Corny Kegs - Ball or Pin Lock

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hightechlofi

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I am very new to homebrewing and am about to purchase some corny kegs. Any suggestions on which style to go with? Are they equivalent in availability, ease of sanitization, etc?
 

Bobby_M

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Ball locks are probably 4x more common in numbers. If you can find 12 pinlocks at less than $15 a piece, I'd go that way. Otherwise go ball lock.
 

remilard

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Pin locks are shorter and wider, so for a given area you will be able to fit the same or fewer of them as ball locks, but never more.

Availability is heavily regional, ball locks are more available in most of the country but it might be pin locks in Texas.
 

jspence1

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I agree with bobby m if you can get a good deal on pin lock's get them but get at least 12 or you'll be looking for more and you probably won't find them if you want to.
 

SpanishCastleAle

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I use both (pin-locks for carbonating/secondary for lagers, ball-locks for everything else). I always serve from ball-locks due to the space issue remilard mentioned (6 ball-locks fit perfectly in my 7 cu ft Magic Chef keezer). I don't find either one that much easier to sanitize than the other but the poppets on my pin-locks don't come out easily, usually they do for ball-locks (but not all models).

One thing I would do differently if I could go back and do it all again is to try and get all the same kind of kegs. I don't like the older kegs that use plastic IN dip tubes (or 'racetrack' lids either) and for whatever reason I prefer the Cornelius-brand kegs but that's just based on my limited experience with some of the different types.

Regardless, when you get the kegs fully disassemble them, clean them extremely well, and replace all the o-rings. When cleaned right, you should be able to seal the keg for a while and then open it up and get NO funky odors.
 

mmb

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Ball locks (Pepsi) are more available right now because Pepsi finished phasing out syrup delivery in corny kegs later than Coke (pin lock).

You'll also find that ball lock rebuild parts are more available for mostly the same reason. Either way, get a few because they will only be getting more and more rare.
 

wildwest450

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I would highly recommend pin locks. Why? More ball locks for me.:)

BTW, has anyone ever seen the "ball" on a ball lock keg?
 

Whut

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I would highly recommend pin locks. Why? More ball locks for me.:)

BTW, has anyone ever seen the "ball" on a ball lock keg?
Agree. The fewer people I have to compete with the better. And yes, the ball lock is under the thinga majig and right next to the what'cha macallit! :D

All kidding aside, as posted already ball lock are more readily available.
 
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hightechlofi

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Thanks for the input guys, I think I am sold on ball-lock due to the availability issues mentioned above. There is a guy in houston who is selling reconditioned (sanitized, new orings, etc) for $25ea. I know they can be found cheaper, but the sanitizing, oring replace ment is done on these. Is this a good deal, yea or nea?
 

mmb

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BTW, has anyone ever seen the "ball" on a ball lock keg?
Yah, it's in the quick disconnect. Actually, there are three balls in the disconnect.

Thanks for the input guys, I think I am sold on ball-lock due to the availability issues mentioned above. There is a guy in houston who is selling reconditioned (sanitized, new orings, etc) for $25ea. I know they can be found cheaper, but the sanitizing, oring replace ment is done on these. Is this a good deal, yea or nea?
It's a good price for a rebuilt keg that is guaranteed to hold pressure. Sanitizing, eh, you'll do that again anyway when you fill it. I'd go $25 for guaranteed pressure and new orings.
 

BucksPA

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Ball locks (Pepsi) are more available right now because Pepsi finished phasing out syrup delivery in corny kegs later than Coke (pin lock).

You'll also find that ball lock rebuild parts are more available for mostly the same reason. Either way, get a few because they will only be getting more and more rare.
that gets me thinking. i cover a lot of ground in my job and I know of at least 3 Coca~Cola factories/distributors. I wonder if they would be willing to scrap any? if they even have any left. Someone must have already tried though, for sure.
 

mmb

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that gets me thinking. i cover a lot of ground in my job and I know of at least 3 Coca~Cola factories/distributors. I wonder if they would be willing to scrap any? if they even have any left. Someone must have already tried though, for sure.
Coke, for the most part, got rid of the pin locks years ago. My wife's Uncle retired as a route driver for Coke 4 or 5 years ago and he says he hadn't seen them in years. If they do have any they've been stuck in some corner for a long time.
 

