Mini-fridge TOTAL dissection - Photo story

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pjj2ba

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I had a beer cart the I use for our annual pig roast and then also as a fermentation chiller. I ran it once with ice as a fermentation chiller and was not thrilled. Soo.... I decided to buy a minifridge and totally cannibalize it and install in in my beer cart - no more ice!!!! Plus now I can properly lager!!!

Before: 3 cu ft Chefmate from Target for $100


I unbolted the compressor and then pulled the sides away from the plastic chamber. Unfortunately a lot of the foam came with the sides, not the plastic.



I used some of the scrap plastic to help "cut" away the foam so I wouldn't have to worry about puncturing a line. I also used it as shown in the picture to cut through the tape holding the lines to the walls
 
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pjj2ba

pjj2ba

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Here you all go, a mini-fridge in all of it's naked glory.



I used some wood clamps to help me safely bend the cooling plate into the desired shape.

I attached the heat exchnger to the sides of the cart just like in the original



I then reinstalled the foam board, caulked it up, then installed a liner of masonite, caulked that, and then painted it. The tubing for the coiling plate is actually fairly flexible so I wasn't to worried about kinking it. It feels quite soft though so I'd say the puncture danger is worse.
 
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pjj2ba

pjj2ba

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I still need to permanently attach the compressor to the cart, but I wanted to get it fired up before our big party Saturday. I've had some O'fest in there lagering for the past 3 weeks. It is not shown in these photos, but I installed a Love controller in place of the stock thermostat



Right now, the lid I have is just another piece of foam board with some weight on top.

Now I need to put the regular top back on. I need to make the current collar taller as I raised the height of the foam board. It will look like this in it beer serving mode.

 
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pjj2ba

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Yes, it works great!! I'ts was holding at 35 F for 3 weeks. Now it is set at 45 F in preparation of moving the kegs to my serving fridge.

I'm really looking forward to fermenting in it. Actually in a couple weeks it will be cold enough in my basement to ferment lagers in the open. The big thing will be being able to properly lager, and now I can brew lagers year round :ban::ban:
 

wfowlks

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I know that this is an old thread, but did you notice if the walls of the metal were hot to the touch? Why I ask is that I am trying to take apart a fridge myself and I am debating just leaving them bare exposed on the back of a fermentation chamber, or possibly even a cheap aluminum sheet over all of them on the back of it.
 
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pjj2ba

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I haven't noticed it feeling warm. I'll double check tonight as I have to mess with the beers inside. I'm currently lagering so if at any time it would be warm, this would be it. I'll make sure to check while the compressor is running.
 

Flaviking

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Since this is probably still fresh in your mind let me ask you a question.

I had an idea of using a mini fridge like that for a fermentation chamber as well. But instad of tearing the whole thing apart I was thinking I could just remove the compressor and flip the fridge upside down, then place the compressor back in its original void right side up... (So if the fridge was uprighted, the compressor would be upside down) I would just use the fridge in its inverted state with the compressor on the top instead of the bottom.


If that makes sense.. do you or anyone else think that would work?
 
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pjj2ba

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Since this is probably still fresh in your mind let me ask you a question.

I had an idea of using a mini fridge like that for a fermentation chamber as well. But instad of tearing the whole thing apart I was thinking I could just remove the compressor and flip the fridge upside down, then place the compressor back in its original void right side up... (So if the fridge was uprighted, the compressor would be upside down) I would just use the fridge in its inverted state with the compressor on the top instead of the bottom.


If that makes sense.. do you or anyone else think that would work?
It might be possible. It would depend on how much "extra" tubing is there to allow you to pull off the flip - which in reality would be more of a 180 twist. You'd want to make sure the compressor had some good attachment points and those things can jiggle quite a bit.
 

wfowlks

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Since this is probably still fresh in your mind let me ask you a question.

I had an idea of using a mini fridge like that for a fermentation chamber as well. But instad of tearing the whole thing apart I was thinking I could just remove the compressor and flip the fridge upside down, then place the compressor back in its original void right side up... (So if the fridge was uprighted, the compressor would be upside down) I would just use the fridge in its inverted state with the compressor on the top instead of the bottom.


If that makes sense.. do you or anyone else think that would work?
Additionally, the other problem is if it is a fridge with the freezer compartment, whatever you have inside of there would be sitting on the freezer compartment which isn't always good as whatever is touching it will probably freeze. Additionally cold air sinks and hot air rises. So you would be cooling from the bottom up which would not cool as evenly. Is there a reason you want to flip it upside down?
 

Flaviking

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I was just trying to think of maybe a simpler way of creating a fermentation chamber while keeping the finished look of the manufactured fridge. I'm ok at wood working, but I don't have all the tools to make something really nice. So it would probably end up looking like crap.

I'll probably end up going the DIY route of gutting a mini fridge and building something. Just thought I would ask. May not be worth the trouble to flip stuff around.
 

wfowlks

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I just took my own mini fridge apart, following your thread. Many thanks! I don't know if the foam on the inside was different in yours than mine, but I don't know how you scraped the foam with the plastic, I had to use a screw driver and trace along the lines attached to the skin as well as use the back end of a hammer to dig out certain areas.
 
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pjj2ba

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I know that this is an old thread, but did you notice if the walls of the metal were hot to the touch? Why I ask is that I am trying to take apart a fridge myself and I am debating just leaving them bare exposed on the back of a fermentation chamber, or possibly even a cheap aluminum sheet over all of them on the back of it.
The one side was warm to the touch. Definitely cooler than some mini-fridges I have felt. Now, my rig has very good air circulation for heat removal. There is a gap on the inside between the foamboard and the metal frame (and attached coil). This allows air circulation on the inside, improving heat removal.

Bare exposed would offer the best heat removal, but also would be more prone to being damaged. I'd like to give it some kind of protection, perhaps just some wire mesh.
 

wfowlks

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I was thinking a thin sheet of aluminum, spaced out about 1/4" using a nut and bolt attached to the inner frame of my ferm chamber. |foam| space |coils & aluminum sheet|
 
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