  • TGTimm
    replied
    Thanks, Nat.

    We're in the process of getting a new company website set up, and I'm trying to get a blog or something going there where I can post tutorials like this (maybe try to be a bit more concise). I'll post a link on the GAI thread here when and if this happens. I'd like to have a record of these things for whoever takes over from me... someday.

    Leave a comment:


  • revnatscider
    replied
    It certainly isn't a casual read but I think a 3003 is in my future so I have it bookmarked for sure. The first time I actually need it, I'll owe you a beer.

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  • TGTimm
    replied
    Was this of any use or interest to anyone?

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  • TGTimm
    replied
    Adjusting the caps closure

    Good lunch.

    So, the caps are not crimped properly, or bottles broke, or both.

    This is the area we're working with right now:



    The center pin (A on pg 76) is what determines how far into the closing cone (I) the cap and bottle head go before the compensating spring starts to do its thing, and therefore how tight the crimp is.

    Be sure the three set screws (B on pg 76) are loose. Insert a 6mm Allen wrench in one of the holes in the center pin (A on pg 76)



    If the caps are too loose, screw this pin in (CW). If too tight, unscrew it (CCW). If bottles are breaking, unscrew it several turns, other wise, it takes some pretty small adjustments--fractions of a turn--to get the cap crimp just right. Test, adjust, repeat until satisfied. Be sure to remember to tighten the set screws when you've got it where you want it!

    Now run a dozen or so test bottles through the capper at your normal rate of bottling, and check the crimps again. Should be the same, but it's worth checking. I test a few bottles every hour or so during a run, just to be sure.

    Re-check all your work, making sure everything that should be tight is, and everything that should move free is doing so.

    Bottle some beer!


    Re-cap on some points:

    Things to clean after every run:

    Lower unit:



    Rinse with hot water to remove beer. Rinse the cavity within which it sits. Spray the outside with FG silicone and let dry before reinstalling.

    Lower caps channel and caps holder:



    Clean thoroughly and spray all moving parts with FG silicone.

    After every three or four runs:

    Disassemble, clean, and lubricate the lower unit:



    and the caps retractor shaft:



    Semi-annually:

    Do the whole Monty:



    Thanks for sticking it out through this lengthy explanation. If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much are several thousand words and a couple dozen pictures worth?

    Hope this is of some help to someone, and that I haven't made too many mistakes--
    Last edited by TGTimm; 01-22-2014, 02:54 PM.

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  • TGTimm
    replied
    Adjusting the capper height and caps closure

    Oops- double-posted the last installment.
    Last edited by TGTimm; 01-22-2014, 05:20 PM.

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  • TGTimm
    replied
    Adjusting the capper height and caps closure

    We're going to need a half-dozen or so empty bottles (one full bottle is also handy), and another tool to do this right--a go-no-go cap crimp gauge. Talk to your caps provider about this, we got one free from ours.

    Tighten the gate that holds the lower channel closed, open the caps keeper plunger, and get ready to start adjusting the caps closure.

    With the machine set to manual, place four or five empty, uncapped bottles on the capper infeed conveyor. Run the machine until one bottle is located directly below the capper and the capper is at top dead center--this is critical.

    Consult the GAI manual again--there's a table of heights settings on pg 48--these are the numbers we need. Again, ignore step #6 on pg 76, "Adjusting the crown head closure position". These instructions will simply drive you mad.

    From the table on pg 48, we find that the proper height for the crowner is 60mm from the rim of the bottle to the bottom of the capper asssy:



    If this setting isn't where it should be, loosen the two black handles low on the right-hand side of the big capper column and, going to the Settings panel of the touchscreen, raise or lower the crowner until the height is right. We only bottle one size, so we don't use the automatic heights adjustment. If you bottle more than one size, consult the manual for setting the various automatic setting for your bottle size. Good luck.

    Now, run four or five bottles through the capper, again on manual. Using the go-no-go caps crimp gauge, check the crimp of the caps--you'll need to consult with your caps and bottle suppliers for the proper crimp closure:



    That's a go, this is a no-go:



    Don't force the gauge over the cap--just let gravity do the work. The skirt diameter of the crimped cap is something you should consult with your caps and bottle suppliers about.

    If everything is to your spec (yeah, right), you're ready to bottle.

