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General Category => Kegging and Bottling => Topic started by: gymrat on December 12, 2012, 07:05:28 PM

Title: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: gymrat on December 12, 2012, 07:05:28 PM
I am going to set up a kegerator after the first of the year and I have a number of questions. First off I took advantage of a sale on midwestsupplies and ordered a reconditioned 5 gallon ball lock keg for $25. How do I clean it? Would oxyclean free and a bottle brush work? Then when I get my kegerator exactly how do I go about kegging? Rack from my fermenter, put it under 7 lbs of pressure for a week, then enjoy? Does anybody prime their beer before kegging it? If so does that cause more sediment to be cleaned out of the bottom of the keg?

I did do a search but couldn't find any definitive answers to these questions.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: tschmidlin on December 12, 2012, 07:15:35 PM
You can do it like you're outlining, it will work.  You may need something longer and stiffer (insert joke here (insert second joke because I said "insert")) like a toilet brush to get to the bottom of the keg for scrubbing, it depends on the size of your forearm.

As long as you're using a carb chart to determine the proper psi for your temp and desired volumes of CO2, no worries - the set and forget method of force carbonating works really well and is the main way I carb my beers.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: morticaixavier on December 12, 2012, 07:17:27 PM
On the priming front, you can naturally carbonate with priming sugar, just add the dissolved sugar to the keg prior to adding the beer. Seat the lid with some co2 and leave it in a warm place to carb up. It will leave more sediment in the keg but after the first pint or so it's not really a prblem unless you move the keg.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 12, 2012, 07:46:01 PM
$25?!? Score! I would have bought many at that price.

Give it a good soak.  Scrub the interior.  I have a dedicated toilet brush. 

If you have a tiny brush you can scrub the dip-tube.  Pressurize it while it is soaking and then depress the poppet to get some cleaner in to the tube.  Do the same when rinsing and again when sanitizing.

When you first seal the keg after filling, hit it with 20 or 30 lbs of pressure to get a good seal on the lid, then you can dial back down to your carbing pressure.  Also, keep a spray bottle of starsan handy to check the lid and poppets for leaks.

I've found that warming up the lid o-ring can help getting it to seal well.  Warm water or even putting it in the microwave in a bowl of water will soften it up.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: yso191 on December 12, 2012, 08:10:09 PM
An important question is which kegerator did you buy?  If it is one of the common inexpensive ones (Danby, etc.). There are issues specific to them.  A great place to do some learning is here:  http://www.micromatic.com/forum/us-en/kegerators-kegerator-kits-home/

There are several issues that new kegerator owners have, but once they are set up, they are the way to go.  If you have specific questions, ask away.  I say that so I don't clog the thread with a dissertation.  My kids tell me I'm the kind of guy that if you ask me what time it is I'll tell you how to build a watch.

Steve
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: gymrat on December 12, 2012, 10:49:00 PM
I havent bought the kegerator yet. This is the one I am currently looking at.
http://mobile.walmart.com/m/phoenix#home
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: liquidbrewing on December 12, 2012, 10:54:33 PM
Must be the wrong link.  I found no kegerator in the link you posted.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: gymrat on December 12, 2012, 11:03:18 PM
http://www.walmart.com/msharbor/ip/13308698?adid=1500000000000012981640&veh=mweb
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: thebigbaker on December 13, 2012, 12:01:22 AM
You may want to make sure you get one big enough to grow into.  It's amazing how fast you can go from one tap to needing 4!  If you have room in you house or garage, consider checking Craigslist for a used fridge.  This is what I did, found a cheap ($30) fridge that had room for 3 kegs and the CO2 and used picnic taps.  I started w/ one keg and I've now moved my CO2 outside the fridge and have 4 kegs with 4 taps installed in the door. 
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: euge on December 13, 2012, 12:56:41 AM
Does that Danby hold 3 kegs and a tank? Hopefully there isn't a hump in it. I serve 2 kegs from my Sanyo 4912 though any similar will work.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: gymrat on December 13, 2012, 01:07:23 AM
I dont think the one I am looking at is a danby. The C02 bottle mounts on the outside of it in the back.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: yso191 on December 13, 2012, 04:00:07 AM
No the one you linked to is a Magic Chef, which is made by and also sold under the name Vissani.  I have one.  I use it for my fermentation chamber.  There are a couple of issues with it. 

