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Thread: Better replacement gauges for Zahm and Nagle piercer?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    116

    Better replacement gauges for Zahm and Nagle piercer?

    Hello all-

    Does anyone know of a decent, adjustable 1/8"NPT pressure gauge to replace the one on our 6000 series Zahm piercer?

    I have been buying replacements directly from Z&N. The thing is, I've been going through them like mad; like one every 2-3 months. At $45 a pop, it's getting a bit expensive. The gauges on my series 1000 checker (classic Z&N shaker) last 3 times as long - and are used 5 times as much. It's just the piercer that goes through them.

    I made a "TGTimm" testing/calibration rig, and check them often. The failure mode is that they keep sticking and loose any kind of reliability after a few (as compared to the 1000 shaker) uses. (Meaning I calibrate it at, say 10 PSI, but then it doesn't zero out, or it is not in calibration at 5 or 15...) We use it about 10-12 times every two weeks (during mobile canning runs.) The 1000 is used multiple times daily. It's a mystery to me why these things are failing.

    I am seriously considering just ditching the Z&N OEM gauge and buying non-adjustable replacements from McMaster Carr at $10.50 each. Considering that the Z&N ones are basically disposable at this point, I can go through 4 of the cheaper ones for the same outlay.

    It kills me to do that, though... I love the idea of being able to calibrate these things rather than just chucking them once they go out of adjustment.

    Any advice, leads, or other ideas would be greatly appreciated!

    -Mike

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    1,895
    The Zahm gauge is the only easily adjusted pressure gauge I've found, and I've done some searching.

    As per Zahm:

    The sticking is usually caused by beer building up in the internals--outside the pressure circuit, but inside the case. Remove the cover by twisting 1/4 turn CCW, then soak the entire gauge in some warm water with a little soap. Let soak for a few minutes, then rinse and blow dry while holding the needle with a finger to prevent blowing it off. Oil with a light machine oil. Put the cover back on, and calibrate.

    I do this before I calibrate and it keeps the gauges working for over a year each. Actually, I usually calibrate because the gauge needed cleaning. They do get beat up pretty badly with all the shaking.

    The only alternative I could see would be a digital gauge, which would be much heavier and bulkier.
    Timm Turrentine

    Brewerywright,
    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise. Oregon.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    116
    Thanks Timm.

    And thanks for all the other stuff I've learned from you on this forum. (q.v.: The TGTimm calibration rig!)

    I'll give that regimen a go on the one I just switched out. I have been reluctant to immerse them in water so I have just been lubing the internal mechanicals. I might just be experiencing a buildup of lube from the sound of it...

    (Although I'll probably grab a few M/C cheapies as spares for the middle of a run in case something goes wonky on me...)

    Thanks again and Happy New Year!

    -Mike

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    BEMIDJI, MN
    Posts
    126
    We've had the same issues with the Z&N pressure gauges. We switched to the cheaper gauges over a year ago and haven't looked back. Basically, I buy an inexpensive 0 - 15psi or 0 - 30psi gauge and use a 1/4" to 1/8" NPT adapter to attach it to our shaker.

    We also use Timm's design (thanks Timm!!) for our calibration unit. Rather than calibrating the gauge directly, we just print off an adhesive label and call out the calibration difference (i.e. "gauge reads 0.2psi high") and we take that into account when testing our CO2.

    That all being said, I really do attribute the failure to the other gauges to beer buildbup and infrequent use. Once we picked up our production pace and were doing a lot more Zahm readings our shaker basically just lives in our walk-in cooler. This constant use and cold storage seems to have also made improvements on the gauge's performance...and probably reduced any growth inside the Zahm...

    Cheers,
    Tom

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Enterprise, Oregon
    Posts
    1,895
    That cleaning procedure is direct from Zahm & Nagel.
    Timm Turrentine

    Brewerywright,
    Terminal Gravity Brewing,
    Enterprise. Oregon.

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