Duckfoot

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I got a great deal on my pin locks and besides, it is pretty damned hard to mistakenly put the wrong connector on the lugs of a pin lock...
 

HSM

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The first keg I bought was a pin lock and I've followed suit since. I only have 3, with the 3rd arriving just today. New rings and pressure tested at $30 including shipping. Whenever I had the desire, Ebay had pin locks. No problem for me.

12 kegs? To each their own. I'll probably max at 4. 2 conditioning and 2 serving. Like I said I just got my 3rd and really didn't need it, just wanted it :) .
 

Bobby_M

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No matter how many you think you want right now, you'll always want more later. The point is if you can only get/only want say 4 kegs right now, you should go ball lock. That way when you really want more, and you will, you'll be able to get them.

I went pinlock with 6 of them at first. No way that was enough. I had to wait patiently for more to come around. I think I have 16 now.
 

Photopilot

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I got my pin locks for free about 13 years ago. I worked for a restaurant at the time, we were using cardboard boxes with plastic bags for our coke syrup then. I went to the distributor or "coke dealer" and he gave me 4 of them and some manifold and attachments. I have 4 and was offered 2 more to "get them out of his basement".

I just bought a pin lock recently and like it better but having two types is a pain in the @ss. If you do end up with different styles pneumatic quick couplers come in really handy, the kind used for compressors, hoses and tools. I would buy more if they were only $25 for one ready to go. Here they are $40 plus you have to deal with the LHBS #2, which is run by a troll. He claims to be the first in the US selling Cornys. He will tell you this at least once whenever you go in to his store, and show you the add from 1980 something.
 
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hightechlofi

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Thanks again for the thoughts. I picked up my setup yesterday and think I will love it. I purchased 4 ball-lock cornies, a filled 5# CO2 tank, a new regulator, hoses, two sets of disconnects, and a SS faucet for $280. From what I have researched (and per your suggestions), I think I got a helluva deal. Anyone in Houston should check out kegcowboy.com. That is the guy I got it from. He was a really nice guy.
 

jtrainer

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One other thing to keep in mind... If using a Sanyo 1206 kegerator or the likes, you can get 4 kegs inside. You will find that ball lock kegs won't fit into the back of the rig.... Pin locks fit fine. The front 2 slots will fit the ball locks.

I can fit:
4 Pin Locks
2 Pin locks (back) and 2 Ball locks (front)

Note: My ball locks are all 5 Gal, the 2.5-3 gal ball locks fit in each slot.

The Sanyo 1206 has a compressor mounted at the top back and minimally invades the keg space. The rig was originally intended to house 1 half barrel.
 

Arkador

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I prefer ball lock, because I can barley fit 4 in my keezer. If I used pin lock, I would only be able to fit 3.
 

Kegcowboy

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Thanks for the input guys, I think I am sold on ball-lock due to the availability issues mentioned above. There is a guy in houston who is selling reconditioned (sanitized, new orings, etc) for $25ea. I know they can be found cheaper, but the sanitizing, oring replace ment is done on these. Is this a good deal, yea or nea?
Is that guy in Houston KegCowboy.Com?
 

tekknoschtev

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When I first started pricing out my fridge conversion a few months ago, I was sure I was going with pin-lock just because I could get them for $15 each at a local place, and the cheapest ball locks were $30. Duh! Except, when I got down to it, it was cheaper to buy a whole kit (kegs, distributor, co2 tank, regulator, hoses, connectors, etc.) and that came with ball locks. So... ball locks it was! I now have 9, and looking at the schedule of brewing my brother and I have laid out, that won't last us... Looks like I'll be hunting around for more deals, or bottling a few batches here and there until we kick another keg.
 

keithster

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All of my kegs are ball except for two. They were a killer price and I figured I would only use them for a mixed gas setup. Removes the chance of hooking up the wrong gas to the kegs.

12 might be enough kegs. Ball kegs are (1) 10 gal and (7) 5 gal. Just (2) 5 gal on the pin lock side. Would really like to have another pair of pin and 4 more ball locks.

That sounded weird.........
 

