I've been lurking around here for a little while now and have felt that I have nothing worthwhile to contribute.. Until Now!
I thought some people may enjoy seeing the build of my kegorator and what went into it. If you're not one of those people scroll to the bottom for pictures of the finished product. If you are.. well then keep reading. (I apologize for the crappy cellphone pictures. It was all I had with me through out the process)
A few weeks ago I happened across a man in central Maine that declared himself as "Bob the Barrel Man". He sells used whiskey barrels from Jim Beam I guess. I thought they were cool.. So I bought one. Once I got this 120lb barrel home I realized I had NO idea what I was going to do with it. I have wanted a kegorator for a while now but wanted something different than the conventional style one (not that there is anything wrong with a conventional one). So I decided I was going to turn this barrel into my kegorator. One way or another it was going to happen.
First thing was to find a way to make this thing get real cold. So I found an old forgotten mini-fridge in my parents basement and yanked the refrigeration unit out of it in one piece. I really wanted to try and avoid recovering refrigerant and re-evacuating the system and recharging it. Thats a can of worms I really didn't want to open on this project. Before I took it out I let the fridge run a few days to make sure it could get cold enough reliably.
Next was to cut the barrel open. Apparently these barrels are under pressure or something. Maybe it was a little extra fermenting or a temperature change but when I drilled into the top it hissed for about a minute and filled my whole house and surrounding area with a STRONG smell of whiskey. Strong enough for a neighbor to come over and ask what smelled so good.
After removing the top, I cleaned the barrel out by scrubbing the walls and bottom with a grill brush and hosing it down. There was still some whiskey left and loose char from the barrel walls.
Next was mocking up the refrigeration unit and the platform that the keg would eventually sit on. It was beefed up much more than shown in the picture below.
After this I figured that it was going to be getting pretty warm so it would need some sort of vent hole (a very poor one I may add) on the bottom with a fan to draw the hot air out. While I was down there I decided to add four castors to help make moving this thing around easier. This later turned out not to be strong enough with the load of a keg so I had to make a plywood reenforcement ring.
I bought the fan from Amazon for 15$ shipped. It is apparently suppose to be an automotive radiator fan. Since it was designed for a car I had to use a 120VAC to 12VDC adapter to convert the fan. The fan is wired into the power to the compressor, so as long as the compressors running the fan will be cooling. If this turns out to not be enough cooling I will add an independent control system for the fan with a thermocouple, but I wont cross that bridge until I need to.
Next was the inside lining. I found some galvanized steel sheets at Lowes for a reasonable price. All I did was drill some holes along the edge and pop rivet them together to get a circular lining as well as cut out a circle for the bottom platform.
With the cooling plate and thermostat
From here I needed to work on efficiency of the whole thing. I filled the gap between the steel and the barrel with R-30 insulation as well as stapled insulation to the bottom of the platform to help keep the heat from the compressor/condenser from getting through. I also bolted the cold plate to the side of the steel lining so it wouldn't flop around.
Here is a picture of the first test run
This gave me motivation to continue, but the refrigeration unit was trying a little harder than it was in the fridge to keep the temp that low. I ended up caulking all the gaps I could find to help keep convection down as well as making a foil liner for the inside. There is also a top part of the liner that is not pictured. I also covered the gap between the barrel and liner with exhaust heat wrap.
Finally was the top. As of now I am not 100% satisfied with the top and have some new ideas I am going to be trying out. But right now it is a piece of oak veneered plywood with a light stain and a few coats of polyurethane. I bought a brass tap from Kegworks as well as a 5lb Co2 tank and low profile tap.
Here is a picture of how everything fits inside. (sorry for the dark picture)
It is kind of tight but it gets the job done..
And Lastly here are pictures of the finished product.
And a picture of the first beer from it. I originally had the thermostat close to bottom to see what it could do. Later that day I got a glass at 30. After that I raised the temperature to 36. So far I am happy with its efficiency. While holding a temperature below 32 it turns on less frequently than the Sub-Zero fridge on the side of it in the picture. :-P
At this point it has been running for two weeks with no problem and has had one keg successfully through it.
If anyone has any questions or would like better/different pictures I would be more than glad to help. Any other ideas/criticism would greatly be appreciated. Thanks for reading!