Sunday, April 15, 2007

Homebrew Equipment

Beer isn't the only thing we homebrew. Sometimes, we make homebrew equipment, as well. Some of this is quick jury-rigging, such as a chopstick twist-tied to an aeration hose as a sinker, or a bent wire coat hanger to fish out a chop stick that's been twist-tied to an aeration hose and promptly gotten stuck in the neck of a carboy, or the cap off a bottle of throat spray to replace a missing floater in a three-piece airlock.

Other times, a bit more thought is put into homebrewed equipment. That is, the design wasn't a last-minute emergency work-around. For example, a small funnel stuck into a length of flexible tube is an excellent way to fill gallon water jugs from an on-faucet water filter.

My latest required a bit more thought, and I'm rather proud of it. I didn't bother with a bottle washer that screws onto a faucet, since I wasn't planning to do much in the way of bottling, and carboys and kegs are a little unwieldy to hold over the standard bottle washers. What I did instead was to buy a 6' length of laundry hose, which I keep attached to my laundry sink. It's a very serviceable way of rinsing out carboys, kegs, and anything else of similar size. It's also great for filling buckets without having to lift them in and out of the sink.

Sometimes, though, you need more pressure than the faucet can generally provide, or you just need something that'll fit into a narrower opening. That's where my homebrewed nozzle comes in. The requirements were simple: It had to attach to the end of a laundry hose (which is the same threading as a garden hose), and it had to have a narrow opening to provide for a substantial pressure in the outgoing stream. This allows us to power-wash just about anything, eliminating the need for a bottle brush.

A trip to my local home-products mega-store chain (I have a gift card to use up), and I picked up the following: What we have here is a 3/4" garden hose male end to 1/2" MIP hose adapter (Watts® A-663), a 1/2" FIP to 3/8" FIP pipe reducing coupling (Watts® A-815), and a 1/4"x3/8" hose barb MIP adapter (Watts® A-193).

Put them all together, and you get a coupling that takes a 3/4" diameter hose to a 1/4" diameter stream (probably smaller, since the barb is for a 1/4" inner diameter tube). That's about a factor of nine increase in water pressure. It's truly a sight to behold when in use.

All told, this cost me about $9 in parts. I could have bought a bottle/carboy washer at my local homebrewing store for $11.50. That would attach directly to the faucet, rather than a hose, meaning more things to screw and unscrew. In any case, it would have been a lot less fun. And that's what homebrewing is about, after all.

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