Documenting my build

For those with a soldering iron perhaps? :)

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Post by stux » 6 years ago

Lylo wrote:Great pics Stux,thanks for confirming that I am using the right cubes!
Not my pics :)
Last edited by stux on 23 Oct 2011, 17:13, edited 5 times in total.
Fermenting: -
Cubed: -
Stirplate: -
On Tap: NS Summer Ale III (WY1272), Landlord III (WY1469), Fighter's 70/- II (WY1272), Roast Porter (WY1028), Cider, Soda
Next: Munich Helles III

5/7/12


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Post by Lylo » 6 years ago

Great pics thughes,thanks for confirming my choice of cubes! :blush: :idiot:
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Post by thughes » 6 years ago

kzimmer0817 wrote:Thanks for the photos. It helps me figure out how this fits

I'm speaking from no experience whatsoever, but before you hack up your basket: have you operated your kettle, including the recirculating pump, using the bag without the steamer basket? IOW, rig up some kind of false bottom (the broccoli steamer as I've seen before) in the bottom to make certain that it's the basket that's slowing down the flow and not simply the bag.
The same thought occurred to me in a dream last night. :shock: I am going to skip the basket and obtain or fashion a simple wire grate to keep the bag above the element, we'll see how that works.

kzimmer0817 wrote:Also, how fast do you need the water flow to be in order to maintain your temps? I wouldn't think it would be much (again, just pondering it without having experienced it). In your photo, there are 2 rows of holes above the level of your grain, so I don't understand how that many unobstructed holes won't allow your flow to drain out and around the basket rapidly enough to keep the kettle from overfilling unless it's the bag that's causing the most resistance.
Once I hit temp, I don't believe I need any flow to maintain temp (there is a lot of thermal mass I'm working with). I just wanted to skip the insulating thing and use "technology".....sometimes simpler really is better. I believe just tossing the lid on and throwing a blanket over the rig would do the job. If temps did drop significantly I could always fire up the heat and recirculate for a few minutes.
kzimmer0817 wrote:I've been "imagining" and "designing" my own build in my head even before seeing your great idea. I had wondered about trying to find a correctly sized wire basket (like those in used to make french fries in the deep fat fryers) what would be more "hole" and less "metal". Sort of like one of these if you could find one deeper.

http://www.bayouclassicfryers.com/index ... tail&p=237
http://www.webstaurantstore.com/11-1-2- ... 7FB11.html
See my first comment, above. I did a lot of "daydream engineering" too but I can attest that what happens in the real world doesn't always conform to the engineering manuals in my head
kzimmer0817 wrote:Is it possible that this might be due to the location of your temp probe - in the space underneath the basket and near the heating element? If the probe were stuck into your mash, might it work better? It's possible that I'm not fully understanding the process - not knowing if it's a problem with how the PID functions or a problem with sensing the temp.
I thought very hard about where to put the probe, there are pro's and con's to putting it just about anywhere. I searched for a water-proof probe to no avail, finally decided that since heat rises I would put it as low as possible to avoid having the lower column of liquid become over-heated in an effort to reach a set temperature at the top of the liquid column.

I had not auto-tuned the PID but instead had experimented with several settings to get it working to my liking. While I was cleaning up yesterday (adding 10 gallons of water and a scoop of OxyClean to the rig, heating it up, and recirculating......I love "clean in place"!) I did set the unit to auto-tune and it changed all of my settings significantly. Hopefully things will work better now that I have let the software configure the correct settings. (Again, the simple method is usually the best.)
kzimmer0817 wrote:How fast did the bag/basket combo drain when you raised it compared to when you did BIAB without the basket? I'm just trying to save you the trouble of hacking up your basket (which isn't a cheap piece of equipment when purchased separately).

It is likely that crushing your grain a little finer will further impede the flow of wort thru the bag itself as well as the basket. I still wonder if slowing the flow in your recirculator would solve the issue without having to cut up your basket.
The thing drains VERY slowly through the basket, I ended up ditching the basket after mashing, hanging the bag, and squeezing the heck out of it (like I usually do). Wanna buy a basket? ;)

My crush was the same as I have used for the past dozen or so BIAB sessions with my propane rig, and I was getting > 80% efficiency. No problem with the bag draining either (minus the basket).
kzimmer0817 wrote:Respectfully submitted,
Keith - who's trying to do some "dry runs" in his head before actually doing it. :think:
I appreciate your questions and feedback, polycephaly is a wonderful advantage when designing/engineering.


---Todd
Last edited by thughes on 23 Oct 2011, 22:05, edited 5 times in total.
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Post by kzimmer0817 » 6 years ago

Todd, glad to associate and actual "name" to the screen name.

Threads such as this are so useful in that it allows us to see the results of someone else's experimentation. If a process doesn't work, I can scratch that idea and move on to either come up with something better or provide the readers with yet another idea NOT to try. :)

I truly was hoping that your plan of placing the bag into a basket (pierced or mesh) would work well. I was envisioning a little crane that would hoist the basket/bag up, move it over, and lower it into another smaller pot in case I wanted to dunk again (as in Maxi-BIAB).

I'm thinking that, when the voile bag is suspended, the weight causes the weave to stretch slightly, allowing the wort to drain more freely while still filtering most of the grain. When the bag is supported inside a basket, the cloth does not stretch; in fact, the "pores" in the weave might actually be compressed slightly even further restricting the flow. :think:

Since you're appearing much more active in your pursuit than I, I'll throw out an idea that I've been pondering ever since reading the thread on this site in which the brewer purchased fine stainless steel cloth with which to make a basket that would actually replace the bag completely. Maybe you can beat me to it:idea:

I would hack up a plastic pale (or metal basket if I feel up to it) that's about the size of the basket that came with your kettle probably much like what you had envisioned doing with your basket. Perhaps cut out pie slices from the bottom to give it 4-6 "spokes", then cut rectangles from the sides to match. Now I would have mostly a framework to which I could attach the stainless steel fabric. It would resemble the adapter I use to put my own coffee grounds into my Keurig coffeemaker.

:idea: It suddenly hit me that one might even try placing the voile bag into this support as an initial experiment before trying to mess with termite cloth or other SS cloth. If my theory is correct, some of the bag would buldge thru the cutouts in the bottom and sides thereby allowing the wort to pass thru more freely than it does in a much more supportive basket such as your - or even the wire ones in the links I posted. :idea:

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, so it might be best to follow the advice of the hosts of our forum and just K.I.S.S. We should leave all the fanciness to the traditional all-grain guys and their large 3-vessel flat brew sculpture with the three gleaming SS kettles, all the plumbing, shiny quick-connect fittings, and, of course, the big bright lights on the controller as shown on The Electric Brewery :!: You gotta admit, though, that there's something really stimulating to the eyes about some of those rigs.

Better go, now. Going to look at a house today (we're house-hunting) - of course, keeping in mind the placement of a temp-controlled garage/shop in which I can set up my pipe organ (my other money-pit hobby) as well as my brew station.

Thanks,
Keith

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Post by thughes » 6 years ago

Keith,

I believe the issue with the current basket is that if you add up the square area of all the holes, it is still a very small area for liquid to drain (as opposed to the total surface area of the bag, all of which allows liquid to drain).

While I do like the idea of some type of basket as a supporting framework for the bag, in the end it just becomes an impediment to the flow of liquid out of the bag. :dunno:

There is a thread over at Homebrewtalk.com where ScubaSteve tried all sorts of different size stainless steel mesh in order to make a basket. The biggest issue is cleaning: the grain husks stick in the holes of the mesh and it is a real bear to clean. Last I heard he was throwing in the towel and going back to using a bag (there's that K.I.S.S. thing again).

