Saturday, January 28, 2012

Finished Keggerator

This is part three of the series - the final part.
So when I last posted on my Keggerator I was waiting to get a tap tower, which I've gotten, and I was using my picnic taps as my primary taps.

I got a tap tower for Christmas from my mother. It's a nice chromed tower with two Perlick 575 Taps. the tower came with hoses and 'universal couplers'. These might be universal for commercial kegs but they're not universal for corny kegs.

(Read more after the break.)

On the right is a basic diagram of my plan. One of the features of this fridge is a removable freezer. It starts 4 inches from the front of the fridge; this leaves an area in which there should be no cooling coils. If you hit a cooling coil you need to get in your car drive to best buy and lay down cash for a new fridge.

Day 1: I started by prepping my fridge to drill the hole in the top. I took the top off of the fridge to expose the foam. then I measured where I wanted the hole, this was a matter of measuring the fridge Once the center point was marked on the foam I drilled down into the fridge with the hole saw. With a hole in the foam and the inner fridge cut I moved onto the top; I put the top piece back in place and drilled up from inside of the fridge through the previous hole. I did this to make sure the two holes lined up. My father and I stopped once we had a large hole in our fridge. We left the fridge unfinished on the first night.

Day 2: On day two my father cut a 5 in by 5 in wood blank and routed the edge. In the center of the wood piece I drilled another 2.5 inch hole. With the proper cut out in the base I placed the tap tower in the center and used the set holes as a template for where to drill next. I taped the wood to the fridge and drilled the holes down from the top of the fridge one at a time.  With the wood drilled, the fridge set, and my tap tower ready I was ready to finish up. I assembled it and quickly realized I was having a problem. The backing that I was going to put inside of the fridge was too thick for my screws. So I just used the provided washers and it was pretty strong alone. I made a backing out of the same metal which I bought for the drip tray to create a well braced and strong backing for my taps so that when the tower is bumped and jostled it won't break the top of my fridge.

Fridge functional but not done: Just mounting the tap tower isn't the beginning of the end for this fridge but rather the end of the beginning. Having a mini fridge outfitted for home brew kegs with a tap tower on the top is just the bare minimum for this fridge; Google home brew keggerators and you'll see fridges with tiled tops, glass racks, spirits, and more. My fist addition to the bare minimum is a drip tray which I made myself.

Drip Tray: A quick price check on drip trays reveals that they're expensive. A comparable drip tray to the one I built costs in the neighborhood of 65 dollars. If you wanted a premium drip tray it could exceed 100 dollars easily... Why? I have no idea why they are so expensive; metal working is easy. My drip tray is now 5" by 15" by .5"; that's comparable in size to commercial models.

The process I followed is simple, cheap, and easy to do with minimum tools. all you need is access to a hardware store, a hammer, some wood and a hard surface. Ideally you're sitting at home with an anvil, metal working hammers, the propper saws, or at the very least some tin snips. I barely used any of that and still had good results. My first step here was to cut four .5" slits near the corners of the 6" by 18" sheet of very thin aluminum. Step two was to fold up the two ends with the tabs, and then to do the same to the lengthwise ends. After a few minutes of pounding I got it mostly square. I wasn't worried about perfection because I knew that it was going to be visually obscured by the grating and that it was a drip tray on top of my keggerator, who sees that? It's easier to see in pictures and Microsoft Paint Diagrams what I did than for me to explain it. I used the finished tray as a template to measure where to cut my expanded steel grate.  I cut the piece I needed with a hack saw and folded the ends over my tray to secure the grate. This drip tray costs a lot less than a store bought options and offers the flexibility to be creative. If the super industrial steel isn't your cup of tea there are a variety of more decorative patterns of thin sheet metal which you can use.
Pictures of the tap tray:

This is my thrilling diagram: The thin black lines are cuts, the dashed black lines are folds, the tabs should be folded first, then the ends on the right and left, then the edges on the top and bottom.this should have the effect of making the top and bottom edges slightly shorter than the right and left ends.

You can see in the pictures of the tray and in the screen exactly what I have going here. The whole thing is a fixed to my fridge via some super strong 2 sided mounting tape from scotch. It can easily hold a full glass of water right at the edge of the fridge.

Next Step:
I'll continue to work on this project. I plan to get or make custom taps: Howard Roark Red, Atlas Ale, and Golden One Pale Ale. I might make a tap display rack when I get a few tap handles made. Equality of Results, The Uncharted Forest, Dagny, Equality 7-2521, and whatever other beers I make.

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