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General Category => Kegging and Bottling => Topic started by: gsandel on December 17, 2010, 02:39:50 PM

Title: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: gsandel on December 17, 2010, 02:39:50 PM
After being satisfied to bottle for hundreds of batches over the last 15 years, I woke in the middle of the night convinced to start Kegging next year.

Nowadays, I have more money than sense (or time), but not a whole bunch of each.  I am interested to hear experiences with new vs. used kegs and kegging equipment.  I like the idea of new, but hate the price.  My heartburn is that anything my beer touches I keep spotless...and I am skeptical unless I have kept it clean for its entire life.

Replacement parts, things breaking unexpectedly, what can I expect from used vs. new?  How often do you guys replace gaskets and parts?

Also, my thoughts were that I would keg condition (carbonate) in the keg....my thinking is that secondary fermentation will allow yeast to clean up after themselves.  I don't filter, never will....a few turbid pints wouldn't bother me either.  What are pros/cons of force vs. conditioning for carbonation?
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: gordonstrong on December 17, 2010, 02:46:28 PM
Used kegs are like used cars.  There are differences, so inspect them before you buy.  Any reputable homebrew shop will likely have cleaned and reconditioned the keg before selling it.  Any reputable seller should warrant that the keg as sold will hold pressure.  Unless it's being sold as-is, and you're expected to do all of that.  But then, the price should be very low.

You replace gaskets and parts when they need it.  Hard to say when these things fail.  I haven't seen a pattern.  Just keep all the various parts around so you don't wind up ruining your beer.  Having the necessary tools to take kegs apart also helps.  Box wrenches can work, but those spark plug-like ratchet attachments are way cool IMHO.  You'll need replacement parts whether you buy new or used.

Know how to tear a keg apart and put it back together.  PBW everything.  Replace broken stuff.  Know how to test your keg for pressure.  Once it's cleaned and holds pressure, you just sanitize and use.

You can secondary in the keg, but it will give you more sediment.  I'd rather do all that before putting it into the keg.  I condition in carboys and package when the beer is bright.  I have the equipment and I lose less beer this way.  It also lets me more easily tweak the beer after it is finished and before it is packaged.
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 17, 2010, 03:50:26 PM
All of my kegs were purchased used, and I really haven't had any issues.  As long as you're buying them in-person, you can inspect the interior.   I've gotten most of mine from the LHBS and/or the place I get my gas.  I also got a few from a fellow brewer.

The outsides may be dinged or scratched, but that doesn't impact the beer.

Based on the price differential, I can't see buying new 5 gallon kegs.

The only exception I would make is if you are interested in 3 gallon kegs.  I bought a couple off e-Bay a few years back and after having to replace gaskets, poppets, etc. I was right in the ball park of buying new.  If I was to go for more 3 gallon kegs, I'd likely go the new route just to avoid any potential problems since you can't usually find these used at the LHBS.

I do keep extra gaskets around, but haven't really had any fail on me.  I've replaced a poppet or two and pressure relief valve or two over the years, but no real maintenance other than cleaning.

Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: tumarkin on December 17, 2010, 04:03:14 PM
Gordon says used kegs are like used cars, and gives some good advice. However, unlike used cars, the keg has few moving parts and is much easier to work on. Anyone can tear one down, and once you put it back together you're much less likely to have those nagging few little parts left over.

Just be aware that there are quite a few varieties of kegs out there and that many of the parts (like poppets, etc) aren't interchangeable. So if you have multiple kegs, be careful when you tear them down for cleaning and don't mix the parts. Also be careful when ordering new parts - make sure you identify your keg to the parts vendor to be sure you get what you need.

Best when you can inspect the keg, but a reputable web vendor can be a good option.
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: gordonstrong on December 17, 2010, 04:12:07 PM
OK, I'm old.  Kegs are like used cars were when I was in high school.  Then you could get a Chilton book, a ratchet set, and a shop light and work on your own car.  Now you need a lab coat, three computer degrees, and the cast of Cirque du Soleil to even get into your engine space.
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: tschmidlin on December 17, 2010, 05:20:23 PM
I had the emissions tested on my car earlier this week.  They plugged a cable in to something under the dashboard and that was it.  When did they stop sticking something in the tailpipe to measure emissions?

All of my kegs have been used, except for the 3-gallon one I have.  Like they've said, you might need to replace some parts occasionally, but there's not a set schedule (except for initially replacing all of the o-rings, and some people replace the poppets too).  Of the 20 or so I have, only one of them came with something in it that couldn't be cleaned out, and I could probably get it if I used something more nasty than pbw or starsan.  But I just use it to hold cleaner or sanitizer, it's fine for that.
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: Slowbrew on December 17, 2010, 05:35:59 PM
I have 14 used kegs and never had any issues.  Some came with soda syrup still inside.  I can tell you 7-up syrup is not a nice aroma.  I have one keg that turns your hands black when the collar handles and the foot get wet but it works fine.  there are products available at auto parts shops to restore the rubber but I keep forgetting to pick up a can.