Here's hoping that you find a nice house with a 20' x 20' stand-alone shed that is also equipped with water, electric, and a floor drain. :pray:
Last edited by thughes on 24 Oct 2011, 02:32, edited 5 times in total.
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Post by kzimmer0817 » 6 years ago

thughes wrote:Keith,
While I do like the idea of some type of basket as a supporting framework for the bag, in the end it just becomes an impediment to the flow of liquid out of the bag. :dunno:

There is a thread over at Homebrewtalk.com where ScubaSteve tried all sorts of different size stainless steel mesh in order to make a basket. The biggest issue is cleaning: the grain husks stick in the holes of the mesh and it is a real bear to clean. Last I heard he was throwing in the towel and going back to using a bag (there's that K.I.S.S. thing again).
Todd,

Thanks for the link. I skimmed thru all 54 pages (over 500 posts) of Scubasteve's build. I also headed down another rabbit trail off of that one for a while. :headhit: The fact that you had posted the link gave me the feeling that scubasteve's saga wasn't going to have a happy ending. He sure did go thru a lot of work. I'm wondering if his main problem was that he was trying to find a single mesh that would serve as his "bag" as well as filter out hop trub. He did end up with a nice build, so he should be able to function well with a voile bag.

Since my mother has sewn for as long as I can remember, and I'm fairly handy with material, I should concentrate my efforts on experimenting with bags instead of with stainless steel cloth/mesh. I might still play around with a cut up pail or very wide mesh basket (like what french fries are cooked in) as a bag support. It just might be that the voile is much stronger than I think it is, so it likely is that I'm simply trying to complicate matters just for a cool look. :dunno:

For some reason, I don't care much for the long bags hanging; they appear to be much larger than necessary. I've wondered about enclosing a SS ring inside the top edge of my bag in lieu of a drawstring. One could attach some kind of bucket handle to this ring to lift the bag using a hoist.

I have a feeling that, for my first BIAB, I'm going to do what some have done and simply drape a sheet of voile down into and over my kettle and simply gather up the edges when it's time to lift the bag. When I get bored with that, I can dream about a better way of doing it.
Here's hoping that you find a nice house with a 20' x 20' stand-alone shed that is also equipped with water, electric, and a floor drain. :pray:
I don't think I'm going to jump onto this house. It's elegant, but it'll be well over my budget after I add the garage/shop - "if" I can get that past the Homeowner's Association's Architecture Committee. Thanks for asking.

Keith
Last edited by kzimmer0817 on 24 Oct 2011, 05:51, edited 5 times in total.

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Post by thughes » 6 years ago

I reckon this basket should flow a bit better now. :thumbs:

before: Image Image
after: Image Image
Last edited by thughes on 25 Oct 2011, 09:46, edited 5 times in total.
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Post by kzimmer0817 » 6 years ago

That is a cool design. I appreciate that you're "in" to aesthetics as well. I'm really wanting this to work for you - possibly for selfish reasons. I'm hoping to do something like it. I found other guys who were placing their bags inside a steamer basket like your original on and had no complaints. On one, I think the brewer was leaving it suspended over the kettle for about 15-20 minutes.

I still want a little crane to hoist my basket/bag up, then slide over and lower it into a pot to finish draining. I've googled for several different key word combinations and can't find anything already built. The smallest hoist/trolley lifts about 1/2 ton. So, I guess I'll have to design something myself.

I hope the recirc works well with this.

