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Water Heater Steamer Modification & Updated Microbe Bulk Sub Tek


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#1 Microbe

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Posted 28 February 2018 - 02:59 PM

i prefer steam pasteurization above all other methods so I have built a half dozen steamers and although they all have worked safely, they were very ghetto looking. My goal for this build is to have a unit that looks much cleaner, a little safer, more durable, and much more efficient. This mod can be applied to any size electric water heater safely and my end game will be a 80 gallon 220 volt and a steam pasteurization shed. Before i get started anyone altering a water heater will do so at their own risk and although i claim this to be safe, it is certainly against its intended purpose so whatever the face value means to you....proceed with caution when doing any type of electrical work or modifying a water heater that could potential injure or KILL.





I went with a 6 gallon water heater that is designed as point of use for recreational vehicles. Based on my prior experience with a 5 gallon bucket steamer I built and operated for a year or two and factor in the insulation and airtight connections accept for the outlet, i can run this approximately 24 hours before having to refill it once my steaming chamber is up to temp.



As with most of the stuff i do not put together clean teks such as starting off with a materials list and links where to find the items and etc but i will be detailed enough that it is easily comprehended and i will say that all the items can be purchased from Amazon. I did buy the water heater from a local brick and mortar store. As a home owner i had most of tools laying around and as with anything, the proper tool for the job will make the task more easily accomplished. Ever did electrical work with a butter knife and razor blade? I have!!!



The unmodified unit.


First thing I did was to remove the top cover to access the anode rod. This is probably the most difficult part so I wanted it out of the way first. It requires a seriously agressive approach to loosen the nut on a nee water heater so I couldnt imagine a old water heater.

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Anyway they are standard across all make and models requiring a 1/2" drive 6 point 1 1/16" socket with a long ratchet or breaker bar. I have a telescopic ratchet that extends out to 17" which barley got the job done. Do not even try using a pipe wrench.....

After the lid was off there were 3 layers of insulation to dig through. To get down to the nut.

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While the lid is off I placed a line on the side of the water heater that was parallel to the hole then measured from the edge of the water heater, rough measurement I wasnt worried about being dead center. I placed the lid back on and went to drill a hole using a hole saw but them realized i had a wood bit so i used my teeth instead......actually i used my wire cutters and nipped away at it.
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Next I removed the lid again to install a 3/4" male NPT 1/4" female NPT bushing. I used some pipe dope which is entirley optional for this application. I used a pipe wrench to tighten.

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Next I installed the most important component, a adjustable pressure release valve that can be set from 0 to 100 psi. I used pipe dope on threads and used pipe wrench to tighten.

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Next i cut a few slits in the layers of insulation and placed them down over the pressure release component and put the lid back on. As you can see when i said a rough measurement i meant it. No where close to be on center and in hinesite I didnt need such a large hole.

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Next using a pipe wrench I removed the TPS valve on the water heater. I think it is design to open up when the pressure exceeds 50 psi but it opens up when the temp reaches 212°F also so that's why I'm not usung it and installed the valve on top of the unit. I pluged it using a 3/4" male NPT and used pipe dope and deep well socket.

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Next i placed a standard garden hose cap on the cold or supply inlet. Used pipe dope and a pipe wrench.

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On the hot or outlet, I used a 3/4" female to 1/2" hose barb. I did not use pipe dope because this will be removed to fill my water heater. This is where the steam will exit the heater and be piped into my pasteurizing vessel.

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Next I need to swap out the element. I only have a 15 amp circuit available to run this off of and the current element pulls approximately 16.5 amps. To determine amps and not always exact as there are other variables in some applications and not relevant here so no need to discuss, but you devide the watts by the voltage so 2000 watt element pulls 16.66 amps. Im installing a 1500 watt element that pulls only 12.5 amps.

I remove the cover and pull out the insulation and pop off the plastic cover that goes over the element and thermostat.

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Now that i have all the electrical components uncovered I will bypass the thermostat by simply removing the wires. I now have a black and 1 white lead.

