So I’ve got 5m of 1/2″ copper pipe. Went halves with a colleague (and fellow brewer), on a 10m lot off TradeMe. I’ve seen a wort chiller before, it’s just a coil of copper pipe that you dunk in the wort and pump cold water through. Apparently you don’t need a pipe bender, as long as you are careful on the tight bends – I’m aiming to make the diameter of the coils about 250mm give or take, which can be bent by hand round a paint tin or similar, but where the pipe enters and exits the cooking pot you need a bit of a sharper curve. I’ve been told that you can stuff the pipe with damp sand to prevent kinks and creases when you need sharp bends, which seems like a pain in the arse to me. My colleague and co-wort-chiller-maker successfully used the spring off a chest-expander (!?) which fits snugly outside the pipe to prevent creases, so I gave that a go. And this technique does work, more or less.
I made the large coils just by hand, and successfully put some sharper bends at the ends using the sprig technique. It was all going so well, I’d produced an almost export-quality wort chiller, it was like a copper sculpture it was. Well proud of it. I was removing the tight fitting spring from the end of the pipe and I accidentally pulled too hard and bent a crease into the fucker. Aaaaargh, hairy bumholes! Never mind, a quick squeeze in the vice and it’s back to (almost) round again. Not a work of art, but certainly serviceable.
A quick trip to Mitre10 yields a couple of hose clips and a hose/tap connector. I already had some spare lengths of garden hose knocking about the place, so it’s easy enough to fit it all together. First time I tried it out, not a single drop of tap water leaked out of the joins, which is good news. You don’t want tap water contaminating the wort at the crucial cooling stage, and I had not left sufficient copper pipe at the ends to ensure that the join was well away from the inside of the pot. Oh well, lesson learnt – if I ever need to make another one, I’ll know for next time.
Anyway, chiller is ready, time to put it to use.