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Old 06-17-2009, 04:16 AM   #1
wjtaylor
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Default Newbie kegging questions

Hello everyone,

I'm sure every newbie asks this, but here it is.

I want to keg and am looking at equipment.


I am thinking of just keeping some growlers full in my fridge to keep the beer cold and keep the rest in the keg. I don't have a kegerator yet, and probably won't till next year. Is this a decent idea or do others have a better solution?

Equipment: Most people I know of say ball lock is the way to go, the others are indifferent... I've heard very few pin lock recommendations. Would you agree?

I almost bought from kegkits.com. Thank you for the sticky!!!!

Has anyone had any *recent* experience, good or bad, with anyone else? I am looking at some equipment from williamsbrewing.com

What about new vs used kegs. I've heard the quality of used kegs has gone down hill in the last couple of years. Is it worth buying a used one for $35 or should I go new.

As far as tanks go, there seems to be a lot of hype. The brewshop not so close to me (but the closest one) will swap them, but you pay over $200 to do that. They claim they are certified. Are the ones you buy online certified? Do I need to have a certified tank to have it filled by other CO2 suppliers?

Any comments are greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
WT

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Old 06-17-2009, 04:39 AM   #2
RogerMcAllen
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You can keg without a kegerator, but you are going to want to chill the beer before you carbonate, bottle, or serve from the keg. This can be done cheaply with an old fridge found on craigslist or your local classifieds.

New kegs cost ~$120, and used are ~$30. Buy four and you will most likely have four working kegs. If if one is bad, it will at least have some spare parts for the others. As long as the kegs hold pressure (a guarantee any dealer will give you), there isn't really anything that can go wrong with a keg that can't be fixed for ~$10.

I recently got a full set up from Northern Brewer, I was very happy with everything, but their prices are probably a bit high.

Buying a new tank is expensive, but I think it is worth it to know where the tank has been. Anything a reputable dealer sells you should be fine. As long as the tank has a tare weight, you should be able to get it certified and filled at a local welding or gas supply shop for $10-15.

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Old 06-17-2009, 04:41 AM   #3
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What I started out doing was buying used Cornies that were holding pressure in the store and buying all new O-rings for each one as it came into my posession. I have a fair sized gaggle now, I just replace Orings as they go.

Ball locks are mostly easier to find. I think I am going to get into Bretts and Lambics and so on this summer. My plan is yeast beers will continue in existing ball lock collection and I'll do all the funk in PinLocks. Oring and BS parts prices are about the same. What can you get locally that is holding pressure?

CO2 tanks are pressure vessels, just like SCUBA tanks or oxygen tanks at the hospital, welding tanks, they are all the same. They _should_ be emptied and opened annually so the inside wall of the tank can be visually inspected and the tank/ valve Oring replaced. Every fifth year the tank should be subjected to a hydrostatic test, where they fill it to 150% of rated pressure ina water tank to see if it bursts.

Mine is stamped Catalina, a manufacturer, 3Al for aluminum, steel wears "3AA" on the shoulder, 1800 is the service pressure, so the hydro test will be to 2700psi, mine is a pretty new tank, mfr hydro 04(symbol)07 for April 2007.

The (symbol) is unique to each business in the USA with a hydrostatic testing machine. Some of them are really hard to make out, the take home is xx(symbol)yy is month(business)year. I have seen H tanks (the ones that come up to about eye level) in 100% Oxygen service with shoulder stamps going back every five years to 1928.

A tank in a fixed array can go ten years between hydros. A Fixed Array is a multi-part thing that is bolted to the wall or the floor that you can not take with you after work. A busy hospital might have a liquid oxygen tank out in the parking lot, and a fixed array somewhere inside the building, so when the liquid is getting low they draw it on down into the fixed array and then run on the fixed array while waiting for the liquid oxygen truck. A CO2 cannister you can load even into your personal semi truck to take it somewhere to have it filled is not a fixed array and "must" be hydro'd every five years. There are very few fixed arrays in the entire USA. Anyone who tells you you 5# CO2 cannister only needs hydro every ten years is not someone whose advice you want to bet your life on.

So, can you get fills into a tank that hasn't been visually inspected in the last 12 months? Yes, you can. Can you get fills into a tank that hasn't been hydro'd in the last five years and is clearly not part of a fixed array? Yes, you can even get heli ox mixtures put into a non hydrod no vis scuba tank and go dive the Andrea Doria if you want to.

Is it safe? Maybe.

Is it smart? No.

These federal regs are from the DOT, and they got to think about having a tractor trailer full of chlorine tipping over into the front yard of an elementary school.

What you should do is figure out where you are going to get your fills, and then figure out about a cannsiter. Welding in the yellow pages is a great place to start. You are not going to have to bottle a whole lot of brew for the person at the counter in the welding shop to be very nice to you. But pay cash a couple times, let them come to you about, you know, barter. And always be ready to pay cash in case the boss cracks down on bartering.

HTH,
P

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Old 06-17-2009, 02:27 PM   #4
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I would recomend ball lock, because there is more available for them. No matter what way you go (Ball lock or Pinlock) just buy all the same kind, it will save you form having to change fittings for each keg.

I just got a catalog from Williamsbrewing, but have never ordered from them. I have seen several post from people that do buisness with them, and all were posative. If they had the best price shipped, I don't think i would hesitate to do buisness with them. The other 2 popular sellers of kegging equitment arround here are Kegconnection and MidwestSupplies, both have a great customer service reputation. (I bought my kegging setup from Midwest who had the best price shipped for their BrewLogic DualDraft.)

I like having the new tank. I take mine to a paintball field to be refilled and think it was a prettu good price for the tank with the new setup. Once my hydro date is near, I will either pay to have it recertified, or take it to a welding shop that will just exchange it.

If you check Craigslist, you can find kegs for a steal. I bought my extra kegs for $25 each. I recomend buying a spare set of orings for every keg you get, the dip tube orings are not always replaced when they recondition them, and you want to have them on hand the minute you want them replaced.

Buy Keglube... It will do 2 things for you.... 1st it will help your lid oring seat easier... 2nd it will extend the life of your orings.

Lastly, You are not going to be nearly as satisfied with your kegging setup unless it is in a fridge or keezer. It will carb better cold, and be alot easier to just fill a glass and drink it when you want one. A growler int he fridge will be flat in a matter of hours, a keg will be carbonated until empty.

Good luck, and let us know if other questions arise.

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