The number one complaint about any direct draw kegerator is that the beer faucet & shank get warm and your first 1/2 glass of beer is always foamy. But the solution is easy - just build and install a beer tower cooler. This tower cooler works by continuously blowing a small volume of cold air into your beer tower and the cold air keeps your beer shanks and faucets ice cold. A side benefit is that the continuous cold keeps faucet mold and bacteria growth at an absolute minimum.
It's easy to tell if you need a beer tower cooler. If your first glass of beer is always foamy but the next glass is not then you need a beer tower cooler. And here is what's going on:
Between servings your beer tower shank and faucet are warming up to room temperature.
Then when you serve your first glass of beer the cold beer hits the warm beer shank and creates beer foam.
Because your beer shank and faucet were cooled by your first glass the next glass and any glass after the second glass have less foam.
Then when you stop serving for a while your beer shank and faucet warm back up, starting the cycle all over again.
Step 1: Bill of Materials
Here's what you need to build your own beer tower cooler.
$3.49 - Radio Shack P/N 270-1801 Project Enclosure (3"X2"X1")
**** The Radio Shack enclosure will be black, not beige
$3.49 - Radio Shack P/N 274-1563 Size M DC Power Jack
$15.49 - Radio Shack P/N 273-240 40mm Micro Fan
$11.99 - Radio Shack P/N 57-12D-500-4 12V .5A power adapter with 2.1mm plug
**** A cell phone or USB power supply will not work!
$5.99 - Radio Shack P/N 501052 7.5" cable ties (pack of 100)
$0.43 - LOWES P/N 23767 3/4-in x 1/2-in Dia CPVC Bushing
$5.37 - 3' LOWES P/N 24948 1" X 3/4" PVC Clear Vinyl Tubing (3' X $1.79 / ft)
$5.28 - 2 LOWES P/N 45310 1/8" X 0.4" aluminum rivets (pack of 100)
$1.58 - 2 LOWES P/N 45303 1/8" aluminum flat washer (pack of 30)
**** You can use 6X32 screws and nuts in place of the rivets & washers
$53.11 - Total plus your local sales tax rate - any parts you might already have laying around
If you plan to substitute the most important part is to stick with a 40mm micro fan. Larger fans push too much air into your beer tower and they cool too well, causing your beer faucet to constantly sweat. You want to cool your tower enough so that the outside of your faucet is about 10 degrees F lower than your room temperature. Your beer shank and inside of your beer faucet will be quite a bit colder and will be cold enough to greatly reduce beer foam.
Step 2: Drill Your Fan Mounting Holes
Start by drilling your fan mounting holes. The holes should be 1/8" if you plan to use 1/8" rivets to mount your cooling fan or 3/16" if you plan to use 6X32 screws.
We use fixtures and templates to make sure the holes are in the same place every time but you can use the fan body to mark and drill the holes in your housing.
When done right the holes should look like the last picture and they should line up with two opposite mounting holes in the fan body.
Step 3: Drill the Main Fan Hole
Now you need to drill the hole the fan will draw air through.
We drill a 1-3/8" hole in our housings. You can drill slightly larger or smaller as long as the opening is large enough for the fan to draw air through.
The important part is to make sure the hole is centered between the two fan mounting holes. We use a drill fixture to make sure every fan is centered but you can draw a line between the two mounting holes then drill your fan exactly in the middle of the line to center the hole in your housing.
Once the hole is drilled you will need to clean up any stray plastic with a pocket knife. It's easiest to do the clean-up as soon as the hole is finished because the plastic will be soft & easy to shave off.
When done your mounting holes and center hole should look like the last picture.
Step 4: Dril the Power Jack Hole
Next drill the power jack hole. The jack we use mounts in a 1/2" hole but Radio Shack jack we put in the bill of materials may mount in a different size hole and you should verify what you need before drilling.
Step 5: Review the Housing
The hard part is done and your housing should look like the one in this picture.
If you bought your housing from Radio Shack it will be black instead of beige.
Step 6: Drill the Hole for the CPVC Bushing
Next drill the 3/8" hole for the 1/2" X 3/4" CPVC bushing.
When done the CPVC bushing will fit into the hole but the ledge on the back side of the bushing will keep it from pushing all the way through.
Step 7: Mount the Cooling Fan Motor
Insert two 1/8" X 1/2" aluminum rivets into the housing from the outside.
Place the fan motor on the rivets so that when the fan is on it draws air into the housing from the outside.
Put backup washers on the rivets so that the fan motor housing is not damaged by the rivets.
Then rivet the fan while holding it in place.
Step 8: Mount the Power Jack
Mount the power jack, making sure that you can reach the pins you need to solder-to later.
Step 9: Solder the Fan Wires to the Power Jack
Trim the fan power wires to the length you need.
Strip the insulation off the end of the wires and solder to the correct pins on the power jack. If the fan you are using has a black, red and yellow wire, cut the yellow wire off at the fan - you don't need the yellow wire.
On the power supplies we use and on the one we listed in the bill of materials, the center of the plug is positive. The red fan wire is positive and must be soldered to the terminal that connects to the center pin of the power jack. The black fan wire is soldered to the terminal that connects to the outside ring of the power jack
Note: Use electronics solder only. The flux used with plumbers solder is made of acid and will eat away your wires!
Step 10: Test Your Assembled Beer Tower Cooler Fan
Now you need to test your beer tower cooler fan.
Plug in the power supply and the fan will come on.
If it does not come on then try hand spinning the fan. If this starts the fan then you did not do a good enough job trimming the air hole earlier and you will need to find & trim-out the piece of plastic that's in the way.
If the fan comes on and makes a buzzing noise then you did not do a good enough job trimming the air hole earlier and you will need to find & trim-out the piece of plastic that's in the way.
If nothing happens then you need to check your wiring and solder connections.
Note: If you wire the fan backwards then apply power, more often than not you will damage the fan and will need to buy another one.
Step 11: Assemble the Air Tube
Next, assemble the air tube that will reach into your beer tower.
Drop the CPVC 1/2" X 3/4" bushing into the project box cover from the inside.
Turn the cover over and place it on the counter so you have something to push against.
Force the clear plastic tubing over the bushing.
Note: If pushing the tubing onto the bushing is too difficult then soften the end of the tubing first by dipping the end into boiling hot water.
Step 12: Assemble Your Beer Tower Cooler
The final assembly step is to assemble the two halves of your beer tower cooler.
The final step is to install the tower cooler in your kegerator beer tower!
To install push the end of the hose up until it bumps against the beer shank inside your beer tower. Then use the wire tie to attach the hose to your beer line.
Run the power cord past the door gasket or through a small hole you drill in the back of your kegerator then just plug everything in.
To be effective your beer tower needs to run 24X7, not just when you dispense beer. A beer tower cooler works by keeping your beer shank and beer faucet cool. This reduces the amount of foam you get with your first pour.
Also, this is one project where bigger is not better, so don't give in to the temptation to use a bigger fan! This tower cooler blows enough air to keep your beer shank cool without over doing it and a larger fan won't do a better job.