Author Topic: Problems with my mill  (Read 15209 times)

Offline Wildrover

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Problems with my mill
« on: October 06, 2013, 12:46:01 PM »
I use the barley crusher malt mill and it has been a pain lately.  I'm having to take it apart every couple of beers now and the quick, brush it off and that's it that they claim isn't ringing true anymore.  I'm wondering if, after several years and who knows how many brews the teeth on the rollers just get dull and you really have no choice but to get a new one?  Another thought I had was the use of the drill.  I've been using the same drill forever now but if the teeth really are going dull maybe the drill is spinning to fast to allow the rollers to grab the grain. 

I forgot to explain.  What's happening is that if I shorten the gap, the roller not attached to the drill stops spinning and thus, no grain is pulled through.  If I widen the gap whole grails are falling in.  My efficiency is falling like a stone. 

Thoughts?

thanks for the input, I appreciate the help

WR

Offline brewfun

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Re: Problems with my mill
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2013, 04:19:11 PM »
This sounds like the knurling on the rollers might be getting flattened. This can be an issue in commercial mills, too. The knurl not only pulls the grain through the gap, but punches a hole in the fattest part of the grain. Ideally, the grain spins in the process, flinging grits out of the husk.

A few thoughts:

Are you starting the drill before grain is added? Often a mill will stall when loaded first. Do this enough times and your drill motor will lose torque. Have you tried a newer drill?

How fast is grain going into the mill? I found that I needed a funnel to regulate the grain flow into the mill, when I used a Monster Mill.

I don't know much about the Barley Crusher mill, but if it's serviceable, it seems to me that you can order a new roller for the power side and replace the worn one.
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Offline RiverBrewer

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Re: Problems with my mill
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2013, 05:42:01 PM »
You get what you pay for when buying a mill. My three roller Monster Mill was pricey, but price doesn't outweigh the fact that it is built like a tank and the knurling on the rollers is first class! I am close to the 500 lb. milestone and it grinds like it did on day one. The .052 drive roller gap achieves my mash efficiency consistently at 81 - 82%
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Offline Wildrover

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Re: Problems with my mill
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2013, 08:53:35 PM »
thanks to both of you.  the barley crusher has a 5lb hopper on it that I'm guessing governs the rate at which barley actually reaches the mill.  I've been using the same drill at the fastest speed of the lower setting.  in other words the drill has 60 settings, 30 speeds per gear?.  I usually put the 4 or 5 lbs in the hopper before turning on the mill.  I doubt the problem is the drill, its working as it did the day I got it.  I think its the mill.  I would just buy another one given the price but it does have a lifetime warranty which tells me that the manufacturers don't expect this kind of issue which makes me wonder? 

Offline brewfun

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Re: Problems with my mill
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2013, 09:25:40 PM »
Anything mechanical will eventually fail. It's never if... It's when, and how bad.

I always start my mill before adding grain. Even with a 3 HP motor and geared rollers, it can bind with too much grain. New guys in the malt room always seem to bind it once.

You're making me think that the bearings or shafts are gaining friction. Heat will increase the friction and then bind.

Malt dust can turn to a very hard surface. Even a minor amount of moisture while stored can make it stick and be much harder to brush out. Definitely give a call to the manufacturer about how to deep clean without ruining any sealed bearings. If it's all metal (no plastic), maybe try an evaporative solvent to clean out the shaft guides. Something like denatured alcohol. Then coat with WD 40.
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Offline grathan

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Re: Problems with my mill
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2013, 09:52:27 PM »
Monster Mills website, or somewheres I read lately.. said the non-hardened version rollers haven't worn out at 68,000 lbs. I gotta imagine the hardened rollers would be a lifetime without wearing out.

On the other hand, the Barley Crusher seems riddled with complaints. I read the rollers are smaller diameter (less grain gripping surface).

