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Echostatic
05-26-2011, 12:26 PM
Hello all. I have an auto siphon and a carboy cap with a couple tubes in it, one to stick the siphon tube in and another to blow into to start the siphon. Problem is, I always seem to end up with a big air pocket in it that stops the flow. I have yet to find a way to get rid of it... What am I doing wrong?

Medsen Fey
05-26-2011, 01:07 PM
How much of a height differential is there between the batches?

wayneb
05-26-2011, 01:09 PM
I'm not sure that I understand what you are saying. If you've got an auto siphon, then you don't want to be working with a cap on your carboy that has multiple tubes in it. The auto siphon (seen here in a pretty good YouTube demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIu6IRpFNr8 ) is a self-contained piece of equipment that should just be routed down through the opening in your carboy, with its end immersed in the liquid that you're trying to siphon, in order to work.

akueck
05-26-2011, 02:01 PM
I have one of those blow-in-it-to-start systems. I love that thing! Some tips I have implemented for better sucking, er, siphoning:

Make sure the seal on the top of the carboy is good. I usually squeeze the cap with one hand while the siphon starts. If there is a leak, it won't work.

Make sure the seal between the tube and the cane is good. I use two (one isn't enough!) hose clamps. Turn one 180 compared to the other one and place them next to each other. This way the gap next to the screw from one is sealed by the other.

Squeeze the tube shut (an inch or two past the junction with the racking cane) when you start to blow to pressurize the carboy. When the liquid level reaches the tube, let the tube go. But keep blowing! Continue applying pressure for about 5-10 seconds after you get the siphon going, to make sure it stays going. After that, sit back and enjoy your suction machine, er, siphon.

Using this method I have had 100% success getting a good siphon with zero bubbles. About half the time I deviate, I have issues.

Echostatic
05-26-2011, 02:13 PM
I have experimented with different heights, from about 4 feet to one foot. I guess I don't have an auto siphon, mine has a tip with a valve on it for easy bottle filling. I will try some of those tips next time. What do you do if the liquid level in the carboy is low? I have a really hard time getting the liquid up the racking cane in this case just by blowing.

AToE
05-26-2011, 02:24 PM
If all else fails you can just go old-school and either suck on it instead of blowing on the other end, or prime the thing. I fill mine up with an iodophor solution, plug the "exit" end with my thumb (also iodophor sanitized) stick the racking cane part into the mead about half way (I like to only lower it to the bottom near the end of the siphoning to minimize sediment transfer), then release my thumb over the sink - once the iodophor is all out and a little mead has pumped out too, I plug it with my thumb again, move it over to the new carboy and away I go.

The only tricky thing with this process is when the mead is almost the same colour as the iodophor solution, which makes it hard to tell when mead is finally coming out the end other than by smell alone. What I do in those cases is before I stick the cane into the mead, I very breifly let go of the other end with by thumb, which lets a small (couple inches usually) air pocket into the cane. I then quickly re-plug it and stick the cane into the mead, and then release over the sink. I wait until the airpocket has travelled all the way through and out, then a second or so more to make sure I got all the iodophor out, then go back to my usual process to begin the real mead transfer.

Medsen Fey
05-26-2011, 02:34 PM
The Auto-Siphon (http://www.fermtech.ca/siphon%20starter/siphon.html) is really the greatest invention for brewing since the development of the hydrometer IMO. I wouldn't want to rack without one.

Echostatic
05-26-2011, 02:44 PM
Easiest thing to do would be to get an auto siphon then, I suppose... I might just do that. Racking that raspberry mead was the most frustrating thing I've done in a while. First off, storms knocked out the power while I was sanitizing everything. (Actually got plunged into darkness while moving a pot of boiling water, good times.) So I had to do everything by flashlight. Then I had all the siphon trouble. It took a good two hours to rack that thing I'd imagine, sweating like crazy from losing A/C. And the whole time this huge noisy fly kept buzzing around, trying to get into and ruin my mead. Then as I was cleaning everything, the two hydrocodones I took made me both extremely drowsy and nauseous. I got to spend the next 30 minutes both trying not to vomit and fall asleep. Managed to stay awake, wasn't able to stop vomiting. Eventually got everything cleaned up, and collapsed in bed. Ya it would have been way easier without all the racking trouble :) /rant

wayneb
05-26-2011, 02:59 PM
I second Medsen's endorsement. I'm a convert to the auto siphon as well, and I would never go back to any of the old ways I once used to siphon liquids. Although it is a bit trickier to clean and sanitize than a simple racking cane, the ease of use in priming the siphon (and the resulting less spillage of the good stuff), more than makes up for that minor inconvenience.

Oh, and I guess that Postponing Hydrocodone Ingestion until After Racking is Through ought also to be included in your set of instructions for the future! ;)

PitBull
05-26-2011, 05:20 PM
Pumping cleaner and/or sanitizer through siphoning hoses with an auto-siphon is an easy way to get the clean!

kudapucat
05-26-2011, 08:02 PM
If you're still having trouble, check the connection at th etop of the cane.
Mine is not so great, and can start leaking. this causes air to be sucked into the siphon, should the flow not be fast enough, this air is not ejected down the bottom (and who want to aerate whilst racking anyhow)

Do you have anything over the end of your racking cane? to filter? If you slow the flow, the siphon wont work. If the filter blocks, then the flow will slow.

