Thursday, November 30, 2006

A fifth faucet. *sigh*

Sorry. When I got a tip about there being cheap stout faucets available on eBay I couldn't resist. The thing is called a Dalex Free-flow Tap with flow control. It's not particularly pretty, but I've got big hopes for the heads on my future stouts.

I managed to squeeze it in between the two middle chrome faucets. If you look closely at the photo taken inside the fridge you can see that there was just a small area where it could be mounted. The shank was also just long enough for the nut to get a grip. Next step is to hook up the new faucet to the keg containing oatmeal stout. Yummy. This hobby is clearly living its own life...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Kegerator: a walkthrough

Here are a few photos illustrating what the kegerator looks like now and how all the pieces were connected.

This first photo shows what the fridge looked like right after I started on the project. I used brown tape to line up the faucets, measuring exactly how each of the taps were to be placed. The tape, a black marker pen and a measuring stick helped with keeping them in line with an exact distance between each. If you look closely you can see the second hole having been drilled, but the faucet not yet connected.

You can also see the temperature controller that is managing the temperature level in the fridge. A small black probe runs into the fridge through the door lining.

The remaining photos were taken after the kegerator was finished. The photo above includes the CO2 tank and the gas line running into the fridge through a small hole in the fridge wall. The gas line is about 2 feet of 5/16 inch ID (inner dimension). The gas line is connected to the CO2 regulator with a swivel nut and a 1/4 inch stem. The gas line is then thread onto the connecting barb. I had to dip the various gas and beer lines in really hot water to be able to get them onto the barbs. Without the hot-water trick it would have been almost impossible, especially with the 5/16 inch barb on the gas manifold below.

I had feared that there would be cooling lines running through the sides of the fridge, so I drilled very carefully when doing the hole on the right side. Fortunately there were no such lines. I had also heard mentions of such cooling lines only existing in really old refridgerators. Newer ones rely on cooling just in the back. I'm not sure if that means cooling lines in the back wall or just the metallic cooling plate inside the fridge.

Here we're inside the fridge and you can see the gas line coming in through the wall from the outside. You cannot actually see it here, but the gas line is connected through a quick connect before being hooked onto the [golden] manifold that you can see in the back. This is a four-way gas manifold with individual shut-off handles. From the manifold four gas lines run into a keg each. You can see one of the black ball-lock gas quick-connects attached to the gas-in connect on the keg below.

I added the quick connection to the gas line so that I later can disconnect the manifold and run the gas line directly to one keg. That would typically happen when I would want to carbonate a keg quickly at high pressure. I don't think it'd make sense to run that through the manifold.

The white ball-lock quick connect is attached to the liquid-out connect on the keg. Because the gas will be pushed in through the gas-in connect the beer will be pushed out though this one.

This is the fridge door and the shanks connected through it. The shanks are 1 inch thick, so the holes are also that size. The shank tail-piece is then connected to the beer line through a barb and an adjustable clamp. Note that I've used these adjustable clamps everywhere a line is connected to a barb. There should be twenty of them; 4 connected to the shanks, 4 to the beer line going into the kegs, 4 to the gas line going out of the kegs, 4+1 on the manifold, 2 on the gas quick connect and finally 1 on the regulator.

Here you can see all four shanks. Note that the fourth one, on the left, is not yet connected to a beer line, so only three beers are on tap at the moment.

This is a nice view from above of the four faucets and the drip tray on the fridge front.

Finally, two photos giving a somewhat fuller view.

Note that I've chosen to use swivel nuts and adjustable connects everywhere, so that all parts can be easily disassembled and cleaned. OK, enough kegerator postings for now.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Building the kegerator: finding the parts

It has now been a few weeks since I installed the taps on the refrigerator, effectively making it a kegerator. I'm very happy with it so far and it has worked very well.

There are three kegs connected, serving a Witbier, a Christmas beer and an Oatmeal Stout. The fourth tap will have to wait a little as I'm missing a gas quick disconnect. I don't know why it got lost. The flow rate and carbonation levels seem to be quite alright, except that I seem to be having a leaky keg leaving the Witbier a bit low in carbonation. I tend to close the CO2 tank when the kegerator is not in use, just so that I don't end up with an empty tank without wanting to. I'll have to take a closer look at the keg to give it a better seal. A little lubricant and a tighter lid might help.

Much of the challenge of designing it has been to get hold of all the necessary pieces so that it would actually work. Below you'll find a list of all the components that I used. I bought the equipment from MoreBeer and Brewers Discount.


1xD1413 - Drip Tray - 13" Wall Mount$49.00
1xD1810 - Gas Manifold - 4 Way$47.50
12 ftD1704 - Beverage Line (5/16 in. ID)$7.20
16 ftD1700 - Beverage Line (3/16 in. ID)$8.00
1xH550 - Beer & Gas Line QD Set - In-line W/ Shut-off$13.95

Brewers Discount:

4xShank Assembly with 4 1/8" Shank$118.00
4xBL010-QD Gas 1/4" MFL$15.00
4xBL010-1-QD Liquid 1/4" MFL$15.00
9xH011-Swivel Nut and Stem 1/4"$14.85

Total cost: USD 288.50 (plus shipping and VAT)

Hopefully the list is helpful and that it might help you get started on your own kegerator.

Update: After rechecking the setup I realize that it is a ninth swivel-nut and stem that I am missing, and not a gas-in quick disconnect. The reason is that I had to use one to connect the gas line to the CO2 regulator. I've updated the costs above accordingly.