Author Topic: Kegerator with inside taps  (Read 2405 times)

Offline abastard

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Kegerator with inside taps
« on: August 27, 2013, 05:28:57 PM »
Living in Florida, I did not like the idea of the typical kegorator with the taps sitting out in the air in my hot garage. I just imagined all the happy roaches crawling up into the spigots to enjoy my beer in the middle of the night. No, thanks. So I built a system with the taps inside the refrigerated space. I like to keep a good selection of beers on tap, so I may have a given keg on tap for months. More reason to keep them cold.
I started with a 20.5 cubic foot Frigidaire standup freezer (photo also shows small chest freezer for fermentation) purchased from a scratch and dent place. I took out the shelves and drawers and built one narrow shelf half way between top and bottom. This gave me space for five Cornys on the bottom and three on the shelf. The shelf is urethaned wood with aluminum angles on each end for support. Since the sides of the freezer are thin sheet metal, I used 8 sheet metal screws to attach each angle to the side.


I built a panel to hold the spigots and drip pan. I hinged it on one side so that I could get access to the upper row of kegs and the plumbing. Since the whole thing was cantilevered off the hinge which was attached to the thin sheetmetal inside skin (again with lots of screws), I wanted it to be very light. So I made it of fiberglass over foam. I included balsa as reinforcement in the area where the spigots go to avoid crushing the foam, and also along the side where the stainless piano hinge bolts in. I was familiar with this construction technique from working with surfboards as a kid. But I have to say that it was terribly labor intensive and the result was not as good as it could have been, which is why I have not documented the construction. If I were to do it over, I might stick with the glass over foam, but I would build a male mold and lay it up over that, or I would do a lightweight plywood construction. Or I might put some kind of bar across that would latch on the other side to help support additional weight and just use solid birch plywood. Another alternative would be build it up from lightweight plastic stock such as used on boat interiors.
I pigmented the gloss coat white, then laminated on some beer labels with a clear coat. That helped cover my lumpy glass work. A stainless steel drip tray finished it off. Rather than run a tube drain which would be a pain to deal with, I cut a hole in the top of a label-adorned plastic spice jar and poked the drain through that.
A cam latch from McMaster-Carr holds the panel closed, up against a simple aluminum angle stop.
The spigots are Perl stainless, seal forward type. The space is very tight, so I used 2” shanks with integral barbs.

I built a dual pressure gas distribution system so I could keep my Belgians cranked up to 3 or 4 volumes at the same time as the rest was at lower pressure. The main regulator is outside on the CO2 tank, feeding to a three position high pressure manifold, then to a Micromatic secondary regulator and finally to an 8 position low pressure manifold. Each port has a small ball valve and check valve with flare connection for the gas line to the keg. The manifolds came from Manifold Supply, where you can get whatever you want at a very reasonable price. I had to machine a new bracket for the secondary regulator because the original took up too much space.
The freezer had a digital control mounted in the door, and it would have been lovely to be able to just reprogram it for beer temp. But that did not seem possible, so I spliced a Ranco temperature controller into the wiring to control the compressor and fan. This way, the interior light and defrost cycle still work. I ended up unsoldering the alarm from the circuit board on the freezer control because it would go off all the time. I initially put the sensor at the air intake below the evaporator, but it always read much lower than the actual beer temp. I ended up making a simple bracket for it, hanging below the wood shelf.
I am very happy with the result; I can have six beers on tap and two aging under pressure. Each time I install a new keg (usually in groups of two or three to minimize labor), I clean the lines using a lawn sprayer based system I read about in the homebrew forum, and have had no problems with staling or gumming up the spigots. I managed to keep some of the pockets in the freezer door, which I can use for a few bottles. The maze of tubing is a bit of a pain; everything has to be in its place or the door may not close completely. A slightly larger freezer would make everything easier. But other than these minor annoyances, it is truly a first rate setup. I hauled the whole thing to my 40th high school reunion just off the beach and everyone thought it was pretty cool.

Offline tcanova

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Re: Kegerator with inside taps
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2013, 06:01:22 PM »
Wow, very cool indeed!
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Offline turkeygecko

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Re: Kegerator with inside taps
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2013, 02:15:25 PM »
That is really cool looking, but is it a huge pain in the neck to change one of those top kegs?

Offline abastard

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Re: Kegerator with inside taps
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2013, 09:55:15 AM »
Not a big pain. I have to take the drip tray out to get the panel to fold 90 degrees (this was a mistake) but am usually doing a cleanup at keg change time anyway. Having something to hold it open would also make it easier. And I might look into turning the top manifold so the lines come out horizontal. But even as it is, the only pain is the weight and dodging tubing, both manageable. Again, a slightly larger freezer would make it easier all around.

Offline blatz

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Re: Kegerator with inside taps
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2013, 10:40:30 AM »
very cool!
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Online mtnrockhopper

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Re: Kegerator with inside taps
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2013, 07:30:02 PM »
That's great - never seen anything quite like it.
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Offline Tim Thomssen

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Re: Kegerator with inside taps
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2013, 05:14:06 AM »
Awesome!  I love the stealth mode aspect of this.  New friend comes over, "would you like a beer"?  Open the normal looking fridge and BOOM!

Offline chestrockwell80

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Re: Kegerator with inside taps
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2013, 02:44:24 PM »
So awesome :D