IMHO stainless steel is stainless steel.  A little Bar Keepers Friend and PBW, replace the o-rings and your generally good to go.  I second the recommendation on buying deep sockets that fit the posts.  It makes disassembly/assembly  way easier.

Paul
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: gordonstrong on December 17, 2010, 06:11:57 PM
One of the last kegs I bought had that rubber issue.  What product do you use to fix that?  It's irritating.
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: euge on December 17, 2010, 06:54:32 PM
I've got various types of ball lock in varying conditions. I'll need to set all 16 out and see exactly what I have. Some are Pepsi co.  The ones I got cheap from the Chi company were in so-so condition. Stickers all over and some with beer inside! Dents and scratches. Failing parts.

The stickers are easy to remove if you use a heat-gun to warm them up a bit. Then they're easily peeled off. Barkeepers Friend will get them all nice and shiny and even new looking.

One might try cleaning the rubber with Armor All.

A while back I was seeing adverts for brand spanking new SS corny kegs from China. But they weren't cheap.
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: hamiltont on December 17, 2010, 07:16:39 PM
All the info above ^^^ is good!  I'll add a few ideas on cleaning & maintenance.  Rinse the kegs good  with hot water. Instead of PBW I use a 50/50 mix of Oxyclean and TSP-90 (1 tablespoon of each per 5 gallons) but I only use about 3 gallons per keg. Use a brush to scrub the inside. I use a kitchen brush. Some folks use a toilet brush. A dip tube brush is great for scrubbing the insides of the tubes. Then reassemble and seal the keg up, shake the crap out of it & put a little CO2 on it.  Then use a nail to push in the poppets to flush them. I use a cup over the out post to keep from shooting myself in the face. Then flip the keg over & do the same with the in post and the relief valve. A party tub works great for all of this.  Then let it soak for a few days, shaking it and flipping it over once in a while so the top & bottom get equal soak time. Then drain, rinse with hot water and add a gallon of starsan. Put ~20 lbs. CO2 on it to seal it up, shake it up good, flush the dip tubes & relief valve and off to storage or back into the lineup.  Maybe anal but definitely effective... Cheers!!!
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: Slowbrew on December 17, 2010, 08:44:22 PM
One of the last kegs I bought had that rubber issue.  What product do you use to fix that?  It's irritating.

This is one: http://www.autozone.com/autozone/accessories/Mothers-8-oz-back-to-black-trim-liquid-treatment/_/N-25ke?itemIdentifier=519036&_requestid=5889718

I'm sure there are others.

Paul
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 17, 2010, 09:16:20 PM
I had the emissions tested on my car earlier this week.  They plugged a cable in to something under the dashboard and that was it.  When did they stop sticking something in the tailpipe to measure emissions?

At least since 1997, probably a few years earlier.  Honestly.

Also, I understand that armorall is bad for rubber.  Whatever it is, it dries out the rubber and makes it crack more.  I've used it, but usually it's not recommended.
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: richardt on December 17, 2010, 09:46:32 PM
....a 50/50 mix of Oxyclean and TSP-90 (1 tablespoon of each per 5 gallons) but I only use about 3 gallons per keg...  Then let it soak for a few days, shaking it and flipping it over once in a while so the top & bottom get equal soak time....

I've heard of people getting good results with oxyclean and TSP-90.  I may have to try that if I don't have any PBW around.

I have made the mistake of leaving oxyclean in the corny for days/weeks--it basically created a hard and slightly coarse deposit throughout the entire interior that DID NOT come out with a carboy brush or water pressure (jet setting on the hose) alone.  It resembled a translucent "rhino liner" that had to be scrubbed/scraped out by hand using a scrubbie and various chemicals.  Same for the in and out dip tubes.

Lesson:  do not leave the oxyclean solution in your corny for a long, long time (several days or weeks).  The simultaneous use of TSP-90 may or may not have prevented this situation. 

I'll wait for a chem guru to come along and explain why that happened, because I really don't know.
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: hamiltont on December 17, 2010, 09:53:22 PM

I have made the mistake of leaving oxyclean in the corny for days/weeks--it basically created a hard and slightly coarse deposit throughout the entire interior that DID NOT come out with a carboy brush or water pressure (jet setting on the hose) alone.  It resembled a translucent "rhino liner" that had to be scrubbed/scraped out by hand using a scrubbie and various chemicals.  Same for the in and out dip tubes.

