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stack 08-08-2012 05:21 PM

Foaming issue with jockey box
 
About a month ago I built a jockey box with a seven circuit cold plate. I only attached three faucets so I am making two passes through the cold plate for each one. All of my lines are 3/16". I would say the lines from the keg to the cold plate are around 8'. Then two passes through the cold plate. I have no idea how long each pass is. Then about 2' or so between the faucet and the cold plate, just enough that I can set the cold plate out of the cooler without disconnecting any lines.

The first time using it was 95 degrees outside. I had the kegs iced and the beer poured extremely cold. I was however having issues with foaming. I would get about one second of foam as soon as the tap was opened, then it would pour great for about 8 ounces or so, then back to foam. I tried both lowering and increasing the CO2 pressure anywhere from 8 to 25 psi with the same results. Aside from the foam it worked great at serving the beer cold.

I decided to test it out again earlier this week. I tried with a room temp keg that was slightly under carbonated, same results. I also tried with a cold, properly carbonated keg that was pouring perfectly out of my kegerator, same results. C02 pressure was adjusted starting at 12 psi all the way up to 35 psi. It seems to work best at around 20 psi, but the foaming problem was still there. I was watching through the clear tubing when the foam was initiated. It seems the initial bit of foam when the faucet is first opened I cannot trace. The second bit seems to be coming from bubbles being formed in the line between the keg and the jockey box. As these bubbles enter the cold plate they must be causing a tremendous amount of turbulence as when the beer comes out of the first pass it can be clearly seen as all foam. I thought that maybe I had a leak somewhere so I retightened all the clamps in the system, none of them were loose. It appears that CO2 may be coming out of solution where the hose is warm, between the keg and jockey box. I have used other jockey boxes, both plate and coil, where the kegs where at room temperature and there was no issue with CO2 coming out of solution.

I am really struggling with how to diagnose and correct my problem.

(edit) I have tried a number of different faucets also, a standard cheapo, Perlick 525, Perlick 425, & even a flow control Perlick. All faucets yielded the same results, FOAM.

I am getting ready to leave for a week at the beach in two days and was considering taking it with me along with three 5 gallon kegs. I am now debating if I should even bother with it if all I am going to end up with is foam. 3 kegs, the cooler and co2 tank is quite a bit of extra weight to haul 500 miles each way.

If anyone has any suggestions / theories on my issue please let me know.

Here are some more pics of my setup.


http://i.imgur.com/CfyqR.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/lgPoi.jpg

moviebrain 08-08-2012 06:18 PM

I built a rolling kegerator similar to the one found in another thread around here, no cold plate, but sometimes I get plenty of foam. I've found that the beer foams up really bad for the first 2-3 hours if I don't let the kegs settle down after being moved. Also I'm guessing all the channels the beer goes through in the cold plate will break a lot of CO2 out of solution, so you may want longer lines on the output side, but that is just a guess on my part.

I get the best pours at 5-8psi, which at ice-covered keg temps hovering right at 32 is just about appropriate.

(edit)- do cold plate installs usually include such short jumpers at the input/output side that I see there? They look to be about 12" or less. That seems like it could be a big source of foam too. Each time beer takes a 90 degree turn you'll get turbulance, so you've got a bend from the plate out the nozzle, 180 degree bend of the hose, and another 90 degree bend back into the plate. It's something to look into.

stack 08-08-2012 06:56 PM

Most cold plate jockey boxes typically only use a single pass. I had extra circuits so I figured that I would use them. My thoughts on the jumpers was that shortest length would be the best. This way only the smallest amount of beer is out of the cold plate. I tried running only one pass a while back and still experienced the same issues.

bucfanmike 08-09-2012 12:41 PM

both my jockeybox and the one my brew club owns has very short run from the plate chiller to the taps. Before i went to 6 taps I had 2 in my old box and ran each through twice with no issues so I dont think that is affecting you. Ive only had foaming once and the only thing i could figure was i had overcarbed the keg before hand. I guess my first thing id try on yours is to shorten up the runs out of the plate. I just served 6 kegs thru my box on a 10 day camping trip. I did adjust co2 pressure each day starting at about 20lbs and by the end of the trip was pushing at 35 just to keep the kegs carbed in the heat. But beer flowed well, so it can be done.

stack 08-09-2012 01:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bucfanmike (Post 4317177)
both my jockeybox and the one my brew club owns has very short run from the plate chiller to the taps. Before i went to 6 taps I had 2 in my old box and ran each through twice with no issues so I dont think that is affecting you. Ive only had foaming once and the only thing i could figure was i had overcarbed the keg before hand. I guess my first thing id try on yours is to shorten up the runs out of the plate. I just served 6 kegs thru my box on a 10 day camping trip. I did adjust co2 pressure each day starting at about 20lbs and by the end of the trip was pushing at 35 just to keep the kegs carbed in the heat. But beer flowed well, so it can be done.

What length and diameter line are you using between the kegs and the cold plate? Everything in mine is 3/16" (except possibly the internal tubing the cold plate). I have noticed that all of the commercial (store bought) jockey boxes I have seen use very large tubing between the keg and jockey box, anywhere from 3/8" - 5/8" I doubt this is my problem as

I will try your suggestion on shortening the length between the faucets and the cold plate. This may help with the initial bit of foam i get, but I still think that the second wave of foam is being propagated between the keg and cold plate.

The only other think I can think of is a tiny leak that I only letting gas (CO2) escape. Are you using crimp style clamps or worm gear clamps?

What temperature were your kegs at during your camping trip?

bucfanmike 08-09-2012 02:26 PM

i have 3/16 id throughout. Would be worth checking your orings on your kegs. I had a keg once that i couldnt stop the foam, broke it down and put all new orings and it fixed it. The weather for our trip was mid 80s and then 60s at night. Kegs stayed in the shade the entire time. This trip for me was really extreme and i would say not typical for a jockeybox, as it was 10 days.

Not sure what else would have the co2 breaking out between the keg and plate. If the kegs are room temp and as long as the line isnt in direct sun.

stack 08-09-2012 04:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bucfanmike (Post 4317472)
i have 3/16 id throughout. Would be worth checking your orings on your kegs. I had a keg once that i couldnt stop the foam, broke it down and put all new orings and it fixed it.

Did you replace the o-ring on the dip tube or the o-ring on the post? I know that I should just replace both of them, but I'm not sure what spares that I actually have on hand at the moment.

Thanks for all of the suggestions thus far.

bucfanmike 08-09-2012 06:06 PM

I broke it down and did all four o rings.

worksnorth 08-09-2012 06:20 PM

The ball locks you are using on this system, are they new or different than ones you usually use? If they are and you are getting foaming right at the ball lock connection off of the keg, take the ball lock apart, look at the exit hole inside of the ball lock connection itself and make sure that the hole has been completely drilled through. I had one once that hadn't been drilled cleanly and was restricted causing serious foaming! Took MONTHS of fighting foam until I figured out the problem.
Good luck

stack 08-09-2012 06:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by worksnorth (Post 4318128)
The ball locks you are using on this system, are they new or different than ones you usually use? If they are and you are getting foaming right at the ball lock connection off of the keg, take the ball lock apart, look at the exit hole inside of the ball lock connection itself and make sure that the hole has been completely drilled through. I had one once that hadn't been drilled cleanly and was restricted causing serious foaming! Took MONTHS of fighting foam until I figured out the problem.
Good luck

I will look into this tonight. They are new ones that I just recently purchased.


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