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Old 12-02-2011, 03:14 AM   #1
gnef
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Default my new philosophy with kegging equipment

I posted this in another forum, but I have received some questions about it here, so I decided to post the information.

I wanted to share the evolution of how I work with my kegging equipment.

I've always used flared connectors because I've always bought the cheapest kegs I could find, and I like being able to take apart my equipment.

I used to use worm-drive clamps, but those cut my fingers on a regular basis, and did not seal the gas lines very well. Most of my gas line is still 1/4 ID x 3/8 OD tubing, which is what the homebrew shops sell, and what I assume most of us use for our gas line.

Then I moved to oetiker clamps, which are by far superior to the worm drive clamps at sealing but are a huge pain when trying to remove - I still use oetiker clamps when I need a clamp though, and I still have bags of clamps because I always buy more than I need.

I always used 3/16 ID x 7/16 OD tubing for my beerline because that is what is sold everywhere and marketed for beerline, and it seems to have a pretty standard pressure drop that people use with their calculations.

I like to keep spares on hand for everything, which meant that for both types of tubing, I had at least 100 ft, in some cases 200 ft of spare tubing. I also had to keep those stainless barb nut fittings for new lines of tubing. I don't even know how many of those barb nut fittings I have at this point, well over 100 though.

I never liked having two different types of tubing to deal with, and I did not like having to use the barb nut fittings. I began looking at options that were available, mostly through US Plastics.

I found these acetal john guest fittings: http://www.usplastic...74538&catid=832 along with some that had 1/4 MPT with 3/8 tubing fittings, and I also found 3/16 ID x 3/8 OD poly tubing from US plastics that could fit and seal with the acetal fittings.

I know I've invested a lot in the older tubing and barb nut fittings so far, but I have been gradually using these new John Guest fittings along with the new tubing for the new beer lines I've been installing in the walk-in cooler, and so far for the past few months, I've had no leaks, and they work well.

In the long term, this will be much more convenient for me, as I am gradually going to transition to all one type of tubing and all John Guest fittings. This will actually reduce the number of connectors I have from before - I used to install the barb nut fittings on all tubing, even on pieces I wasn't using at the moment, or for spares. With these John Guest fittings, they only go on the quick disconnects, and I can adjust tubing or change it easier by popping it out, cutting it, or replacing it, then pushing it back in to seal.

The only leftover part is the check valve for the gas line. I use the polypropylene check valves from US Plastics, and for those I still plan on using oetiker clamps, but I don't see an affordable way around this. I looked into the 3/8'' John Guest check valves and they were too expensive for me to put on all my gas lines. It would've been awesome if they were cheaper, but they aren't, so they aren't a viable alternative for me.

I also could not find a long enough John Guest bulkhead to pass through the coffin box, but I may just need to look beyond US Plastics for that piece. I think I've found one, and it is on order.

That was extremely long-winded, but I wanted to share my experience and what I've learned so far from the past 6 years of kegging and working with an ever increasing number of kegs and the frustrations that go along with that - I am at over 100 kegs now, and if any of you have been following the walk-in cooler thread, I now have 14 faucets flowing. I also still have a chest freezer with kegs in it too, along with numerous CO2 tanks and regulators - all of which I intend on gradually transitioning over to these fittings and the new tubing.

Here is a follow up post as well with some pictures:

Here is one regulator that I've converted over:



Here is the manifold that I have retrofitted with new valves and the fittings





Here are what the disconnects look like - they are the standard flared disconnects with the John Guest fittings on them:




Right now I am doing a leak test on everything that I've retrofitted (two set of regulators, and the one manifold). I need to be careful to make sure I don't create new leaks. Depending on how well these two sets go, I may try to retrofit the regulator for the walk-in, along with the manifold. If I can retrofit everything and make it leak-free (right now it has a big leak), then I may feel comfortable leaving the gas on the kegs in the walk-in cooler. Plus with these fittings, it is relatively easy to add in a Tee, or put in another manifold.

Once I've leak tested the manifold itself, I will make the gas lines, and put in the check valves, then do another leak test with the disconnects. I try to do my tests over a 24 hour period to make sure there aren't any leaks, and I only like to do one segment at a time, so it takes me a while to do a leak test.

