Building a Mash Lauter Tun Copper ManifoldThursday, January 29th, 2009
There are three main categories for mash tun manifolds: Wire mesh tubing, Copper or CPVC manifold, and a false bottom. This article will explain how to build a copper manifold and hopefully save you a few trips to the hardware store.
A copper manifold installed in the bottom of the cooler will allow wort to drain evenly without clogging or picking up the husks from the grain. First buy your cooler and install the bulkhead valve. Then you can start thinking about the design of your manifold and how many elbows, T’s, and other parts you will need. For this one, it was about seven feet of 1/2″ copper tubing, 5 elbows and 7 T’s. Do not solder the joints, you will want to be able to disassemble and clean it out. One thing I found out about the copper parts is, some are setup to slide over the 1/2″ pipe, and others are exactly the same diameter as the 1/2″ pipe. Make sure to note this when picking up the materials (get the ones that slide over, these are the larger kind). On my first manifold, after I got home I had accidental wound up with a few elbows that wouldn’t side over the pipe.
The finished copper manifold:
To cut the pipe to length I used a hack saw. I removed the burrs with a file and washed all the parts with a scouring pad and warm water. When everything fit together I then made the slits in the bottom.
For cutting the slits, my band saw came in handy. The slits are about ½ inch apart and go half way through the pipe. Be careful using power tools for this and make sure you have not been drinking alcohol before hand! I spent some time deburring the inside of the pipes to get off all the residual copper bits. Banging it on the garage floor a few times removed the last hanging pieces.
Each cooler is going to be a little different and there is no perfect design. The main thing is to shoot for even drainage. Secondly, try to minimize the amount of wort left behind inside the cooler after it drains. This is called dead space. There is always loss of sugars due to dead space. The kettle has the same issue. All home brewers have some dead space and it is not a big deal. Recipe software will compensate for you.
CPVC is another option for this style of manifold. Lots of people use CPVC as you can find by googling CPVC mash tun. Do not weld the CPVC either since it also needs to be disassembled for cleaning.