I know I'm a little behind with the posts around here, but I assume you're used to that by now. All grain brewing posts coming soon, or your money back. But first a few pictures and words about my new cooler mash tun.
Back in September I was the happy recipient of a 50 quart Coleman Xtreme5 cooler. I didn't get around to converting it into a mash tun until October, but I've been brewing all grain beers ever since.
The first step was to take out the drain plug and replace it with a valve. I loosely followed this guide over at Home Brew Talk. They use a piece of PVC pipe on the outside to help it seal better and it give a more stable base for the valve. The PVC on the outside plus the fact that I was able to reuse the rubber grommet that came with the cooler gave a nice tight, clean looking seal. I was impressed with how well it all went together. The only improvement I want to make is replacing the washers on the inside with stainless steel ones, but I haven't been able to locate any in the size I need.
Another thing I didn't like was the angle of the drain valve. It comes out at a 45 degree angle instead of just straight out. Not much I could do about that, but I would like to build some kind of stand for it.
Next is the manifold, I decided to go with a pipe manifold instead of a stainless hose. No real reason, thats just what I did. One note: if you use plastic pipe you want to be sure to use CPVC instead of regular PVC. CPVC has a higher heat rating so it won't leach any chemical into your wort.
Here is a detail of the pipe. I went with drilled holes instead of cutting slots. It seemed less labor intense.