I have also just ordered another bulkhead, hopefully it will be long enough to go through the plywood side of the coffin box. I'd like to get both my CO2 as well as my beergas to go through the coffin box and into the walk-in cooler through the use of the push-to-connect fittings if possible.

I have to be careful of cost though - I have so many disconnects, regulators, and manifolds (plus three jockey boxes and two randalls), that to retrofit everything at once is pretty expensive, so I will be trying to do this gradually. The next order may only be for 25 pieces, and I may need more than double that still at this point. Plus as I change out the fittings, I will also need to buy more tubing to match these fittings, and I may need another 200-300 ft of line, along with more check valves.

Whew. So far it seems to be worth it for me though, and hopefully I can retrofit the rest of my equipment within half a year or so.

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Walk-In Serving(14): Oatmeal Stout, Hard Cider, Belgian Tripel, Liquid Stupid, Belgian Dark Strong, Red Bull, Rye IPA, Double IPA, Imperial Stout, Irish Red, Scottish 70/-, Belgian Wit, Nut Brown, Traditional Mead
Walk-In Cold Storage(~50): Cysers, Braggot, Melomels, Ciders, Traditional Meads, Persimmon wines, Dry Stout, barleywine, cream ale, sodas, Chocolate stout, milk stout, and others I can't recall.
Fermenters (0): Nothing current.

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Old 01-11-2012, 03:28 AM   #2
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Lots a views but no reply. I thought this info was great, thanks for posting!

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Old 01-11-2012, 03:48 AM   #3
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A guy has a bad gas leak somewhere and decides the way to fix it is to replace all of his lines and connectors, which will cost a small fortune.

Ok then.

That's one of those posts that pretty much sums up on its own, not a whole lot to talk about...

Cheers

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Old 01-11-2012, 04:38 AM   #4
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I have my check valves in line just after the connectors, this would work great for me if I could go valve->check->JG->gas line etc.

Is this designed primarily to allow the swapping out of pin for ball lock, or have you uncovered another thing that this streamlines (I am looking for excuses to throw at the wife to justify a trip to HD)? It would definitely cut down on the cost of check valves if I didn't need them attached to every connector, your solution might actually be the perfect solution for me....

Have you had any issues controlling foaming using these lines? I used a ton of JG valves on my old reef tank and loved the way they worked, the only reason I never used them around the beer was the check valve issue.

Looks awesome, I would LOVE to make this change to my system, and since I need to connect 3 new taps I got for Christmas, this is very timely!

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Old 01-11-2012, 04:44 AM   #5
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Link not working... maybe you can update the link pretty please?

Also, I need a bulkhead for my gas anyway, let me know if the one you get works, that will be the start of a conversion to that system for me, and the wife wants the co2 back outside the keezer so her soda keg can go back inside.

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Old 01-11-2012, 04:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by day_trippr View Post
A guy has a bad gas leak somewhere and decides the way to fix it is to replace all of his lines and connectors, which will cost a small fortune.

Ok then.

That's one of those posts that pretty much sums up on its own, not a whole lot to talk about...

Cheers
if you got cash you got cash
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Old 01-11-2012, 02:28 PM   #7
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I must admit that I don't really get this thread. What was the issue that was solved with these JG fittings? Being able to quick disconnect?

Personally, I have a dual output regulator...each output goes into a manifold/distributor with check valves. I use oetiker clamps. I never quick disconnect anything except the actual ball lock quick disconnects between kegs. I don't know where the advantage of these John Guest fittings is?

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Old 01-12-2012, 03:07 AM   #8
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ryanmcl - Thanks for the comment, I appreciate it.

lotbfan - Sorry for the bad link, here is a new one: John Guest ® Flare Female Acetal Connectors 3/8 x 1/4 | U.S. Plastic Corp.

also here: John Guest PI4512F4S Female Adapter Flare - 3/8 x 1/4 Flare - FreshWaterSystems.com

I don't have any issues associated with the acetal john guest fittings. I do get some foaming on the first pour, but that is due to the nature of using a coffin box. They do have bulk discounts which I plan on taking advantage of.