1fastsedan

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I got some good advice from my local homebrew store when I started kegging. Set everything up with flare fittings on the lines and quick connectors. It takes a bit more investment up front, but you'll be able to pick up whatever kegs you can find for a good deal. I think I have 4 ball lock and 3 pin lock now, all found for great deals.
 

myty1705

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curses, just came across this thread.....I had no idea they were any difference in kegs.....I picked up 12 out of about 30 of them laying on the ground with 1 co2 tank. I am betting that out of 12 I probably got a mixture of pin and ball lock not knowing there was a difference. I had just heard about using these for kegging and figure hey...they are free, I'll just pick them up.....grrrrrrr:mad:

Now I will have to figure out which is which.......can someone refer me to something on how to take them apart and figuring out which is which?
 

Jawbox0

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curses, just came across this thread.....I had no idea they were any difference in kegs.....I picked up 12 out of about 30 of them laying on the ground with 1 co2 tank. I am betting that out of 12 I probably got a mixture of pin and ball lock not knowing there was a difference. I had just heard about using these for kegging and figure hey...they are free, I'll just pick them up.....grrrrrrr:mad:

Now I will have to figure out which is which.......can someone refer me to something on how to take them apart and figuring out which is which?
Ball locks and pin locks will look totally different on the gas and beer posts. A ball lock looks like:
http://www.americanbrewmaster.com/popup_image.php?pID=614&image=0

a pin lock looks like:
http://www.chicompany.net/images/Product Images/15C07106.jpg
 

myty1705

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Thanks Jaw!!!! I might have gotten lucky and they all are pin style!!!! that might not mean much to you guys that like the ball lock, but here in Texas, and at my LHBS that is what they stock the kits too!!!!:rockin:
 

Photopilot

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iijakii

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I don't see why people dislike pins. They say it's hard to find parts for them, I've never had an issue. I'd much rather take the cheaper pinlocks than the ball locks.
 

brewingkitty

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3 years ago when i got into kegging. i had a choice. i like how balls can be snapped on any old way rotationally, and if ya give em a twist to ensure the o-ring isn't welded on they pop right off, and that they are ~4" shorter. prolly cost more simply because of the increased demand. i doubt coke and pepsi didn't each have billions of em!
 

Photopilot

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I don't see why people dislike pins. They say it's hard to find parts for them, I've never had an issue. I'd much rather take the cheaper pinlocks than the ball locks.
I have never had a problem finding parts but you do have to buy or build a special socket to fit the in/out valves for easy removal.

As far a sizing is concerned being 4" shorter is only important if you have a height issue. The pins are narrower meaning you might be able to squeeze one more into your keezer.
 

Bruin

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Pepsi used ball locks, Coke used pin locks. I have no problem getting the pinlocks off with a proper sized open end wrench. I was gonna buy the socket with slots to accomodate the pins, but turns out I really didn't need it.
 

subliminalurge

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I prefer ball-locks for one simple reason. They're smaller in the dimenson that matters. The difference in diameter is enough to make the difference between fitting 3 ball-locks in my fridge, versus only 2 pin-locks. (In my particular setup, I have lots of headroom, so height is fairly irrelevant for me.)

That said, things have apparently changed since this thread started. Ball-locks are in no way easier to find these days. Every homebrew vendor online has pin-locks in stock, but it seems like the majority are either out of stock on ball-locks, or all they have are "converted" ball-locks. Parts for either type seem to be about equally available.

Pin-locks are also considerably cheaper. Even a "converted" keg (Coke keg with ball-lock posts installed) will run you 10 bucks less than a "real" ball-lock.

My kegging setup is all built for ball-locks. I'm ordering a complete pin-lock starter kit for several reasons. First, over the long-haul, it's going to be cheaper to buy a different fridge than to pay the premium on ball-locks for the number of kegs I want to have. Second, I get a spare co2 tank and regulator. And I get some pin-lock QDs. Most importantly, the kit is on sale dirt cheap, too damn cheap to pass up.

Truth be told, I'll probably convert any pin-locks I get over to ball-lock posts eventually, just because I think ball-lock is a superior connector. And I'll have to spend some cash adding pressure realease valves sooner or later. (pin-lock kegs usually don't have a "usable" pressure release. They have a pre-set "safety" release, but there's not ring or lever you can pull to bleed off pressure when you need to....)

