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Old 10-10-2011, 12:03 AM   #1
gromfy
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Default "Hacking" a Cornelius Venture Pre-Mix Soda Dispenser

I know I'm something of a rare bird here, as I work on a *seltzer* rather than beer setup. But I know the equipment overlaps quite a bit and there are some really experienced soda techs on here. Basically, I'm looking to hack a Cornelius Venture Pre-Mix Soda Fountain into an undercounter seltzer unit. If you don't have experience with *continuous flow* seltzer (as opposed to force carbed seltzer) or ice-bank soda fountains, you probably don't want to waste time reading further.

I invested a bunch of time and money into a setup with a McCann's Big Mac, running at ~95psi to a 3-gallon refrigerated corny, dispensed with a post-mix soda dispenser. The results are ho-hum. The bubbles aren't quite soda can or seltzer bottle level -- they're more Perrier like (about 2 volumes of CO2) rather than big/biting (about 4 volumes of CO2). And the quality quickly degrades after a couple pours (as the room temperature carbed water mixes into the ~34 degree keg water). I'm told by some very knowledgeable seltzer folks that the ONLY way to get true continuous flow seltzer is by passing it through a wet ice-bank -- the passive corny in the fridge just won't do.

Flash chillers are over $1000. Way too much for me. The cheapest way to get a wet ice bank is buying a used fountain, like this Cornelius Venture pre-mix one.
But, since this is for a *home* installation and I want a minimal footprint (I'm not putting a soda fountain on my counter-top), I wanted to see if I could "hack" it into a (slightly) remote unit. Basically, I would store this in an outdoor cabinet on the other side of our kitchen wall. I'd need about 3-4 feet of line to get it into the house and up to a tower or gooseneck tap.

I found an exploded view of the unit that shows an easy way to connect beverage line where the built-in faucet normally would connect. That solves the first issue. I think.

The next issue is going to be keeping that 4 feet of line chilled. When I was doing this in a fridge-based setup, I was going to run cooling fans through pvc housing the beverage line. I doubt I can do that with the ice-bank system. Does anyone with familiarity with the Venture model know whether there may be a way to use the icebank and a fan to mimic a kegerator tower cooler? It would take some creativity, but it might be possible.

Anyway, I know this is a weird project. But I thought some soda installers/techs might have enough familiarity to tell me if this might be possible.

Thanks in advance. And please feel free to suggest other approaches!

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Old 10-10-2011, 12:48 AM   #2
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Why do you need continuous flow? Why not have one or two 5 gallon kegs filled with water and held at ~35 psi? Fill as needed.

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Old 10-10-2011, 12:58 AM   #3
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Why do you need continuous flow? Why not have one or two 5 gallon kegs filled with water and held at ~35 psi? Fill as needed.
It's a fair question. Two answers:

(1) As embarrassing as it is, it won't take us that long to go through 5 gallons. Between the four of us at home and our visitors, we can go through 100 ounces a day. I'd rather not have to constantly be rotating and prepping a new tank.

(2) Slightly less embarrassing, I think like most DIY projects, the fun is in figuring it out. I'm all for investing extra time/money upfront to maximize enjoyment (and allow for laziness) down the road.

We're seltzer enthusiasts, and drink a boatload of it. We just want to get it setup, and then forget about it!
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Old 10-10-2011, 01:35 AM   #4
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If yer an enthusiast, you'd be very concerned with the mineral profile. How do you dose minerals and still have it continuous? What is your water source?

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Old 10-10-2011, 02:08 AM   #5
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I maybe missing something completely obvious, as I am just starting to learn about the soda fountain world, but what about using a cold plate like would be used for a wunder bar style soda dispenser? I would think that you could just freeze it in a block of ice in your freezer and run the lines out, then you just have to work out the line insulation.
I had been looking at doing a similiar setup for soda use, but ended up finding a good deal on a post-mix system that works the same way as the pre-mix system you linked to.

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Old 10-10-2011, 02:39 AM   #6
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If yer an enthusiast, you'd be very concerned with the mineral profile. How do you dose minerals and still have it continuous? What is your water source?
Well, you can't. There are limits to a home install. We have pretty good, somewhat mineralized tap water. I pass it through a decent undersink filter and it's "good enough." It's not quite the same as getting the glass bottles delivered, like when I was a kid. But, if I can get this working, it'd be the next best thing.
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Old 10-10-2011, 02:43 AM   #7
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what about using a cold plate like would be used for a wunder bar style soda dispenser?
If it's not "wet" ice, I believe the liquid inside the block will freeze. More importantly, we can't spare the freezer space.

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I had been looking at doing a similiar setup for soda use, but ended up finding a good deal on a post-mix system that works the same way as the pre-mix system you linked to.
You're using the post-mix for soda (as in cola) or seltzer? I'd be interested in hearing about it here or by PM. Thanks!
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Old 10-10-2011, 06:10 PM   #8
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Ok, freezing would be the obvious reason, that makes me want to start designing some sort of water circulation system with a bypass for dispensing. It would probably be cheaper and easier to go with the fountain machine...
I just purchased my machine this past Friday from an auction company and have not had the time to hook it up but I am planning on using it for cokes.

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Old 10-10-2011, 06:19 PM   #9
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Ok, freezing would be the obvious reason, that makes me want to start designing some sort of water circulation system with a bypass for dispensing. It would probably be cheaper and easier to go with the fountain machine...
I thought of that too, and then came to the same conclusion. Look, flash chillers exist to accomplish exactly what we're discussing. They're just big and very expensive. They're designed for industrial use and volumes. As far as I can tell, there is not a reasonably priced, smaller footprint home use device that is the equivalent of a wet ice-bank. The cheapest/smallest is the Astra at over $1000 and a rather large presence.

Everpure does make a refrigerated, all in one carbonator/chiller -- the Exubera. It's about $2k and quite large as well.

That's why I keep coming down to the soda fountain. They're pricey new. But, because the soda companies subsidize replacements, the used prices are manageable. I just wonder whether I can hack it into a semi-remote unit as I described.
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Old 10-10-2011, 06:35 PM   #10
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Mineral content has a lot to do with the dissolved CO2 in soda water. Perrier has small bubbles or is at least perceived that way due to high mineral content. I don't think that's your problem though; from your description it sounds like temperature is your problem

If you can't chill enough water at the injection site, what about a modified jockey box setup to chill the water before it receives the CO2? You have to have the water cold if it's going to absorb max CO2 at it's very limited exposure point.


To me the alternatives are quite expensive for home use; that's why most people settle on charging cornies. I love the soda gun but it's core is an injection/chiller that works the magic in a very small space.

Check out this setup from Wunderbar; I think you want the 'chiller plate'.

I found this when researching wunderbar systems a while back:
http://reviews.ebay.com/How-to-build-your-own-Wunderbar-SODA-GUN-System_W0QQugidZ10000000004590853

http://www.wunderbar.com/eu/product/cold-plates

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