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Old 09-24-2011, 02:43 PM   #1
gromfy
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Default cloudy/flat seltzer (using motorized carbonator)

I just installed a home seltzer setup with a motorized carbonator (McCann's Big Mac) and a 3-gallon corny stored in a fridge. I hooked it up last night and forced out all of the oxygen from the keg with C02. Then I let water into the system, filled up the keg, and let it chill overnight. It's at about 38 degrees right now; it will get to about 33.

When I just tried dispensing, it came out cloudy. The cloudiness passed quickly in the glass, but left relatively flat water. Any ideas as to the cloudiness and flatness?

I'm at 30 psi on the regulator, which may be too low. Or it may be that the water isn't cold enough yet. Or maybe I need to bleed out the first batch of water?

Any insight appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 09-24-2011, 11:46 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gromfy View Post
I just installed a home seltzer setup with a motorized carbonator (McCann's Big Mac) and a 3-gallon corny stored in a fridge. I hooked it up last night and forced out all of the oxygen from the keg with C02. Then I let water into the system, filled up the keg, and let it chill overnight. It's at about 38 degrees right now; it will get to about 33.

When I just tried dispensing, it came out cloudy. The cloudiness passed quickly in the glass, but left relatively flat water. Any ideas as to the cloudiness and flatness?

I'm at 30 psi on the regulator, which may be too low. Or it may be that the water isn't cold enough yet. Or maybe I need to bleed out the first batch of water?

Any insight appreciated. Thanks!
WOAH... 30 on a carbonator isn't enough. You are supposed to run those at 80 to 100. You also want to follow the instructions on how to "charge" the carbonator itself. Basically you need to bleed the whole tank with water until it comes out of the relief valve (with the gas off).... close the valve.. and then turn on the gas at 80 to 100 PSI.
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Old 09-25-2011, 05:06 AM   #3
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Wow....80-100 psi? I know for most forced carb seltzer it's between 30-50. I did bleed the tank as you suggested, but had no idea to use such high pressure. Part of the issue is that I bought the carbonator newly refurbished. It's in fantastic shape but didn't come with use instructions -- and, surprisingly, official instructions have been hard to find on the internet.

Thanks for the insight. I'll keep poking around for more complete instructions -- and will crank up the PSIs!

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Old 09-25-2011, 12:09 PM   #4
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The issue is that they work differently than a keg force carbed at 30 PSI.

Quote:
The Carbonator Unit

The McCanns carbonator unit is common to all these approaches, so let me describe that first. It works on a somewhat different principle than my bottle method. It merges warm tap water and higher-pressure CO2 into a continuous flow of warm carbonated water. The unit consists of an Proconn electric water pump, a stainless steel pressure vessel with electronic water level control, and associated connections and check valves. The bottom half of the pressure vessel contains water; the top half is initially purged of air and thereafter contains only CO2 gas. You set the CO2 regulator to supply about 100 psi, which maintains the same pressure in the vessel. The pump boosts the tap water pressure from the utility supply (typically about 60 psi) to something higher that will inject water past a check valve and into the 100 psi vessel. An electronic level control monitors the amount of water in the vessel and turns on the pump to maintain the water level as soda is withdrawn. The soda output is removed from the bottom of the vessel via a dip tube. Connections are through 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch stainless flare fittings welded into the sides of the pressure vessel, and a brass flare fitting on the pump inlet. An overpressure relief valve on the tank ensures that if the CO2 pressure became dangerously high (such as from a stuck-open CO2 regulator) that the tank would not catastrophically explode.

The large area of interface between the gas and liquid in the pressure vessel, and the high pressure of CO2, result in rapid dissolution of CO2 into the water, even at room temperature. The equilibrium of this solution, given the high pressure of CO2, is above the target 4 volumes of CO2 despite the room temperature operation. In the improvised bottle method, we use chilling and agitation to rapidly carbonate; in the carbonator machine we use high pressure and a larger area.

To maintain the carbonation at the ultimate delivery pressure, you must lower the temperature of the liquid after it flows from the carbonator vessel but before dispensing it to atmospheric pressure. Chilling is absolutely critical to dispensing carbonated beverages. Dispensing at room temperature results in an instantaneous loss of nearly all the carbonation ("warm soda is flat soda") due to the agitation of passing through the valve. Thus one uses a "flash" chiller to lower the temperature of the flowing seltzer just before it reaches the dispenser valve.

