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Old mini-fridge to fermentation chamber build

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kerklein2

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So I just got in my two honeywell old school temp controllers, $15 each from ebay and was going to start the build. I took the door shelve piece off but I still can't fit my 6.5 gallon carboy in it. If I try to raise it above the half shelf to get it deeper, it runs in to the freezer tray at the top. I thought, I'll just take that off. Wrong. Turns out in this old school fridge, those are the cooling coils. I'm thinking now that I will just build a box to go around the whole thing and make it big enough to hold 3-5 carboys. That will be a bit of a project, so I'm hoping someone has a better idea on how to make a carboy fit in this bad boy, so I'm posting here. Take a look at the pictures.



 

aaronbeer

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is the front foam? if so, could you carve out the little bit you need? you could also build a small sleeve for the front.
 

AnOldUR

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The first thing that I did to mine was flip the cooling unit over. There still wasn't room for a 6 1/2 gallon carboy with an airlock, so I cut away some of the insulation from the back. (You can see my hack job behind the carboy in the picture.) In mine the insulation was very thick back there. Also, the coils were located externally behind the back. Some makes use exterior walls for that. Be sure to check.

Fermenator 03.jpg
 

ClaudiusB

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I would be very wary of breaking the coolant line if I did that.
As long the cooling line going into the evaporator is long enough bending the evaporator down should work.
Keep the bend radius over 1-1/2", don't go less or the small cooling line (1/8") inside the larger one may get damaged.

I did the same thing to my cube fridge, used a high tech bending tool.


More pics

The first thing that I did to mine was flip the cooling unit over.
Great idea AnOldUR


Cheers,
ClaudiusB
 
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kerklein2

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Shaving the door foam isn't going to get me there. I will take a look at flipping the freezer tray to see if that does it. I would also be wary about shaving the insulation at the bottom, I have no way of knowing whats behind it. I almost want to build a whole chamber out of the thing, but I'm not sure thats an investment I want to make right now.

NOT IN THIS ECONOMY!
 

OPP

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What was the outcome of your project?
We're looking to modify the same exact fridge for fermentation.
Any help would be tremendously appreciated.
Thanks.
 

Flomaster

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unplug the unit and make sure its not cold when you try and bend the freezer out of the way. it looks like we have nearly the same unit, but my 6.5 gallon BB didn't have any problems fitting in there even with the stock door molding on there.

my Unit is HUGE......*snickers* that's what she said.




-=Jason=-
 

OPP

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Flomaster,

Looks like you got a bigger fridge than kerklein or I got. So your mods were minimal, for this project at least.
But I do have some questions.
Do you have any problems with the CO2 buildup? Meaning does your door pop open? If you don't do you have a relief hole or something like that?
And how about temp control? What do you use?
Thanks for your help.
 

OPP

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Thanks fellas. Great ideas!
We might go with the collar, we'll check our situation this weekend as cutting the shelves as to make the door bigger and cutting out that bump might be harder than just building a collar.
But we would have to insulate it right and it might take more energy to cool it.
That would be great if we don't need a temp controller.
Any good how to's for a collar around?
I found this one.
http://blog.ajmartinez.com/2010/03/14/keezer-built/
 
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I would love to see a list of mini-fridge's that people have successfully converted into a fermentation chamber. I have been scouring CraigsList looking for something but honestly unless once bit me I'm not sure I could tell if it would successfully hold a carboy or a primary bucket. I don't modifying them with a utility knife (if you can) but I am not too keen on the collar concept.
 

Flomaster

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I would love to see a list of mini-fridge's that people have successfully converted into a fermentation chamber. I have been scouring CraigsList looking for something but honestly unless once bit me I'm not sure I could tell if it would successfully hold a carboy or a primary bucket. I don't modifying them with a utility knife (if you can) but I am not too keen on the collar concept.
pretty much ANY mini fridge can be turned into a ferm chamber.


so what you're saying is you have no tools but a utility knife?

I suggest you get your self a saw.
a drill cordless or corded
a hammer


with these basic tools you can turn ANY mini fridge into a fermentation chamber / box

-=Jason=-
 
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Yeah, it's the "pretty much" any fridge part that I am wary of. I hate to buy something and not be confident that I can make it work for the desired purpose. It's not as if after attempting most of these modifications that a little spackle and paint will make it look good as new again.. Don't get me wrong I appreciate your confidence, but there are allot mini-fridges out there, and not too many Craig's Listers offer the type details about their appliances to let you know where the coils are or how tall the bump out in the back is. If I am lucky I might be able to get a manufacturer and on the rare occasion you get a model number, so that's why I though a list of successful builds might be beneficial, for myself as well as others.
The alternative provides me with visions of my garage becoming a graveyard of mini-fridges that didn't quite work out. Thanks.
 

Varroa

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You can always go the easier (but much more expensive route) and get wine cooler with a built in thermostat and it will not need modification:

 

JBZSTL

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just bend the freezer unit out of the way. i use a bunch of these type of fridges for ferm-chambers and one for a kegerator.. i only used a temp controller on one of them; then i found i didn't need it. the stock thermostat gets me to 36 degrees without even being turned all the way down. i have lagered in them before.. you just have to have a thermometer inside and find the right spot on the stock thermostat that gives you the right temp.. once you figure that out its the tits. i do use temp controllers for my ferm-wraps though.. i haven't figured that one out yet..
How do you keep frost from building up on the freezer tray? Any ideas on where to get a mini-fridge door gasket?
 

Zider

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Stop frost: don't open door/ fill space with something. E.g. Frozen peas. Ice etc
Door seal? No idea
 

JBZSTL

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Thanks. Using a mini-fridge in a ferment chamber that is much bigger than the fridge. I am going to be adding a collar to the mini-fridge to decrease the size so I can lager as I can not get the chamber to a temperature that is suitable to lager.
 

Zider

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JBZSTL said:
Thanks. Using a mini-fridge in a ferment chamber that is much bigger than the fridge. I am going to be adding a collar to the mini-fridge to decrease the size so I can lager as I can not get the chamber to a temperature that is suitable to lager.
Are you sure just cutting the door bottle and butter trays off won't do it? If you need collar then just use the old door with old seal. But collar needs to be metal around rim so seal magnet sticks. Might be easier to change lagering container?
 

normzone

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This is the exact model that I found and adopted. Thanks for the pictures, I will let you know how my hacks work out. Edit: Any chance that the stock thermostat will allow me to go to the high sixties for ale?
 

JBZSTL

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Are you sure just cutting the door bottle and butter trays off won't do it? If you need collar then just use the old door with old seal. But collar needs to be metal around rim so seal magnet sticks. Might be easier to change lagering container?
I ended up removing the door bottle and butter trays per your advice. This provided just enough room to contain a ferm bucket. The freezer shelf is to low to allow for a carboy. I plan on disconnecting the freezer tray and attaching it to the side of the fridge to provide more clearance.
 

MarcusKillion

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Hi;
Hope you are still monitoring this thread or someone else is .
Can you tell me what the top temp of the fridge is ? I was going to buy one from walmart for 100 but want to make sure they can reach a temp of around 50 degrees so i can do a lager in it .

thanks
 

CCBrewer

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mine gets to 42F on setting 5 of 7 and at level 7 it freezes water to ice solid
 
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