Introduction: Oscillating Beer Freezer

In Thailand, beer-slushy machines, called 'Bia Wun' quickly freeze beer, soothing scalded throats from the local spicy curries and chilis. Bia Wun work like old fashioned ice cream churns-- put beer (or soda) bottles on ice with lots of salt, and jostle the mixture to super-chill the beer. Give a tap on the bottom of the bottle, and voila-- 'jelly beer.'

In my backyard, I thought a frozen beer would go with hot wings, pulled pork, smoked brisket, roasted chicken.... and more beer.

So, I decided to build my own Bia Wun out of scrap materials I had on hand.

Step 1: First, Some Motivation!

This awesome video shows a Bia Wun in action. Everyone's smiling when the Bia Wun is doing its thing.

I loved this design, but I didn't have a barrel lying around. So, I got out my sketchpad. I also needed to learn more about how ice and salt freeze liquids, and I had never worked with crank and lever mechanisms before.

Step 2: Some SCIENCE on How to Get Ice IN Your Beer

Science says that adding lots of salt to ice lowers the freezing point of the solution. Anything you put into the solution (like bottles of beer) will chill to below the normal freezing point of 0 degrees C. Fast.

To form ice crystals in the beer itself, you need 'nuclei:'

From Wikipedia:

"A liquid crossing its standard freezing point will crystalize in the presence of a seed crystal or nucleus around which a crystal structure can form creating a solid......"

In other words, if we take our really cold beer and give it a rap on the bottom, the CO2 bubbles in the beer will create the 'nuclei' we need for ice to form.

Thank you, science.

Step 3: Materials List: Here's to Old Metal

I like to hang on to old motors, computer parts and 80's rock albums;all came in really handy for this project.

Here's what I used:

1) Used windshield wiper motor. These are very handy and run using a common laptop power supply.

2) IGLOO water cooler- mine is a beat-up version from the 80's!

3) 1/2 sheet of 3/4" plywood

4) 1" X 5" Pine fence boards or pallet wood.

5) Lazy susan. I had one from an old computer monitor stand.

6) Flat steel bar stock for making the cam and rocker arms. You can also use wood.

7) Carriage bolts, drills and lots of bandaids.

8) Nails, screws, glue, paper and paint.

9) Loud music to blast in the garage while cutting and drilling.

10) Ice, water and rock salt

11) Bottled beer (finally!)

Step 4: Basic Design Idea

After looking around my garage, and some trial and error, I came up with a design idea.

I would use an old IGLOO to hold the beer, ice and lots of rock salt.

The IGLOO would sit on a turntable, and I would use a motor to turn the turntable.

And, I would enclose the turntable in a box so the IGLOO would not fall over while turning.

Seemed easy enough.....

Step 5: Side View

I like to sketch out my projects, especially ones where I am winging it. Here's what I came up with.

The IGLOO sits on a plywood turntable, which is mounted to a lazy susan supported by a 3/4" plywood platform or false bottom inside the box.

The windshield wiper motor is mounted so that it faces upward, with clearance to attach the rotating crank and rocker arms.

I would use the casing from an old external hard drive to use as the motor mount. It offered the right amount of clearance for the motor to spin, but you can solve this challenge using brackets or housings you have lying around.

I would use two carriage bolts, one for the pivot of the rocker arm, and one that extends up from the end of the rocker arm through the slot in the box to connect to the turntable. Voila.

The circular rotation of the windshield wiper motor can now be converted into a back and forth motion that turns beer, not wiper blades.

Step 6: Cranks and Rockers

A crank and rocker is a mechanical device that converts rotation into a back and forth motion.

A cranky rocker is someone who trashes hotel rooms while on tour.

We need the first one.

This shows how a windshield wiper goes back and forth when the motor is only turning in one direction.

The Jelly Beer Machine uses a 3-arm setup. This makes the IGLOO full of beer and ice rotate back and forth.

People who like math, calculate the precise lengths and pivot points and resulting forces. People like me use trial and error.

I knew that my crank and rocker arms needed to fit within the wooden box so it wouldn't expose any of the mechanics to unsuspecting arms, fingers or toes.

That is, we want ice beer, not ice packs and visits to the ER, yeah?

Step 7: Concept Vs Reality

After mostly error, I came up with the design on the left. The motor would sit in the corner and spin in one direction. Metal crank arms (flat bar stock) work together to convert the spin of the motor into back and forth direction.

The photo shows what I built. I moved the motor and arms to make sure the turntable would rotate 120 degrees (or so). Again, trial, error, and experimentation.

If I had to do it again, I would try to shrink the size of the box by shortening the rotating arm radius. Since the ice mixture spins inside of the IGLOO, you don't need a lot of force to move it.

Perhaps you can find ways to improve on this design. Please add to the comments.

Step 8: The View From the Top

A bit less exciting when all the dangerous and exciting moving parts are hidden below.

The IGLOO sits inside a circular cutout on the top of the box. Those blue patches are un-necessary velcro to hold the IGLOO to the turntable!


Step 9: Building the Box

I found this pic of an old beer crate online. I used it for my design inspiration.

I made my crate using plywood for the bottom, turntable and platform (false bottom). I fudged the dimensions based on the mockup of my crank arms, motor and pivots. Likewise, the height of the box is meant to support about 1/2 of the height of the IGLOO as it spins.

The turntable sits on the lazy susan, and I routed a 120-degree slot in the platform so the arm could move the turntable.

The sides are made out of 1X5 pine and a few 2X4 posts, and the top is old pine shelving with a hole cut out slightly larger than the IGLOO.

I also cut some handle slots so the box is easy to carry. It's a bit on the heavy side. Again, I will try to make the next one(?) smaller.

Step 10: It's Alive!

Now you can see my version of a Bia Wun in action.

I printed some paper stencils for spraying on a logo, and I wiped on some stain for a rustic look.

The IGLOO received a makeover from spare paints and modge-podge for a crackled finish.

Note: I was going for a look that I call, "Things that wash-up on the beach in Jurassic Park!"

Step 11: Let's Drink Frozen Beer


Take 12 bottles of your favorite beverage, plus a 10 lb bag of ice and lots of rock salt. Combine in your IGLOO. Plug in the motor and it's off to the races.

Ratios of Ice to salt vary (science), but I find that 8 cups of ice per cup of rock salt works great.

Find yourself a comfortable chair and have a seat. The motor, cranks and sloshing of the ice mix make white noise, perfect for a cat nap.

In about 10 minutes, your beer will be colder than if you put it in the freezer!

Bring out a bottle, tap it on a hard surface and turn upside down. You will see the ice crystals form.

Open the bottle, drop in a straw and well, you know what to do from here.


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