Thadius' No-Warranty-Void GE 7.0 CF FCM7SUWW Keezer Build
Bought a pair of GE 7.0 CF FCM7SUWW freezers, one for serving and one for fermenting. Not doing a very fancy build here, but willing to answer any questions that may arise. This was planned to be a 1-day build (sans kegging equipment), but turned into a 3-day build due to other projects running simultaneously. A major intent here that makes this build different that other builds is that I want to make zero modifications to the freezer itself to preserve the warranty. In case it dies, I want to be able to unbolt the collar, put the lid back on, and get it serviced or replaced.
Shopping List (per keezer):
2x 1"x10"x6' Common Pine for painted collar (with smallist knots possible)
4x 5-packs of #10-24 x 1-1/2" machine screws with plus nuts
2x 30-packs of #8 flat washers
1x 4'x8' sheet of 1" thick foam insulation, cut in half for transport
8x Simpson Strong-Tie RTA1 hurricane straps
1x box Simpson SD8 Strong-Drive #8 x 1-1/4" screws
1x 7/8" or 15/16" drill bit
1x 1-1/2" x 36" x 1/8" piece of extruded aluminum
1x pack of Foam Weatherstripping, 1-1/2" W x 1/4" TH x 9'+ L, color to match your freezer body
1x pack of Foam Weatherstripping, 5/8 or 3/4" W x 1/4" TH x 9'+ L, color to match collar
2x handles with 1" screws, recommend style that is easy to lift upwards on (optional)
And of course the freezer.
For this freezer, the long and short sides were to be 36-15/16" and 19-1/8", respectively. Note that I am butting, not mitering, dadoing, rabbeting, dovetailing, etc. Just didn't want to spin the table saw up for this project.
Short sides were later milled down to 18-15/16" after they were found to be 3/16" too long, causing a 1/4" lip in the front when assembled.
Laid out the tap handles at the ever popular 3-1/2" O.C. Used a 15/16" bit because the store was out of 7/8" spades, and my pile of other 7/8" bits were all either rusty or dull.
One tip when using a spade bit and drilling from the back side to prevent tearout on the front: stop just after the guide point makes it through the piece, then flip the piece over and finish the hole from the front. Any tear-out will be in the middle of the board, not the nice face. Another solution is to just use a better bit than a spade and take it slow.
Assemble using a helper to steady the corners. These ties work best on 2x material, but will be ok for 1x material if you round hte edge they ride on slightly. Otherwise, you have to fight them to keep a good hold. Don't worry if it's not square - you can rack it to match the freezer once it's mounted.
Set the collar on top and drill with a 3/16" bit through the pre-set hinge holes. Or, mark the holes with the pen as shown, and then remove the collar for slightly easier drilling.
Grab that aluminum bar you bought and cut it into 8-9" strips using a hacksaw.
Lay out the bolt pattern from the backside of the lid onto each strip. Also lay out a few holes for mounting to the collar. Punch each one with a metal punch, nail set, or old screwdriver to keep the bit from wandering.
Take it slow, drilling out each 3/16" hole. A cheap drill press from Harbor Freight will make this much easier. Note that it's okay if your holes are not aligned perfectly. The steel fasteners are hard enough to "walk" slightly in the aluminum, cutting their own channel for a perfect fit.
Test the fit to the lid. This one is pretty good. While it's on, hold the strip against the collar and drill out the collar using the same bit.
I tested the fit by bolting the collar on all the way before taking it back off for the night. I wanted to see how it would feel on the hinges. Works great.
Note that the collar opening with the lid gives the benefit of keeping the shanks out of the way when changing out kegs, but has the downside of requiring as much space behind the freezer as the collar is tall when opened to 90 degrees. Wheels will help quite a bit.
Had to break here for the night. The wife had wanted to go with me on the shopping trip, but then didn't get up until 10am. We didn't get back until almost 2pm, and then the sun went down and it was howling cold by 5:00pm. However, she used up enough of my time to complete her project... a playstand for our parrot.
Another trip to the store. Same deal with the wife getting up late, then wanting to take the dogs to the groomer for nail clippings. Luckily I snuck away to the Home Depot next door while she did that.
Forgot the weatherstripping the first trip. Went with 1-1/2" wide by 1/4" thick, self-stick type. Works great, especially at $3/pack. Also didn't buy enough bolts the first time, so got a few more.
While I was there, I picked up some chalkboard paint. The plain black stuff is $9/qt, the tinted type is $13/qt, and the whiteboard type is $18/qt. Went with the tinted type. Only tintable to the 16 colors on top, as it turns out. Had been hoping to match the trim color of my living room, but Coffee was close enough.
Dry fitting the lid before applying the weatherstripping to the top of the base of the freezer. Also filled the slight gaps at the butt joints with wall joint compound, then sanded smooth. Not particularly worried about texture with this project, or I'd have done the whole 60-80-120-160-220 sanding rigamorole.
Weatherstripping goes on. It takes exactly 9' to do the freezer rim. I have two freezers, and the weatherstripping happens to come in 17' packages. Annoying. Threw the rest of it around a leaky door in the back of the house.
Set up everything for to prime and the wife jumps in to paint in her pajamas. Mmmm, ok. Works for me.