Keith


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Post by joshua » 6 years ago

Good Day kzimmer0817, For a hoist check http://www.biabrewer.info/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=972 for a 2:1 pully system, you might be able to swing the bucket with this pully setup. Also, you might consider making a PIPE trolly like the one shown at this site.... http://www.thegaragegazette.com/index.p ... pic=3372.0
It takes some machining for custom wheels, and you won't need such a big hoist.....
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Post by stux » 6 years ago

love the patterning :)
Fermenting: -
Cubed: -
Stirplate: -
On Tap: NS Summer Ale III (WY1272), Landlord III (WY1469), Fighter's 70/- II (WY1272), Roast Porter (WY1028), Cider, Soda
Next: Munich Helles III

5/7/12


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Post by stux » 6 years ago

kzimmer0817 wrote:I still want a little crane to hoist my basket/bag up, then slide over and lower it into a pot to finish draining. I've googled for several different key word combinations and can't find anything already built. The smallest hoist/trolley lifts about 1/2 ton. So, I guess I'll have to design something myself.
Check out zizzle's brewbot

http://zizzle-brewbot.blogspot.com/2011" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ... chive.html

its a mini totally automated system which uses a stainless steel bag, gantry, hop droppers etc...

:)
Last edited by stux on 25 Oct 2011, 12:22, edited 5 times in total.
Fermenting: -
Cubed: -
Stirplate: -
On Tap: NS Summer Ale III (WY1272), Landlord III (WY1469), Fighter's 70/- II (WY1272), Roast Porter (WY1028), Cider, Soda
Next: Munich Helles III

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Post by kzimmer0817 » 6 years ago

Stux,

Thanks for the link. An idea similar had come to me recently. I don't want to hijack Todd's build thread, so I'll try to be brief. I was trying to consider 2 options:

1. a miniature hoist trolley resembling the one in the garage link that Joshua posted that would ride on a rail on top of my brew stand. The smallest I can find are way too big.
2. some kind of small crane/gantry that would lift using one motor along with another motor that would give sideways movement either by chain/cable or threaded rod (both technologies are found on garage door openers).

Food for thought - after I have a few BIAB brews under my belt.

I'm interested to see if Todd's fancy-patterned basket works. BTW, Todd, if you read this, what did you use to enlarge the holes? a stepped bit? As a side, what are folks using to cut holes in kettles/kegs? I see reference to the step bits, but I also see reference to the threaded punches such as what's used to cut the faucet holes in stainless steel sinks.

Thanks,
Keith

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Post by thughes » 6 years ago

No worries on the hijack, this is a build thread and I'm open to any engineering discussion related to building a rig. Have at it!

Keith, I wanted to do a fold-away lifting arm with a small winch or pulley system too. I came to the realization that both locations that I brew in (the basement and the garage) have overhead beams which are conducive to screwing a skyhook into. I also like the fact that my rig is very portable and adding a lifting system would make it much more cumbersome to move around. There is also the balance between placing the kettle high enough that you can gravity-drain into a fermenter but low enough that your lifting boom does not have to be 8 feet high in order for the basket to clear the pot. :think:

As to modifying the basket: I had purchased a 1 1/4" radio chassis punch (eBay) in order to make the hole in my kettle for the heating element, the other holes were drilled with a step bit. I was not happy in having to spend $30.00 for the chassis punch simply to make one hole (not available locally at the tool rental shops and I couldn't find one to borrow). So.......I decided to get some more use out of that chassis punch. The aesthetics are simply a wonderful, yet unintended, result of using the existing holes as a pilot for my punch.
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Post by datamichael » 6 years ago

I've been experimenting with a similar "basket" system. More holes definitely increases flow. A simple fix if you're having problems though, is to toss in a pound or so of rice hulls. I used them in every batch with my 3-vessel system, and also use them with my BIAB/bucket experiments.

Cheap insurance against stuck mashes and slow runoff.

Michael

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Post by kzimmer0817 » 6 years ago

The two extract+ brews I've done were portable - done outside the garage door with a small folding table. Not very ergonomic, but probably what a great many HBers do. Even if I get really good at BIAB, make excellent beers, and have a fantastic brewstand, I don't foresee myself hauling it to festivals to show it off. Having either a basement or a 20-24ft x 32ft heated/cooled garage/shop is a priority in our house-hunting. I have too much money invested in the pipe organ project to just scrap it; besides, it's really neat to see folks' reactions to 500+ pipes in an array.

