The Kegerator is ALIVE!
I am stoked. Yes, very very very very stoked.
Oh yes, I have a Kegerator. Saturday, August 22 shall go down in history as the day that I ceased to need my huge collection of glass bottles for my U-Brew. Weighing in at over 170 lbs empty this is a serious machine!
OK, the build... Last time I had juuuuust gotten the fridge in the door and we'd chosen where it would live. Well after staring at it a bunch I decided I really wanted to try and clean it up a bit. Obviously the dents weren't going anywhere but the scrapes, scratches and stains could do with a little elbow grease.
Naturally the first question was "How do you clean up a badly scratched stainless steel refrigerator?" - Google to the rescue! Well, sorta kinda. Basically I learned a few things - #1 is DON'T USE STEEL WOOL ON STAINLESS STEEL - particles of the steel wool will embed themselves in the surface of the stainless. Then guess what? It ain't stainless anymore! The "regular" steel from the steel wool will rust. Well good to know - I never would have guessed. Thing #2 I learned is DON'T USE BLEACH OR OTHER CHLORINATED CLEANERS ON STAINLESS STEEL. Bleach reacts with stainless and will cause it to look dull or dark. If you want it to look nice and clean, keep the bleach away from it.
Final answer? Automotive medium grade wet/dry sandpaper, thoroughly soaked. Use LOTS of water to keep washing away the grime and don't press TOO hard, although you definitely need to throw your weight behind it. Always go with the grain and make sure your strokes are straight. Oh, and do all the dents and other low spots first, THEN go over the whole surrounding area.
Big difference, eh?
That looks MUCH better! I feel a lot better having that next to my kitchen.
OK, so fast forward a week (and another trip to Atlanta and back for me):
Double draft tower, double regulator, CO2 lines, drip tray, keg "gas gauge" strips. Ohhhhh yeah!
I can only fit a single 1/2 barrel (a "normal" keg is called a 1/2 barrel) but I can fit two 1/4 barrels or three 1/6 barrels. The 1/4 barrel is what I'm planning on using for the most part. That's half a batch of U-brew so I figure this way I can have some overlap between batches. The dual regulator comes in handy there because different types of beer need different pressures to keep them properly carbonated. There's a whoooole lotta figuring you have to do with respect to beer pressures, line diameter and length, tap height above the keg and keg storage temperatures. I might have to shorten one of my lines and use it just for IPAs and Porters that don't like as much CO2 pressure, but it's pretty much perfect for pale ales and things right now.
OK, the build:
I used a bi-metal hole saw from Princess Auto - it worked GREAT. It said on the box "For Mild Steel, Stainless and Cast Iron". From my Googling I found out you need to use some kind of lubricant with these or you just overheat them and the teeth go soft. I used my usual favorite, plain old 10W30. Worked fine... I got through both layers no problem and the saw is still SUPER sharp.
Next step was to mount the tower itself. I measured, measured, measured to make sure the mounting bolts were spaced equally from the front and sides. I'm kinda anal about that sort of thing since I tend to notice it forever after. I actually noticed the draft tower itself is slightly off - the taps aren't QUITE even with respect to the mounting base. I didn't build that part though so I'll ignore it. :)
Nice thing about using a commercial fridge for this is it's stainless inside and out. Most bar fridges you buy are plastic on the top and vinyl on the inside with nothing more than foam in the middle. If you try and bolt a draft tower to that it'll be super wobbly, the plastic will crack and you'll just end up compressing the foam a bunch. No such issues with the Silver King. The bolts that came with my draft tower were super long too - I actually cut about 3/4" off of 'em before I mounted this all up.
Temporary Tower Cooling
One thing I learned through all of this is the draft tower itself needs to be kept cold. That's why it's such a large diameter in the first place - you need to make sure there's plenty of airflow in the tower or the beer in the lines gets too warm and goes bad, plus you get a foamy first pour. What a waste! The evaporator fan in this unit runs continuously (which you want for keg cooling anyhow) so I just used an old paper towel tube to duct some of the air up the tower. I cut the tube in half lengthwise to feed cold air up the tower while leaving enough room for it to push itself back out again. It works GREAT - I'll probably just leave the cardboard in there till it gets mushy or something then go to Home Depot and get some vinyl tubing - they've got some big fat stuff that's about the same size as this.
Sure have come a long way from that filthy scratched up thing I started with!! This has definitely been a labour of love. I can't wait to actually be drinking beer from it!!!!