1. it is smaller than the Danby, but not by much.  You will not be able to fit three cornys in it, but two will.
2. It has a metric faucet.  You will not be able to swap or replace the faucet with one that you buy at the LHBS.  I replaced the whole tower on mine for that reason.
3. I have found that it does not cool as well as the Danby.  I had an analog Johnson temperature contoller on it and it would only get down to 40*, which is OK for serving ales or fermenting beer.  I have not tried to see if the ATC controller I have on it now will get it any lower.  I think I'll go try since I have nothing in it at the moment.
4. On the good side, it is MUCH easier to connect a controller to it than the Danby.  Which IMO is necessary unless you spend a lot more money on a kegerator.  All the entry level ones are really bad on temperature accuracy and massive swings.

If I were you, I'd watch Craigslist and pick one up second hand, then they are worth the extra work and investing in things to make them work well.

Steve
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: gymrat on December 13, 2012, 07:01:46 AM
Mine will be in my basement where the temperature is a constant 68 degrees year round. I wonder if that will make it stay cool easier. Does yours run 100% of the time to stay at 40 degrees?
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 13, 2012, 02:42:08 PM
I got my Sanyo mini-fridge on Craigslist for $100.  It holds two cornies and someday I'll put a tap tower on it (I have the tower, just not the time).

$450 for the Magic Chef is a steep price to pay for something that will only hold two kegs.  A Sanyo 4912 is essentially the same thing IMO and much much more affordable if you're willing to do the work to put the tower on top.  Also, if you remove the shelving on the door supposedly you can fit three kegs.  I use that shelving for yeast and bottles, however.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: gymrat on December 13, 2012, 03:12:26 PM
I looked into buying a mini fridge and converting it. But by the time I buy the fridge http://www.bing.com/shopping/sr-4912m-4-9-cu-ft-mini-refrigerator-stainless-steel-energy-star/p/D3D3655CE9CAF7EF157D?q=sanyo+4912&lpq=sanyo%204912&qpvt=sanyo+4912&FORM=HURE

And the conversion kit http://www.amazon.com/Kegco-Standard-Tower-Kegerator-Conversion/dp/B0036BYSR6/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1355411182&sr=8-6&keywords=kegerator+conversion+kit

I am still going to have $400 in the thing, plus the time it takes to put it together, and still not have a drip pan and the rails. To me the extra $50 for convenience doesn't seem that out of hand. Is there something I am missing in my thinking on this one?

Truthfully I don't drink enough beer to warrant more than one keg. I can see having a second keg just so I don't have down time when I empty one.

I brew once a month and I have 215 beers in my basement. I don't know that I will be able to drink a keg before it spoils. I just thought it would be cool to have a house beer on tap.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 13, 2012, 03:24:15 PM
I suppose if you are buying it all new, the cost comes out the same.  Certainly, $50 for convenience is not out of hand.  FWIW, however, you can usually find a deal on a mini-fridge on Craigslist and that would save potentially $150 off your cost.  Craigslist can be incredibly inconvenient, however, so I totally understand if you don't go that route.

For me, multiple kegs is less about the quantity you drink than having variety.  For example, I don't necessarily want to drink 5 gallons of wheat beer although I have a keg of wheat on tap.  It's nice to open the fridge and have that second keg as an option.  I will also swap kegs out before they are empty if I get tired of them or just want something else.  But it's a PITA to want variety and then to have to wait 24 hours or so for the new keg to settle and cool to serving temp.

Finally, the keg shouldn't spoil unless you have an infection.  I've got some beers that have been kegged for over a year with no problems.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: jeffy on December 13, 2012, 03:37:37 PM
My chest freezer fits 8 kegs.  Some of the beers stick around for a while, like the sour ones and the smoked ones, while others go pretty quickly, like a German Pilsner in the summer or a couple of IPA's.  It's nice to have a choice.  Lately I've been hitting the Special Bitter quite a bit, simply because it's a session beer.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: yso191 on December 13, 2012, 04:02:30 PM
Mine will be in my basement where the temperature is a constant 68 degrees year round. I wonder if that will make it stay cool easier. Does yours run 100% of the time to stay at 40 degrees?

No it doesn't run all the time.  I just checked it out in the 50* garage and it was down to 38* after all night set on 33*.  So the only thing it is not good for is cold conditioning--though 38* is getting pretty close.

This may be just this unit.  It also may be related to how easy it is to connect a contoller to it.  With this one I just set the thermostat in the kegerator to the coldest setting, and plug the kegerator into the controller.  With the contoller sensor inside the unit, the contoller turns the unit on or off.  On the Danby I had to wire directly to the compressor--it will get below freezing.

Honestly for $50 I'd go the fridge route; you'll spend that much on a temperature controller.  But either way, *I* don't think I'd buy a Magic Chef kegerator.