Hell, with cornies getting to be in such short supply, maybe I should just suck it up and go with sankeys....... (Actually makes sense if you do 10 gallon batches and look 5 years ahead to when we might have to all pay $130 for brand new 5 gallon cornies...)

I don't envy anyone who is a complete noob to kegging right now. I've been researching this crap for over five years and I'm still confused on what the best way to go is.

Any way you slice it, I think the days of "cheap" cornies is coming to an end. Prices haven't gone up drastically in the last 5 years, but availability has gone drastically down.
 

EarthBound

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I agree - I've had to switch to buying pin-lock... but I have to say, goddamn there's a lot of them out there, so it's all good. I'm pickin them up from Tom's Brewshop in Denver for plenty cheap. I plan on buying more soon only because of paranoia.

I do ten gallon batches, so I suppose I should be using Sanke kegs, but aren't they a PITA? Don't I need some kind of machine to clean them out?
 

subliminalurge

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I do ten gallon batches, so I suppose I should be using Sanke kegs, but aren't they a PITA? Don't I need some kind of machine to clean them out?
See, that was my original line of thinking, but I just started picking up a few to use as keggles, and it turns out they're not really that much of a pain to deal with. Just pull out the retaining ring, turn the spear so it lines up with the notch, then pull it out.

Sure, it's a smaller opening than a corney, but it's about the same size as a carboy. Just do the usual oxi soak and water rinse, and it should be fine. All you really lose is the peace of mind of being able to see through it, but the oxi has never failed me yet.... Plus you can always get a flashlight and a dental mirror to look inside if you're super paranoid. Plus, they're stainless steel, so you can always just boil a gallon or two of water in them to sanitize if you need to.

And they don't let light in, so you can ferment your hoppy beers completely free from any concerns about skunking.

Don't get me wrong, I'm going to keep collecting cornies, but I also keep a standing ad on craigslist offering to buy sankey kegs, and that ad will stay there for several years, until I run out of space to store them. I have one on hand, I'm picking up another on Friday, so I just need one more to complete my 3 vessel AG brew system. After that, I plan to buy around 8 more to use as fermenters, and then probably 8 more after that to serve from unless I find a killer deal on bulk cornies.

Sankeys are actually really easy to deal with. Much to my surprise, it turns out the biggest problem is getting enough sankey taps at a reasonable price. Once you have those, sankey kegs are actually easier to work with, and more sanitary, than anything else (provided you don't mind burning through some extra co2.... But co2 is cheap, so what the hell....).

If I could just get my hands on enough cheap sankey kegs (and taps), I could easily set up my entire process so that my beer never sees air or light anywhere between the boil kettle and the glass.

A month ago when I had never done anything with a sankey keg other than tap it and choke down the miller lite contained within, I thought they were "mysterious". Now that I bought an empty and have played with it, they're pretty simple. The spear comes out really easy, and if you're a little more bold, you can even take the spear apart and end up with a setup that lets you use a standard carboy-sized stopper to use one as a fermenter...

Hell, I'm done buying glass. From here on out I'm just going to let my craigslist ad ride and pick up sankey kegs whenever I can.
 

BrewLou

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A month ago when I had never done anything with a sankey keg other than tap it and choke down the miller lite contained within, I thought they were "mysterious". Now that I bought an empty and have played with it, they're pretty simple. The spear comes out really easy, and if you're a little more bold, you can even take the spear apart and end up with a setup that lets you use a standard carboy-sized stopper to use one as a fermenter...

Hell, I'm done buying glass. From here on out I'm just going to let my craigslist ad ride and pick up sankey kegs whenever I can.
Necro time for this thread :). I just read this and was curious if there was any way you could take some pics of this and do a quick write up?

I am going to pick up some pin lock kegs tomorrow from my local home brew store. My brother also works for Coke, so I have scouring the centers for any remaining cornies they may have. Depending on his results, I may go the Sankey route as well. I would love to see a write up on the above though... my fiance gets a bit annoyed when I keep bugging her to use her wine fermenter and carboy for my stuff ;). Anything I can do to utilize equipment that is not hers would bring even more peace into my life lol.
 
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