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Next i loosen the terminal screws on the element and remove the wires then with the element wrench I loosen the element and then pull it out.

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Now i install the 1500 watt element and using the two black and white leads from the picture above, i attach the wires to the element.

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Next i install the power cord. I went with shielded romex 14/2 WG for a clean look and durability.

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I run the leads through the power in on the heater and them push the end in and move it back and forth and up and down to lock it into place. I give it a little tug to make sure it is seated correctly.

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Next i attach the white leads together, black leads together and then attach the ground to the grounding post.

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Next i throw some wire nuts on and tape them up, tuck them away, install the plastic cover, put the insulation back in and attach the outter cover back to the unit.


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Next i install the 3 prong and tape it up. It is not very clean looking as I was hoping locking ring would fit down into the plug but it didnt so i had to use tape damn it.

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Finally i attach the hose to the outlet usung a cable tie(i cant find my worm gear clamps) and on the other end a quick connect.

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Steamer complete and mess cleaned up.


I will finish this thread up over the next few days with my updated bulk sub tek.

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https://uploads.tapa...024b643dcf1.jpg

Edited by Microbe, 28 February 2018 - 05:53 PM.

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#2 sandman

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Posted 28 February 2018 - 05:30 PM

Last 6 pics not working



#3 Microbe

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Posted 28 February 2018 - 05:53 PM

Last 6 pics not working

I tried to fix it and just doubled them up.

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#4 sandman

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Posted 28 February 2018 - 06:59 PM

I'd really like to see it set up. Lots of good work bud.


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#5 Microbe

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Posted 28 February 2018 - 07:02 PM

I'd really like to see it set up. Lots of good work bud.

I will take some new photos when I go to run it. Thanks for the kudos.

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#6 peacefrog

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 06:34 AM

Nice as always. I would be interested in seeing how well it works too.
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#7 onediadem

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 01:02 PM

Awesome job Microbe. If I had balls, this would be a project I would do. I do lack them when it comes to electrical work. Such a great idea tho. Im looking forward to seeing it work.



#8 Juthro

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 01:08 PM

Did you have all your X-mas presents tore apart before new years rolled around, when you were a kid?

:)

Neat project my mad scientist friend, thanks for sharing it.
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#9 Hash_Man

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 04:09 PM

Awesome job Microbe. If I had balls, this would be a project I would do. I do lack them when it comes to electrical work. ."


Borrow Hillary's I'm sure she's not using them right now
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#10 Juthro

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 04:20 PM

Awesome job Microbe. If I had balls, this would be a project I would do. I do lack them when it comes to electrical work. ."


Borrow Hillary's I'm sure she's not using them right now


I thought it was Bill's turn to wear them this week.....

P.S. I like electrical work, it helps keeps my hair curly (what I got left anyway).
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#11 Arathu

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Posted 01 March 2018 - 06:45 PM

Oh this is a beauty right here.....I'll be doing a gas boiler myself but 220 electric will work......

 

Can't wait to see this running.

 

A


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#12 Microbe

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Posted 03 March 2018 - 02:12 PM

SUB PREP

I'm always changing the process in which I prepare my subs and this has been the easiest method for me however it may not work for all.

I started hydrating coir only and then adding straw and composted cow manure dry. The excess moisture is absorbed my the straw and manure during pasteurization and i am left with a perfectly hydrated sub with lots of beneficial microbial life.

First i hydrate the coir. I start with a rinsed 5 gallon bucket and place 2 650 gram bricks of coir down in the bottom of the bucket and add 5 quarts of hot tap water or 2.5 quarts of water per 650 gram brick. I do not cover with lids or towels and it is left open.

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While I'm waiting for the coir to wick the water up and hydrate i chop my straw. Typically i would use a lawn mower and chop a entire bale before placing in the trashcan, im not dragging my lawnmower out until i have to cut the grass so I'm doing it the old fashion way. I know there are better and more efficient ways to do it. I do not soak, wash, rinse, or add anything to the straw, i simply just chop and collect into a tote.

Straw is a good sub ingredient but more importantly it also helps maintain proper texture and increases the structural integrity of the substrate by acting like hardware cloth in concrete.


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I go back to my coir and you can now see its close to hydrated and they are wedged between the walls of the bucket.

I add 1/4 cup of gypsum or 1/8 cup per 650 brick of coir. Gypsum obviously provides sulfur and calcium but it also allows for water to flow more freely through the substrate helping to reduce wet/dry spots throughout the sub. I can go into great detail to why that is important and how it relates to energy efficiency of the colony but that's not my goal in this thread.

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I finish breaking up large chunks while in the bucket and mix in the gypsum. For some reason didnt take a picture. Once that is done I dump into a larger 20 gallon container and then finish mixing. I continue to layer in buckets of coir and mix and work each subsequent bucket of coir in the previous and ultimately end up with 20 gallons of hydrated coir. Im not going to lie i dislike this part of sub prep so i go big and then I bag it and freeze for future projects. I would rather mix 1 large batch a few times over X amount of time versus many smaller batches over the same period of time.

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Next I set up the Subway Shop, where we are sub artists and every sub is hand crafted to perfection.....get it?

Every individual sub is hand mixed and bagged, this allows for consistency across all the bags which is critical for testing cultures. By mixing everything together then filling from 1 large container, you can end up with 1 bag that has more straw or one bag with more manure and etc.


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"Subway where the mushrooms come to eat"

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Using individual bowls I weigh out 350 grams of coir, 630 grams of composted cow manure, and 20 grams of straw leaving with 1000 grams of sub or a little over 2 lbs that receive 2 full quarts or a little over 2 lbs of spawn making it a 1:1 by weight or approximately 1:2 spawn:sub by volume.

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Next I use a poly bag that will withstand pasteurization temps and I load in the coir, then manure, and finally the straw.

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I mix thoroughly and then squeeze all the air out and compress the substrate before twisting the bag closed and placing a releasable cable tie to keep it closed. Removing the air helps the sub to get to temp quicker and creates a anaerobic enviroment.

Let me explain, Cow dung harbours a rich microbial diversity, containing different species of bacteria but the primary target here is lactobacillus which is a facultative anaerobe so it can survive with or without the presence of O2 and thrives at pasteurization temps. Most if not all the aerobic microbes will be destroyed by the time i spawn and im still studying this but I believe the remaining anaerobic or facultative microbes will also be destroyed.

I will explain in more detail of what to look for and what to look out for when i go to spawn and throughout the spawn run. I will be starting a China (fruiting) grow log early part of next week.

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Thats it easy peasy. This last pic is for @alderlogs.....

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Im going to finish filling some bags today then i will show the operation of my pasteurization system in a few.

Edited by Microbe, 03 March 2018 - 02:17 PM.


#13 Microbe

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Posted 03 March 2018 - 05:14 PM

Pasteurization system operation.


Here is the inside of the cooler. Copper pipe holds and elevates the sub above the cpvc network that has tiny holes in it.

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Load the bags up. I can fit up to 40 bags in this cooler. I then use a 6 probe Bluetooth BBQ thermometer (thanks @hash_man for the find) and place the probes 1 through 3 across the top layer from left to right and probes 4 through 6 on the bottom from left to right. So one on the left, center, and right on both top and bottom.. This makes it easy for me to remember the location of the probe when checking temp as we read read left to right top to bottom....most of us anyway.

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The thermometer unit is pretty slick. You go to the app store and download the app and have a nice interactive interface and set presets, temperature alarms , target temps and etc.

It cycles 1 through 6 constantly on the main unit while the mobile app displays all 6 temps at the same time.

I toss a block on top of the cooler to help keep the lid tightly closed and set my temperature unit up on it.

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Screenshot of mobile app. Pics were taken before I turned steamer on. 2a9303e6039717577394a01a9f406cde.jpgcf223a0e0ebf1314c55dc0b3c847240a.jpg93f59ea7e3b159c9367746dd91e104bf.jpg

I have a flow meter on order so i can fill the unit without having to get down and look inside the outlet to see if i can see water but for now this is how I filled the unit. I ran this tube from my RO faucet. i cant run a hose from my main faucet because it is one of those pull out sprayer heads but i will fill this simply using a garden hose when it warms up outside.

