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DemiJohn Question

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jimalbertjr

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Hey everyone... new to the forum but I have been making wine since I was about 17 (thanks to a relative that loved making wine) and have become very good at it through the years. My questions is this. I have never used demijohns before. Primarily 5 and 6 gallon glass carboys during the secondary fermentation. I found a really good deal on 2 54l demijohns with taps. One had the basket and the other didnt have the basket or the tap. At any rate, these things were never cleaned. First thing on my list is to get them spotless and in doing so I believe I need to remove the hose to the tap. how are these things sealed in the demijohn bottom? And on that same line, where can I buy another tap? If you buy a new basket does the tap come with it?

Thanks for all of the help in advance and happy winemaking!

Jim
 

Arne

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I can't help you, but bumping this back to the top of the page for you. Somebody should know the answer. Just noticed post 1. Welcome to the forum. Arne.
 

Rocky

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Jim, Any chance of posting a couple of pictures? I have demijohns but they do not have "taps" and I am not sure what you mean by that. I know that there are demijohns with spigots but I have not seen one. If this is what you mean, my guess would be that the spigot screws on from the outside of the vessel and there must be some kind of specialized tool that can reach from the mouth of the demijohn inside to the spigot to secure the inside of the spigot while screwing it on or off. As far as cleaning is concerned, there are a number of cleaners available from brewing suppliers. I suggest starting with OxiClean and warm water, let it soak, cleaning with a carboy brush and rinsing well. Secondly, I suggest finding or constructing some kind of carrier or outter protector for the demijohn without a basket. They are readily broken if bumped on a hard surface.
 

jimalbertjr

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Thanks Rocky. I will definitely post some pictures. I coach little league and we have a fall ball game tonight so I most likely wont be able to get them today. Yes, there is a hose and I am assuming a connector in the raised bottom of the demijohn with an elbow and a hose that goes over to the spigot or tap. I have read that guys use oxi clean as a cleaner. At what ratio? I believe I read 2 TBSP per 5 gallons and they let it sit for 2 hours or so. I have all of the carboy brushes and stuff. I got a really good deal on these (30 bucks for 2 54L demijohns) and I plan to order another basket for the one that doesnt have one.

Thanks,

Jim
 

Rocky

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Jim, that is a really good price! Good job on that.

On the OxiClean package there are recommended concentrations of detergent based on how stained the item being cleaned is. You will have to judge that. If these were used for wine making, the residue should be water-soluble so clean up should be straight-forward. You will have to rinse very well and the more OxiClean you use the more rinsing is required. I recommend using gloves (no slip type) just in case you have a problem. I will be interested to see the pictures when you post them. I am having a hard time imagining how the hose and spigot go together. In any case, someone assembled it at one time so you can too.

One thought on the missing basket. I am not sure you can buy just the basket but if you can, go for it. If you cannot find a basket, and you are or know someone who is handy with tools, perhaps you could build a crate and pad it with foam rubber (carpet padding works real well) to cradle the demijohn. I would also put heavy duty castors on the crate so you can move it when it is full of wine. I keep my demijohns on furniture movers (1000# capacity available at Harbor Freight for about $9.00).
 

jimalbertjr

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Here are the pictures. As you can see the tube just comes out of the bottom of the Demijohn. It then goes to the tap which is attached to the basket.





Thanks,

Jim
 

Rocky

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I have never seen anything like that. Can you see what is holding the tube on the inside at the bottom of the demijohn? Does the tube unscrew or is it a press fit into the hole in the demijohn? Sorry I can't be of more help. This is new to me.
 

Stevelaz

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I would not attempt to disconnect the hose from the bottom of the demijohn, you may not get it back on properly to seal. I also have one with the tap and do not like it because the tap and hose are a bacteria trap! I also have one that i borrowed and it was also dirty, especially the tap and hose. What i did was: i went to the hardware store and got a 1/4 inch 3.5 foot copper tube and a faucet adapter to connect to the tube. I then connected a hose to my basement sink faucet then the copper tube to the end of the hose. You can bend the copper anyway you need it that worked really well. You then put the water on hard and what a great blast of water you get from the 1/4 inch copper. I was able to clean the walls of the demijohn quite well. I then straightened the copper so as to get it down into the hole of the hose and tap and blasted it through. You would not believe the crap that i got out. I then put the demijohn back together and filled it with heavy sanitizing solution and let it soak for a few days. then let it all run out the tap into floor drain. Then did it all again with the copper tube. I got that sucker cleaner than if it was new...lol.

