Are cracks in rubber on top of a keg just cosmetic, or a bigger issue?

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

J2W2

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 4, 2011
Messages
474
Reaction score
87
Location
Lincoln
Hi,

I have a keg that I've never used because it has a lot of cracks in the rubber on top. I got it in a batch of four used kegs some time back, and I haven't had a need for it until now. I'd like to bring it into my regular rotation, but I wanted to make sure the cracks won't be an issue.

They are located in the thin rubber on top of the keg, which just coats the metal keg underneath. My real concern is the rubber handles; I assume they have metal under them as well? Just want to make sure the handles are solid even if the rubber is aging - I don't want to have a handle give while I'm lifting a full keg!

Thanks for your help!

Keg.jpg
 

BrewChem

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2011
Messages
355
Reaction score
281
The rubber on the top and bottom of the keg are molded onto the outside to make them stackable and provide handles to grip them. They have no function in sealing what’s inside and holding pressure.

Rubber gets brittle and cracks with age, temperature swings and exposure to some compounds. Keep an eye on the rubber that forms the grips on the top so you don’t go to pick up a full keg one day and it drops on your foot.! Other than that, you’re fine. The important parts are the o-rings.
 

day_trippr

"This Space For Rent"
Joined
May 31, 2011
Messages
37,471
Reaction score
20,326
Location
Stow, MA
[...]They are located in the thin rubber on top of the keg, which just coats the metal keg underneath. My real concern is the rubber handles; I assume they have metal under them as well?[...]
Interesting question - and a good one, actually. I have sixteen 5 gallon ball lock kegs (and a 2.5 and a 3) most of which I've been using for 15 years now but for the life of me I cannot tell if there's metal inside the rubber handles. There are some I'd swear are just solid rubber but others that seem too rigid for that. If there isn't a legit answer I wouldn't have a problem drilling into one of my kegs to find out - FOR SCIENCE! :D

Cheers!
 

Dland

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 28, 2018
Messages
2,151
Reaction score
1,234
In the tops of old Firestones and Cornys that have come un glued, none of mine seem metal in them.
 
OP
J2W2

J2W2

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 4, 2011
Messages
474
Reaction score
87
Location
Lincoln
Keep an eye on the rubber that forms the grips on the top so you don’t go to pick up a full keg one day and it drops on your foot.!
Yeah, that is a definite concern. Or have it come crashing down in the keezer, breaking who knows what.

Interesting question - and a good one, actually. I have sixteen 5 gallon ball lock kegs (and a 2.5 and a 3) most of which I've been using for 15 years now but for the life of me I cannot tell if there's metal inside the rubber handles. There are some I'd swear are just solid rubber but others that seem too rigid for that. If there isn't a legit answer I wouldn't have a problem drilling into one of my kegs to find out - FOR SCIENCE! :D
The handles on the keg in question seem as solid as any of my others. But the top seems to be one solid piece of rubber, so if the thin stuff on top of the keg is deteriorating...

From a safety point of view, it would definitely make sense to have the rubber top and bottom integrated into the metal of the keg. You'd think there would be some horror stories about a handle coming loose when someone lifted one if they weren't.

Please let me know if you test one. I might give it a go on this one.
 
OP
J2W2

J2W2

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 4, 2011
Messages
474
Reaction score
87
Location
Lincoln
After a little more research, it looks like they are just glued on! I found a picture where one had completely come off, and AIH actually sells kegs at a discount because the rubber top and/or bottom is loose (not off, just loose). The good news is, they seem to really be glued on, so if they come loose, it isn't an immediate thing. Just one more thing to keep in mind!

Keg Handle.JPG
 

day_trippr

"This Space For Rent"
Joined
May 31, 2011
Messages
37,471
Reaction score
20,326
Location
Stow, MA
Well there we are then. Saves me a minute with a drill.
And now that I look at that pic I have seen nekkid ball lock kegs before that were indeed unencumbered with metal handles ;)

Cheers!
 

rgregoryirving

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2013
Messages
80
Reaction score
22
Location
Bloomfield
After a little more research, it looks like they are just glued on! I found a picture where one had completely come off, and AIH actually sells kegs at a discount because the rubber top and/or bottom is loose (not off, just loose). The good news is, they seem to really be glued on, so if they come loose, it isn't an immediate thing. Just one more thing to keep in mind!