edit - I forgot to discuss the bulkhead. The new one I received was not as expected. I still haven't been able to find a john guest push to connect bulkhead that is long enough for 3/4'' plywood plus two layers of rigid foam insulation. An option, if you are running an even longer setup is to use the 3/8'' unions using tubing (or copper of appropriate OD) to go through the wall.

day_trippr - This is not just to address a gas leak, this is to make changing out connectors much easier for both gas and liquid lines. I do not propose that this is the solution for everyone, but for my circumstances, it makes things much more pleasant to work with. I have over 70 kegs filled, a mix of ball lock and pin lock. I already sunk a good amount of money into my older tubing, oetiker clamps, and those flared barb nut fittings. Using these, it will make working with my walk-in cooler and chest freezers much easier and streamlined. I also have more than a handful of CO2 tanks and regulators I use on a regular basis, so being able to move things around makes things much easier. I also have three jockey boxes that I want to convert so that swapping kegs at an event is much easier than taking out the wrench every time. The cost is actually not that big of a difference, and I think it is actually cheaper in the long run - if you add in the cost of the oetiker clamps, the flared barb nut fitting, keeping two types of tubing on hand, and spares, it actually seems to come out cheaper to go with these acetal john guest fittings in my mind, but my mental math could be off. I also plan on buying 50 at a time though, so there is a bulk discount.

BrewThruYou - How many kegs do you work with on a regular basis? The fewer the kegs, the less you have to worry about things like this. Are all your kegs ball lock? If they are, even less reason to worry about this. I have a good mix of ball lock and pin lock (I bought whatever I could find cheapest at the time), so I need to be able to swap between them quickly.

My main goal with this was to reduce the different pieces of equipment I keep on hand - I keep spares for everything, quite literally. In fact, I still have over a dozen check valves, bags and bags of oetiker clamps, spare flare barb nut fittings, regulator gauges, 20+ poppets, etc. So to only have to purchase one type of tubing for both gas and liquid, one type of fitting for both gas and liquid, and to be able to change out connectors by pushing on a collar sounds great to me. I just wish I had known about these fittings years ago and saved the money I already spent on the 'standard' way of doing things.

So if this can help any of you to streamline, make things easier, and especially save money, I am glad to have posted!

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Walk-In Serving(14): Oatmeal Stout, Hard Cider, Belgian Tripel, Liquid Stupid, Belgian Dark Strong, Red Bull, Rye IPA, Double IPA, Imperial Stout, Irish Red, Scottish 70/-, Belgian Wit, Nut Brown, Traditional Mead
Walk-In Cold Storage(~50): Cysers, Braggot, Melomels, Ciders, Traditional Meads, Persimmon wines, Dry Stout, barleywine, cream ale, sodas, Chocolate stout, milk stout, and others I can't recall.
Fermenters (0): Nothing current.

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Old 01-14-2012, 09:57 AM   #9
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What did you do to connect tailpiece to JG? Photo would be supersweet if one exists!

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Old 01-14-2012, 12:38 PM   #10
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For that, I just put the tubing on to the tailpiece as you would in a standard setup.

The only way I can think of to use a John Guest fitting would be to use one of those tailpieces that has a 1/4'' male flare, they are the ones that you can use to convert a kegerator system to use both sanke kegs and soda kegs.

Once you put that tailpiece on, you use one of the John Guest fittings on that, and you can quick disconnect the tubing from that end as well.

It would be awesome if I could do that, but I am limited in depth in my coffin box, and I have 14 faucets right now, so for me to buy 14 of these becomes expensive. If you only have a few faucets though, the cost shouldn't be too bad.

Here is the piece I am referring to: Tail Piece 1/4" MFL : Northern Brewer

I am sure other online homebrew shops also sell a similar fitting.

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Walk-In Serving(14): Oatmeal Stout, Hard Cider, Belgian Tripel, Liquid Stupid, Belgian Dark Strong, Red Bull, Rye IPA, Double IPA, Imperial Stout, Irish Red, Scottish 70/-, Belgian Wit, Nut Brown, Traditional Mead
Walk-In Cold Storage(~50): Cysers, Braggot, Melomels, Ciders, Traditional Meads, Persimmon wines, Dry Stout, barleywine, cream ale, sodas, Chocolate stout, milk stout, and others I can't recall.
Fermenters (0): Nothing current.

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