Introduction: Installing a Ball Valve on a Coleman Cooler

About: Just your average handyman.

In this instructable, I will show how I installed a ball valve on a Coleman cooler.

A cooler with a valve installed is the first step in building various equipment for homebrewing beer. Once the valve is on, this cooler can be made into a mash tun or a wort chiller. This instructable is meant to be the first step in my following instructables on how to build these.

This will allow you to drain liquids from the cooler at a controlled rate and will be simple enough to disassemble and clean.

Step 1: Rule # 1 Aka "The Golden Rule"

Rule # 1 on making equipment to make some tasty homebrew is to have a tasty homebrew!

Please note: Have all of your materials on hand ahead of time. You don't need to be driving to the hardware store after following the golden rule.

Step 2: The Cooler

For this, I used a second-hand Coleman cooler. The plug was broken and it wouldn't hold water anymore, but it's perfect for this since I'll be removing that part anyway.

Most homebrewers brew beer in 5 gallon batches. Make sure the cooler is big enough. If not using a new cooler, try and pick one that is clean, smooth on the inside and free of cracks. Since the cooler in this instructable already has a plug hole drilled into it, I will not be covering how to drill a new one since it isn't necessary.

Step 3: Prepping the Cooler

I began by removing the 4 screws that held on the lid of the cooler. With the lid temporarily removed, it won't get in the way.

The plug assembly on the cooler consists of a stem, a rubber washer and a nut on the outside. They need to be removed and cleaned. Simply unscrew the outside nut, push out the stem and pull out the washer.

Step 4: Modify the Outside Nut

I modified the outside nut a little bit by cutting off the plastic part that holds the plug. I also widened the inside hole with a knife, cutting carefully to only shave off some of the threads.

Step 5: The Ball Valve Assembly

Here are the parts I used to make the new ball valve assembly:
- (1) 3/8" brass ball valve
- (1) 3/8" brass hose barb adapter
- (1) 3/8" brass coupling
- (1) 3/8" x 1-1/2" brass pipe nipple
- (1) 16mm flat washer (it fits over the pipe nipple)
- (1) huge washer (this is not the technical term)
- 3/8" clear tubing (I had this already)
- the modified outside nut on the cooler

The tools I used to install it were just a pair of wrenches. These parts cost me about $18USD.

Step 6: The Ball Valve Assembly Cont'd.

Start by putting the rubber washer that came on the cooler back in. Put the outside nut back on the cooler. Discard the stem as it will not be used.

Next, screw the pipe nipple onto the ball valve. Take the huge washer and place it over the outside nut. Slide the pipe nipple into the cooler through the washer, outside nut and rubber washer. The other end of the pipe nipple should be visible on the inside of the cooler. Slide the 16mm washer over the pipe nipple and make sure the threads of the pipe nipple are visible.

Step 7: The Ball Valve Assembly Cont'd

Tighten the pipe coupling onto the threads of the pipe nipple and snug with a wrench. This should make the cooler water-tight again.

Now put the hose barb on the other side of the ball valve and that's it.

Step 8: Testing the Valve

I tested the ball valve over the sink with some water and had no leaks. I disassembled the hose assembly after testing to see if there was any leaking in between the plastic layers of the cooler and it was dry as well.

If you have any leaks, try tightening the ball valve and the coupling. Try not to over-tighten.

Here is a video of the ball valve in action:

Step 9: Summary

Installing this ball valve is the first step in making my mash tun and wort chiller.

By itself, it doesn't do much, but it will allow me to fit my coolers with a ball valve ahead of time and simplifies the whole process. Now, I have the 3/8" female end inside of each cooler and I can use it to build off of while I design the components of my two tanks.