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Old 12-23-2013, 03:49 PM   #1
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Default Year Long Keezer Build in a Small Apartment

I wanted to add my contribution to collection of keezers on this site, and hopefully inspire some people with no DIY experience to build their own.

It took about 2-3 month's worth of work, but various stopping points pushed the total time to completion to about a year.

We have never done a DIY project before this, but I had ambition and knew how to Google. Learned many lessons along the way and it may not be perfect, but we finally have a working kegerator.

We also managed to get by only owning a handsaw and drill and taking full advantage of Home Depot's wood cutting offer. Over the course of the project we also bought a pipe cutter, heat gun, miter box, and rented a jigsaw for a day, but not much else. We were able to complete this without the use of a garage, only working in my small city apartment.

Without further delay, the finished product:



It may not be perfect, but its a fully functioning kegerator and I think it looks great sitting under that hops poster.

We created the concept using ideas from this forum. After getting a general design in place, we built the plans in Google Sketchup

Front:


Back:


The large cup is a 1/2 liter stein, and the small cup is a standard pint glass.

Creating the base:


Checking that the base fits on the freezer (freezer is the Professional Series 7.0 cu ft model from Menards):



At this point we learned DIY lesson #1, don't build something with such exact tolerances. A 2"x4" is not going to be exactly 2"x4".

Building the skeleton of the base:



Attaching the front of the frame with wood clamps:



$0.99 wood clamps from Home Depot are amazing, but we learned quickly that choice of glue matters. We went through 2 or 3 types of glue that would securely hold the front down with no gaps.

2 layers of stain and 3 layers of polyurethane, after hand sanding each piece of wood with 3 different grits of sandpaper:



Staining the other side:



Base is finally stained, and it looks so much better instantly:



Fitting the fridge in:





At this point we discovered the problem with exact tolerances, the freezer doesn't fit flush against the front of the skeleton as planned. We end up setting the freezer back about 2 inches to keep it straight. Drawback is that the bottom of the freezer doesn't sit evenly anymore against the frame, causing about a 1/8" difference between the right and left side. Not as noticeable in person as it is in the pictures, so we haven't fixed it yet, but one day we'll buy shims to even it out.

We now hit stopping point #1. The freezer was fully functional, and by using a picnic tap we can have kegged beer for the first time. Granted, we have to reset the picnic tap every time we want to change beer, but we sat at this stage for about 2-3 months.

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Old 12-23-2013, 04:02 PM   #2
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Starting work back up, we put together the tower:



We ended up scrapping the idea of the shelves on the side of the tower. As much as I liked how they looked, it was too difficult to get the exact angle of the shelves and attach them with the tools we had.

Glued some plywood on the top:



Large container to fill with water were very useful when trying to apply even pressure on the glue:



Gluing and screwing together the tower as much as we can before putting it in place:



Tower in place:



Chalkboard spray paint:



Only two coats of spray paint gave us a nice thick coat that serves us well as a chalkboard.

Staining the tower:



Keezer guts and all pieces for the plumbing:



To cool the tower, we decided to use a copper pipe and feed the beer lines through the tube. Works surprisingly well.

Rear doors for tower access:



Tap handles! Our reinheitsgebot themed handles wouldn't be complete without German Lager Yeast:



Had to upgrade our tap handles to the fancier ones, since the $0.99 ones didn't extend far enough. I think these were $5-$8, big splurge.



Rear view of the tower:



Tower completed:



Kegs and gas, a fantastic craigslist find for only $120:



All the plumbing in place:



Everything just barely fits:



All put together:



First test of the system, a success:



We now had beer on tap! And you can actually choose 1 of 4 beers easily! The problem was that now the internal function of the keezer is complete, so we hit stopping point #2. The only thing left now was to finish the aesthetics, and since everything was working we didn't move on from this point for about 6-8 months.

