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Old 03-13-2011, 08:18 AM   #1
nakeddog
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Default Modified Ferm Cabinet to accept kegerator

Ok, this is far from your average build so I thought I would share. I am probably the only one who would need/want this, but I figured I would post it anyways.

I am currently living in a decent sized apartment in Helsinki, but quite limited on space for what I can use for brewing, storing and kegging my beer. So it has forced me to get a bit creative. I tried talking the SWMBO into allowing me to rent a space to brew and for other projects, but somehow 'we' agreed that it would be a waste of money. The compromise, was I could build a brewing cabinet to house all my beer stuffs and keep it in our office right off of our kitchen.

So here's the cabinet I built a few months ago. Completely handmade, to the specs I then assumed would be perfect for my fermenters, bottles and gear. I have no pictures of the build as I wasn't thinking to share as I am far from a pro furniture maker.






However I decided I really wanted to start kegging as well as bottle so I could have the best of both worlds. Big beer aging in bottle form, and fresh beers straight from the tap. However there was no way I was getting a proper kegerator past the wife. So time to get a bit creative...

I found a mini fridge for sale in the local eBay type auction site for 15€ (~$20). It worked just fine, it just wasn't cared for very well (absolutely gut-wrenching odors from within) but since I only wanted the compressor and cooling system, it was perfect for me.



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Old 03-13-2011, 08:19 AM   #2
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First off, sorry for the bad quality pictures. Apparently I am too lazy to charge the battery on my camera so all was taken with my phones camera.

So I took the fridge completely apart, keeping only the cooling system for my project. LEt me tell you this is no fun task, especially considering these mini fridges use the freezer shelf as the internal cooling element and there are no supports other than the cooling lines coming off of the compressor. So the whole structure is EXTREMELY fragile and difficult to move around solo. If anyone else is stupid enough to attempt this as I was, a second set of hands would be recommended.

Here is the after shot of the cooling equipment from the fridge.





After destroying the fridge, I began to empty out and reconstruct my cabinet to make room for the new cooling element.





And then installed the cooling elements.





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Old 03-13-2011, 08:20 AM   #3
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The next step was to start insulating the chamber where the cooling element was installed. I have a limited supply of material here in Helsinki to use, so I went to the local Home Depot type store (Bauhaus) and got 3cm (1.2inch) thick styrofoam insulation board that is typically used for roofing and siding insulation. I then sealed the styrofoam board with duct tape to help seal any gaps and also form a condensation barrier.







Then filled all potential leaks spots and made the inner door.





And of course closed up the backing as well.

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Old 03-13-2011, 08:21 AM   #4
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And then the final product as of this stage. The fridge works like a champ, getting the compartment cool in minutes and running surprisingly quiet. However there seems to be an issue with the temp controller as it never shuts off, regardless of setting or temp probe location. So I need to open that back up and see why.







My next step is to build a two tap tower out of matching wood for the right side of the top of the cabinet. That will be this week. And then get my kegging setup installed! It is designed to hold 2 19liter (5gallon) Cornelius kegs, however a bit tightly. If the 8.5inch (~22cm) diameter is accurate, I will need to shave my door insulation a bit to make it fit. The CO2 tank will sit in the left chamber in the open space behind the (now) empty carboy.

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Old 03-13-2011, 09:03 AM   #5
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Ok, she's done! It took some time from when I began this project, but that was mostly expected since I was planning on getting most of the kegging parts while spending Easter in NY.

Right now I have it set up for a 2 keg system, but with a 3 body regulator. The 3rd body is for when I have both taps set for beer, I can carb 1.5liter bottles of soda water for my wife. But being as I only have one kegged beer, I am currently using the 2nd tap for soda water. Might've been a mistake though, my wife is getting a bit too comfortable with that...




I have yet to figure out how I am going to label my taps and if I plan on incorporating labels in the handles or not. So for now, this keeps me from making a bad pour.







Here's a look on the inside. As discussed earlier, the right side is the customized fridge I made, and on the right is my fermentation and aging section. The c02 tank was bigger than I was hoping, so I only have room inside for 2 3gallon carboys, instead of the 3 I was initially hoping for.




Here's the very tightly packed fridge side with the two kegs.




And here's a closeup of the fermentation side. Note the bicycle pump? You can see it better on the 2nd photo. That is my interpretation of a home soda making station. On the shelf above, you can see the modified cap with presta valve on it that is used for making the soda.



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Old 03-13-2011, 09:04 AM   #6
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And the final results. The inaugural beer is my Cascadian Dark Ale. As you can see it's not fully carbed yet, but is mighty tasty!

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Old 03-14-2011, 04:17 PM   #7
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So figured out the problem with the temp controller. The probe needs to be right up against the cooling element to function well. With it positioned where it is currently I can maintain 2-4deg C (35-39deg F) on its warmest setting. If I want warmer, I need to reposition the thermostat internally or possibly insulate the part of the probe that is not pressed against the element.

So hopefully this week I will be able to continue forward on the tower build. Any thoughts?

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Old 03-14-2011, 04:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nakeddog View Post
With it positioned where it is currently I can maintain 2-4deg C (35-39deg F) on its warmest setting. If I want warmer, I need to reposition the thermostat internally or possibly insulate the part of the probe that is not pressed against the element.

So hopefully this week I will be able to continue forward on the tower build. Any thoughts?
I believe (for food safety reasons) a fridge should be at 41*F or lower, so that might be why the built-in thermostat isn't allowing you to get up higher than 39*F.

If you want to go warmer, you can try what you are currently doing, or you can buy or build an eternal thermostat to give you more control.

There are build plans for a DIY external controller for less than $40 here.
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Old 03-14-2011, 04:41 PM   #9
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By the way, that's a kick-ass little cabinet you wrangled together there!

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Old 03-14-2011, 07:04 PM   #10
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that's sweet! nicely constructed.

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