HLT Piggyback

To accommodate my new HLT I turned my collapsible brew stand into a true three-tier stand.  As you can see it’s not very complex.  The back legs are pinioned by lag bolts allowing them to swing freely and be folded up for storage.  I’ve used it twice now and it’s very stable even with 10+ gallons of water on top.

Front

Side

Two 1/4″ bolts secure the piggyback to the stand.

Back

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El Cheapo Brinkmann

Like many others I bought a Brinkmann smoker because it’s cheap and seemed to be a good way to get into smoking.  However out of the box it’s a pretty terrible smoker.   First, the charcoal pan doesn’t have a bottom grate which lets ash pile up around your charcoal.  Second, the gap between the lid & body is far too large which lets all the heat out.  I was barely able to get the temp past 200F (unless my wood flared up).

I fixed the charcoal grate issue in the standard way by using  a “Smokey Joe” mini-grill as the charcoal pan.  Elevating the smoker didn’t seem to be absolutely necessary but it did move the water pan high enough so that I could easily see into the charcoal bed via the smoker’s door.

Charcoal Grill and elevated smoker body
Charcoal Grill and elevated smoker body

The lid gap issue I fixed by fitting a lip onto the smoker body which the lid could fit into.  I made it out of a piece of HVAC duct cleat material.

HVAC Cleat
HVAC Cleat

HVAC Cleat Full View

A stick of this stuff cost about $2.70 at Lowe’s.  Using a ring spreader I opened up the entire length of the cleat into a “Z” shape.  In order for this piece to be able to bend into a circular shape I snipped slits into each side about every 5 inches.

Fitted Cleat
Fitted Cleat
Lip Outside
Lip Outside

The lid really only likes to fit into the lip in a few spots and might require a fist bump to fall in place.  As you can see this isn’t the most elegant or tidy-looking solution, but it does seem to seal well enough for me to hit a good temperature for a sustained period of time.

Finally a good, steady temperature
Finally a good, steady temperature

My ideal solution would be to add a circular lip to the lid making it fit over the body much like a standard charcoal grill, but I’ll save that for another day.

Electric HLT Part Two

Just did a trial run of my new 4500W, 240V electric hot liquor tank. My previous version was much wimpier, using a 120V 1000W element. Also I used a 48qt cooler this time meaning that I’ll be able to heat all the water for my batch at once. It’ll go like this: Heat the entire volume to my strike temp (usually around 167), and dispense the required amount into the mash tun. I’ll then put the top-up addition into the boil kettle and heat to temp needed for mashout which is usually about 200. That makes the remainder of the water in the HLT the sparge water which I’ll set to 170. I built a HLT riser for my brewstand which puts it right above the mash tun.

Control Panel
Control Panel
Rat's nest of wires
Rat's nest of wires
SSR and terminal block
SSR and terminal block
Heating element and thermocouple
Heating element and thermocouple
Cutouts for heating element and thermocouple
Cutouts for heating element and thermocouple
Float Switch
Float Switch