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Old 01-21-2010, 06:13 PM   #1
caspio
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Default Keg/Carboy Washer

It looks like the keg washer I put together is catching some interest in the sanke fermenter thread, so I thought I'd post up a quick build log.

I can't claim originality on this idea. I ran across several threads on HBT and other sites that got the wheels turning. Here's one, and another, and another.

I started with a 525GPH pond pump. I originally purchased this to pump icewater through my chiller. I ended up deciding that it just wasn't worth the extra work or cost of ice, so the pump just sat around. As usual, I was cruising HBT and saw someone post up a cool project. I realized I had just about everything, so I gave it a go.


My only concern when I bought the pump was that it had an adapter for garden hose hookup. Thankfully, without the adapter the pump had standard 1/2" pipe threads. Since I already had some 1/2" PVC, that made my life easier. In this case, the bottom of the sprayer simply screws onto the fitting on the pump. The pump is more than heavy enough to be stable.


I used a 4 way 1/2" cross to split the output. The left and right hand sides are small stubs with 1/2" pipe thread to 1/4" nipples for hooking up hose. These go to grey and black ball lock connectors for when the cleaner is used on kegs. That way the PBW can be pumped through the dip tubes, meaning a full disassembly isn't required as often.


Another shot of the threaded adapter and disconnect


Moving straight up out of the cross is a long piece ending in a 1/2" pvc cap. I started with one hole straight up and 4 pointing out the sides. From there I ran the cleaner on a carboy to see the spray pattern, and then added more holes as necessary. PVC is soft, so it's easy to drill straight in (right angle to surface) and then move the drill to angle the hole. As you'll notice in this picture and the one of the 4 way cross, this long section of PVC is not cemented in with the blue glue. Although the current height works perfectly for carboys, 5 and 15 gallon kegs, I wanted to make it easy to use a shorter or longer piece for any future cleaning products.


you'll also notice the sanding marks around the edge of the cap - when purchased, the cap had 4 vertical ridges on it to make it easier to grip with pliers and work with. Unfortunately, those little ridges meant the 1/2" cap didn't fit into the mouth of a carboy. A flap wheel on my drill made short work of that problem.

Lastly, I cut a hole in the lid of one of my 5 gallon "homer" buckets. As you can see below, it works perfectly for resting the carboy stand on the top of the lid. If I'm cleaning a corny or 15 gallon keg, I remove the white carboy stand and the keg rests right on top of the orange lid.


Anyway, that's pretty much it. The cleaner works really well and I'm glad it's a project I undertook. Even the most crusted, dried on carboy will come clean in no time. The excellent cleaning power is really important, because lately I've been fermenting in unmodified 15.5 gallon kegs. This setup makes sure every tiny bit of nasty is removed, even from the areas I can't see.

A couple of interesting notes about the setup. First off, PBW is most effective when it's HOT, something like 130 or 140 degrees. I fill the bucket (3-3.5 gallons) straight from the faucet on my water heater. Unfortunately, this time of year I can only clean 2-3 really dirty items before the solution gets down to room temperature. That's ok, it just takes a lot longer. Whats bad is when it gets even colder. Once the solution drops down into the 60's or 50's, it foams like you wouldn't believe. This can be a pain, because it means you have to turn it off and let a carboy sit for a few hours for it all to drain out. Also, it's possible for the foam to overflow the bucket. Anyway, it's more of a minor annoyance, and during the summer it shouldn't be a problem.

Next up: like I said before, it's a good idea to not glue the 1/2" cap on. This cleaner will dislodge material that PBW can't dissolve, which means that the small holes in the spray cap will get gunked up and require cleaning from time to time.

Lastly: For those who aren't familiar with it, PBW is a cleaner, NOT a no-rinse sanitizer. This means that after removal from the carboy cleaner, the vessel will need 2-3 good rinses with hot clean water to remove any remaining residue. Then, prior to use, the vessel will need sanitation using iodophor, starsan, or other sanitizer of your choice. Usually after the hot water rinse, I mix up half a gallon of starsan solution in the vessel, cap it with foil, and give it a good shake to coat all surfaces. Then the starsan stays in the vessel until it's needed as a fermenter or keg. It gets another good shake to re-coat and sanitize everything, and then the sanitizer is dumped out and I fill the vessel.


Whew, that became pretty long winded. Anyway, let me know suggestions, questions, etc.

