Matt's DIY Keezer build

Discussion in 'DIY Projects' started by Matto-FNQ, 2/2/18.

 

  1. Matto-FNQ

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    Posted 2/2/18
    Hi team,

    It's time to document the start of my keezer build project for internet posterity.

    Thanks to everyone who gave advice in my previous thread (https://aussiehomebrewer.com/threads/advice-on-beginners-ikegger-system.97510/) . I've listened to most of it and stubbornly ignored some - we'll see how badly that comes back to bite me.

    To recap:
    • Initial plan was to buy some iKegger mini kegs and use them in the drinks fridge that we already had. But that was expensive (I thought at the time - HA!), and not great bang-for-buck. Also, with friends living close who all run proper keg systems, I could see the attraction of staying with a similar system so we can all help each other, swap gear, etc. Mini keg plan got the boot.
    • Next idea was to buy a bar fridge and make a mini kegerator. But that plan got squashed when my refurbed 19L kegs arrived and wouldn't fit in the fridge that I'd bought via Facebook. There was discussion about whether a font would be a smart idea, with the majority of people believe it would be quite dumb given the climate here. I really wanted to be able to have 2 beers on tap, and keep at least one spare keg cold and ready to swap in. So the bar fridge got sold.

    ...and this brings us to the latest plan. I'm going to shamlessly copy Batz' bar build here:
    https://aussiehomebrewer.com/threads/fitting-a-font-to-a-chesty.64398/

    I've bought a freezer (brand new GVA 199L from The Good Guys), and ordered a bunch more stuff from CheekyPeak, Clever Brewing and other places. My credit card is suffering, and the wife is getting concerned. Any hope that this is a cheap project to make cheap beer has long since faded.

    Plan is:
    • Freezer can fit 3 x 19L kegs and 1 x 9L, with the gas bottle hopefully fitting inside. No light or anything in the lid.
    • Wife doesn't like the collar style with the taps protruding - prefers the font. So against all good advice, we're going with a font and two taps. Small price to pay to get some form of spousal buy-in. We'll see how much of a heat penalty we pay.
    • Font is just your standard single stainless vertical tube with the 2 taps offset. Would have loved a Cobra, but budget already stupidly blown. Maybe down the track.
    • Taps are 2 x Intertap SS FC
    • Stainless shanks for the font.
    • 8m of gas / beer line should be enough
    • 3 x pairs of both gas and beer disconnects
    • Converted CO2 fire extinguisher - hopefully picking it up this weekend. Have a brew that's been cold-crashing and is ready to keg once I can get the gas.
    • Keg-king regulator
    • 2 x second-hand 19L cornies currently, will probably buy another 2 shortly.
    • Another Inkbird coming to control the temp. Even with the freezer turned to it's warmest setting, it's freezing water quite easily.
    • Starsan to sanitise the kegs, lines, taps, etc.

    Still need:
    • To build the bar surround for the keezer to slide into. Will be L-shaped, with the hinged top like Batz' design.
    • To install all the gear into the freezer, cut the big font hole, etc.
    • Need to sort out something for a drip-tray.

    Still waiting on the last shipments to arrive, but will hopefully get cracking on the bar "shell" build this weekend.

    Photos:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As always, any advice is most welcome - this is my first time building a keezer, and first time with anything to do with kegs.

    Cheers,
    Matt
     
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  2. Matto-FNQ

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    Posted 4/2/18
    Made some progress on the keezer bar this weekend. Hit up Bunnings and spent a fortune on treated pine and castors. Also found a neat pre-fabbed shelf panel/board to serve as the bar top - saves me making my own.

    First order of business was to build a sled/frame for the freezer. I wanted it on castors so that it could be easily moved around. Also, means I can continue to hose out the patio without worry about getting anything too wet. Frame was made out of 90x45mm treated pine with galvanised roofing screws (since that's what I had.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The sled is a bit longer than the freezer, because I wanted to ensure sufficient air space around the compressor motor (on the right side of the freezer). Also, if I end up having the gas bottle outside, this will be a good spot for it and easy to get to.

    Next up was the bar surround. Also on castors so I can easily slide it out of the way to open the freezer lid without hitting the font on it. Lots of clearance around the freezer for air space so it can keep cold without stressing the motor.

    [​IMG]

    And in position:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Hardest part of this was sectioning out the big corner posts so that the cross-bars were rebated in. Turns out the blade on my circular saw is VERY dull. Will need to pick up a new one for the next project.

    Final job was to bolt the new top board through the freezer lid. Slightly nervous about drilling through the lid on a brand new freezer - no turning back now.

    [​IMG]

    Now we're getting a good feel for how it will all work together.

    Next is to put an L-shaped top on the bar section, and clad the frame. Probably going with everyone's favourite mini-orb at this stage, although I did toss up both stained ply or reclaimed pallet slats.

    First unexpected problem:

    [​IMG]

    The bolts that hold the top board on currently go right through the freezer lid, and hold on the inside with a big washer and nut. As you can see, the cold is travelling right up the metal bolt and we're getting a lot of condensation on the bolt heads. Not good for the board, and not good for the efficiency of the freezer. Still trying to work out what I do about this. One potential solution is to use nylon bolts, but they'll look pretty terrible on the top. I'm thinking a better way might be to cut out the inside of the freezer lid and shorten the bolts, then re-pack the insides of the lid with insulation. It's more work, but I think it'll give a better result.

