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Old 06-23-2013, 05:01 PM   #1
kMc21
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Default MN Upright Kegerator Build Log

Hi- longtime lurker, and have learned a tremendous amount from this forum, but this is my first post.
I've been brewing for about 2 years now, and at any given point in time have a couple hundred bottles stored in various states of conditioning, dirty, clean, soaking, or sanitary and waiting to be filled. It takes up an incredible amount of space. Not to mention the time required to fill/clean/maintain all those bottles which admittedly isn't all that fun. I've been doing batch cleanings ahead-of-time and baking bottles in the oven with foil to store sanitary for filling when needed. This works well, but I'm ready for a kegging system.


Too many bottles:

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Old 06-23-2013, 05:17 PM   #2
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Default The beginning

I found out that my brother-in-law was harboring an old refrigerator he wasn't using...and didn't tell me about it! It was taking up storage space and for the price of a couple miles gas pulling a trailer, plus a bbq dinner, I came home with a new project. (note: it is possible to transport a fridge on its side, just stand it upright overnight before plugging it in to let the oil settle.)

Probably the best thing I enjoy about enthusiast forums is the 'build log'. Amateur craftsmen doing amazingly creative things and showing how step-by-step. It's fun to follow along, whether you want to build one too, gain ideas for a future project, or simply see exactly what kind of work goes into the final result. And the community idea pool and problem-solving is wonderful. It's easy to post a pic of something awesome, but the build log is a way to 'give back' to the wealth of information from the interwebs.

The blank canvas:


It's a 1986 Montgomery Ward upright. On the front trim piece it says, "Energy Saver" ...I'm guessing not by today's standards.... The body is in decent shape, although there are a few corners of cracked plastic inside. The door seal might need replacing and it's a dirty machine- but it runs and chills!
I plan to use the freezer for extra frozen food storage as the one in our kitchen is so small.

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Old 06-23-2013, 05:30 PM   #3
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Default Start spending

Fridge secured, the next step was sourcing the important stuff. I decided to buy a 2-keg starter setup from Midwest supplies:
http://www.midwestsupplies.com/dual-double-cornelius-keg-system-base-system.html
I live about an hour from Minneapolis, and while most of their business is mail-order, they have a retail store that can pull anything you need from the adjoining warehouse. They've always been very helpful and friendly, with decent prices to boot!
Included in the kit is:
2 used cornies
Double regulator
Shiny new 5lb CO2 bottle (gave me a full one for $5 with my purchase).
Gas lines and keg connectors
2 picnic taps

This kit had most of what i needed to start, and I thought of using the picnic tap on a keg for summer vacations to the lake/etc... On the advice of a friend, I knew I wanted forward-sealing faucets on my kegerator from the start, so I ordered 2 perlick 575ss creamers with shanks from kegworks.com . They had the combo as an ebay listing. They shipped fast, but until the order arrived, I neglected to notice that line nipples and nuts weren't included. I've read mixed reviews on the creamer faucets, but I'll be sure to post my experience with them.

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Old 06-23-2013, 05:54 PM   #4
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Next step was the fun/ hard part: designing the layout of the kegerator. What height are the faucets going to be? where do I drill? Drip tray or no? How might I want to upgrade this in the future?
The last part was the most difficult for my brain: Do I eventually want to have 4, 5, or 6 faucets on the kegerator? (important now, because If I center the spacing of 2 faucets, It will be off-center if I upgrade to 5 later.)

I wrestled with the problem for a couple days. (totally unnecessary minor problem, really, but that's the way I think about things) . My final solution: buy more faucets right now. They might not yet have kegs behind them, but it'll sure look pretty, and will make upgrading to more kegs a cinch. I wanted them all to match, and I found a great deal on faucets (plus shanks and nipples) at ritebrew.com . They're out of Green Bay/Appleton WI. I went for 3 perlick 525PC chrome faucets. That way I can use either if I don't like the creamers. I was a little worried about the durabillity of the chrome plating and that scientific study that found more bacteria/metals from chrome faucets ( http://www.draughtquality.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/StainlessVsBrassTNB.pdf ) but for 3 of them as extra faucets the price was unbeatable. They had a $5 off shipping promotion, and overnight delivery one state away ended up being a whopping $0.76!

