No one has seemed to document how to build a keg cleaner for Sanke kegs without removing the ball so this is how we are doing it.
First thing I did was locate a propane tank with a bad valve. I completely drained the tank first. Then I removed the valve and filled it full of water 3 times. I would suggest doing all of this outside as it stinks. Then I got my four inch hole saw, drilled two holes in the top and then used my cut off wheel to make the two holes into an oval. A bigger hole saw would be a good idea as my little armed hardly fit into the hole, but it was what I had on hand.
Next up was a trip to Lowes to get a 120 volt hot water heater element and electric hot water heater thermostat. I ended up going with a 1500 watt element as I wanted the unit to be able to run on a 20 amp circuit. Running the heating element on its own isn’t a problem but when you add in a water pump things get a little closer to 20 amps. Here is a picture of me testing out the heating element and thermostat to make sure it would do what I wanted. I would like to note that the test was grounded after I clamped the ground wire to the work bench. See bottom right side of following picture.
Next up I drilled the hole in the tank for the heating element. Back to Lowes I went to find a box to mount the heating element and thermostat in. I couldn’t find a thing, but remembered I had a spa gfci box at home that we had gutted for our beer sculpture built. Everything fit nicely inside the box so I drill a hole in it and the picture below shows me double checking my setup.
1 X http://www.mcmaster.com/#4464K586
- had to grind the side off of it to fit the tank.
1 X http://www.mcmaster.com/#96853a253
1 X http://www.mcmaster.com/#9396k38
(already had these from previous project)
At this point I felt that the heating system was tested enough and would work fine for our application. Time to built a stand to mount the vessel, pump and controls.
We decided we didn’t need a food grade pump since all the water we pump into the keg will be hot and have sanitizer in it. I picked up a 1 hp centrifugal pump on eBay for $57 shipped. It was selected as it seemed like it would produce enough flow for our system. We wanted the water running into the keg to blast the hot water onto the walls to get any old beer out of it. I wish I had a more scientific reason for selecting this pump but I don't. The pump has a max temp of 140 degrees F which seemed fine for our application as well. Once I had the pump I got a 1” X 2” black nipple, drilled a 1” hole into the center of the bottom of the vessel and welded it on. This will be the outlet from the vessel to the pump.
I borrowed a 5 gallons sanke and keg tap from one of my buddies for the next part of the testing. I disassembled the keg tap and removed the one way ball so water could be pumped through the center of the keg. I also ordered two ½ keg tap connectors as I didn’t want to restrict the flow going into the keg. You can buy these connectors here: http://www.kegs.com/products/keg-coupler-thread-12-inch-barb/
. The hose I used was ½ braided hose from Lowes. It sucks as it is not very flexible, but should be fine as we will likely only use this system a couple times a month.
A little more welding on the stand and a few pieces of pipe later we were ready to give it a test.
On the first test (as the picture above shows) we didn’t have the values on the output side of the pump or the connector for the compressed air. When I ran the system like this it pumped all the water out of the vessel and filled up the keg with water. This was not a desired outcome so back to Lowes we went.
I then added a control value on the output side of the pump, a tee and another valve to connect the compressed air fitting. My theory was that slowing the flow of water out of the pump and adding some air to both increase the velocity that the water was entering and exiting the keg would stop the keg from filling up with water. My theory proved to work out very well. I didn’t have to close the water out value very much or open the air value very much to keep the water moving out of the keg. For everyone worried about safety, the braided hose is going to break before the keg blows up due to pressure. Here is a picture of the next test:
At this point it was time to start putting the finishing touches on the system. I welded some support pieces to support the pump and put on some wheels.
Then I drilled a ¾” hole into the vessel and welded a ½” female fitting for the return.
Got a box and a couple of switches from Lowes. I decided to go with one with a light for the heating element side (on the left) and a plugin type for the pump (on the right) since the pump already had a plugin type cord. I also drilled a hole in the spa box and put in a 120 volt light so I could tell when the heating element was on. You just wire it in parallel to the heating element and it will turn on and off when the thermostat turns the element on and off.
1. 12 gauge wire was used for all of the wiring.
2. If you build this, make sure to connect the system to a GFCI outlet as working with electric and water at the same time could kill you
3. Info on drilling the hole for the heating element can be found at the following link. We used step bits instead of the punches, but this page will help: http://theelectricbrewery.com/heating-elements?page=3
And that is all there is too it. Just heat up the water, add sanitizer, connect the keg, set it upside down on the stand, turn on the pump and air and let it clean for 5 to 10 minutes. Here is a picture of the final product: