Check It Out: Kegerator Rebuild & Upgrade

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MatthewTCranford

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So, I built this guy in college and have had it for about 8 years. Time for a revamp and some upgrades. Would be open to any constructive ideas, guidance, and help!

Features: Housed in a mini-fridge cabinet found at a warehouse selling old hotel furniture. Constructed an Irish Coffin tower. Built some wine racks in. Added another layer of molding at the top to lay in beer caps with glass on top. Back features a spot to put the CO2 canister. Beer and CO2 lines run into the fridge through the top.

Was pretty happy with it for a first build, but time for an upgrade.

Current planned upgrades Include:
-New Mini-fridge
-Relay bottle caps, Finish with hard clear epoxy
-New Tower: (http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-5...0001&campid=5338413729&icep_item=362422635017)
-Looking to turn the shiny brass into brushed brass
-Upgrade the shelf to pull out to allow for better access
-Add in an Inkbird ITC-1000 for better and easier temp control
-Add in tower and fridge fans to assist with temp control
-Touch up damaged wood and refinish where needed




 
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MatthewTCranford

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Cleaned the whole frame out, tossed the old fridge, and started on repairs. The wood needs some sanding, touching up, and some minor structural modifications as it was leaning a few mm to the right, making the doors just uneven enough to stick a tad.

Trimmed down the shelf to allow room for the drawer rails. Installed soft close rails for a smooth shut. Will add a back on it so nothing can slide behind, and a small box on the bottom to house the ITC-1000.

Decided not to mess with the wine racks. Could have adjusted and slid one more in, but you'll see in pictures later they actually stack nicely and wasn't worth the fuss.


 
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MatthewTCranford

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Bought this guy for $59.99 at Lowe's on Black Friday:
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Frigidaire...ini-Fridge-Silver-Mist-ENERGY-STAR/1000059645

Brought it home and went to work with the Dremel to make enough room for a quarter keg. Needed to buy myself about half an inch. Sawed off the shelves and into the base a bit. Was able to get another inch and a quarter, not knowing of other kegs might vary a bit in size. It fits a quarter keg and corny keg nicely with a bit of air space to allow for air circulation.

Finished it off by taping up the exposed insulation with aluminum tape to seal it off.



 
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MatthewTCranford

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QUESTION: What are your thoughts on how to go from inside the mini fridge, out of the mini fridge, through the wooden top, through the eventual epoxy surface, and into the ceramic tower?

I think this may be the crux of the build and design. I need to somehow seal and insulate tubing that can go from fridge to tower. I was thinking of pouring the epoxy, then drilling a 1.5 inch hole to run 1.5 inch tubing through to a 1.5 inch hole in the fridge. (Want some room to blow air to cool the tower, but want to make sure everything is sealed so I'm not losing cool air. Anybody have experience with something like this?
 
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MatthewTCranford

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Wired up the ITC-1000, soldered the connections for security, and capped them off with wire caps. (Also wrapped each cap and wires in electrical tape for extra security)

Mounted the ITC-1000 on the front of the pull our shelf. Hot glued the wires down just short of the ITC-1000 to prevent any pulling on the connections. When the hot glue was 50% dry I drove some wood screws through it into the shelf just in case the hot glue wanted to come undone from the finished wood over time.

The output for my ITC-1000 is a power strip. Wanted to have options for the internal cooling fan(s) or anything else needed. Mounted this in the back compartment I had originally built for CO2.





 
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MatthewTCranford

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Set the caps onto the surface. Went for a bit of a mosaic feel, no specific pattern, just went with the flow of the caps, colors, lights and darks. Like how it turned out.


Poured two layers of epoxy. The first layer was a bit thick and had some bubbles. Heat gunned those out 99% real easy and fast. The problem was at that volume of epoxy, it generated heat that loosened the hot glue holding the caps down. (Future rec: don't use hot glue, use glue glue!). I started pushing them back down but they were popping up fast and the epoxy was drying.

Was able to make needed repairs and pour a final coat I'm happy with from a surface standpoint. I ended up letting some of the caps start to float around a little bit. Ended up giving it a neat 3D effect, and it shimmers from the light in many directions kind of like fish scales. Lucky the screw up turned out ok..

 
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MatthewTCranford

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Hooked everything up inside:

PVC Hole: Used a dremel to carefully saw out a 1.5 inch circle on the top, dig out insulation, and saw a 1.3 inch hole in the interior plastic. Dropped in a 1.5 inch PVC pipe connector, and secured it with hot glue from bottom sides, and edge seal. (This will allow be to insert the PV pipe running into the tower from the top, and later remove if I need to disassemble)

Tubing and Cooling: Ran a standard tower cooling fan and tubing along with the copper tubing up the 1.5 in PVC pipe that the tower would be set over. You can see the fan and copper tubing in the back left. There's a perfect amount of extra room to allow for a nice return flow.

Inside Wiring: Next to the 1.5 inch PVC hole, I drilled a hole large enough to hot glue and seal a piece of CO2 tubing into. This allowed for running the temp probe, and both fan wiring through. Sealed with aluminum tape on both sides so no leaking.

Temp Probes: I have the main temp control probe in the air. I have another one taped on the keg with aluminum tape. Reason: The Keg will eventually come within 1 degree of wherever the air goes. Control the air, control the beer temp.

