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Five Gallon RIMS

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Wayne Havens

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Question, several years ago a friend gave me three 7.5 gallon kegs of beer. :D They sat outside in his yard for 4 or 5 years before he gave them to me. They are still full of beer. I am thinking of building a 5 gallons capacity RIMS with these. Has any one else done this? I plan on upgrading to full size kegs later on. I was just thinking that since I already had the smaller kegs, I could start small and work my way up. I haven't found anyone who has build a brewery with these size kegs. Will the false bottoms for the full size kegs fit the half kegs?
 

Dude

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Wayne Havens said:
Question, several years ago a friend gave me three 7.5 gallon kegs of beer. :D They sat outside in his yard for 4 or 5 years before he gave them to me. They are still full of beer. I am thinking of building a 5 gallons capacity RIMS with these. Has any one else done this? I plan on upgrading to full size kegs later on. I was just thinking that since I already had the smaller kegs, I could start small and work my way up. I haven't found anyone who has build a brewery with these size kegs. Will the false bottoms for the full size kegs fit the half kegs?

The diameter (scroll downtowards the bottom) of the 7.5 gallon kegs is the exact same as the 15.5 gallon kegs, so I assume the false bottom will fit the same.
 
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Wayne Havens

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Another question or twelve. These kegs are full, what is the best way to empty them. I do not have a tap. Can I just drill a hole in the top? Or would it be best to rent a tap and drain them? Where can I rent a tap? What is the best way to cut the tops off?
 

Dude

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Wayne Havens said:
Another question or twelve. These kegs are full, what is the best way to empty them. I do not have a tap. Can I just drill a hole in the top? Or would it be best to rent a tap and drain them? Where can I rent a tap? What is the best way to cut the tops off?

I don't know the answer to these questions. However, I would think with these having beer in them there is still quite a bit of pressure in them. While it would be cool as crap to drill a hole in the top and watch the "beer geyser", I think your best bet would be to rent or find someone with a tap and drain them. :D
I found a nice write-up on converting a kettle one time...I'll post it when I find the write-up....

One other option, once you get the beer drained, your LHBS might be able to help you convert them. Ours here in VA will do it for us for free if we buy tthe bulkheads and equipment kits from him.
 

Rhoobarb

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Wayne Havens said:
... What is the best way to cut the tops off?...
I haven't graduated to kegs yet, but I do know something about industrial components and metal. And stainless steel is a mother to cut! Best to have a metal fab shop do it. Otherwise, get a mess o' clamps to keep it in place and a few diamond tipped blades for your circular saw. In the end, I bet a metal fab shop will be faster and cheaper.
 

Born Brewing Co.

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Most liquor stores will have a tap you can rent. Tap it and let them drain. As Rhoobarb said take them to a fab/machine shop to cut the tops off. If you know a welder they can cut them off with a laser torch, very clean edges.
 

Sir Sudster

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I cut the tops out of two of my 15.5 gallon kegs and then two more for a friend of mine. Its not too difficult as long as you go slow.

This is how I did mine.

I had beer in mine also and I was able to push the sankey ball down with my thumb enough to let the beer escape. I'll tell you now your going to get wet.

I traced a 10 inch circle from a sauce pan lid on to some poster board to be used as a template. I cut out the template and cut out a 4 inch hole in the middle of the template so it will fit flat on top of the keg. I used some spray tacky glue to firmly hold the template on the keg while I traced the circle on to the keg.

Drill a 3/4 inch hole inside the circle but just touching the circles outer edge.
This will allow a sawsall blade to fit in and cut the circle. You may have to drill two holes overlapping each other depending on your blade size. I used the blade that cuts wood and nails both. Hey, it worked great. Before you start cutting with the saw fill the keg with water. This will help hold it down and also cool the blade as you cut. Go slow. Allow the sawsall to rest against the kegs handle lip . It will have a natural tendency to follow the circle as you use the keg rim as a guide. Wear ear muffs because it gets loud.

I understand if you don't feel comfortable doing this. I didn't at first but got the hang of it and ended up doing 3 more. :D

Good luck if you try this yourself.
 

tnlandsailor

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This is a LOT of work if you plan to upgrade later on. Additionally, I would recommend a retangular cooler for your mash tun because it is already insulated. Even though you are planning a recirculating system, the insulation will really help.

In my ever so humble but vocal opinion, a 7.5 gallon boil kettle just isn't big enough, even for 5 gallon batches. If you boil 5 gallons, then by the end of the boil you have 4 or maybe less gallons, then racking, hop absorption, etc. will leave you with a paltry amount of beer for your efforts. The more you boil, the less room you have to tolerate foam up/hot break, and you will need it. Believe me, your best bet, even for 5 gallon batches is a full sized, 15.5 gallon keg.

I know you have the kegs handy, I know it's going to kill you not to use them, but since you are putting so much effort in to make them usable, they should be usuable when you are finished, and I'm afraid you will be dissappointed.

You are going to sink some money into a RIMS system anyway, so you might as well start out on the right foot. I've got a pretty extensive Recirculating System website at http://sdcollins.home.mindspring.com. It would make good reading for you in your research. I've also got a links page with some other resources as well.

Prosit!
 
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Wayne Havens

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Dennis,
The homebrew club I used to belong to had a mobile RIMS built on a flatbed trailer. It used 3 full kegs. With burners under each one. It was cool, you could mash in a second batch while boiling the wort on the first. The most we did while I was there was 4 batches in one day!!
I figured if I built the system like that then switching to the full kegs would be relatively easy, if I plumbed them the same way.
I also think I could easily boil 6 1/2 or gallons to 5 in these pretty easily.
I already have built a mash tun out of a round igloo cooler. I did it after reading an article in BYO several years ago. I used it once and it worked fine, just a lot of work.
I did go to your website. Man, that is one cool setup.
 
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