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Old 01-05-2013, 03:58 AM   #1
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Default GE SMR04DAMWW Kegerator Build

I managed to get a hold of a GE® 4.3 Cu. Ft. Compact Refrigerator
(SMR04DAMWW) for free, so I thought I'd turn it into my very first kegerator.

I searched high and low for a guide for converting this particular model and, aside from hedbutter's guide (found here), there was little to no documentation for doing it.

I blundered ahead anyhow, and figured I'd document my steps as I went, so anyone who decided to do it in the future would have an additional reference.

OVERVIEW

  • All said and done, the build ran about $250ish, after having acquired the fridge for free. You can probably do it cheaper, if you know what parts you need and can buy ala carte. But I didn't. $188+ of this was this kegerator kit from Beverage Factory.
  • I am by no means handy. I did this with a basic tool kit and a cordless drill. The one thing I did borrow was the hole saw.
  • This fridge will fit 2 BALL LOCK kegs and a 5# CO2 tank. Pin locks are too wide and will not fit two side by side.

Here's the specs posted on the back of the fridge:



Because I'm paranoid, I ran the fridge for a while and checked for hot spots on the top before drilling, just to make sure the coolant lines are where they say they are. The one on top is about 4" from the front door. From there on back, you're free to go nuts.

Steps 1-4



1. Remove the top (two screws in the back) and the door. There are three bolts holding it in that you can get to only after taking off the top.
2. Remove the inside door panel (see below photo).
3. Unscrew the thermostat. It will need to be moved.
4. Bend the freezer plate down.

On bending the freezer plate down...
Take a moment to prepare yourself for this step, because -- not to freak you out -- if you mess this up, the entire fridge is junk. Make sure the fridge has been off for a good, long while. If not hours, days. Pop the freezer tray out from the plastic bits holding it inside the fridge by bending the right tray side inward (you can see how it is curved inward slightly in the above photo). If you don't do this, you won't clear that plastic bulge. Also, remove the thermostat's probe from the ridges holding it against the freezer plate.


Now... take a breath and begin to bend. SLOWLY. I put the fingers of one hand under the tube that protruded from the back of the fridge and the other palm down in the center of the freezer plate. I gently, slowly and firmly pressed down on the plate while pushing up on the tube so that it would curve around my fingers. I paused often to make sure I didn't get excited or overzealous. I also had a brew to calm down. Then I finished and all was well. It ended up being almost perfectly curved.


To remove the inside door panel you need to fold back the magnetic seal to get to the screws beneath.


Steps 5-6

5. Extend the wires for the thermostat. I added male and female connectors to 3 -18 AWG thermostat wire and just plugged them in to the existing connections. I couldn't find connectors that were at a 90 degree angle (like the ones that fit inside the thermostat housing) so I just grooved the plastic so the wire could easily pop out the sides. I dd this with the cordless drill.



6. Mount the thermostat to the top right (rear) corner. No coolant lines here, so it's the perfect spot. I used the same screws and it was close enough to tuck the thermostat probe back into the same grooves I pulled it from off the freezer plate. As you can see, I also taped the hell out of the wire to plug the exposed hole and keep the wires in place.

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Old 01-05-2013, 03:59 AM   #2
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Step 7

7. Following hedbutter's idea, I Gorilla-Glued a piece of wood to the back of the fridge beneath the freezer plate. I painted mine white and used two eye hooks and a small bungee cord for tank storage. Tested, it holds perfectly.



Step 8

8. Drill your hole for the tower line. I used a borrowed 2" hole saw and used my wimpy cordless drill. It took two charges, but it worked. It was also a wood hole saw. That worked too, but it was incredibly slow. Just make sure you measure out where you want the center of the hole to be and drill a pilot hole. I also found it easier to drill through the plastic top and underlying Styrofoam first, remove it, and then drill through the fridge proper. Also, after you hit the foam under the metal top, go inside the fridge and drill upward. It you go down the entire way, you'll split the plastic of the interior, which I did.



Steps 9-10

9. Attach a new door panel and reattach the magnetic seal.

Time out... This was very frustrating. First, I figured I'd be cheap and cut down a 24" x 36" coroplast sheet and use that. Fail. It did not have the umph to hold the seal in place. Lacking any decent saws, I needed a material that was either A) easy to cut or B) cheap, but already cut to size. So, for $10 (plus another $10 for shipping, bastards) I ordered a custom 1/16" thick 19" x 30" sheet of high-impact styrene from Tap Plastics, here. Shipping was pretty quick, and the material was easy to drill and feels very sturdy. The only thing I would do differently is have ordered 19.25" x 30.25" so that the magnetic seal fit tightly, instead of having to constantly tuck it under while I was screwing it back in place.



10. Reattach door and plastic top. Just do the opposite of what you did to take it off.

Step 11

11. Foil tape your hole. Be generous.

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Old 01-05-2013, 04:21 AM   #3
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Step 12 (Optional?)

12. Insulate your tower line. This may require disassembling the tower if, like Beverage Factory, they send it to you preassembled. Since I have no way of cutting metal (as I said, my tool supply is limited) I bought a 12" x 1/2" length of copper pipe from my local big box hardware store. The ends were already smooth; no filing! I used a liberal amount of pipe insulation and electrical tape and stuffed the tower with more than I did the end that fit down into the fridge. Both ends fit extremely snug.

Note: I may install a fan later (I know I will), but this would have to do for now.


Stopped 1/2" from hole for shank.


I ended up trimming the white insulation away.

Steps 13-14

13. Cram the tow in place and attach it to the fridge top according to your setup's directions (mine just screw in place).


And, well, attach whatever tap handle you have too.

14. Fire up, hook up and pour. Unless, of course, you have to wait a day or two to get your CO2 tank filled. Like me.



I hope this helps. If you have any questions, feel free to post. I'll answer ASAP.
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:00 AM   #4
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Also, after two weeks of testing (if you mounted it as shown) this is where you want to dial the thermostat to keep the beer at 38°.

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