Braid Failure Speculation

Before I made my manifold, I had a braid setup for my rubbermaid cooler mash tun, fashioned almost using the excellent guide from Homebrewtalk.com, to use in the batch sparging method championed by Denny Conn.

It didn’t work so well.  In one, regrettably memorable instance, lautering took me more than three hours.  Many other instances were similarly slow.

Mash Tun Braid Failure

In an effort to reinforce my large-diameter braid, I inserted a well-cut piece of copper pipe. It didn’t work.

In an effort to attempt to fix this problem, I embarked on a bit of a quest to re-engineer my braid.  Long story short, I tried to purchase a larger diameter stainless steel mesh sleeving (i.e. a “braid”) from McMaster-Carr (product #1478T4).  It collapsed outright.  I then tried to reinforce it with a well-cut section of copper pipe, inserted into the sleeving.  It, too, failed.

Eventually, I switched to a manifold, but I still speculate on why some people, myself included, find that the braid doesn’t work for them.  Perhaps all hose braids are not equal?  Perhaps:

  • For some hoses, the braid mesh is woven of different gauge wire?
  • Some hose braids—especially the wider-diameter ones—are more prone to flattening, or even all-out collapsing?
  • The braid mesh is too fine, or too tight, which then clogs easily (perhaps only when combined with aggressive milling, or with other grain milling issues)?

I’m lead to believe that it’s probably a matter of braid mesh “fine-ness.”  These braids essentially operate like “Chinese finger trap” toys, loosening while pushed and tightening while being pulled.  It seems plausible that some braid builds exaggerate this “tightening while being pulled” scenario, restricting the liquid flow.

Share your speculation with me, in the comments section, if you have any interesting insights.

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