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Old 02-08-2012, 08:26 PM   #1
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Default Ugly junk 2012, Ghetto Lagering Chamber

Living in a small condo these days I really don’t have the space for a dedicated lagering fridge. When I lived in my loft, the garage had cabinets that got cold enough to lager in al-fresco, during the winter months. My GF has an unheated sunporch at the back of her house that I can use to cold weather lager in. Of course there needs to be a way to maintain a somewhat steady temp through all the changes we have during our odd Michigan winter. The biggest thing of course is preventing the beer from actually freezing solid. It also needs to keep the light from ruining the beer.

So for this winter I have put together my ghetto-licious lager box.



It is a simple insulated box to which I have a computer fan to draw some cold air in as needed,



a heat belt around the vessel,



a temp controller based on the ever popular (and cheap) Ebay aquarium temp control module,



and a thermowell made from a stainless rigid supply line and a carboy cap (about $8.00 total) to put the temp control probe into.



I won’t go into detail on the build of the temp controller, it’s based on the one that Tomsd did for the love controller

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/anot...-build-195713/

It has an “always on” bank of outlets on the top so you can plug any accessories into it, or to make up for tying up an outlet, and rather than just one outlet for hot and cold, it has the ability to plug two fans or a heat belt for to fermenters.



Here’s my wiring diagram for it.



Since the temp controller is in Celcius, I found a conversion chart online and stuck it on the side, as a reference.

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Old 02-08-2012, 08:28 PM   #2
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Now the thermowell, is extremely complex to build, and has a lot of expensive parts to it.



It uses a $3.95 HD stainless plumbing supply line, a $5.00 orange carboy cap, and some glue.

Just measure the length you want it to be (I chose 10”.)



Then I crimped it closed, the proceeded to hit it with a hammer to flatten, folded the end over, hit it again with a hammer, folded it over again, hit it flat and then folded it a third time, and flattened that again.



It’s not pretty, but it wouldn’t be ghetto if it was.

Next cut off the center pole of the carboy cap.



I then bent the cap over and made a slit to accommodate the crimped end.



Then I just pushed the tube through the hole in the cap and sealed it with glue.



I used gorilla glue, I don’t advise it, the stuff ran all over the place and made a mess. I would use a less viscous glue. It formed a nice bond, but looks like crap.
Viola, an $8.00 dollar thermowell, to replace the $30.00 one my lhbs had.



The chamber itself Is a large rubbermade bin.

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Old 02-08-2012, 08:32 PM   #3
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This is the brand I used. It was $15.00 bucks at Meijers. I got the largest one they had so it would easily fit 2 carboys in there.



For insulation I bought a 6 pack of Styrofoam “poly panel” insulation.





You can use anything really. I would have used “pink stuff” foam board, but I couldn't fit a panel in my hatchback, so I went with the Styrofoam instead.

The first thing I did was work out the base, which used the lid.


I measured out the inside surface of the lid, leaving plenty of room for the box to still fit on it, cut a piece of the foam, and glued it down, then weighted it until it dried.

I cut a second sheet of foam, and traced out roughly the diameter or my carboys.



I cut out both circles and glued that sheet on top of the other one.



Next I placed a carboy on each side of the base, then putting the lid back on I felt for the indentation that the mouth of the carboy made on the top, and drew a rough circle. Then I put a lit that was the size I wanted over that, traced a circle and cut out two circles to make room for the carbou caps/airlocks.



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Old 02-08-2012, 08:33 PM   #4
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I also looked for a place to cut a spot for the fan. The label seemed to be in the perfect location



I cut that out as well, then placing the fan over the hole, I also marked the bolt holes to mount the fan.



The next step is to measure the dimensions for the top and sides of the lid, cut the pieces and glue them in place. I used duct tape to hold them in place while they dried.



Then cut out the foam over the airlock holes and the fan slot, and mount the fan on the end.



Now that everything is assembled all that’s left is to set it up.
I put a heat belt on the carboy.



Put the lid on and plug the fan and the heat belt in.



Slide the temp probe down into the thermowell



To keep excess light from getting in, I taped a piece of cardboard over the empty carboy hole.



And taped around the hole with the carboy in it.

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Old 02-08-2012, 08:34 PM   #5
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Since the ceiling tends to leak a bit, I just wrapped a bag around the controller.





This can be used anywhere cold, a garage, your deck/terrace if you live in an apartment, your back yard even, as long as you live in a cold climate. So don’t let the lack of a refrigerator/freezer deter you from brewing lagers. In many places, brewing was seasonal, with lagering being done in the winter, and ales being done when the cold was gone.

Hope this helps!

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Old 02-08-2012, 08:59 PM   #6
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wow man! i dig it, i've been debating the same thing for even my ales..
my "storage/movie/man cave/my room" actually gets too chilly (toward lagering temps) so i've just been leaving the door open to the rest of the house which helps, but i'm diggin this!
(heart) your ugly junk.

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Old 02-08-2012, 09:11 PM   #7
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This is fantastic. Thanks for posting. I always like reading about all the whiz-bang stuff people on here come up with, but I'm often intimidated because I'm not even vaguely handy.

I think I could actually build this ugly junk. Thanks, Revvy!

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Old 02-08-2012, 09:17 PM   #8
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very nice, Revvy! you know i've been waiting to see how this turns out! very nice, and very easy on the wallet. it's very similar to how i'm doing my garage lagering tub, except i'm using a water bath and aquarium heater to heat mine, and good ol' mother nature to cool. temp controller's running the heater thanks again for the thermowell idea, sure as $h!t works better that my idea of rubber banding the probe to the carboy. :rocking:
i'll get some pics up as soon as i start lagering this Alt, she's in a swamp cooler in my cool room (front room's an old converted 3 season porch!) fermenting away at 55 degrees with little help, maybe a bottle of water here and there.

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Old 02-08-2012, 09:31 PM   #9
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It might be ghetto, but it looks like it would be effective.

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Old 02-09-2012, 02:00 PM   #10
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This is an inspiration my friend.

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