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Thread: Converting a used Meheen to new bottle size?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Saint Louis, MO
    Posts
    13

    Converting a used Meheen to new bottle size?

    Hi all,
    We are looking at buying a used 6 head Meheen, and would like to know if anyone has done this and then modified it to a different bottle size (12oz to 14 or 16oz). A rep at Meheen told me to be careful, as it may cost as much to retrofit, a machine that was built for one size into one that bottles a different size bottle, as it would to buy new. How adjustable are they, before you have to buy new parts to fit a completely different bottle size?

    Also, the bottles we will use will have a twist off (not a crown) poly cap. We will have to buy a separate torque bottle capper to put in line after it. Does anybody see any issues with this? While I'm on the topic are all the cappers that come with Meheens, (or any entry level for that matter) pry-off crown cappers only, or are there some twist off crown cappers as well?

    Thanks for any and all help!
    Tom
    COMpanion KOMbucha

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Mobile, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    212
    Meheen is a great bottling machine, but I just don't think it is the proper tool for your application.
    Todd G Hicks
    BeerDenizen Brewing Services

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    136
    if the height of bottle is different you may be able to modify it.

    if the diameter is different, it will cause a lot of problems: The bottles are lined up side by side. The filler spouts and crowner heads are spaced apart for the bottle it is set up for. The crowner is also spaced an whole number of bottle diameters away from the fill heads. This is probably not easy to change.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Torrance, CA, US
    Posts
    224

    Not for you

    Todd Hicks is right. This machine is not for you. Retrofits never work as well as the original purpose built machine- that never really work that well to begin with.

    Plus, your different capping needs make half of the machine useless. Because it's not an in line filler, you'll have difficulty feeding it to the alternative capping mechanism. I'd find something else.

    Cheers,

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Kent, WA
    Posts
    338
    Are your bottles glass, or PET? If you're putting on 28 mm PCO closures on PET bottles, that type of bottle is designed to be held in the filling head from the small flat ring under the PCO cap. Do you pasteurize after filling?

    Regards,
    Mike Sharp

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Saint Louis, MO
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    13
    Quote Originally Posted by rdcpro View Post
    Are your bottles glass, or PET? If you're putting on 28 mm PCO closures on PET bottles, that type of bottle is designed to be held in the filling head from the small flat ring under the PCO cap. Do you pasteurize after filling?

    Regards,
    Mike Sharp

    We currently use glass, and will be sticking with it. We are considering a beer style 12 oz for various reasons. The current standard in the kombucha industry is predominantly 16 oz. The drinking patterns have some differences than that of beer, i.e. location, volume, frequency, etc. It appears to me that the best intro level counter pressure fillers out there are the Meheens, although we were just looking at some brochures for the IC Filling system equipment. For the used market, it appears Meheen is it. Currently we are in 16 oz glass with a 38mm opening. Our market is a majority female and wonder how they would react to twist off crowns. Some people find them difficult to twist and can be hard on the hands.

    Thanks for your help, and by the way, please do not use profane language such as, "pasteurize" in a kombucha post. We love our bacteria.
    Cheers!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Kent, WA
    Posts
    338
    Quote Originally Posted by stltom View Post
    We currently use glass, and will be sticking with it. We are considering a beer style 12 oz for various reasons. The current standard in the kombucha industry is predominantly 16 oz. The drinking patterns have some differences than that of beer, i.e. location, volume, frequency, etc. It appears to me that the best intro level counter pressure fillers out there are the Meheens, although we were just looking at some brochures for the IC Filling system equipment. For the used market, it appears Meheen is it. Currently we are in 16 oz glass with a 38mm opening. Our market is a majority female and wonder how they would react to twist off crowns. Some people find them difficult to twist and can be hard on the hands.

    Thanks for your help, and by the way, please do not use profane language such as, "pasteurize" in a kombucha post. We love our bacteria.
    Cheers!
    Anecdotally, I agree that twist-off crowns would not be as nice. My wife, for example, will always hand such a bottle to me to open. I think they're uncommon enough now that in the rare case where I've had a bottle with one, I didn't even notice it was twist off until after I opened the bottle. But I have no real data on that. For a drink like kombucha, needing a bottle opener might be a drawback. But if I'm not mistaken, crowns used for twist-off closures are much thinner, aren't they? A long time ago I tried using a traditional crown seal on twist-off glass, and practically needed a pipe wrench to remove it.

    I guess in the used market you mostly find Meheens, because they've been around a long time. If the smaller 12 oz glass size is no wider than the 16 oz glass you would otherwise use, it seems like retrofitting might be feasible, albeit painful if you had to go back and forth. But then, Meheen knows their machine, and it's probably better to follow their advice. The good news is, you could probably sell your 16 oz Meheen easily enough if you decided to go with a smaller bottle size.