    If not, I'll be back after lunch to, hopefully, finish this long-winded tutorial.
    Last edited by TGTimm; 01-22-2014, 05:17 PM.

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  • TGTimm
    replied
    Final assembly and adjustments

    Alright--I got the problem with the World Tandem labeler fixed... well, I got it to work, anyway. For now.

    We now have the main assy. of the capper nice and clean and lubed and back in place. Now it's time for the lower assemblies--and adjustments.

    First, the caps Closing Cone (I, pg 76). Remove the CC from the capper lower assy, and inspect the inside for damage. These things are made out of pretty hard steel, but they do wear out.



    The CC on the right is fairly new and in fair enough condition to be good for quite a while still. The one on the left shows pitting, irregularity (out of round), and severe wear. Caps were sticking in it and breaking bottles.

    Put the CC back in the lower assy and stand it up-side-down. Using a straightedge, make sure the caps pusher (D) and the CC are flush with each other--or at least within a few thousandths of an inch.



    If they aren't, add or remove some of the shims (H) that should have come with the machine, located beneath the caps pusher (D). If you've lost or never found the shims, cut some from a beer can--PBR cans are reliably 5 thousandths of an inch. Use lots of blue Loc-tite when you screw the caps pusher back in--this is not something you want to come loose during a run.

    With the CC back in place and adjusted, it's time to put the Lower Unit back into the main assy. Lightly spray the LU with some FG silicone--test the silicone spray for flammability, some use butane for a propellant. If the fresh spray will ignite, let it dry completely before proceeding. I think this is what Dieseled and blew the lower crowner apart on me a while back. Turn the LU so the slot on the outside faces your right, and gently slide it into the main body. It should slide smoothly and easily into the body. If it encounters any resistance, you have serious problems. Don't proceed until you've cured them. The usual prescription involves chanting, ranting, prayer, and/or sending Prospero some more money. With the 5mm Allen wrench, screw the LU retaining screw back into the main body. The screw should go in to about flush with the body:



    If not, you've missed the slot. Keep turning the LU until the screw goes in. Do not tighten this screw! When the screw bottoms out, back it off about 1/4-1/2 turn! The LU must float freely within the main body of the capper or really bad things happen--broken glass and broken parts--and more offerings of money to Prospero.

    Now for the lower caps channel assy.



    This assembly should be cleaned after every bottling run. We use an ultrasonic parts cleaner, but hand-washing is fine. The main point is to get the beer out of it so it doesn't get glued together--and to keep things clean and sanitary. Lightly lubricate the caps channel portion with FG silicone spray, then remove the bottom plate:



    Make sure all these parts are clean and in good condition. Lightly lubricate all the parts in here with FG silicone spray, then carefully reassemble it. Be sure the three segments of the cap holder (brass) move freely before tightening the two Allen screws. Be sure the counter-weight on the caps retractor arm is centered between the two bolts on the side of the assy. The retaining screw can come loose, allowing the weight to shift until it hangs up in those bolt heads. Another good place for some blue Loc-tite.

    Every few runs, take the caps retractor assy apart and make sure the shaft isn't badly worn. Clean the shaft, lube it with some good quality FG grease, and reassemble it.



    Be sure this screw



    is tight. Use a drop of blue Loc-tite to keep it that way.

    The caps retractor itself--the little finger that pulls the second cap back-



    -is a fiddly adjustment. I prefer to have it just high enough to catch the edge of the cap, but not high enough to lift the cap against the fixed part of the caps channel. It must be perpendicular to the caps channel. A 4mm Allen wrench will loosen the adjusting screw for this. Good luck.

    Install the lower channel assy. onto the main body. This is the reverse of removing it. No special tricks here, but a little blue Loc-tite on the threads of the retaining screw will help to keep if from loosening. Tighten the screw until the channel is a little bit tight when swinging it down.



    There--it's back where it belongs.

    The next adjustment is the finger that moves the caps retractor:



    This is about where and how I like it--YMMV. The spring-loaded finger should sit about level, the spring tension will be up to you to determine. I like a couple of turns past neutral. The finger should lift the retractor high enough to move the second cap--the next one to be applied--about 1/2 cap widths. Too high, and caps will get crushed or bent at the top of the caps channel--it only takes a little bit to foul things up.

    More tomorrow--I'm off for a beer--
    Last edited by TGTimm; 01-22-2014, 12:53 PM.

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