Day 296

Manuals do not exist for some of the problems you run into at a brewery. In these cases, some creative thinking is required. Case in point:

The newest fermenter at the brewery is about 4 metres (14 ft) high.

All of the other fermenters in the brewery have a manway (a small hatch) in the roof of the fermenter–by climbing a ladder, you can open the manway and look down inside the fermenter. However, for some obscure reason known only to the engineer who designed it, the manway of this new fermenter is set in the side of the fermenter, about 2 metres (7 ft) off the ground.

There is a rotating sprayball mounted on the ceiling inside this fermenter that sprays cleaning or sanitizing solutions all over the inside of the fermenter.

Today, just as we started cleaning the fermenter, the sprayball somehow unscrewed itself and fell to the bottom of the fermenter.  This presented the brewmaster with two problems:

  1. How could he reach the sprayball, about 1.8 m (6 ft) below the manway?
  2. How could he screw the sprayball back onto its mount up at the roof of the fermenter, about 1.8 m (6 ft) above the manway?

Solution #1: I poked the handle of a cleaning brush up through the drainage hole in the bottom of the fermenter, lifting the sprayball up enough so that the brewmaster, reaching through the manway with an the extendable pole usually used to unscrew burnt out light bulbs in ceiling fixtures, could snaffle the sprayball and lift it out.

Solution #2: This required a bit more preparation. We moved a skid of beer, which stands about 2 metres tall, next to the open manway. The assistant brewmaster climbed onto the top of the fermenter, attached the end of a steel chain to a nearby stanchion, threaded the chain down through a hole in the top of the fermente; the brewmaster, lying on the skid of beer, then reached through the manway and made a loop in the end of the chain.

Sliding into manway

Lying on a skid of beer, the brewmaster reaches through the manway to put a loop in a piece of chain before entering the fermenter. Yes, he fit through the manway.

The brewmaster, armed only with a head-mounted flashlight and a wrench, carefully slid through the manway into the fermenter. Putting his foot into the loop of the chain, he pulled himself up so he could reach the fermenter ceiling, and reattached the sprayball to its threaded mount. He finally emerged into the light of day, and we all went back to work.

This is not a procedure that was covered in any of our first-year lectures.


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2 Comments on “Day 296”

  1. doug Says:

    unhook the glycol, tip the tank on it’s side and climb in.

    did he put loctite on the threads so it doesn’t fall off again?

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