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Old 03-12-2011, 10:26 PM   #1
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Default "Home Draft" Mini Kegerator

This project has been sort of an evolution. It actually started as a way for me to make a sweet sparkling cider for SWMBO. I picked up one of the Home Draft kegs and force carbonated my cider using a carbonator cap I made. I then was able to use the tap for serving.

I then decided it would be a good way to "Keg" and serve my beer. I have been bottling since 1994. I have never really had an issue bottling, so I never saw a reason to go to the expense kegging although I did pick up 4 pin lock cornies recently. I also have never really had enough extra space for a full sized refrigerator until we bought our new home last year.

Anyway, on to the details. I now have 4 of the Home Draft kegs. I did not want to modify the tap assembly because I wanted to be able to continue using the 16 gram CO2 cartridges. I decided to modify the CO2 cartridges by drilling and tapping with 1/4 NPT so I could put an air chuck into them. Teflon tape does not work as a seal since the cartridge wall is so thin so I used a 2 part 5 minute "Epoxy" when installing the connector into the cartridge.





As a result of the size of the adaptor I had to enlarge the opening at the end of the plastic cartridge holder. I used a dermal but the same thing can be accomplished with a large enough drill bit. This allows me to continue using the 16 gram CO2 cartridge. Parties are much easier now that I don't have to worry about mixing sediment in bottles on the drive.



I found a Haier 4.6 CF mini fridge on blowout at Ultimate Electronics for $79. I had been keeping an eye on craigslist for a while and most people in the Denver area were asking for around $65. Wal Mart has the same model for $149.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Haier-4.6-cu.-ft.-Refrigerator-Freezer-White/5430327

I picked up several brass air disconnects both male and female, 1/4 barb adaptors along with a 3 way manifold and 1/4 ID poly air line. I decided to go with the poly line instead of the nylon line because 1) it is rated to 150 lb instead of 60 lb and 2) it is a stiffer material not requiring hose clamps. Harbor freight had a deal on the 3 way manifold and 3 of the female disconnects for about $9. They have a 4 way manifold online for a similar price but the store was out of stock and were not getting any more. Altogether the hardware was less than $30.



I got a used 5 lb steel tank along with dual gauge regulator, picnic tap and 2 ball lock disconnects for $90 including shipping when I was working on the original cider project.



The only modification I had to make to the fridge was to drill a 3/8th hole in the back for the CO2 line.



In my experimenting with the Home Draft system I have determined that the built in regulator is set to about 17-18 psi. This seems to agree with the CO2 chart which indicates that an American Light Lager would take about 17 psi CO2 at about 35 degrees F. So, although you can pressurize anything lower than that you can't go any higher. As a result I still use the carbonator caps I made so I can force carbonate at 30 psi (fill and shake method).



So far I have "kegged" 3 batches of cider and one batch of beer. I currently make 3 gallon batches so I use 2 kegs per batch. With my current setup I am no longer tempted to find a larger fridge and start using my 5 gallon cornies. I may have 4 pin lock kegs for sale at some point in time…

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Last edited by Dahoov; 03-13-2011 at 05:45 PM. Reason: Added a couple additional pictures for clarification.
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Old 03-13-2011, 01:52 PM   #2
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Man, that is sweet. How much would I have to pay you to modify the CO2 cartridge for me? I don't have access to many tools, definitely not enough for this project, but would love to add this to my arsenal of beer serving vessels.

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Old 03-13-2011, 04:16 PM   #3
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Great info!

I've been thinking about how to turn the fridge i have now into a draft system. It can only fit one corny so not really worth that investment.

I'm going to work on using your adapters and something like this
http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_SPA5772S1319783801P?prdNo=3&blockNo= 3&blockType=G3

With a 20 oz tank that can go in the fridge.

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Old 03-13-2011, 04:53 PM   #4
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Man, that is sweet. How much would I have to pay you to modify the CO2 cartridge for me? I don't have access to many tools, definitely not enough for this project, but would love to add this to my arsenal of beer serving vessels.
Well, I suppose you would have to send the parts to me with enough $ to send them back, or pre pay for the return shipping.
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Old 03-13-2011, 05:00 PM   #5
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Great info!

I've been thinking about how to turn the fridge i have now into a draft system. It can only fit one corny so not really worth that investment.

I'm going to work on using your adapters and something like this
http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_SPA5772S1319783801P?prdNo=3&blockNo= 3&blockType=G3

With a 20 oz tank that can go in the fridge.
That looks interesting. I found the 20oz tanks on ebay for about $10 plus shipping. Might have to look for the regulator too. That might be a better option than the 16 gram cartridges for parties. (scratches chin thoughtfully...)
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Old 03-13-2011, 05:28 PM   #6
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So you use the normal tap for dispensing? So the air fitting in the cartrage is so you can dispense with the tank? Sounds like a great in between and pportable party rig

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Old 03-13-2011, 05:40 PM   #7
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So you use the normal tap for dispensing? So the air fitting in the cartrage is so you can dispense with the tank? Sounds like a great in between and pportable party rig
Exactly. I usually just leave the line pressure at 12 lb. Seems to carbonate my batches just fine over about a week's time. If I want to hurry things along I dial the pressure up to 30lb and put one of my carbonator caps on and do the shake thing. I still need to let things settle down with the pressure at 12lb for a day or so, but I can serve within a couple days of kegging then. For parties I can now just grab whatever is in the fridge and a 16 gram cartridge.
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Old 03-13-2011, 05:46 PM   #8
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So you use the normal tap for dispensing? So the air fitting in the cartrage is so you can dispense with the tank? Sounds like a great in between and pportable party rig
I realized I didn't put any pictures of the kegs hooked up so I just added them. Hope it makes things a little clearer.
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:33 PM   #9
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Is it necessary to tap the cartridge? Or are the walls thin enough that I can just kinda screw the fitting in and then epoxy in place?

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Old 03-14-2011, 06:01 PM   #10
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well done!

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