As mentioned in Brewery Build Update #4, most plumbing fittings came from the USA or China, but unfortunatly those usually take at least 2 weeks or longer for stuff to get here. Now that I have the majority of the equipment and fittings (and kegs are getting empty) I want to start brewing. However, when I did a mock-fit-out, I was missing a small number of critical fittings and did not want to wait weeks for them to get here. So today I visited a local stainless-fittings supplier (ProChem) and as a result, was pleasantly surprised that their prices compared well to the imported fittings. Also nice to find was that the ProChem fittings are noticeably better quality and finish than the Ebay ones - obviously they don't deliver to your door, but it's likely I'll source future fittings from them where possible.
Purchasing the local BSP fittings, also allowed me to test my earlier claim about BSP and NPT fittings being inter-changeable at 1/2 inch size.
The other thing to mention is buying stainless washers - which are
required make sure the silicon washers fit tightly and help make the
tapered thread fitting bulkheads sit snugly against the side of the
kegs. Washer suppliers will deal only with the internal hole-size (and the external diameter) of the washers, meaning that if you ask for "1/2 inch washers" or even explain that you want "washes to fit 1/2 inch plumbing fittings"
they'll (try to) give you washers where the internal hole is 1/2 inch
wide - and these wont fit onto 1/2 inch plumbing fittings (since the 1/2
inch size refers to the internal size of the fitting not the size
outside the thread), as you can see below:
dedicated industrial fasteners shop,
you'll pay between 5-40cents for washers that will fit 1/2 inch
plumbing fittings, but that sell for $1.50-2.00 each and home-brew
Before everything gets fitted, I figured it was a good idea to ensure
that it was clean - especially the imported fittings. All the fittings
had a bath in hot water and sodium percarbonate, then a citric acid bath
and a rinse in water before drying:
I mentioned earlier that the first batch of Chinese fittings were not
that great quality, they'll still work fine and I'll use the fittings in
non-critical areas like the sight-glass on the HLT, but still the
workmanship was a bit shoddy:
Unfortunately after I washed all the fittings (as above) it seems that the external-body-bolts on the 3-piece
ball-valve have rusted: