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Old 07-22-2009, 01:05 AM   #1
keelanfish
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Default 15.5 gallon Sanke conversion to fermenter

My brother scored big last night when he found four retired 15.5 gallon Sanke kegs at a local scrap yard. Ended up getting all four for $50 and they are actually in pretty good condition. We're going to convert one to use as an HLT (thermometer & welded 1/2" stainless ball valve). As for the other three, I want to use them for fermenters.

My plan is to essentially construct a DIY stainless fermenter with most of the advantages of a conical. I'd appreciate your feedback. Below is a step by step list of my approach.

1. Cut a hole in the top of the keg to receive a cornelious lid like this one sold by B3. (is this even possible?) This will allow for easier cleaning & inspection and also has the added benefit of having a threaded fitting already welded to receive blow off, airlock or forced CO2.


2. Cut & weld a 1" stainless ball valve to the center of the concave bottom to allow trube and yeast dumping.

3. Cut & weld a 1/2" stainless ball valve on the side about 1/2"" from the bottom for racking.

4. Construct a stand out of 2x4's to elevate and allow for easy movement.

Here's a preliminary parts list (stand not included).

1 x Cornelious Keg Lid - 1/2" Half Coupler Welded On $42.95ea
2 x Stainless 1/2" mpt x 1/2" barb $4.95ea
1 x Stainless 1" mpt x 1" barb $7.00ea
1 x Stainless 1/2" Ball Valve $18.95ea
1 x Stainless 1" Ball Valve $27.00ea
1 x Stainless 1/2" Half Coupler $3.00ea
1 x Stainless 1" Half Coupler $4.50ea

For a grand total of $113.30 plus tax, shipping & welding cost and these are all B3 prices. I'm sure I can do better.

Any thoughts or feedback on possible improvements. This really seems like it could work and be a poor man's conical for a fraction of the cost. I'm also considering going with tri-clover fittings to make cleaning & sanitation easier and more thourough.

Thoughts?



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Old 07-22-2009, 01:11 AM   #2
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I love the idea and think with some basic welding skil it can be done on the cheap. Take a look at this DIY thread by Yuri_rage. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/diy-jacketed-conical-keg-fermenter-123770/ You can ignore the jacketed portion if that is not in your plans but the basic design is similar except he has incorporated a full cone to the keg.



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Old 07-22-2009, 01:16 AM   #3
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Instead of going through all that trouble you could get one of these new products from Derrin.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/sanke-fermenter-conversion-128262/

I'll have one as soon as they start shipping

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Old 07-22-2009, 01:25 AM   #4
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cellardoor - Thanks for the thread that is exactly what I'm looking to do minus the conical conversion.

Bokonon - That is freaking awesome! Thanks for the tip on that. I think I'll take two. Do you know the price by chance? How would you start the siphon on the racking arm? I've only used an autosiphon.

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Old 07-22-2009, 01:32 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keelanfish View Post
Do you know the price by chance? How would you start the siphon on the racking arm? I've only used an autosiphon.
Follow this link for a HBT special until I think 8/1. It's $65 which is $14 off regular price. Welcome to Brewer's Hardware

Also I'm not positive but from looking at it the siphon could either be crudely started by blowing into the blow off port or more elegantly pushed by CO2
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Old 07-22-2009, 09:26 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cellardoor View Post
Follow this link for a HBT special until I think 8/1. It's $65 which is $14 off regular price. Welcome to Brewer's Hardware

Also I'm not positive but from looking at it the siphon could either be crudely started by blowing into the blow off port or more elegantly pushed by CO2
Anyone out there have one of these? How well does it work? How do you hook up your co2 to the blowoff? Can you get a corny ball lock air in fitting for easier co2 hook up?
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Old 07-22-2009, 03:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimsawyer View Post
Anyone out there have one of these? How well does it work? How do you hook up your co2 to the blowoff? Can you get a corny ball lock air in fitting for easier co2 hook up?
wont ship until 8/3 but all of Derrin products are top notch. He does not recommend that you use CO2 to push your beer(liability) but that being said 2-3 psi would be no problem .
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Last edited by springer; 07-22-2009 at 08:37 PM. Reason: Derrin not Swagman
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Old 07-22-2009, 04:39 PM   #8
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I'm sure it's a great product but I'm way too leery of fermenting in something I can't see through. If I ever fermented in a sanke, I'd cut a huge hole and cover it will an acrylic window. That way you can still get in there and clean it and visually inspect it.

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Old 07-22-2009, 04:48 PM   #9
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I'm not overly worried about seeing in it. Heck, with a high powered flashlight, a dental mirror on and extension and a little effort you could see every square inch. Breweries package and bulk age beer in these kegs all the time. I'm ordering two and my plan for cleaning is to recirculate PBW or Oxyclean Free through with a pump for about a day. Then rinse using the same recirculate method. As far as sanitation goes, I'm probably just going to put a couple inches of water in the bottom and boil the crap out of it for about 30 minutes. All the steam generated should do more than enough sanitizing.

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Old 07-22-2009, 05:05 PM   #10
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I dont worry about the inside all that much Bobby. The surface is very smooth I put a couple of gallons of hot water and oxyclean in it swirl it a little the let it sit for an hour I then turn the keg upside down with the spear in it and do the same. I do boil them when I first get one this knocks off the crud. Sanitize then use.



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