Side-by side:


The 575ss (left) and 525pc (right) have the exact same dimensions. I noticed no difference in tolerances or interior machining or anything like that. The 575 has a printed 'P' logo, and the 525 has a casted 'P' of the same size. The chrome-plated brass might be a little heavier than stainless steel, but otherwise visually identical. They'll have to live in their boxes for now, though, while everything else comes together. Full report on operation of each forthcoming.

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Old 06-24-2013, 01:21 AM   #5
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The next question was the drip tray. Looking around, it seems like this has been a problem for more than one homebrewer. I saw everything from commercial units to drywall pans, to heating vents to buckets on the floor. Add to this the fact that any large drip tray is reeally expensive. After considering a drain tube into a catch basin, I decided on a no-drain after reading the statement "either one thing to clean or 3 things to clean" Keep maintenance simple.
I ordered the $18.99 19.5 x 4 inch tray from bar products.com . Inspiration comes from http://www.mullerbrau.com/Kegerator.htm . I'll make a shelf-surround for the tray so that it can be lifted out and cleaned.

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Old 06-24-2013, 01:59 AM   #6
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I want to paint the refrigerator. Professionally. I'm sure rattle cans or a roller could do it fine, but I'm going to use automotive paint and an hvlp gun. Another project is refinishing an older car, and I want to practice painting using the fridge. I've never done it before and I hear there's a steep learning curve. We'll see how it goes! I like dark grey metallic colors, and with black accents and shiny faucet hardware it should look great.

I found a great backsplash product at a local big-box home store. Sheets of 2"x2" stainless steel tiles with peel-and-stick backing. This will be a good way to add stainless to my 1986 fridge.

Not yet mounted, but looks great with that shiny faucet!


Also, the 2x2 tiles answer the spacing questions. Faucets will be aligned with the tiles, 4" apart. A 14" total height will leave just over 10" between faucet tip and drip tray. That should be enough for most glassware. The 2L boot probably won't make it!

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Old 06-24-2013, 02:14 AM   #7
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Before paint, though, I need to get some assemblies finished. I want the fridge on wheels. Apparently they didn't come that way in 1986. 2x4's with lap joints and casters make a perfect base that rolls easy. Casters are 3.5" and are rated to 175# each. The front two have brakes. I used some bondo putty on the corners to cover up my poorly-executed cuts and to make it look seamless. The base will be sprayed black.

Base ready for paint:



The simple rule to keeping a clean and organized garage: Have EVERYTHING either on wheels or mounted to the walls. Mobile equipment can be cleaned under and moved/rearranged with ease.

Everything on wheels, plus mock-up of possible paint scheme. Gloss Metallic gray with black stripes on bottom. Flat black Chalkboard paint on freezer above faucets:

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Old 06-24-2013, 02:21 AM   #8
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Can you get FIVE kegs in there?? I guess with stacking and not all 5 gallon, you could. Just a question for you to think about before you drill those holes.

Looking forward to the painting experience stories.

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Old 06-24-2013, 07:52 PM   #9
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If you are using two part epoxy automotive paint the main trick is to follow mixing directions closely. When you shoot it put on a light tack coat, then a cover coat, and then leave it alone. If you try to put on a little more to use up that last bit of paint or because a dry spot looks like it could use some more it will run on you every time.

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Old 06-25-2013, 04:49 AM   #10
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MdSutton- I can fit three rows of 2 kegs deep if I re-skin the interior of the door. I think though, that I'm going to just fiberglass the cracks in the original door lining to make use of the shelves for bottles/yeast/etc. If I stagger 5 kegs, I'll have plenty of room.

Bookworm- thanks for the heads up- I'm looking at a base-clear kit from tcpglobal. Trying to decide between a meteor gray metallic or darker anthracite gray metallic. The meteor gray closely matches my wife's car, which might be parked next to the finished kegerator, and with the lighter gray color I can tape off some simple black stripes across the bottom.

I have the Concours gun from Eastwood.com , but have yet to use it. It's supposed to do well with moderate CFM compressors which is the main reason I bought it. It was difficult to find non-sponsored reviews, though! I don't know much about paint guns at all, but it seems like a solid tool with smooth tolerances and nice machining on the air cap.

To power it, I have a DeWalt 15gal that runs a tank pressure of 200psi. It's rated at 5CFM (90psi) with a 1.8horse motor. It's been an all-around workhorse for me and I'd hate to have to upgrade to a floor-mount 220volt unit just to paint hvlp. The gun claims a 4cfm draw, so it might be close, but I think it should work out fine for panel work.

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