When im ready to buy my own i will not get one with the tap. Id rather rack with a racking cane than with the tap anyway. As for bottling, i rack to a 6 gallon bottling bucket with a tap and bottle from there.
 

stickman

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Yes, I also have a demijohn with a tap, I purchased it over 20 years ago, I no longer use it as I don't like the idea of the tap either. I have never taken it apart and it has never leaked. It does appear to have some type of square nut on the inside.

Demi 0680.jpg
 

jimalbertjr

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WHen I get it cleaned out I will take some pictures. It appears as though there is some sort of stem through the demijohn and then a round metal compression sleeve. But thats only what I can see right now. Im going to do a long PBW soak and then hit it with the brush. At that point if theres anything left I will do as you suggested and use 1/4" copper. To be honest, I really dont need the tap and If I can find a reliable way to seal that hole I will be doing it. Theres plenty of room to go through the neck (even if I need to make a really long extension for a tool) to get in there to tighten something up. I plan on cleaning the tube leaving the demijohn with a long brush. I have brushes that I use for my griders that are pretty long and should make it through.

Has anyone ever sealed one of these things up?

Thanks,

Jim
 

Mismost

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Jim....I've never sealed on up before...never even seen one like that! I have used two part epoxy putty many times...patched a rust hole in a truck thermostat housing couple of years ago for a neighbor...just a quick fix so he could finish a job...it is still holding...good stuff.

I think you mix up a good 'plug" size chunk...mold it into a cone shape...stick it in the hole and hold it from the bottom....use a dowel or a broom stick to mash the top of the cone inside the demijohn...get mashed over the edges of the hole so it seals and can't fall out once it hardens.

I have also used silicone to build complete aquariums and I know it would seal a hole....if you have some sort of tool (broomstick) to work the inside over the edges of the hole... I "see" like a small circle/washer/plastic attached to the end of the broom stick, just something to back up the hole, something for the silicone to push against....stick that broomstick in the ground or in a vise and place the demijohn over it...squirt the silicone into the hole...glob it up outside and really push into that hole...then wet your finger and "tool" the outer silicone smooth...let it dry a few days. Should be easy enough.

I would be scared to try to use bolt, nut, and washers to try and plug...just a touch too tight and the demijohn is history!
 

jimalbertjr

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I was thinking epoxy myself but think that there could potentially be some off taste passed onto the wine from the epoxy when bulk aging. I did find food grade silicone and If I decide to remove the taps I will use that. Its amazing that there are so many of these around yet so little information on repairing them once they have been damaged or not cleaned properly. If anything, hopefully this thread lives on and as more is discovered it will be noted and can help people in the future.
 

Johnd

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I was thinking epoxy myself but think that there could potentially be some off taste passed onto the wine from the epoxy when bulk aging. I did find food grade silicone and If I decide to remove the taps I will use that. Its amazing that there are so many of these around yet so little information on repairing them once they have been damaged or not cleaned properly. If anything, hopefully this thread lives on and as more is discovered it will be noted and can help people in the future.
I've never sealed up a hole in a demijohn, but have a large water urn that I catch water from my gutter system to water plants with, that I did seal a hole on. The hole is located at the bottom of the 50 gallon urn, so there was plenty of water pressure and numerous methods failed over time. My final effort to seal the 1" hole, 4 years ago, was food grade silicone, and I've never had another problem with it. FWIW.
 

jimalbertjr

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Thanks John.... If I decide to go that route I will definitely use the food grade silicone! And this hole is only 1/4-3/8. Thanks for all of the help guys... I will post pics as I progress through this!

Jim
 
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