Lesson:  do not leave the oxyclean solution in your corny for a long, long time (several days or weeks).  The simultaneous use of TSP-90 may or may not have prevented this situation.  

I'll wait for a chem guru to come along and explain why that happened, because I really don't know.
I haven't experienced that phenomenon  (hard and slightly coarse deposit) with the 50/50 mix.  I also use soft hot water so that might be it too???  Cheers!!!
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: hopfenundmalz on December 17, 2010, 09:59:37 PM
I had the emissions tested on my car earlier this week.  They plugged a cable in to something under the dashboard and that was it.  When did they stop sticking something in the tailpipe to measure emissions?

At least since 1997, probably a few years earlier.  Honestly.


I sat through many a presentation on the On Board Diagnastics (OBD) that is now on all cars.  Some states may require tail pipe tests, but I don't know that for sure.  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On-board_diagnostics#Emission_testing
 
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 17, 2010, 10:05:14 PM
In Illinois they don't test the pipe if you have ODB.  Last time I saw them do this was on my old '86 Merkur.  They also pulled the front wheels up on the rollers to test it "at speed."

Since they were idiots not paying attention, they failed to realize the car was rear wheel drive.  Luckily nothing was damaged, but they lit the rear wheels up pretty good.

But we're way off topic.
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: beveragebob on December 17, 2010, 11:45:35 PM
"I had the emissions tested on my car earlier this week.  They plugged a cable in to something under the dashboard and that was it." Tom, that's the computer port to check the various system codes on your car. Saw this last night on late night infomercial:
http://carmd.com    supposedly you can check your own codes hooking up to your OB computer then it figures out in plain english what's wrong. Looks pretty cool actually.

I got all of my kegs free (~75-80) from the Coke distributor back in the late 90's. I just skeletonitize  other kegs when I use parts and put a note on the one I took the parts on in case I  need to pick up any parts for them someday. They are mostly Firestone Series IV and V's so everything is compatible..
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: tschmidlin on December 18, 2010, 05:42:06 AM
I had the emissions tested on my car earlier this week.  They plugged a cable in to something under the dashboard and that was it.  When did they stop sticking something in the tailpipe to measure emissions?

At least since 1997, probably a few years earlier.  Honestly.
That's believable, this is the first car I've had, built after 1997, that I've had to have emissions tested.  They give you six years or so in WA, and my previous car was totaled before it got to that point.
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: gsandel on December 18, 2010, 06:07:28 AM
Thank you all so much, Gentlemen.

It sounds like used kegs are the way to go.  I have no fear about working with them, just wanted to make sure there wasn't a dark side.  So, tell me, is there a preference or preponderance for types (ball or pin locks)?  Or is one rarely avaliable compared to the other? Should I buy an expensive quality stainless faucet or just a cheapo party tap?  I eventually will build a collar on my temp controlled chest freezer, but was just thinking of going with the cheap party tap until I got the hang of the process.

Do you prefer force carbonation or adding priming sugars to keg for carbonation?  I kind of like the idea of using priming sugar for carbonation.....is it a romantic notion I ought to abandon for quick and easy force carb?

 
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: tschmidlin on December 18, 2010, 06:11:59 AM
I force carbonate, but you can do either, and you're never locked in to one or the other.  Try it both ways and do what works for you, although which you like better might be different for different beers.  For high gravity beers you might have trouble getting good carbonation with priming sugar.

Start with a picnic tap, they're useful to have anyway.  But eventually a forward sealing faucet is the way to go IMO.

And I can find ball lock kegs and parts easily.  Not so with pinlocks,
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: euge on December 18, 2010, 06:49:39 AM
After 3 years I still use a Cobra tap. This year I also went to just priming the keg. It's just a tool that suits me very well for the moment. Forcing carbonation like using agitation is also appropriate and so is passively connecting to a set pressure to achieve desired volumes.

I'd like to do a real setup with 4 taps.
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: gordonstrong on December 18, 2010, 04:02:44 PM
One of the last kegs I bought had that rubber issue.  What product do you use to fix that?  It's irritating.

This is one: http://www.autozone.com/autozone/accessories/Mothers-8-oz-back-to-black-trim-liquid-treatment/_/N-25ke?itemIdentifier=519036&_requestid=5889718

I'm sure there are others.

Paul

Thanks.  I'll look for it while running errands today.
Title: Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
Post by: gordonstrong on December 18, 2010, 04:04:32 PM
And I can find ball lock kegs and parts easily.  Not so with pinlocks,

+1