Miller / Coors Home Draft to regular or paintball CO2
I've been following the threads on the Miller or Coors "Home Draft" system and how to use it for homebrew. It's cheaper than the Tap-A-Draft, but the problem is that it uses harder to find 16 gram cylinders, and the ones that are available aren't cheap (least not to me).
I also didn't see anyone that actually tore theirs apart to see what's inside. Well, I'm home on leave (stationed in Japan), and I bought three of them with the purpose of trying to get these connected to either a paintball CO2 type system or a regular CO2 system with a 5lb+ cylinder. Paintball CO2 regulators aren't cheap, but if you bought one (especially the Lowe's one), then this is a perfect way to use it.
I tore into the Miller Lite one as it has the flimsier draft handle. IMO, get the Coors version as its handle is a little more sturdy, but mine didn't break.
I credit lots of other people that have posted many threads about this - ya'll got my curiosity going!
Here's the first pic, showing the tap itself in case you weren't familiar:
And with the CO2 cylinder removed (use pliers to unscrew it, the cracking sound when you turn it is OK):
(on to the next post!)
OK, here's the part we're going to attack:
You will need either a small precision flathead screwdriver or a sharp pick to remove the piece in the center. It's held on by two fingers, and I couldn't just push them in from the sides, I had to attack it from the top. Just lever them out of the hole, and the piece should come right out.
Here's what it looks like with the "hat" and spring behind it removed:
What I found interesting is that if you wanted to continue to use the 16 gram cylinders, you *could* dig all the gunk out from the middle of that hat and use an allen wrench to increase/decrease the regulator pressure.
(Sorry for the not-great pics, my Dad is kinda lacking in the camera dept., and I didn't think to bring my big guns.)
So here is what we need to attack. There is a rubber grommet that surrounds the center plastic white piece - I removed it as you can see above, but it's probably not necessary. I guess that it would fall out when the center white piece is removed. The little white ring is where I tried to yank it out with pliers before drilling it out.
Use a ~3/16 drill bit to drill through the center piece. That's the size I used, but the size isn't important. What's important is to drill in about 1", just enough to drill through the plastic part that holds the pin that pierced the original 16 gram CO2 cylinder. That pin retainer prevents the center white plastic piece from being removed. Drill through it, and it should come out easy:
At this point, no further hacking on the tap is necessary. (*whew*)
I went to Home Depot (other DIY stores should be just as good, it was closest) and got parts to connect an air chuck from the above paintball regulator. Here's a pic of the completed assembly:
That pic is with the "keg" holding 20 psi - and I'm here 3 hours later, and it's lost no pressure.
Apparently, there is a check valve in the tap itself that prevents pressure from leaking backwards. It makes pressurizing the keg slow, but it will eventually reach the pressure your regulator is set at.
I suggest threading the 1-1/2" pipe into the hole a couple times to get a thread established, and to make it so that the teflon tape doesn't get as destroyed during final assembly. NOTE - the pipe from HD fits very snugly into the hole in the tap. If you source from elsewhere, it might be too tight (use sandpaper) or too lose (JB Weld).
For those that are curious, here's a pic of the Watts parts I used:
Basically, you will need:
Pliers (maybe two if your grip is like mine and not so great)
Precision flathead screwdriver(s) or picks
Drill + ~3/16" bit
Watts A-712 (1/8" MIP x 1/8" FIP street elbow), A-716 (1/8" MIP x 1-1/2" pipe), and A-738 (1/4" MIP to 1/8" FIP reducer)
Compressed air fitting (female 1/4" NPT IM Brass Plug)
Teflon pipe tape
Looking at my receipt, it cost me about $8.50 for the parts to make one. If you go to a DIY store that sells the parts not individually packaged, you could probably make it for a LOT less. I just wanted to see if I could make it before I have to go back overseas.
I hope someone gets some use out of this post, this is my first "How-To" here on homebrewtalk.com. :mug:
wow.. nice work!! i have been looking at this project for some time. i was actually going to try to tap into a co2 cartridge, this might be easier.
my question is how does it hold pressure once you disconnect it from painball tank?
It holds pressure quite well as there's apparently a check valve somewhere beyond the tap's original regulator. I'd guess there's a valve similar to a football/basketball inflation valve.
I didn't want to chop the tap apart, and I believe that you'd have to completely destroy one to really find out.
Just to add my two cents, I can't prove it but I believe these bottles and taps are made by Tap-A Draft. The bottles at least are identical to my TAD bottles.
dang, beat me to it. i did pretty much the same thing with mine. i was waiting to get some pics of the thing in action.
they say great minds think alike, nice job.
Nice, thanks for the write up! I've got one of these I was going to figure out but you did it for me!
Glad to help! Let me know if there's anything unclear/confusing.
This is just something I've been wanting to do ever since these threads about the Home Draft started showing up here. Unfortunately, I'm stationed in Japan and apparently AAFES doesn't ship any pressurized plastic bottles bigger than 1 liter. But I came back to the US for a training class and took leave to see my folks. I just built a MAME arcade cabinet, and needed a "tinkering" project to keep me busy.
BTW - I went to another DIY store called O'Day's, and I got the parts for $5.91 total after tax. I'm sure you could source it online for even cheaper - especially if you can find a 1/8" FPT to 1/4" MPT street elbow (here's one I found), removing the need for the 1/8"x1/4" adapter.
Oh, and does anyone know of a cheap paintball regulator for HB use? The cheapest I found recently was taking a normal regulator and using one of those adapters, but the cheapest would be about $55 total, and then the gauges would be oriented wrong. I bought one of the Lowe's regulators for about $49 a couple years ago when they had them on some kind of a crazy sale, but those are best for really high air tool pressures.
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