Turns out I accidentally grabbed the quart of oil-based primer I'd been holding off on using for the last two years. I didn't notice the can was oil, and she didn't notice it didn't apply like latex. Stunk up the whole house and destroyed the roller, but they're well-sealed!
Also picked up some handles today. I want to avoid people trying to open it by the lid, which could bend up the aluminum straps. Will probably have to "glue" the lid down with some silicone caulking at some point.
Chalkboard paint is going on right now. Will post back when we're done tonight.
The collar painting took longer than expected, as expected. No, that's not a typo.
Between the additional recoat time on the oil-based primer over latex-based primer, and then the need for three coats of the chalkboard paint, total time was close to 14 hours of waiting between coats.
They don't look like much right now, but I'm hoping the oil-based primer helps keep moisture swings in check a bit with the pine.
I think they'll be dry enough to put together when I wake up this afternoon. In the home stretch at this point. Really just assembly left until the kegging guts arrive.
Looks good! I'm planning a keezer build with that same freezer, just waiting for it to go on sale so I can save a few $$$. I should have been paying closer attention before Christmas but wasn't.
First thing this morning when the wife wakes up, she tells me the paint job looks good and that it matches out trim well. Then she tilts her head sideways and says, "Why don't you just leave the serving keezer in the dining room until we get the new cabinets [next year] so you don't have to cram them both in the laundry room?" I stared at her through a simultaneous love/hate moment; had she given me permission to have it in the dining room before, I could have reworked the remodel plans to fit the 7.0cf serving keezer in the corner of the dining room and upsized the fermentation chamber to the whopping 25cf models. :( Oh well. Keep moving forward.
With the collars dry, I place and then bolted the collar back on each freezer. I applied the black weatherstripping to the top of each collar, then bolted the lids on. The fermentation chamber was moved to the laundry room and plugged in for testing, while the serving keezer was moved to the corner of the dining room.
The colors don't show up well in the distant shots. Here's a closeup that shows it more accurately.
Will need to add wheels. Don't want to have to keep sliding them across the floor to open the lid each time.
Settings are OFF and 1 (warmed) through 7 (coldest). Decided to do some testing for kicks and grins:
... 1: 0ºF
... 4: -8ºF
... 7: -12ºF
Not a huge amount of difference with it empty. Perhaps with it filled would be different.
Next up, insulating.
Looking at my receipt right now, it says that all items on it fall under "Return Policy ID 1". That's the standard 90-day return policy. One expires 03/29/13, one 03/30/13. I couldn't fit two in my small truck at the same time with the foam insulation in the truck bed, so I bought two separate days.
If it goes on sale during the next 30 days, I'll just walk in and ask for a credit of the difference. They never ask questions. I do this frequently when I ask somebody to pick me something up, then go back later to adjust with my military discount.
If it goes on sale past these 30 days up to 90 days, I'll just walk in, buy one, and return with the original receipt. If it goes on sale elsewhere locally within 90 days, I'll walk in, price match to that store, buy one, and return with the original receipt. The net difference is all the same, unless...
...if they don't want to price match, I'll buy it at that store, drive it over to Home Depot, and return it. I really don't want to do this, because then Home Depot is out the money (but gets a freezer back), while the other store gets my business (albeit with low markup on a nice sale) instead.
I'm still fairly certain this model will go on sale the week of 01/06/13 at Home Depot because that's the same week they put it on sale last year, but my local stores don't have a huge inventory yet like they would in anticipation of a sale. I wonder what day their appliance deliveries come. Worst case, it goes on sale every 3-6 months the last 3 sales in a row, so... I'm just rolling the dice that it will go on sale again by then.
Styrofoam insulation went in pretty easily. Took about an hour to cut all of the pieces for both freezers. It was all summarily hot-glued in, just enough to tack it down and keep it from going anywhere.
A word of advice; any piece over 18" long, cut in half. Without a powerful hot glue gun, you can't glue up more about than 24" of styrofoam and get it in place before the glue starts to really harden and become self-defeating.
Only used 1/4 of the sheet. Hmmm. Will have to find a use for the rest or give it away in the classifieds section.
Since the lid itself was only attached to the collar at the rear, I was worried about seepage or people opening it by the lid and bending my aluminum braces. I applied a moderately thick bead of clear silicone adhesive to the top collar weatherstripping, then adhered it to the factory lid weatherstripping and left 30# on the lid for 24 hours. Problem solved. Silicone is easy enough to remove in the future, should I need warranty service.
No parts arrived today. Tomorrow I'm expecting the temperature controllers (Johnson A419s), Perlicks (525SS combos), beer lines (Bev-Seal Ultra, 100' spool) and CO2 distributor (4 port w/ 1/4" MFLs).
Looks good. Are you adding the collar to the ferm chamber so you can add a 3rd fermenter on the step? I have one these now for ferm but can just fit 2 buckets in there.
Im actually heading to home depot tomorrow to get the parts needed to start my build using the same freezer.
I see that you designed yours to have the lid and the collar open at the same time, can I ask why you chose to do it this way?
Also, regarding the 1x6 pine, does that fit on the lid without removing any of the plastic or weather stripping?
He attached the collar to the top so the shanks and beer lines lift up with the top so it is easier to insert kegs. Note he used 2 pieces of 6 feet 1x10 not 1x6.
That's beautiful thadius! I hope mine comes out as professional looking as yours.
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