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Old 12-23-2013, 04:19 PM   #3
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After about 2-3 months of using the system, we noticed a strange off flavor from our beer and eventually isolated the issue to our keg lines. We completely overhauled the system by replacing the generic PET lines from our homebrew store with Bev-Seal Ultra lines (strongly recommend). Pros: Zero off flavor since switching (8 months in). Cons: These lines are impossible to work with, they're extremely stiff and almost impossible to get on the shanks. God forbid I ever have to replace the lines again.



For other people trying to figure out how to get the 3/16" lines on the 5/16" barbs...I boiled the end of the line for a few seconds to get nice and hot, then I used a pair of needle nosed plyers to pry open the end as much as I could. If you do it quick enough you can get an opening close to or bigger than 5/16". Reheat the ends in water (but only do it briefly, the ends start to return to the smaller shape), and then jam the hell out of the ends onto the barb as much as you can. I was usually able to get them about 3/4 of the way on the barb, more than enough. Finally, reboil the barb with the tube attached to contract the barb around the tube and you should have a very tight seal. Just note that you will NEVER get this off without cutting it.

We decided to decorate the top with some sheet metal from Home Depot (stainless steel, aluminum, galvanized steel...basically one of every type they had):



They even gave us a 75% discount on the rusted sheet because it was "damaged", saved us about $20. Ignore the water tap, we kicked a keg and had nothing fermenting (shame), so we filled the keg with water and had ourselves carbonated water on demand for about 2 weeks.

Trim and drip tray framing:



The drip tray framing was a last minute addition, and I think it turned out great. We originally weren't going to do it because we couldn't get the angles down, but then we discovered that they sell a $3 plastic "Miter box" with worked wonders. Without the siding in yet or the epoxy down, there are still some gaps in the metal and under the trim. These were eventually fixed.

Applying the bar top epoxy:



We bought "bar top epoxy" and it was surprisingly easy to apply. Using a heat gun we were able to remove all bubbles from the epoxy after spreading it around with foam brushes. We did one seal layer to get all the cracks and then a flood layer to put the rest of the epoxy down. Covered with a plastic sheet for 2 days to prevent dust from landing on it. In the end, the epoxy formed a perfect, clear, and smooth glass like "sheet" over the metal.

Once again, the finished product:

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Old 12-24-2013, 02:41 AM   #4
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MJW, I'd have to say , that with building this in your apartment, and no DIY skills, It turned out awesome looking!
I would be proud of it. And, you took it to the next level by adding that tower.
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Old 12-24-2013, 06:03 PM   #5
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Thanks! I definitely liked the look of a tower over just a collar, so I decided to just go for it. Turned out much better than I could have ever imagined.

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Old 12-24-2013, 06:15 PM   #6
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It looks nice, and with no tools to speak of I am really impressed.

I am in the beginning stages of a keezer also. I started gathering about 2 years ago and then had to stop all together for a full year. Now I am in the process of tearing apart a bunch of pallets for the tower and skin of the keezer. I will have Pine Oak and who knows what other type of wood I will have in it but I am confident it will look good. Are you glad you finished it now..

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Old 12-24-2013, 11:52 PM   #7
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There's so much accomplishment (and relief) now that its finished, but deep down I feel like there's always little adjustments I can do to keep at it (fix the slight angle, improve the insulating system, put a temp probe in).

I love the pallet idea, I actually just saw another build with pallets recently too:Pallet Keezer

Are you planning on staining the pallets or leaving them in their raw form?

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Old 12-25-2013, 02:07 AM   #8
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Kinda like that, but I have multiple lengths of board so they will be staggered kind of like a hardwood floor. I am also going to build the tower to have doors so little fingers cannot accidentally open the taps and when they grow up big fingers cannot sneak in a grab a pull without me knowing.. I did like the idea of having the Co2 tank outside the keezer. I think I will utilize the idea. Thanks for the link.

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Old 12-25-2013, 01:04 PM   #9
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Well done...*tips hat*....Sir.

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