View attachment 745655
Came here to say this. I actually picked one of them up not too long ago, and other than the broken rubber handle--it's actually my nicest keg. All in all (including shipping) it only cost $18 cause I bought it with one of the rewards I earned during their frequent 300 bonus point sales.
 
OP
J2W2

J2W2

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 4, 2011
Messages
474
Reaction score
87
Location
Lincoln
Came here to say this. I actually picked one of them up not too long ago, and other than the broken rubber handle--it's actually my nicest keg. All in all (including shipping) it only cost $18 cause I bought it with one of the rewards I earned during their frequent 300 bonus point sales.
Was your handle loose, or completely detached? If loose, what would be your confidence level picking it up full that way?

Basically I'm hoping they are attached well enough that if one ever starts coming off, it's a "Crap, this handle is loose, I'd better fix it." and not a "Sh*t, the handle just came off and the keg broke my foot!" moment. :ban:
 

rgregoryirving

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2013
Messages
80
Reaction score
22
Location
Bloomfield
Was your handle loose, or completely detached? If loose, what would be your confidence level picking it up full that way?

Basically I'm hoping they are attached well enough that if one ever starts coming off, it's a "Crap, this handle is loose, I'd better fix it." and not a "Sh*t, the handle just came off and the keg broke my foot!" moment. :ban:
My handle was cracked and loose on one side and half of it did actually come off while I was adjusting it but not carrying it. What remains (see pic) feels pretty solid and I’ve moved it full (cautiously and carefully).
image.jpg

*edited to scale down picture on desktop after posting on mobile
 

Deadalus

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 3, 2020
Messages
1,065
Reaction score
1,098
I had one that was loose. I was using it mainly to run cleaning solution through my jockey box. One day I picked it up and it got looser, it dropped down about an inch or two but didn't tear off the top. This happened right as I picked it up. The adhesive that's used is really strong. What would happen though even if it doesn't break loose while being carried higher is that it's going to jerk to one side. I tend to widen my stance some when I carry these and this would have the potential to throw out your back. Or you could be on the stairs.

I fixed mine with 3M "Black Super Weatherstrip and Gasket Adhesive. I didn't want to keep ripping off the top because I felt that adhesive was still pretty strong. But if you don't do that, I found it a little difficult to get a good layer of repair adhesive in there. The product requires time to become tacky before closing the bond. Having only done this once, I found it hard to keep the rubber top from contacting the top. These tops are fairly rigid near the handles so it was hard to keep open. Knowing that, just figure out a good way to keep the parts separated if you use this adhesive, as both parts are round. Or the alternative is simply to pull the rest of it off. I didn't want to do that because glue repairs don't always hold like I want them too. It really needs to be done in the best way possible and that isn't always as good as how it was done originally. I figured if the other side came off I'd do it all at once. I don't use this keg regularly enough to evaluate the bond. I was not able to get as complete coverage as I wanted though because it was hard to get the product into the narrow space near where it was still attached. So the top holds but there are places where the side bottoms of the rubber don't hug the metal sides of the keg. Maybe wear disposable gloves and just smear it in there if you need to, apply liberally!
 
OP
J2W2

J2W2

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 4, 2011
Messages
474
Reaction score
87
Location
Lincoln
Well, it sounds like the consensus is these can come off, but there should be some warning (getting loose, etc.) first. The handle on the keg in question seems rock solid right now, it just has the pictured cracks in the rubber on top of the keg, which is very thin to start with.

I don't have to haul my kegs very far, as I ferment in the room next to my keezer. And I try to have one hand on the bottom and one on top when I carry them, but I do have to resort to handle only when I lift them in/out of the keezer.

Thanks to everyone for all the great input!
 
Top