    Oh, and uh...I meant pasturize, meaning taking the bottle out into a pasture, in order to enjoy it in the fresh open air. :)

    Regards,
    Mike Sharp

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Kent, WA
    Posts
    338
    One other thought: Don't they make 12oz glass with 38-400 closures that would work for you? If you removed or disabled the crowner bar from the Meheen, couldn't you use a handheld cap torquing tool at the pack-off table? Or is kombucha vulnerable to oxygenation like beer?

    Regards,
    Mike Sharp

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Saint Louis, MO
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdcpro View Post
    Anecdotally, I agree that twist-off crowns would not be as nice. My wife, for example, will always hand such a bottle to me to open. I think they're uncommon enough now that in the rare case where I've had a bottle with one, I didn't even notice it was twist off until after I opened the bottle. But I have no real data on that. For a drink like kombucha, needing a bottle opener might be a drawback. But if I'm not mistaken, crowns used for twist-off closures are much thinner, aren't they? A long time ago I tried using a traditional crown seal on twist-off glass, and practically needed a pipe wrench to remove it.

    I guess in the used market you mostly find Meheens, because they've been around a long time. If the smaller 12 oz glass size is no wider than the 16 oz glass you would otherwise use, it seems like retrofitting might be feasible, albeit painful if you had to go back and forth. But then, Meheen knows their machine, and it's probably better to follow their advice. The good news is, you could probably sell your 16 oz Meheen easily enough if you decided to go with a smaller bottle size.

    Oh, and uh...I meant pasturize, meaning taking the bottle out into a pasture, in order to enjoy it in the fresh open air.

    Regards,
    Mike Sharp
    Thanks for your input on this. We are struggling with the decision of what type of cap to go with. Your thoughts echo many of ours. More and more small kombucha brewers around the country are going to a 12 oz, mainly beer style bottles, and I believe as kombucha becomes more of a mainstream soft beverage that 12 oz will be the norm. For us, the availability and cost of packaging equipment is the strongest driving force right now in our decision making on package size/type. If we could go with a Meheen, 12oz bottle with a screw on cap (not crown) that left that little ring on the bottle once opened (tamper evident ring) then we would be good to go. But it seems we may have to go the crown route. If anybody else has any thoughts on this please post. All are appreciated.

    And by the way, if you're ever in St. Louis or Columbia, MO try our Love & Hoppiness kombucha. Dry hopped with 2 kinds of hops suggested by Matt Walters of FoederCrafters of America. Peachy on the front end and grapefruity on the finish (when I do it right.) It has been crazy popular and has also taught me how tricky hopping things can be. My respect for brewers grew even more!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Kent, WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by stltom View Post
    If we could go with a Meheen, 12oz bottle with a screw on cap (not crown) that left that little ring on the bottle once opened (tamper evident ring) then we would be good to go. But it seems we may have to go the crown route. If anybody else has any thoughts on this please post. All are appreciated.
    I've been wrestling with this exact problem on a completely different kind of package. It uses a 28 mm PCO like you find on PET bottles, but unfortunately, it's not available in a tamper evident closure. I've been considering a heat-shrink capsule for it, but I don't like the leftover litter that results--it's kind of anti-green. It might work for you, though. The only other type of tamper evident mod I can think of is like the old-fashioned tax stamp seals; basically a tape that goes up and over. Much harder to apply though.

    Quote Originally Posted by stltom View Post
    And by the way, if you're ever in St. Louis or Columbia, MO try our Love & Hoppiness kombucha. Dry hopped with 2 kinds of hops suggested by Matt Walters of FoederCrafters of America. Peachy on the front end and grapefruity on the finish (when I do it right.) It has been crazy popular and has also taught me how tricky hopping things can be. My respect for brewers grew even more!
    I do have relatives in St. Louis--next time I visit I'll definitely try it!

    Regards,
    Mike Sharp

  11. #11
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    Oct 2014
    Location
    Kent, WA
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    I don't know whether the Meheen could be retrofitted to fill a 38-400 bottle, but wouldn't something like this work?

    https://www.containerandpackaging.com/item/G029R

    I'm pretty sure you can get the tamper evident closure for this, though oddly CPS doesn't seem to offer one. My personal feeling is that it's sometimes hard to distinguish between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages when they all come in beer-styled bottles. Maybe just a pet peeve, but if your users are drinking from the bottle, the 38 mm neck finish might be nicer. Just a thought.

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