Jack Schmidling Productions, Inc.
18016 Church Road ~ Marengo IL 60152
Phone:815 923 0031 ~ Fax:815 923 0032 ~ Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
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I built my Mixmasher about the time that RIMS hit the homebrew scene and the more I learned about RIMS, the more it became obvious that it's popularity is primarily based on the fact that the Mixmasher approach had been overlooked as a far simpler and more obvious solution to most of the problems that RIMS deals with.
The Mixmasher is simply a motor driven mixer inside the mash tun which completely eliminates the most tedious aspect of kettle mashing, viz., stirring. Mashing in an inslulated cooler requires no stirring but you are stuck with one mash temperature and complicated step mashing/resting is impossible. With a Mixmasher installed in a kettle with an EASYMASHER, there is no limit to the complexity of the temperature/time variables that can be used.
Because the mash is continually mixed, a thermometer anywhere in the mash will accurately indicate the temperature. A simple dial thermometer suspended over the side with a piece of wire is all that is needed.
Human intervention is required to monitor and adjust the heat source but I really doubt that many RIMS users go to a football game after setting up a mash. Surely, half the fun of using it must be watching it work.
I generally can get through a 60 min saccharification step by turning off the heat when it gets to the temp I want and turning it back on (very low) about half way through. By the time the hour is up it is starting to climb toward the mashout temp. You can fiddle all you want but I find this works well enough for my purposes. The point to note is that during the entire process, I did nothing but turn off the gas and turn it on again. In the meantime, I was elsewhere doing the same things a RIMS brewer could be doing but not having to worry about all the things that can go wrong with a far more complicated system.
The MIXMASHER consists of a small gear-motor, a large fan blade, a long steel shaft, a coupling to connect the shaft to the motor, a board that straddles the kettle to mount it all on and a switch to turn it on and off.
The gear-motor I use was purchased from Granger for about $50 but if you only want to make one, they are available on the surplus market for $10 or so. Mine is reversible but now that I know which direction works best, you can save money by using a non-reversible one. Turns out the optimum direction depends on the type of fan blade used. The end result of the combination is that the mash must be pushed down. This is counter-intuitive but I have flipped the switch enough over 5 years to feel pretty confident about the statement.
For reference, the motor I am using is as follows:
Granger #: 2Z814
Torque: 10 in/lb
110vac @ .3A
If I were to do it over, I would use a larger motor as it gets balky doughing in very thick mashes. My standard 10 gal batch is 15 lbs malt to 5 gallons water and this motor has no problem.
The motor output speed is 30 RPM. As motors are expensive, I estimated this requirement by timing hand stirring and hooking the blade assembly to a portable hand drill and estimating the speed. It has worked out very well and I have seen no reason to change the speed.
The blade I use is a 3 blade, aluminum one with a 1/4" set screw hub. They come in right and left hand types and this will determine which way the motor has to turn to push the mash down. It is 12" in diameter and about the right size for the 10 gal Polar kettle. The tips of the blades should come to within about 1" of the sides of the kettle for best mixing action. It is obvious when it is mixing well. Mash gushes up the side and whirlpools around to the middle where it gets sucked back down.
The motor is screwed to the board and the shaft passes through a hole drilled in the center of the board. The shaft coupling is simply a 5/8" piece of aluminum round stock with a 1/4" hole bored through the center. Holes for set screws are drilled and tapped at each end, one for the motor shaft and the other for the steel shaft extension. This assumes you have a motor with a 1/4" shaft and a blade with a 1/4" bore.
The shaft I use is just a piece of 1/4" galvanized rod from the hardware store. Stainless would be nicer but you know how those "just temporary" things turn out. The length of course, depends on the size of the kettle and the height of the mounting board. It should be cut so that the blade just clears the EASYMASHER when turning.
For easy setup, I routed some curved slots in the bottom of the board that match the contour of the lip of the kettle. These serve to center the blade in the kettle and can be seen in the above photo of the blade. I also rigged up some clamping screws to keep the wrong end from turning but these are not necessary with my standard mash thickness.
I am not too stubborn to learn, but it is going to take some convincing to make me believe that there is a better, easier or less expensive, "hands-off" brewing system.
Note1: My suggesting the use of the EASYMASHER® is not just because I happen to make it. I would not foreclose on the possibility of the MIXMASHER® working with a conventional false bottom. However, my experience trying to kettle mash with a false bottom is what drove me to develop the EM in the first place. Scorching is virtually impossible to control with a false bottom and no problem at all with the EM.
Note2: The thing on the right in the above photo is an external capacitor required by this particular motor.
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