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Quick connect that attaches to the cooler.

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Steamer plugs into a temperature controller. This one reads only in Celsius and is one i have been using for 5 years now and still works great. I set it at 162° approximately because since i been using this cooler, my bottom layer runs 10° hotter normally. Anything over 160° but under under 180° is good.

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Set up a piss bucket.

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Puts out a nice amount of steam......

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Once the center of my sub get up to temp i will run for 4 to 6 hours then allow to cool for 24 hours. When i go to get them out the bags are still above 100° F.

I think im done with this thread as far as what I wanted to share. I will continue this up in a grow log in a few days.


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#14 Hash_Man

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Posted 03 March 2018 - 05:29 PM

Absolutely fabulous!
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#15 Tenderfoot

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Posted 03 March 2018 - 08:15 PM

Nice of you to take the time to share the means to your madness!  Consistency seems to be one key to your success. 


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#16 coorsmikey

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Posted 03 March 2018 - 09:12 PM

Im imagining the heating unit and the cooler mounted to a rolling cart of some sort. Like a work bench on top and the the pasteurization setup on the bottom. Man you have me dreaming now of building one now. Maybe a mini fridge with instead of the cooler. I dig the quick connect too, one could rig a 55gal drum with the quick connect and swap over the steam in a jiffy.

Another one for the vaults! Good idea!
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#17 onediadem

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Posted 03 March 2018 - 11:10 PM

I love the detail in this write up. I wish I weren't so afraid of electricity, I would build this in a heartbeat. My goal is a propane one heating a 55 gallon drum this summer. This is awesome, and I hope to see many follow in your footsteps!


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#18 sandman

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Posted 03 March 2018 - 11:14 PM

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#19 Microbe

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Posted 04 March 2018 - 08:38 AM

Thanks for the kind words everyone.

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#20 Microbe

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Posted 04 March 2018 - 09:01 AM

Im imagining the heating unit and the cooler mounted to a rolling cart of some sort. Like a work bench on top and the the pasteurization setup on the bottom. Man you have me dreaming now of building one now. Maybe a mini fridge with instead of the cooler. I dig the quick connect too, one could rig a 55gal drum with the quick connect and swap over the steam in a jiffy.

Another one for the vaults! Good idea!

Im glad you mentioned wheels. After running it I'm already thinking of my next mod. I want to take a 5 gallon bucket that will act as a reservoir and will feed the water heater through the bottom inlet but was thinking how much of a pita it would be to move the unit around if i did that......problem solved, attach it to a small platform with wheels!

The element is a little higher up on the water heater then my previous 5 gallon bucket steamer and factor in that i can only fill the water level just below the top port where the steam exists, i might only have about 3 1/2 gallons to work with. It takes about 1 gallon to get the subs to target temp which leaves me plenty of water to run the unit for a long pasteurization time as the bucket collects about 2 quarts of water over a 4 hour period but i will need to fill it every time i run it. I did not want to do that.

So i thought about moving my pressure release component to the side of the water heater where the TPRV was and then cap off the outlet on the side of the unit where my steam is currently exiting and hook my hose up to where the anode rod was. This should reclaim about another 2 gallons of water but I'm not sure if that pressure relief component will function properly as it will below the water line. Need to do some research.

However adding a reservoir that feeds the water heater will solve all my problems and i can leave it set up as is. It will also make it easier to fill it with water as i will only need fill the reservoir. It will be easy to do, just add a bulkhead on the bucket and run CPVC pipe to the water heater. Put a mark on the bucket to where the full line would be, it will need to stay about 2 inches below the outlet on the water heater.

Anyway I'm glad you mentioned wheels and mobile! I guess I'm not done with this thread just yet!

I thought about converting a old fridge into a steam cabinet as i can get them for free from Lowes, im good friends with many of the store managers and they will let me pull one out of their recycling trailor but i dont have room in my garage for it.



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