Cheap and Easy Mash Tun
Rubbermaid cooler 48 quart from Menards. Cost was $13.99. (now it is on sale for $10.67!) I knew this would work because a guy named Kevin used this same one (except mine has much fancier and deluxe tropical designs...) and so did Denny. Both of their web pages helped me get ideas.
Braided Stainless Steel toilet supply line tube (Menards): $3.19
4 clamps at $.58 each: $2.32
Plastic valve 3/8" (Northern Brewer): $1.50
5 feet hi-temp 3/8" tubing (Northern Brewer) 1.60/foot: $8.00
Rubbermaid 48 quart cooler (Menards): $13.99
total cost = $29.00
Considering a cooler conversion kit can cost $30 itself, this appears to be a cheap and easy way to get into all-grain brewing. I thought I would start cheap and easy, and if I ever want to upgrade, I can.
OK here comes my tubing sob story. I figured I needed hi-temp tubing so I bought the 3/8" stuff (the wider of the two typical sizes, the other being 1/4"). Now I know I don't. I could have saved a few $ and made it even cheaper if I had not bought it, but I'm sure it'll work fine. Where I ran into trouble was in trying to get the hi-temp tubing through the spigot. I WAS able to get the non hi-temp 3/8" tubing through because its walls are a little thinner. But the walls of the hi-temp tubing make it just too big to pull through no matter how tapered I made the tubing (see above). That is when I found out that I can get away with using the non-hi-temp (and slightly smaller) 3/8" tubing for the inner part of the mash tun. I did use the hi-temp stuff I bought on the other side of the valve. Bored yet?!
This was the open end of the braided tube. I sawed off the ends seconds with a hack saw. Then I pulled the rubber tube out with a pliers. I decided to fold over the end, bend it onto itself with a pliers, and tighten a clamp as far as it can go. All I really have to do is keep grain material from getting into the end and that should work.
Here is the braided tube before I put it over the plastic tubing. You can see how tight the tubing is in the spigot as it is slightly collapsed where it goes through. After it was done I filled it with some water and it did not leak. The water ran pretty quickly out of it through the tubing too, so I think I will get a good rate of collecting wort.
At left is the non hi-temp tubing. At right is the hi-temp. The inner diameter is the same (3/8") but the outer diameter varies, with the hi temp being thicker.
Here's the Midway Mash Tun ready for action. It's no different than a lot of guys have made but I thought I'd post how I did it.
Update August 2006: It works! I have been using it for over a year and it has made many wonderful beers. Here is my very first run through with it and here is my all-grain brewing guide.