Ummm... I have also had problems with slow flows and mead degassing by the siphon action. This causes an airlock in the siphon too.

This is all I cna think of.. perhaps a video of it failing. Then we could tell you exactly what the issue was.

Echostatic
05-26-2011, 08:18 PM
I had a single piece of cheesecloth over the end, as it was a very "particle dense" mead due to all the raspberry and yeast gunk. It still got clogged up, it started flowing better after clearing the clog, but still not great. That could've been it... When I tried it some time ago with a carboy full of plain water, it siphoned perfectly.

Chevette Girl
05-26-2011, 08:41 PM
If I'm all together and everything's sanitized and I'm not in a hurry, I'll fill the hose with water or sanitizing solution (mine's clear and also you can kind of tell where it mixes because the densities do weird things when they interact and just follow it through to the end and then get the hose into the carboy), but if I'm in a hurry I just swish with sulphites and suck (shut up, husband in the background :p) gently until the level is just before the bend in the cane and then two quick pulls and into the carboy with the other end... sometimes it fizzles so I try again with three pulls.

I had one of those pump-type ones (looks like a racking cane inside a bigger tube) but I didn't have enough hands to use it, I like to keep one hand on the hose end in the new carboy which leaves one hand to try to pump the thing without stirring up all the sediment from the bottom... so mostly I only bother with that one when I'm racking something that's pretty well clarified or if I can borrow a hand from someone to help pump and get it started. (I'm not trying to sound dirty, this post just keeps coming out so wrong! ;D)

I have a bottle filler syphon which I have used once and am not likely to use again as I found it wouldn't keep its prime and it leaked a lot through the overflow (which if I recall, you initially suck to get started and after using the thing I think I felt much like you did after your episode), for bottling I prefer the little wand with the valve at the bottom, stuck on a regular hose with a racking cane. When bottling, I always stick the racking tube in first and let things settle down again, and then put the bottling tip on the hose, then fill the hose with water from the tap (no thumb required thanks to the valve!) or use my bottle washer to fill the hose and bottle filler with sanitizing solution, keep the valve end below the open end, attach it, and away we go into a sanitized jar until I can see the wine coming...

I think Kudapucat covered most of the reasons why things won't go well once started with the setup you're describing, and yeah, because air is compressble, a carboy that's got a lot of air already may be like trying to inflate an air mattress :sleepy3: ... although a couple additions to the list, I wouldn't recommend leaving a bottle filler valve on the end going into the new carboy, that slows down the flow too... the difference in height can matter for how fast the flow happens, although I see you've already experimented with that... I've also found that if I'm trying to get air bubbles out at the beginning I need the flow to be as straight as possible otherwise bubbles get stuck in the hose instead of blowing out the exit for a nice laminar flow... anywhere the hose goes up then down again traps air, which slows things down because it's compressible.

Good luck, hope you find something that works for you!

Chevette Girl
05-26-2011, 08:46 PM
I had a single piece of cheesecloth over the end, as it was a very "particle dense" mead due to all the raspberry and yeast gunk. It still got clogged up, it started flowing better after clearing the clog, but still not great. That could've been it... When I tried it some time ago with a carboy full of plain water, it siphoned perfectly.


Yeah. Makes a big difference in flow rates, I've noticed when I siphon JAO's or variants with lots of gunk... if I've got time I'll do a rough rack to get it off the fruit but I don't care if I get some lees in too so I don't bother with the cheesecloth, then just before I want to bottle, I'll rack it again off whatever's settled out since the rough racking... Or get a third hand to hold the end of the cane with the cheesecloth away from the bottom of the messy must so you can get it started and get most of the flow through BEFORE you clog things up :)

kudapucat
05-26-2011, 11:35 PM
Yeah. Makes a big difference in flow rates, I've noticed when I siphon JAO's or variants with lots of gunk... if I've got time I'll do a rough rack to get it off the fruit but I don't care if I get some lees in too so I don't bother with the cheesecloth, then just before I want to bottle, I'll rack it again off whatever's settled out since the rough racking... Or get a third hand to hold the end of the cane with the cheesecloth away from the bottom of the messy must so you can get it started and get most of the flow through BEFORE you clog things up :)

The siphon and cane I use is good, cos you can set the depth.
I never use cheesecloth
I set it to 50% the carboy depth
Then start the siphon.

I then lower it as far as possible untill it starts a mini tornado of lees, then I back up a bit.
On the second racking (or bottling), the punt in the bottom of my carboys means the lees are a long way from the racking cane, and it comes out crystal.

When racking into bottles, I do the same thing, but as the bottling progresses, I push the siphon deeper. This guarantees minimal disturbance, and also perfect bottles, except for the last one, which sometimes needs to be rebottled - or just drunk early as a taster ;-)