Fans: As mentioned, one cooling tower fan that sits about halfway up. I have another larger computer fan that I manually position in there for now until I can decide exactly how it should be mounted to best circulate air. Right now the tower fan runs constantly, and the additional fan comes on when the kegerator does for cooling. Thoughts around positioning and if fans should be always on or tied to thermostat?

 
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MatthewTCranford

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Cooling: I decided to go with both. Running the line through copper tubing, alongside a thick tower fan. Plenty of room for return flow. PVC piping is capped off and I cut a hole in the cap to run part of the shank in.

The shank has a chill to it, but I wouldn't say it's cold. I'm thinking that opening up the seal to the whole tower would cause too much heat to enter the system and the fridge to run too often. I think it's only about 3 inches at most that is only cool, not cold. Thoughts?

 
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MatthewTCranford

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Back Support: Added half a board to both provide additional stabilization to the structure as well as provide a dark background to the upper shelf area.


Compressor Fan: Added a third fan that is connected to the thermostat that cools the compressor. This will help the fridge perform a bit better and not put as much strain on the compressor. Working well so far from what I can observe.

 
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MatthewTCranford

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95% There!!!

Remaining:
-Some cosmetic work on the wood
-Final coat of epoxy to sort out the last imperfections on the top
-Clean up some of the cords
-Finalize a position for the internal circulatory fan
-Organize the tubes inside
-Clip the beer tube 1.5 feet to finish balancing the system

FINAL QUESTION TO YOU: What else should be added to that list? (Tweaks or further upgrades to consider)

 

Veets

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That looks really nice. Here are a few thoughts in response to your questions:
1. With the fan that circulates air up into the tower, do you really need a second fan inside the fridge? Shouldn't the tower fan alone circulate air enough?

2. I didn't follow your reasoning about the two temperature probes. In my fermenter at least, I have an inkbird with a single temperature probe. That gets taped to the side of the keg and then insulated over so it's not measuring air temp. The fridge cycles to keep the keg at the set temperature. I don't understand why you have a second probe and how it works with the controller. From what I can tell, ITC-1000 uses one probe.

3. I don't have much experience with air-cooling a tower, but if you want to upgrade that part of your system I can tell you that I use a thermoelectric cooler to continuously chill a loop of RV antifreeze that runs alongside my beer lines (2) and then through a dual-tap tower that's made for glycol chilling. The TEC and its cooling fan sit outside the fridge, and I have all the lines first wrapped in cling film to avoid condensation and then heavily insulated. No more foam upon pouring, and the tower is cool to the touch. It doesn't condense water out of the air like towers you see in bars sometimes, but it's definitely cooler than air temp and it does the right job for the beer. Your tower being directly over the fridge probably does a good enough job, and I'll bet you only have a little foam with your first pour, but if you find the fridge running too often because it's constantly gaining heat from the tower, you might consider a redesign.
 
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MatthewTCranford

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That looks really nice. Here are a few thoughts in response to your questions:
1. With the fan that circulates air up into the tower, do you really need a second fan inside the fridge? Shouldn't the tower fan alone circulate air enough?

2. I didn't follow your reasoning about the two temperature probes. In my fermenter at least, I have an inkbird with a single temperature probe. That gets taped to the side of the keg and then insulated over so it's not measuring air temp. The fridge cycles to keep the keg at the set temperature. I don't understand why you have a second probe and how it works with the controller. From what I can tell, ITC-1000 uses one probe.

3. I don't have much experience with air-cooling a tower, but if you want to upgrade that part of your system I can tell you that I use a thermoelectric cooler to continuously chill a loop of RV antifreeze that runs alongside my beer lines (2) and then through a dual-tap tower that's made for glycol chilling. The TEC and its cooling fan sit outside the fridge, and I have all the lines first wrapped in cling film to avoid condensation and then heavily insulated. No more foam upon pouring, and the tower is cool to the touch. It doesn't condense water out of the air like towers you see in bars sometimes, but it's definitely cooler than air temp and it does the right job for the beer. Your tower being directly over the fridge probably does a good enough job, and I'll bet you only have a little foam with your first pour, but if you find the fridge running too often because it's constantly gaining heat from the tower, you might consider a redesign.
1.) I think you're probably right. The second is very likely not required. The tower fan I purchased isn't the most powerful thing so I felt having the other fan would help keep air moving and temps more constant. My theory: The more the air circulated, the more even the temp would be throughout the fridge, and the more accurate the temp readings would be to prevent the probes from being in a colder or warmer spot.

2.) I could have been more clear. You're correct, ITC-1000 only has one probe. That probe is dangling in the air currently. I have an additional thermometer taped to the keg. What I'm observing: The keg stays within 1 degree of the air temp. If I keep the air temp at 31, the keg holds at 32. My worry: If I hooked the ITC-1000 to the keg, the fridge might get too cold when the temp of the keg does drift up trying to get it back down since it takes longer to cool the solid and liquid than it does the air. (I think I might run an experiment now to test this out. I definitely see merit in both methodologies)

3.) Wow. That's serious! I will definitely consider that in the future. The tower is definitely cold enough to prevent foam which is great. It's just that last 2.5" if the shank that isn't in direct contact with the cooling fan air. You have a good point about gaining heat from the tower though. On my next keg swap I might pull the tower off and work on adding some more insulation. I think it could use some more in spots.

Appreciate the feedback!
 

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