There’s been interest from a few people in the design of my pressure racking cane, so I decided to post it so hopefully it can be of use to others. Like many of my DIY projects this one started with simple necessity. I had a couple situations where either racking under pressure for sanitation reasons, or pushing beer without reliance on gravity were necessary. I looked at the commercial devices, and all of them either looked crappy or were super expensive. I’m also not moving a lot at this stage, so it didn’t need to be capable of moving hundreds of gallons.
The design is really simple. I decided to use a ready-made stainless steel racking cane as the base since it’s already bent nicely, and comes with one of those little feet that helps reduce sediment. The rest of the parts are standard stainless pipe stuff. Here’s a materials list:
- 1/2″ NPT Tee
- Bushing – 1/2″ NPT x 1/4″
- 1/4 Gas valve with check
- 1/2″ NPT x 1/2″ Tube Compression adapter SS
- 5/8″ HOSE barb x 1/2″ NPT
- Drilled Solid Stopper (Size is up to you)
- 3/8″ ID hose
Most of this came from Bargain Fittings, which I’ve always been happy with. Assembly is pretty straightforward. The pictures should show you the arrangement of parts pretty clearly, there are just a couple tricky bits. 1) That 5/8″ barb CAN be pushed through a standard 3/8″ drilled stopper, just use a bit of StarSAN for lube and it should pop right in. This makes a nice tight seal, and should hold up to pressure just fine. 2) When I originally ordered parts for this, I ordered a 3/8″ compression fitting to fit my 3/8″ SS racking cane. Well 3/8″ ain’t always 3/8″ apparently, and the ring and nut for the compression fitting wouldn’t fit over the cane. So, what I did was to swap it out for a 1/2″ compression fitting. Then I cut about a 1/2″ inch of 3/8″ ID x 1/2″ OD hose and slid it unto the cane, I slipped the 1/2″ compression ring over that and it all came together just fine. Don’t skimp on taping your threads, we want everything as tight as possible. The nice thing about this setup is that you can loosen the compression fitting in order to slide the cane in and out for different depths.
That’s basically it. Connect it to your CO2 tank, and tubing of choice, and push some beer!
A couple of notes about use. You need very little pressure to push beer out and too much can make a huge mess. I’d recommend hooking everything up, starting at zero, opening the valve and and slowly increasing the gas until you have the flow you need. I’ve found that the stopper will stay pretty well put unless you send too much pressure through. If you really want to push fast, you can hold the stopper in. Do be aware though that too much pressure can blow up your carboy or whatever. Also note, this basic setup can be scaled up to support a higher flow rate.