Have you recently adjusted the gap? I am having trouble with mine, but it came right after I narrowed the gap considerably. One technique you might try if you're fond of a fine crush, is to first set the gap wider for the first pass and then re-crush the grain for the fine setting.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2013, 09:54:31 PM by grathan »

Offline Wildrover

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Re: Problems with my mill
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2013, 08:00:15 AM »
Yeah, I widened and narrowed the gap.  I did some research based on the knurling conversation above and I think that has to be it.  There just aren't that many parts to this mill.  No sealed bearings or anything, I've scrubbed the rollers with a wire brush and that usually helps for about 10-11 lbs (one beer) than I have to go back to battling the mill in order to get the grain crushed.  The thing is, I haven't changed anything when it comes to my mill usage.  I've been using it the same way for years now and its only just recently that Ive started to fight the mill each beer and then give it a huge cleaning way too often.  If I'm doing everything the same, the drill is the same but the output or outcomes is different, that must mean the variable that has been changed is the mill since every other variable that goes into this has been accounted for.     

I emailed them to see what they have to say.  I have gotten in touch with them once before, when all of this first started, and they did eventually get back with me.  I'd like to see what they have to say about the issues. 
« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 08:49:59 AM by Wildrover »

Offline Beer_Tigger

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Re: Problems with my mill
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2013, 08:27:52 AM »
I am having the same problem with my Barley Crusher.  I fill it with my grain, start the drill, and it just spins.  Sometimes it grips and starts grinding.  Once it does, there is no problem.  The problem occurs when it slips.   Then I have to sometimes roll the roller backwards (dropping a few whole grains in) and then try again.  I'd say its getting stuck 20% of the time at most, but is is a pain when it happens.  Let me know what you hear from him.
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Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Problems with my mill
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2013, 09:10:42 AM »
WR
This doesn't address the underlying cause, but have you ever tried conditioning the grains the night before? 

My BC was slipping after the little rubber gasket ripped off, and I'd been playing with the gap.  But once I began conditioning the grains, it's never slipped and the crush is much better.    I hand crank, and usually crush ~12 pounds, so I don't know how that compares to your typical batch size.

If you crush much more, maybe if you did 1/3 or 1/2, it would be enough to flow through the rollers more consistently? 

Offline grathan

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Re: Problems with my mill
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2013, 10:55:35 AM »
Are you wetting the grain before crushing? I had an instance this past time where some grain got wet and stuck to the rollers. This caused aforementioned problems.

Also perhaps your using a different grain. Plumper shaped kernels could cause issues.

Offline Wildrover

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Re: Problems with my mill
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2013, 02:39:22 PM »
Actually, I'm using dry grain.  In fact, isn't wetting it a little what MaltLicker is referring to when he says conditioning it?  I've never tried that actually. What is the best way to do that?  I usually only crush around 4-5 lbs at a time since that's the size of my hopper

WR

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Problems with my mill
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2013, 02:52:02 PM »
I spread grain out on my kitchen island, and spritz it with water from spray bottle.   Then I push it around and repeat twice more.   Then I get it back into large bowls where it sits overnight and the husk is not wet as it passes thru the rollers. 

But the moisture added to the husk does help with crushing and makes the husk sort of spin off rather than crumble to shreds.   Husks are bigger, more intact, and it does help with lautering.   And once the rollers engage, the slipping and skipping does not ever happen.  Read about it in BYO and Zymurgy and tried it........works well.

http://blueribbonbrews.com/photos/process/

First three pix at this link attempts to show it.

Offline Wingeezer

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Re: Problems with my mill
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2013, 05:01:41 PM »
This discussion is of interest to me because by coincidence I just experienced the same thing for the first time with my last batch.  Couldn't figure out what had happened - suddenly the drill was turning but nothing getting milled.

I dumped the remaining grain from the hopper back in to the grain bill pail and checked the rollers.  Everything looked fine, so I just added the grain again and it worked.    For a minute or so, then the problem repeated.

I did get the grain milled but not sure what gives.  I thought perhaps the roller adjustment had come loose but everything seems ok and the adjustment still looks good.  I will re-check with feelers but I don't think it has moved - I have ot set at .039"

The mill is not that old so surely cannot be worn out - I only have maybe 15 loads  of grain for  5 gallon batches through it so far.

I bought this mill because it seemed to come well recommended - hope I don't now need to got buy a Monster Mill instead!
   
Think I will go take a look at the knurling on the rollers to see if it is plugged - I plan on brewing this Wednesday.


Brian.

 

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: Problems with my mill
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2013, 07:00:40 PM »
And here I thought my Corona mill was a pain in the arse.
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Offline SharpsRifle

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Re: Problems with my mill
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2013, 11:49:47 PM »
Have you contacted the manufacturer?   
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