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Thread: Top or Side Bolt Grundy?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    San Diego, CA

    Top or Side Bolt Grundy?

    Hi, I am purchasing some grundy tanks for my pub and am curious if any of you have any experience and preferences in regard to top or side bolt grundy tanks. I have used the top clamp style before and also the submarine door but never bolt on doors. Since they will be used for servers I can't decide which option is better. Side opening is obviously handy but maybe there is somethig I don't realize. Please share your thoughts.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Hastings, MI, USA
    I only have limited experience with the side bolt-on manway doors, I think they had 13 or 17 bolts. The thing I remember most about them was the frailty of the gaskets -- seemed that I recall them getting easily torn and stretched, and having the grundys end up with leaks here and there.

    "By man's sweat and God's love, beer came into the world" -- St. Arnold of Metz

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005


    i've always had a personal preference for pressure to be pushing at the top of my tanks. pushing on the side with brew can be a nightmare if your gaskets leak midway through etc.. easier to fix if from top.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada!
    The above comments in consideration, the flip side is that if the top clamp on style bolts fail on the tank while you're standing next to it under pressure, it can:

    A) Scare the hell out of you
    B) Blow the lid through the roof of the cold room
    C) Cause a major concussion with you or your brewer/cellarman ending up with the clamp ring wrapped around their head

    Having worked with the top clamp grundies before, I can tell you that it's a pain when the bolts/nuts fail and the tank leaks all the gas before you know it. You learn to duck quickly. If at all possible, get more investors, and buy better tanks.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Dexter, MI USA
    Hello all,

    You didn't give them as an option, but I greatly prefer the submarine style doors. Top clamps make me nervous as a cat. They always leak, easily greatly raising the CO2 level in your cellar (I recommend a CO2 level check / alarm in all inclosed cellar areas), and one small bracket or bolt gives or snaps, and POW! Super charged giant stainless Frisbee whizzes through the cellar destroying everything / everyone in its path! The idea makes me nervous, especially when tightening the clamp with the tank under pressure trying to stop that little, ever-present leak. I once had ten of these tanks, I had manways put in and welded the tops shut with a nice cleanable weld.
    (They can make OK open top fermenters for a small system though!)

    The side bolts are also a pain. All those bolts. They are never taken off for cleaning / visual inspection nearly as often as they should be. But new gaskets can be made / bought, and I imagine its a near impossibility for all the bolts to go at once, blowing the door, and crushing the innocent brewer against the cellar wall.

    When possible stick to submarine doors.

    And no, I don't worry about being struck by lightning. (At least not often!)

    Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Mukilteo, WA
    If you are only given a choice between top and side manyway as the tank comes stock, I would go with a top manway because I've had enough leaky doors.

    The reckoning is that I have heard some bad news about getting some side manways to seal, but since I've never used a side manway, I haven't experienced this firsthand. We use (3) top manways at our 7 Bbl site and yes, I've had to coax them to seal witha rubber mallet banging around the periphery while I wrench down the lid clamp. In 11 years of using them with repeated removal for cleaning, I have only replaced one clamp bolt and fortunately didn't get A), B), or C). That is not to say it can't/won't happen.

    We de-commissioned a Brewery to get the components for our 15 Bbl site and it came with (4) side manway Grundies. We lend/leased these to another Brewery to use as conditioning tanks and they have had GREAT success with them (the beers rocked!).

    It really depends on what you can get. The only punks to getting side manways are door sealing and getting in to do a good cleaning. Barring these, they may be the lowest risk from a safety perspective, and that's a REAL factor.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    San Diego, CA
    Well, side submarines would be prefered, however not as accessible at the moment. Top clamps are the worse for sure. Disc golf is fun but not in my cooler space! I have to agree that if the top bolt leak's it's only gas, with a side bolt leaks it's only 1736 pints of gods expression of his love for man. Anybody else out in the field with side bolt tanks running 15 psi?
    Last edited by pubbrewer; 01-16-2006 at 12:34 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Santa Rosa CA USA
    Some Grundy notes-
    First throw away the original top valving and go Tri-Clover. It'll pay for itself in CO2 loss so quickly..(and in frustration!)
    I've had a cellar of all three for many years. I suspect the side manways were designed for those low British ceilings. If you don't have enough headroom to open and clean top manways, then probably they won't get opened and cleaned.
    The top clamps were my favorites once I learned how to seal them reliably. First, throw away the aluminum circle rod and have stainless ones made. The aluminum corrosion caused two of the three blown lids I had. (The other was from a failed origional bolt.) Iffy T-bolts can be replaced by stainless carriage bolts with the square of the head in the clamp buckle. All stainless to stainless threads (bolts and clamps) should be hit with food grade Neversieze to keep them from galling and failing. To seal the tanks, accurately center the gasket and lid on the tank. To tighten the clamp, knock it around in circle many times as you tighten it with a deep socket ratchet. Be sure the clamp buckle stays snug on the Tbolt or carriage bolt head. I always "broke the law" regarding pressure, but hey, the tanks were factory tested over 30 psi! That being said, Roger Lind of the late Lind Brewing Co still has a nice scar on his forehead from a flying clamp style lid...
    I never had problems with bolt style doors. Again, use Neversieze, and get the right nuts from "Metric and Multistandard" or similiar and use big stainless washers. When the nuts don't easily tighten, they won't get properly tightened.
    When gaskets get old, they lose their sponginess, and will not be tightenable without causing damage to the nuts/studs/lids/your knuckles. This is the time to replace the gaskets, not just when they are cracked. Take care of your tanks and they will keep your beer safe.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    grundy tank gaskets etc.

    does anyone have the phone or email of a company that supplies replacement gaskets or clamps for these tanks?

    Thanks in advance.

    greg the brewer

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Double ditto on Brian's reccomendations for conversion to triclover for grundy heads. I am replacing 5 heads this weekend with triclover connection. Nice new pressure/vacuum reliefs valves as well. I'm having my welder just butt weld standard 2" triclover ferruls onto the tops of the lids. I just had new gaskets made by Delta Rubber here in Stockton, Ca. Thier number is 209-948-0511. Just send them an old one as a pattern, mine were done in 2 days. I only have experience with top lid Grundies and other than the horrid CO2 leaks I've endured via the ancient pressure relief system (which will be a thing of the past after this weekend) I feel very confident in them. I also pusue the upperlimits of pressure on my Nitro Stout tank keeping it at 35psi.

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