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proportional LM/VM instead of Dephlemator over plates?

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proportional LM/VM instead of Dephlemator over plates?

Postby zapata » Tue Oct 01, 2013 5:32 am

So I've been looking at revamping my still and changing around my current VM setup to one of those proportional vapor splitting heads. Stick with me, this does get to bubble caps, I promise. Here's Harry's animation:
Here's runningman's build:

But I've also been thinking that a bubble plate would upgrade my whiskey game. First question is would the head pictured above work in place of the more often used shotgun style dephlegmator if sat on top of 3 or 4 bubble cap trays? The way I see it, a dephlag like most people have uses CM principles to varry reflux rates from 100% at stabilization, to somewhat less during hearts, to 0% if collecting tails. But in order to do this, it takes ballancing boiler power, dephleg flow rate, dephleg outlet temp, air buildup etc.

The proportional LM/VM head would allow the same manipulation of reflux from 100-0%. I imagine running would be just like they are run for neutral, just over caps and at a lower abv than for neutral.
Stabilization with VM side closed, and LM product valve closed for 100% reflux.
Fores/heads, open LM product valve partially.
Hearts, close LM product valve and use the splitter valve to set take off rate via VM the same as you would by ballancing the dephlag and power in a standard bubbler. This head even offers the benefit of isolating the heads to one takeoff route (LM) and the hearts to another (VM).
Tails, use splitter valve to send all vapor to either LM or VM side with less/no reflux.

I understand that it would be a more complex build for a dedicated plate still, but if one wanted one head to handle a neutral column, stripping runs/potstill mode, and a bubble cap column, it would save having to build and learn how to drive a dephlegmator. So someone tell me why not? Or has something similar been done?

And a second question please. I know I've seen some discussion on it, so please forgive me. But what exactly would the difference be between making whiskey in a four plate bubble cap column and running off hearts at say 92% vs. running whiskey in a VM packed column at the same strength? I know this is the plated column section, so I figure someone might have tried it both ways. I'm going to build the plates anyway and answer it for myself, but they will probably be the last part built.
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Re: proportional LM/VM instead of Dephlemator over plates?

Postby StillOnFire » Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:19 am

Ive run it both ways. I used to run a 3" VM for rum. Now I run three 6" plates for rum. I find the plates to hold the temps much steadier than the packed column. Once I hit boil, I let the plates equalise for 5 minutes, then run. I get reasonably compressed heads, and substantially compressed tails.

Ive done proportional splitting a different way, it worked ok. I could control the proportion over the full range.

Running a defleg is not hard, and they arent that hard to build. If you can build that doublebarreled still head, you can make a defleg. If I were to build my plater over again, it would probably be a perf plate. It uses fewer materials, and less to go wrong in the build.
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Re: proportional LM/VM instead of Dephlemator over plates?

Postby zapata » Wed Oct 02, 2013 1:55 am

Thanks stillonfire. I've actually read your proportional thread a couple of times, good stuff!

BTW, I'm not scared of building a dephleg, I built my cross flow a few years back, and since then, while not particularly skilled, I figure I can make copper do just about whatever I want if I take my time. I was more thinking of the splitter head as a jack of all trades (VM, LM, stripping, pot) when I wondered if it could handle plates too. Something about that struck me last night though, a dephleg running via CM at less than 100% reflux has virtually no chance of cooling reflux much below it's condensation point, while an overhead reflux condensor operated via LM might. I don't think this additional cooling is much of a problem in a packed column, but I might have to think about it a bit more in regards to plates. Anybody have thoughts on that aspect?

On the packed vs plates for flavor, I've noticed people seem to report more steady runs. I guess it's a function of actual plates rather than theoretical ones?

Interesting to hear you'd build perf plates too. I guess I've read a few disparaging remarks that they were more "smeary" than bubblers, or "worse for flavors" although I couldn't mentally work out how that would physically be true as they seem to work on a very similar principle to bubble caps.

I'm tossing around ideas for exactly how I go about the plated section, but I'm really leaning towards a glass column with a slide in tree. Which means interchanging between perf plates and bubble plates would be easy. See my problem? I just want to try everything so I'm trying to plan how to be able to run every single combination of pot, packed, plated, bubbler, perf, vm, lm, and if I do build a dephleg CM too! Trying to make it as modular or combined as possible or I'd have a dozen different stills, and a dozen part time jobs to pay for them!
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