Rebuilding a March Pump

Here’s a quick, down-and-dirty on how to rebuild a March Pump with a new head. (This was originally posted in October, 2008, and has been cleaned up a little for its migration to my new web host in 2018.)

As you may recall, I dropped mine, and broke off the intake side of the head:
March pump with broken head assemblyI ordered a new one from MoreBeer, and it arrived shortly, in good order (but for the shipping box…):Replacement polysulfone pump headTo install the new pump head, first you have to take off the old one. This is accomplished by removing four screws, located on the ‘face’ of the head. (Sorry for the blurry picture; the arrows indicate the individual screws’ locations.)Pump screw locationsHaving pulled the head off, you’re faced with another quartet of screws on the inner workings of the head:Inner pump headWith these removed, you can pull things apart. You’re now faced with the impeller assembly:
Pump head dismantledA bit of tugging, and the whole thing will come apart nicely, including the impeller (the spinny bit) and its axle:Pump impeller and axle
A quick inspection revealed a problem for me, however: mold had taken up residence on the impeller!Dirty pump impeller
So, after much washing and scrubbing and sanitizing of the impeller, I was ready to re-assemble. The re-assembly process is identical to the disassembly process, only in reverse. In all, not counting the ‘break’ to clean things, it probably took me about 10 minutes to have the old one off and the new one screwed on.Rebuilt pump head, good as new
Note to self: Run sanitizing solution through the stupid thing during post-brew cleanup, otherwise I’ll be left with the possibility of infected batches…

In 2018, this pump is no longer actively in service–the latest iteration of the brew rig is a simple two-tier, and its placement next to my back stoop allows me to do the “heavy lifting” myself. I’m hoping, before long, to go to a single-tier electric system, eventually, and a pump or two will once again become necessary; I’m thinking going with stainless heads, when the time comes.

But, as you can see, replacing the “working parts” of a March pump isn’t so big a deal, at all.

University, October 2008

Yesterday was Atlantian University, and I taught my long-awaited Intro to All-Grain Brewing class. (Well, long-awaited by me, anyway.) Things seemed to go pretty well. I think that I’ll stretch the class out to 2 hours next time, as that’s really a *lot* of information to go through in an hour; I felt a little rushed for parts of it. 2 hours would also give me the opportunity to bring in a bit of equipment to help describe what’s going on for the brew.

One thing that the class was good for was creating a number of new contacts. It seems that there are a number of folks both (relatively) locally and within a reasonable driving distance who want to learn to brew. Everyone who was in my class now has the URL for this site, as well as for my webpage; by extension, this means they have my email address, and we can arrange further hands-on classes at a later date. [2018 Edit: Those were my old blog and webpage; everything is here, now. -M]

Also, I let everyone there know about my upcoming Brew Day, a week from today. I believe I’ll try for ‘take two’ of the Kolsch that practically disappeared last weekend. I’ll have to use the Golden Promise malt, rather than the American Pale 2-Row that I used last time, but that should only improve the brew, I would think. Regardless, it’s more beer, which is always a good thing, right?

Tasting Notes, 10/1/08

Tonight, we did a tasting of three of my brews: a Northern English Brown, a Russian White Mead, and an Unoaked Merlot. Tasters were: my Lady Wife and myself.
Northern English Brown Ale tasting
First up: the Brown Ale. This poured from the tap with a moderate white head. (The first pint of the night had a perfect, 3/4-inch head.) The head dissipated within a few minutes, leaving a nice lace, and a ring of foam that chased the top of the beer down the glass. The aroma is of malt and fruity esters, perhaps a bit heavy on the fruit if anything. Visually, the beer is crystal-clear and a light amber-brown in color. The flavor mimics the aroma, with a nice malt forwardness balanced by the hop bitterness and some esters. It’s a touch over-carbonated right now, so tastes a little thinner than it ought; the CO2 also adds a bite from the carbonic acid that really shouldn’t be there. (Oh, the problems of not having independent regulators for the kegs…) It finishes rich, but a little dry. In all, a pleasant brew.

Second: the Russian White Mead. This is the third tasting of this mead; it’s been in the bottle for nearly a year, now. It is scheduled for two more tastings, unless the next one shows vast improvement. This mead is hopped, which changes its aging characteristics drastically, compared to my ‘usual’ brews. It pours smoothly, with perhaps a bit of carbonation; the second glass had some bubbles in the glass, which may have been the result of agitation from the first pour. These dissipated quickly, and were not a factor in the taste. The color is a light gold, comparable to a lightish Chardonnay. Aroma and taste-wise, it is smooth, and not unlike a decent white; there’s a backbone to it which is reminiscent of oak tannins, but not quite the same. Some oak would, in fact, probably benefit this mead immensely. It is definitely a dry mead, but not obtrusively so–it doesn’t suck the water from your mouth like some white wines do. Well-balanced. I would call this good for the white wine drinker who’s looking for something a little off the beaten path. Tasty, but my Lady Wife is put off by the ‘grassiness’ of the hops (which, to be fair, she tastes in nearly anything with hops in it).

Finally for tonight’s tasting, the Merlot. Pours a deep garnet red. No carbonation, which is as it should be. The aroma is fruity and rich, promising a luscious richness. There is a backbone of oak and, yes, mineral, present, but it doesn’t overshadow the sweetness, merely supports it. The flavor is all dark fruit and rich grape, again with the tannin support. It starts sweet and floral, and ends richly; the ‘middle’ leaves a little to be desired. There’s a certain undefinable quality about it that says that it needs something. I had been aiming for the Georgian wines when I started this; it has the sweetness and mouthfeel, but lacks the spiciness and crispness of the Georgian reds. I believe a blend would do wonderfully to remedy this–perhaps 70%/30% Merlot/Gewurztraminer. I believe this one is ready to serve, and will age beautifully over the coming months (years?).

For the curious, the Brown Ale was batch #60 in Misha’s Little Black Book:

Northern English Brown Ale

5 lbs Maris Otter pale malt
4.75 lbs Pale 2-row malt
.75 lb Special Roast malt
.5 lb Victory malt
.5 lb Crystal 40L
.25 lb Pale Chocolate Malt
1.2 oz Kent Goldings pellet hops (5%AA, 60 minutes)
1 Whirlfloc tablet (15 minutes)
.5 oz Kent Goldings pellet hops (5%AA, 5 minutes)
2 packets Nottingham Ale dry yeast

Mash at 152 degrees F for 1 hour. Sparge to 7.5 gallons. Boil 1 hour, hopping as scheduled. OG: 1.053.