Author Topic: Kegs: New vs. Used  (Read 1813 times)

Offline gsandel

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Kegs: New vs. Used
« on: December 17, 2010, 07:39:50 AM »
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?
You wouldn't believe the things I've seen...

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2010, 07:46:28 AM »
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.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2010, 08:50:26 AM »
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.

It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline tumarkin

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Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2010, 09:03:14 AM »
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.
Mark Tumarkin
Hogtown Brewers
Gainesville, FL

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2010, 09:12:07 AM »
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.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2010, 10:20:23 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?

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.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2010, 10:35:59 AM »
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
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2010, 11:11:57 AM »
One of the last kegs I bought had that rubber issue.  What product do you use to fix that?  It's irritating.
Gordon Strong • Beavercreek, Ohio • AHA Member since 1997 • Twitter: GordonStrong

Offline euge

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Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2010, 11:54:32 AM »
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.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline hamiltont

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Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2010, 12:16:39 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!!!
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Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2010, 01:44:22 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
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2010, 02:16:20 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.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

Offline richardt

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Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2010, 02:46:32 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.

Offline hamiltont

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Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2010, 02:53:22 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!!!
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Re: Kegs: New vs. Used
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2010, 02:59:37 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
 
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