The Transition to Stainless Steel Tanks and Streamlining the Operation. Slow but steady…
I am well aware of some of the pitfalls using Variable Capacity Stainless Steel Tanks. Besides the expense there are risks associated with their use. However sometimes there are compromises to that have to be made for a variety of reasons. There are two in my case. The first being I am getting too old to deal with Washing, Racking, and Moving something in the neighborhood of 50 filled carboys 3 times a season. The second reason is I am trying to build my operation modeled after Mario Cellar Rat. Where he is able to make wine and perform the necessary operations with a minimal crew.
My first job was to use Mario and Crazy Run Ranch’s advice on Tank Modification. As I write this 2 of my tanks are at the welders along with 2 covers. Handles, 2 2″ TC ferrules are being added to the covers and a 1.5 tc connection on the tank. I have decided to use the Letina Air Lock. I have purchased the butterfly valves and in order to move wine from my Fermentation Room to my MLF Room and back to the Fermentation room for Winter and finally in my Barrel Room I have acquired a Zambelli Rubber Impeller Pump. I can move the empty tanks a lot easier than all those carboys.
In my quest again to depend less on a big labor force I will use a racking wand in the vat and racking tubes in the tanks.
This year we added a Zambelli Bladder Press that alone reduced needed labor and volume pressed increased in a shorter time. One of the areas that I am interested in is obtaining a floor crusher. This will allow for easier on the back dealing with lugs and not have the need to lift the present crusher on the vats. In other words one person could crush a ton with no problem. One concern in this area is the Must Pumps of these units. Any thoughts on destemmers would be appreciated.
One of the problems with the Variable Capacity Tanks is the Cover and the Bladder as we are well aware of those issues. One thing I hate is having the pump bang around when you are moving the cover or cleaning it . So I am retrofitting with the “Black Bladders” and a quick release gas line fitting as per Mario’s advice. I did decide long ago the pressure gauges were horrible and frankly can’t be trusted. Also the pump provides many sources of leaks. I decide to isolate it once the bladder is pumped. But I still wanted to be able to read the pressure. Here is a picture of the set up to do this. You will notice that I am also using high pressure gas line hose. The hose barb without the hose goes to the pump not pictured. The gauge is Stainless Steel and Liquid Filled.
I know that Steve,Zac and Mario have a lot to add to this topic. Please add to this as you wish. It would be nice to get all this information in one place and easily found on Google by others.