From the HBD Archive
From: (Dan Watson)
Subject: kegs
Date: 1992-07-02 15:21:51 GMT

Fellow Brewophiles,

A while back, I asked about soft drink kegs and have recieved lots
of info since. This probably falls into the realm of FAQs, but I
thought a summary might help beginners like myself.

My original question was about the relative merits of pin-lock
versus ball-lock. There was no consensus on this. I now have both,
and see no particular advantage of one or the other. The pin-lock is
mechanically simpler, but not by much. One writer speculated that one
type was used by Coke, and one by Pepsico. This is apparently not the
case. I have kegs marked Coke with both. A Coke truck driver (excuse
me, a sales associate) told me that ball-locks were the old standard,
and that everyone had changed to pin-locks. Because the buggers are
nearly indestructable, the attrition rate was slow. He also told me
that pin-locks were on the way out too, and that the industry was
going to a "post-carbonation system" which uses a bag-in-a-box syrup.
This is probably good news for us, since there will be a steady supply
of used kegs for the next few years at least.

People generically refer to these kegs as Cornelius, (the largest
manufacturer), but many that I've seen are made by Firestone. They
appear to be very similar, and the top plates and hardware are
interchangable on the ones I have. There are several variations of
pressure relief valves on the top plates, I like the ones that can be
bled easily by hand. (I have one with a litle ring you pull, and
another with a lever.)

The best price that I found on a kegging system was from St.
Patricks of Texas, where I bought my CO2 tank, one keg, two-gauge
regulator, hoses, tee, two pin-lock air-in fittings, two beer-out
fittings, and two faucets for something less than $180. I had one keg
that was found under the University football stadium, dented but
apparently OK. After a recent post about buying them at a scrap yard,
I checked my local scrap purveyor and found two more in perfect shape.
I bought both for scrap Stainless price of $0.80/lb. or about $13.00
for both. Now I'm really stoked, and am going to build up an inventory!

At the moment I have three of the four full of liquid delight, and
am looking for a larger fridge! I also bought a "stem" from St. Pats,
and put it through the fridge door. I found a fine tap faucet for
four bucks at a used restaraunt supply place, and now keep the
"common" beer (brown ale usually, or bitter) easily accessable. The
"specialty" beers you have to open the fridge door for. I plumbed the
CO2 line through the top of the fridge, and keep the tank up there
beside the cheap temperature controller which was bought from
Johnstone Controls (sorry, I don't have the model # handy, but they
have several applicable ones from $29.00 on up to $50 or so, I had
this one on hand from an old project.) I just wired a duplex
recepticle to the controller, and plugged the fridge into it... seems
to work OK. Mine controls to +/- 5 degrees or so.

About the plastic "roto-kegs". I bought one of the spherical ones
cause I thought it would be cheaper (@~$50), but have not been happy
with it. None of the seals sealed well, and I had to take the thing
apart and replace the o-rings, and coat all the threads with vasilene
before it stopped sucking up "sparkets" right and left. I also found
it difficult to clean and sanitise properly. The biggest problem
though, is it's shape! it takes up lots of room in the fridge, where
the SS kegs use only a 9 in. round fotprint. I will keep it around to
use for parties (sigh... live and ($) learn.)

I want to thank all of you for the ongoing stream of good
information. I may never cap a bottle again! :-)

Dan Watson
Sr. Research Specialist
Steward Observatory Mirror Lab

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