September 21, 2012

Barrel Tap

[Update: It appears the threaded tapered tap is no longer being produced.  If you would like a barrel tap, RMBC has had these fabricated and should have them in stock]

I've got plenty of time before we empty the barrel up at O'so, but its never a bad idea to get ready.  Following instructions from Vinnie at Russian River, I drilled a 15/16th inch hole at the bottom of the head and plugged it with a standard Belgian cork; the drain port.  When Russian River is ready to drain the barrels, they pull the cork and jam a 1" hose into the hole.  While I am sure that works fine, I wanted a little easier and more secure way of draining the barrel.

First I got a threaded tapered tap from winetaps.eu that look like this:
threaded tapered tap

The sales rep called the one I wanted a "1/2 inch tap", which is the inside diameter of the tap.  The outside diameter of the taper goes from 22mm to 26mm (~7/8" to 1 1/16").  The drain port is 15/16", so it fits perfectly.  I tested it out on a scrap piece of wood, and the tap goes in about half way, and with a half turn, the thread lock the tap in place.

The back end of this piece had a BSP threaded connection.  Breweries, however, use almost exclusively Tri-Clover connections.  I figured it would be nearly impossible to find an adapter, and even if I did find it, I would be left with crevices that could hold unwanted bugs.  So, I ordered a 1" Tri-Clover ferrule from brewershardware.com:  (note: a 1" Tri-Clover still has the standard 1.5" clamp)
1" Tri-Clover ferrule
I then took the pieces to a machine shop to get them welded.  Its important to note that there is more than one way to weld Stainless Steel, but if you want it food-grade, you have to get someone that can TIG weld the pieces.  I also had the shop bore out the BSP threads from the original tap leaving a smooth, easy to clean, surface.

Threaded Tapered Stainless Steel Barrel Tap with 1.5" Tri-Clover Fitting
Threaded Tapered Stainless Steel Barrel Tap with 1.5" Tri-Clover Fitting.
With this final piece I will attach a shut-off valve.  Then when I pull the cork from the drain port, I can quickly push this piece in and give it a half turn to lock it in place.  Simply attach a tube to to the back of the shut-off and draining the barrels should be pretty easy.

6 comments:

Jabien Letlow said...

I'm curious, what was the cost for the taps from winetaps.eu?

Levi said...

@Jabien - I don't recall the pricing. The individual I talked to at Winetaps.eu was named Neville. Here is the email address for inquiries: info@winetaps.eu

John said...

Do you happen to have a part number for the tap you used?

Levi said...

@John - If you click on the picture above it will take you to the part's web page. Go to the very bottom. It is the "1/2 Male, BSP Threaded Stainless Steel Tap". You will want the machine shop to bore out the BSP threading when you have the 1" TC ferrule welded on.

John said...

@Levi

Thanks for the info. I'm about to start a lambic solera project with four 15 gallon barrels. Since I'll be moving stuff around constantly, do you think adding a TC drain port would be worth the investment, even on the smaller barrels?

Levi said...

@John - I would say not likely. These threaded taps aren't cheap, plus shipping, plus welding... with 15 gallon barrels, I'd just stick to the RR method of pushing in a tube. Either that or break the pellicle and use a racking cane.

Also, with 15 gallon barrels you may want to consider waxing the outside of the barrel:
http://funkfactorybrewing.blogspot.com/2012/02/paraffin-waxing-barrel.html

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