Monday, November 3, 2014

Keezer Build - Part 2

Time to conclude the keezer project I started in Part 1.  Last time I had built the dolly, the temperature controller and cut the wood for the collar.  Now it was time to put it all together.

I went to a welding supply shop in Cranston with my empty CO2 tank.  As I figured, the hydro stamp was out of date (basically ever five years the tank has to be tested to verify it's still safe.)  They charged me for the hydro test but swapped out the tank which saved me having to wait about three weeks.  Great guys and they have good deals on filling your propane tank, FYI.

Anyway, with my new full CO2 tank I quickly discovered that it was heavy as hell.  I decided to double the 2x4 base on the dolly to make sure it could hold it.  Then I fashioned some ramshackle chains to hold it in place and it was good to go.  It won't be winning any beauty awards but it'll do the trick.  The tank could have easily just gone on the floor next to the keezer but this will make it easier if I want to move it.

Time for the collar.  First I drilled a couple holes in the front for the faucets and one in the back for the gas line.  After that I sanded it and put on two coats of polyurethane.  You're supposed to add a base later of some other stuff first and then sand between coats and blah blah blah.  I'm not building an mahogany cabinet here.  I slapped a couple coats on it and called it a day.

Time to drill!

Once dry I attached the collar to the freezer using silicone sealant.  I waited most of the day for it to dry.  I probably should have waited longer but I was impatient.  After six hours excitement got the better of me and I attached the freezer lid to the collar.  It worked great.  The faucets were attached and I screwed the air splitter to the back wall.  The red gas line goes into the splitter and then on to the separate kegs.   It was a bitch trying to get the gas line through the hole I made and I had to run my drill bit around the edges which is probably definitely not recommended to get it through.

The keezer was now ready to hold beer!  I had an ESB that was ready and waiting.  Normally I'd have to transfer the beer to a bottling bucket along with priming sugar and then sanitize, fill and cap many a bottle.  Instead I ran some StarSan through the keg and then racked the beer into it.  So easy!

With the keg half full of beer (it was a 2.5 gallon batch) it was time to learn how difficult it was to move it into the keezer.  It wasn't too bad but then I filled the other keg with water - this was a real bear to lift and I had to use a stepstool to help lift it over the collar.  It was not easy but luckily I won't be doing it that often.

In case you're wondering I filled the other keg with water to improve the thermal mass in the keezer.  Liquid holds a temperature much better than air so the more liquid in you have, the better the keezer will hold the temp.  After I added the kegs, I plugged it into the temperature controller and over the next couple days monitored it.  It would take about 30-40 minutes to climb to 44 degrees before turning the keezer on and cooling it down to 42 degrees.

That's not a great amount of downtime and having the keezer's compressor turn on every 40 minutes or so will wear it out sooner rather than later.  Some more online research on the great really helped me out.  First, I added some pink foam insulation around the inside of the collar.  This stuff was easy to cut and proved to be the perfect size.  I cut a couple holes for the faucets and cut a couple smaller pieces to fit around the red gasline.  Then I screwed the air splitter through the foam and into the wood.  The stuff fit so snugly that I didn't even have to glue it.

The other change I made was to cover the thermometer with bubblewrap insulation and tape it to the side of a gallon glass jug filled with water.  Since liquid temp changes slowly, it is much more efficient to gauge the temp of the water rather than the air temp which can fluctuate wildly, especially if I open the lid.  After I made these improvements, it now takes about 2-2.5 hours for the temp controller to rise from 42 to 44 degrees.

Pink insulation and better thermometer placement helped a lot

A few more small projects rounded out the build.  I attached the temp controller to a board behind the keezer so it was out of the way.  It's held in place but some nuts but can easily be unscrewed in order to move the keezer.  Then I attached another board and did some half-assed woodwork in order to hang some of my favorite glasses within arms reach.

At a craft store I found a couple magnetic photo holders which worked great to identify the taps. The labels slide right in and can easily be switched out.  Hopefully it'll encourage me to get creative with each new batch.


There you have it!  Come on over and have a pint!