Carbonators are inherently more efficient in their use of CO2 than the bottle or keg methods. All of the CO2 consumed is delivered in the beverage without waste. The headspace of the carbonator vessel is purged of air when the system is started, and never is opened to the atmosphere to spoil that purge or to waste the headspace gas. Filling is more or less a continuous replacement of the draw, so that CO2 is not wasted into an emptying bottle or keg.

McCanns makes several models of carbonators, but the most common seems to be the "fast-flow" model with a 2-gallon stainless pressure vessel and a capacity that can keep up with a big 6-flavor fountain. Their smaller models have (you guessed it) slower flow rates but ought to be fine for home rates of use. There are also other carbonator manufacturers like Selmix, Lancer, Cornelius, FHPC, and Servend, but McCanns seems by far to be the most popular.

Being connected to the public water supply, to be legal, the carbonator pump must incorporate a backflow preventer. Watch out for older and used models, which may be obsolete in not having this feature.
from http://www.truetex.com/carbonation.htm


Also.. instructions for the McCann's are here...
http://us.manitowocbeverage.com/docs/uploaded/mbs/us/mccanns/carbonator_install.pdf

I have the same one.
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Old 09-25-2011, 09:18 PM   #5
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Eric,

Thank you so much for the information and links. Enormously helpful.

Does 100 psi into the carbonator mean the mixed/carbed water will be at 100 psi?

I ask because that's exceptionally strong. Indeed, when I tried it at 100 psi, the relief valve on the corny started releasing water. (It's rated for 130, right!?!) And after I got that worked out, my Perlick (525ss, I believe) leaked in its closed state. Either my C02 gauge is off, or that's just too much dispensing pressure.

So, I backed it off to 80, purged the system, and tried again. Nothing seems to be leaking, but it sure dispenses violently at 80. I just ordered 25' of dispensing line that should tame that some. But am I missing something? Should the carbed water really be at that pressure? Do I need a secondary regulator or anything else to back it off after the McCann's?

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Old 09-25-2011, 09:22 PM   #6
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Yes... the seltzer will be at 100 PSI. I generally run mine at 80 PSI. As far as the relief valve... it should be up at 120PSI or so. I replaced mine and made sure there were absolutely no leaks. These are designed for soda fountains and not beer. Personally I used 1/8" braided line to dispense so I didn't need 60' of 3/16"... I would try running at 80 PSI and use some 1/8" line. I got it from McMaster, if you want the number I can go grab it.

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Old 09-25-2011, 09:37 PM   #7
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Thanks. Sounds like I'm nearly there, then.

You were able to get 1/8" ID line onto the ball connect on the keg? It seems like that'd be tough...and especially at the end of my perlick shank.

In your setup, at 80 psi, how would your characterize the bubbles? We're after BIG. We used to do five squirts on our sodastream.

Thanks again!

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Old 09-25-2011, 09:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gromfy View Post
Thanks. Sounds like I'm nearly there, then.

You were able to get 1/8" ID line onto the ball connect on the keg? It seems like that'd be tough...and especially at the end of my perlick shank.

In your setup, at 80 psi, how would your characterize the bubbles? We're after BIG. We used to do five squirts on our sodastream.

Thanks again!
No to the ball lock... I used a MFL Ball Lock and 1/8" Barb to FFL Swivel Nuts.

Not sure how I would describe them... soda like? Pretty small.
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Old 09-25-2011, 10:31 PM   #9
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No to the ball lock... I used a MFL Ball Lock and 1/8" Barb to FFL Swivel Nuts.
So, on the keg side it would be this:
http://www.kegman.net/products/Ball-Lock-Liquid-Disconnect-%252d-8092.html
and
http://www.kegman.net/products/SS-1%7B47%7D4FFL-x-1%7B47%7D8-I.D.-Hose-Swivel-Nut-Assembly-%252d-9900.html

I've having trouble finding braided 1/8 on McMaster. If you do have that number, I'd be much obliged.

Then I just need to figure out how to get from the perlick 7/8 barrel to 1/8". That's a bit tougher....

Thanks again for all the help!
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Old 09-25-2011, 10:36 PM   #10
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#5238K615 ... and for the Shank end... you can get a MFL Tailpiece and then use a MFL on that end also.... http://www.midwestsupplies.com/1-4-stainless-mfl-tail-piece.html ... Don't forget though, on the tailpiece end you need a MFL washer, but you don't on the disconnect side (disconnect has it built in).... basically metal to metal connections need the washer.

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