Edit: realized I did the pictoral and not the parts list.
pond or other submersible pump of your choice - either one with 1/2" threaded output, or the appropriate adapters
1x 1/2" pvc cross. I could only find one with slip fit on all four sides, but I'm pretty sure they make some that have two slip fit and two threaded. If you find one like that, it cuts down the next item
3x 1/2" pvc slip fit to 1/2" female pipe thread. One for the pump connection and two for your keg disconnect hoses
2x 1/2" nylon male pipe thread to male barbed adapter
1x 1/2" pvc end cap
?x 1/2" pvc pipe - I eyeballed everything based on the bucket I used and the vessels I wanted to clean. You figure out what's best for you
1x orange home depot bucket and lid

Other items include PVC blue glue, two short pieces of 1/4" kegerator hose, and the quick disconnects

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Old 01-21-2010, 06:34 PM   #2
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Do you ever have problems with the drilled cap being loosely pressed onto the PVC pipe? Does that pond pump ever dislodge it?

I could see putting a garden hose adapter on this same type of setup for easy/quick rinsing too.

Cool idea- thanks for the writeup!

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Old 01-21-2010, 06:56 PM   #3
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I did something similar. The only problem I've run into is the fact that the PVC I used is almost as wide as my carboy neck opening, so the water fills the carboy faster than it empties, which is definitely a problem. I installed a valve on the outflow from the pump to try to reduce the speed of the water going up into the carboy, but it still makes me nervous. So, I use it mostly for kegs these days...

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Old 01-21-2010, 08:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nebben View Post
Do you ever have problems with the drilled cap being loosely pressed onto the PVC pipe? Does that pond pump ever dislodge it?

I could see putting a garden hose adapter on this same type of setup for easy/quick rinsing too.
Actually, I had to use channel lock pliers just to get the cap on. It seems like a really snug fit.

I'm hanging onto the garden hose adapter that came with the pump just in case, although I don't know what I'll ever need it for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Munsoned View Post
I did something similar. The only problem I've run into is the fact that the PVC I used is almost as wide as my carboy neck opening, so the water fills the carboy faster than it empties, which is definitely a problem. I installed a valve on the outflow from the pump to try to reduce the speed of the water going up into the carboy, but it still makes me nervous. So, I use it mostly for kegs these days...
What diameter PVC did you use and how powerful is your pump? Mine usually has 2-3 cups of liquid that builds up, but at that point it seals up and prevents any air from getting out. The only time it gets more full than that is when the liquid gets cold and the pbw foams everywhere.
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Old 01-22-2010, 02:53 AM   #5
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Thanks for the idea...I've shamelessly ripped it off! Mine is almost exactly the same build, but I just did a single 1/2" pipe with a spray tip rather than the T at the bottom. Doesn't have the QD attachments, but I think I'll add those later.



320gph pond pump
1/2"x16" PVC pipe, pre-threaded on both ends
Adjustable riser (not really necessary)
1/2" PVC threaded cap

Took about 10 minutes to build, and worth every penny.

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Old 01-29-2010, 05:50 AM   #6
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Old 03-11-2010, 11:40 PM   #7
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Default Thanks for this idea!

I'm glad I came across this, as I just got a hold on a 1/2bbl sanke that I'm going to ferment in.
This will do a hard job in an easy way. Was kinda worried about not being able to see in there. Getting a mirror/flashlight working inside a small hole would be tough!
Thanks!

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Old 06-27-2010, 08:35 PM   #8
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I built one of these yesterday, based upon this design:

http://www.slobrewer.com/howto/kegcarboy-washer/

It worked great for a better bottle and my corny kegs. I have not tried a Winpak yet, as both of mine are currently full.

I recirculated hot oxyclean solution, then hosed everything down, then recirculated clean water. Rather than recirculate Star San, I just used the spray bottle on the carboy, and used a keg jumper to put some into the corny kegs, and shook.

I do store a small amount of Star San solution in the carboys and kegs, then check the pH and sanitize again, if necessary, when I am ready to use them.

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Old 10-19-2010, 04:45 PM   #9
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Does anyone preheat your cleaning solutions before running through the pump? Hot PBW is so much more effective than room temp, but many of these pumps are not designed for greater than 95 or sometimes 120F I found out after looking into pumps. Perhaps the heat is not necessary when you have so much agitation. Currently for cleaning kegs, I fill with hot PBW (150F) then drop a small bilge pump into the keg. the pump connects to both quick disconnects to clean out the insides of the keg posts. The pump is not that strong but it is a nice gentle recir over about 20 min.

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Old 10-19-2010, 06:29 PM   #10
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I came upon the temp issue this week myself. I bought a sump pump at Harbor Freight and when I got it home to start putting things together, I saw the pump labeled for max 77 degrees! Many of the other pumps they had said 95 degrees.

I know one of the build threads I looked at said that running the pump for 45 minutes caused the PBW solution to heat to 130 degrees.

Any good suggestions for high output pumps that can withstand up to 150+ degrees?

I have 12 cornies I need to clean and I'd like to build one of these ASAP!!

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