Steve
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: gymrat on December 18, 2012, 03:45:26 PM
I am putting my new O rings in today. How tight should I torque the inlet and outlet valves? I know I don't want to bear down on the O rings. But they do need to be firm enough to seal. Do I go like finger tight then a quarter turn with a wrench? Or what?
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 18, 2012, 03:47:29 PM
Finger tight plus 1/4 sounds about right.  Test them with pressure and star san and if they leak, give them another quarter turn.

I don't think I've ever had a post leak.  Poppets on the other hand...
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: gymrat on December 18, 2012, 04:00:17 PM
Does it make a difference whether the C02 bottle is stored inside or outside of the fridge?
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 18, 2012, 04:15:55 PM
It shouldn't.  I think the only difference would be the pressure reading on the high side since the gas would be colder, but that may even be insignificant.

I've heard that you can get moisture problems with your regulator, but I don't have experience with that.  My cylinders stay outside the fridge.  More room for beer.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: tygo on December 18, 2012, 04:21:18 PM
It shouldn't.  I think the only difference would be the pressure reading on the high side since the gas would be colder, but that may even be insignificant.

I've also found that the gauges are a little slower to respond that if they're outside of the freezer.  But I just change my pressures gradually when necessary and it's no big deal.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: Jimmy K on December 19, 2012, 01:45:11 PM
I don't think this was mentioned - get some keg lube and put it on the keg o-rings and anywhere else two surfaces touch that need to hold pressure. It will really help block CO2 leaks.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: gymrat on December 19, 2012, 02:48:47 PM
No it wasn't mentioned. I replaced all the O rings yesterday. Would Olive Oil work for this?
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 19, 2012, 02:49:34 PM
I don't think this was mentioned - get some keg lube and put it on the keg o-rings and anywhere else two surfaces touch that need to hold pressure. It will really help block CO2 leaks.

This is one thing I've never done.  I just find keg lube so hard to clean off anything that I limit what I use it for, which is pretty much only mini-kegs.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: morticaixavier on December 19, 2012, 03:37:05 PM
No it wasn't mentioned. I replaced all the O rings yesterday. Would Olive Oil work for this?

euge swears by olive oil. I have actually never had a problem with my O-rings seating so I can't speak to it directly
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: Jimmy K on December 19, 2012, 03:48:18 PM
No it wasn't mentioned. I replaced all the O rings yesterday. Would Olive Oil work for this?

euge swears by olive oil. I have actually never had a problem with my O-rings seating so I can't speak to it directly
I would have thought not, but if Euge does it then game on.
 
I had leaks when I first set up the system and keg lube fixed it. I might have tested more strictly than others do. I would pressurize the system, shut the CO2 off and check to see if pressure had decreased 24 hours later. That would detect some pretty slow leaks.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 19, 2012, 04:03:37 PM
No it wasn't mentioned. I replaced all the O rings yesterday. Would Olive Oil work for this?

euge swears by olive oil. I have actually never had a problem with my O-rings seating so I can't speak to it directly
I would have thought not, but if Euge does it then game on.
 
I had leaks when I first set up the system and keg lube fixed it. I might have tested more strictly than others do. I would pressurize the system, shut the CO2 off and check to see if pressure had decreased 24 hours later. That would detect some pretty slow leaks.

I like to store my empty kegs under pressure.  That way, if they still have pressure when I fill them I know the seals are all good.  If not, I have a leak to track down.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: Jimmy K on December 19, 2012, 04:10:10 PM
No it wasn't mentioned. I replaced all the O rings yesterday. Would Olive Oil work for this?

euge swears by olive oil. I have actually never had a problem with my O-rings seating so I can't speak to it directly
I would have thought not, but if Euge does it then game on.
 
I had leaks when I first set up the system and keg lube fixed it. I might have tested more strictly than others do. I would pressurize the system, shut the CO2 off and check to see if pressure had decreased 24 hours later. That would detect some pretty slow leaks.

I like to store my empty kegs under pressure.  That way, if they still have pressure when I fill them I know the seals are all good.  If not, I have a leak to track down.
I had some leaks in the CO2 system to find. I also get leaks in one particular keg that has a slightly narrower post - It leaks between the post and disconnect if the o-ring is not lubed. Neither would be found by pressurizing kegs.
 
And that keg is really annoying.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: euge on December 19, 2012, 11:55:06 PM
I wonder if you could find a slightly thicker o-ring or maybe even consider replacing the post.
Title: Re: Keg Virgin Questions
Post by: Jimmy K on December 20, 2012, 01:23:58 AM
Both are probably good ideas.