So, as you said, setting up a permanent spot for the brew station is a great idea. All kinds of "aids" can be devised. It just occured to me that one could probably modify the framework for a panel-cutting saw and mount it to the wall behind the brew station in order to be plenty of movement in both x and y axes. It's probably laziness, but I tho't it would be neat to have the crane mounted such that it could lift the fermenter up to the table for gravity-racking into the bottling bucket (or kegs). The same crane could lift the bottling bucket up to the table as well.

Did you say that you used the punch to enlarge the holes in the basket?

As I'm typing this, I see the following message from datamichael:
I've been experimenting with a similar "basket" system. More holes definitely increases flow. A simple fix if you're having problems though, is to toss in a pound or so of rice hulls. I used them in every batch with my 3-vessel system, and also use them with my BIAB/bucket experiments.
datamichael, I've read about that, but I have a question about its applicability here. Will the rice hulls automatically sink to the bottom? Since Todd is stirring his mash in addition to recirculating, wouldn't the rice get mixed up in the grain thereby allowing grain to clog the mesh? I can see how it would help in an unstirred situation such as a mash tun. How has it been working for you?

Anyway, gotta get going - about 45 minutes away to practice the organ for a wedding that I'm playing for in 2 weeks. When I get home, I'm going to try to bottle up the American Wheat beer - extract kit I brewed 2 weeks ago. The O.G. was 1.043. Yesterday (day 15) it was 1.014. There has been no bubbling for several days.

Later,
Keith
Last edited by kzimmer0817 on 25 Oct 2011, 21:41, edited 5 times in total.

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Post by thughes » 6 years ago

Yes, I used the punch to engineer some additional flow into my basket.

While rice hulls may be helpful in some situations, I have never had any issues with my bag draining. The current issue is that wherever there is "basket" and not "hole", the bag cannot drain.

The simple solution is less "basket" and more "hole". :idiot:
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Post by datamichael » 6 years ago

My testing has not involved stirring, so I can't speak to that. The hulls don't sink; they actually tend to float. I am recircing with a pump. They do get mixed with the grain from the recirc, as well as occasional stirring, but no problems with clogging.

Definitely not required if your runoff out of a bag, bucket, basket is meeting your expectations. I agree that "less basket, more holes" is a solution.

Hulls do work though. If you throw a pound in a normal BIAB, the bag will drain much quicker. I've also been experimenting with a stainless mesh basket - the hulls help a bunch.

I might also mention that several Braumeister owners here in the states are using rice hulls to prevent "wort volcanoes" and slow flow through the malt tube.

Michael

kzimmer0817 wrote: As I'm typing this, I see the following message from datamichael:
I've been experimenting with a similar "basket" system. More holes definitely increases flow. A simple fix if you're having problems though, is to toss in a pound or so of rice hulls. I used them in every batch with my 3-vessel system, and also use them with my BIAB/bucket experiments.
datamichael, I've read about that, but I have a question about its applicability here. Will the rice hulls automatically sink to the bottom? Since Todd is stirring his mash in addition to recirculating, wouldn't the rice get mixed up in the grain thereby allowing grain to clog the mesh? I can see how it would help in an unstirred situation such as a mash tun. How has it been working for you?

Anyway, gotta get going - about 45 minutes away to practice the organ for a wedding that I'm playing for in 2 weeks. When I get home, I'm going to try to bottle up the American Wheat beer - extract kit I brewed 2 weeks ago. The O.G. was 1.043. Yesterday (day 15) it was 1.014. There has been no bubbling for several days.

Later,
Keith
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Post by thughes » 6 years ago

Rice hulls will figure into my testing at some point. I'm always looking at different ways to do something, although I would not have considered rice hulls as an option with BIAB. Thanks for suggesting something "outside of the box".


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Post by Yeasty » 6 years ago

That is one cool basket :cool: I hope it works as you've put loads of effort into this build.