    Aside - it does make me very nervous about installing the font, since I expect this same problem at a larger scale with it. I might actually take the opposite approach to what most people do, and try and insulate the font from the freezer. I realise I'll be at risk of having the beer foam, but I'm hoping that if I pour the first cup really slowly, the chilled beer will cool the lines and tap and subsequent pours will be good. Dunno. Play it by ear. Always knew this would be a risk.

    That's where we're up to now. Hopefully sort out the top and cladding this week, and I'm expecting my font and the rest of my gear any day now. Exciting times.

    Cheers,
    Matt
     
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  3. Brewno Marz

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    Posted 5/2/18
    Great start. I'm looking forward to tracking progress
    Maybe you could seal the top board all round and in the bolt holes and any other penetrations with a durable clear varnish, such as a marine varnish. You'll get a shiny, more durable top. Maybe even seal over the bolts too.
     
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  4. Matto-FNQ

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    Posted 12/2/18 at 4:14 AM
    More updates!

    I've got the mini orb on the frame:

    [​IMG]

    ...and trimmed down to the right height:

    [​IMG]

    Next job was to varnish the top as suggested by Brewno - cheers!

    [​IMG]

    I replaced the gal cup head bolts with countersunk stainless bolts, and cut the insulation out on the inside of the freezer lid with a hole saw. Instead of going through the timber, steel lid and the insulation (as the gal bolts did), the new ones only go through the timber top and steel freezer lid, with big washers on the inside. I then siliconed the insulation "plugs" back in the holes. Happy to report the bolt heads aren't cold at all any more. What I should have done right from the start if I wasn't being so lazy. The bolts also look a lot better being countersunk and stainless.

    The varnishing is going terribly. That photo above makes it look a lot better than it is. That was the first coat, and the best of all. I've done 4 coats now, and my technique has become worse each time. I've sanded it mostly back now, and have started again with VERY thin coats, having thinned the varnish down ~50% with turps. So far so good, hopefully we can get it back to a decent finish. It's just been too hot here, and the thick coats haven't been drying evenly.

    Over the weekend I picked up the boards for the top of the bar section, just need to cut them to size and attach them (and varnish them... :( ), and we'll be getting close.

    Once the varnishing on the top is done I'll be able to bolt on the font and then we can sort the plumbing. It's taken me longer than I have wanted, but we're moving in the right direction.

    Put down a new brew over the weekend, hopefully I'll have this finished before it's ready to drink in ~2 week's time.

    Have to order my gas bottle this week too. That *should* be the last hardware that I need, fingers crossed.

    Cheers,
    Matt
     
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  5. Aussieemu87

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    Posted 12/2/18 at 5:10 AM
    Been following ur post mate looks sick gonna be doing the same with mine looking forward to seeing it finished
     
  6. Aussieemu87

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    Posted 12/2/18 at 5:19 AM
  7. Matto-FNQ

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    Posted 13/2/18 at 12:06 AM
    Thanks Aussieemu - it's slowly coming together. Costing a lot more than I had originally anticipated, and taking a lot longer too. But I prefer to build things the once and use quality gear - then enjoy (hopefully) years and years of trouble-free service.

    That's the story I tell myself so I can sleep at night, anyway.

    Those flintlocks look like they'd make an awesome talking point as tap handles! Cut a thread into the barrel end and screw them on. Awesome idea.

    As far as updates go, I ordered my gas bottle today. Originally I was planning on using a CO2 fire extinguisher that a mate was going to convert for me (he runs a fire service business here in town). Fortunately for him / unfortunately for me, he's super busy. We first talked about it in early Jan and I dropped my regulator off to him. But he's still not had time to get to it for me, and I don't want to keep harassing him about it. I'd rather buy a proper cylinder and still be mates, vs nagging him to death. So there's a 6KG cylinder from KegLand on it's way to me as we speak. Very cheap - hopefully good enough quality.

    Going with the 6KG cylinder has forced the issue of where the gas bottle will sit - it's too tall to fit inside the freezer! I could have gone the 2.6Kg bottle, but it was basically the same price as the 6KG one and more gas is better, right? I prefer the idea of having the gas outside - easier to access the valve to turn it on and off, not taking up space inside, not kept cold, etc. But the obvious problem then becomes "how to get the gas lines into the freezer without drilling through a cooling line?". Taking more inspiration from Batz' build, I've decided to mount my 2-way manifold on the top of the lid, and take the gas lines down through the lid like he's done. No chance of breaking anything then, and easy access to the manifold valves.

    What I will need to do is sort out the gas & beer line that I need, and the right fittings. I've got 8m of 4mm ID/8mm OD vinyl tubing here, but the manifold has two different sizes of barb fitted (of course), and the ball-lock disconnects for the kegs have a different sized barb again. I'm not game to look at the tap shanks yet. It never ends!

    Cheers,
    Matt
     
  8. Aussieemu87

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    Posted 13/2/18 at 1:55 AM
     

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