If the basket doesn't work it will make a brilliant lamp shade :lol:

:salute:

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Post by thughes » 6 years ago

Second test session in progress. The Swiss cheese modification to the basket seems to have improved the process. I can now crank up the recirculation and the temperature is staying rock-solid. No signs of draining restriction, liquid level is remaining stable now that the basket can flow better. The final test will be how well it drains when I hoist it out.

Stout in progress: Image PID seems to behave much better after I let it auto-tune itself: Image I was concentrating so hard on adjusting/testing flow and verifying temps that I forgot to start the timer for my mash. :idiot:
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Post by kzimmer0817 » 6 years ago

thughes wrote:The Swiss cheese modification to the basket seems to have improved the process. I can now crank up the recirculation and the temperature is staying rock-solid. No signs of draining restriction, liquid level is remaining stable now that the basket can flow better. The final test will be how well it drains when I hoist it out.
This is great news for me. Dunno exactly why, but I was pretty excited about the idea of using a basket to support the bag, and your earlier posting got me a little depressed. Glad it works much better now with the Swiss cheese modification - although, as was suggested, it would have made for a lovely lantern.

I like the idea of using the recirculation to maintain mash temps.

Thanks for posting,
Keith
Last edited by kzimmer0817 on 30 Oct 2011, 09:41, edited 5 times in total.

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Post by thughes » 6 years ago

Worked great for the mash but the bottom line is that there is no substitute for squeezing the bag.

I lifted the basket and let it drain for 10 minutes, pre-boil volume went from 6.5 to 7 gallons.

I then put a pot lid on top of the bag and added a 5lb weight. After draining for another 10 minutes I picked up another .10 gallon in the brew pot.

My pre-boil volume target was 8 gallons. So I pulled the bag out of the basket, hung it over the pot, put my gloves on, and squeezed the shit out of it. Ended up with 8.1 gallons pre-boil for an efficiency of 76%.

I can live with that. ;)
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Post by thughes » 6 years ago

More tips and tricks (learned the hard way as I dial in this system):

Before you attempt to auto-tune the PID, change the default Hysteresis setting (Hy 0.3) to 0.1. Otherwise you will end up with some really wacky settings (p = 9998, t = 14, etc) which will make operating in manual (for controlling the boil) next to impossible.

Also, I came up with a method for optimizing the recirculation flow rate. (Yes, it does actually flow through the grain bed because after @ 20 minutes the wort runs crystal clear from the recirculate hose!) The bag acts as a thermal barrier and a flow restriction. I found that if you recirculate too fast it creates a vacuum under the bag; the liquid level in the bag begins to rise quickly and then liquid in the sight glass drops accordingly. Recirculate too slow and you get uneven temperatures (much hotter under the bag).

My method is to slide an o-ring down over your sight glass so you can adjust it to the liquid level (see picture). I then begin opening the recirulation valve slowly until the liquid level in the sight glass begins to drop. Slowly close the valve back up until the level begins to rise. Once it reaches the original level, open it back up as far as you can without causing the level to drop again. The o-ring allows you to get a immediate feedback on the liquid level.

All this futzing with the valve is similar to the steps necessary to control liquid levels when fly sparging. To be honest, I can probably just hit my temp, shut the recirculation pump down, put the lid on, throw a blanket over it, and come back in an hour to discover that it hasn't dropped more then a degree or two. I am just having fun with the new gear right now. I will also try rice hulls in an effort to see if that allows me to recirculate faster without having to worry about regulating the flow.

That's all for now.....nap time.


---Todd
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thughes
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Post by thughes » 6 years ago

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Last edited by thughes on 21 Nov 2011, 04:39, edited 5 times in total.
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PistolPatch
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Post by PistolPatch » 6 years ago

Somehow missed the last 20 or so posts here until now. Really enjoyed the read thanks Todd. Great to see your progress and ideas.

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