Intro: PVC Keezer Collar Build
Have you ever sat at home thinking to yourself that you would love a beer, but going to the store is too much? or that for your party, or the big game some beer taps would be excellent? well think no more: A keezer is right for you.
What is a "Keezer" you ask? that's probably a good question too. its a portmanteau of freezer and keg (as seen in the common and related word: kegerator). basically its a deep freezer modified to have a colar and a set of taps for serving beer.
A keezer is a wonderful thing, but it seems that everyone uses wood. and I don't like that for a couple of reasons - it breathes so if you live in a humid area you get excessive moisture build up, and its really doesn't lend itself to insulation either. For this application I recommend PVC board: it doesn't warp, it doesn't wick moisture, it doesn't mold, its mildew resistant. It can be cut just as readily as wood, and with the same tools, and it can be readily glued together.
The following is the solution I came up with
Step 1: Step the First: Cuts
you can use any freezer to make your keezer, but I decided to buy a brand new one.
my freezer is a touch under 24x 48 so I bought 12' lengths of each PVC board
1 x 12' 1x10 (measures 3/4 x 9 1/4 true)
1 x 12' 1x3 (Measures 3/4 x 2 1/4 true)
1x 12' 1x2 (measures 3/4 x 1 1/4 true)
I chose 1x10" PVC board for my collar as that will give me enough height to have a keg on my compressor hump. this meant I had to be careful about the mitre cuts as many saws don't have that kind of reach.
I cut two x 48" boards and two x 23 7/8" boards from outside tip to outside tip with the textured side out and the flat side short.. these were then glued together with PVC glue (don't forget to use clear primer) .
next I cut my seal edge, (the 1x3) but this time the 45° angle was perpendicular to how it had been on the previous cut. these were then mounted on top of the 10" pieces so it formed an L shape. I used glue and screws to mount these.
next I cut the 1x2 the same as the 1x3. I hadn't initially purchased this part - but the center of the lid has a bit of a "blister" that hangs down - this ends up holding the lid up by about 3/8" so I added this in to mitigate that problem. I suppose you could skip the 3" piece and such - but I like having my foam insulation covered - so I stayed with this.
take some tile with your caulking gun and some silicone to seal up the whole collar now. I used a white silicone because it was convenient for the finish side, and since it was already in the gun I did the inside with it too.
Step 2: Brackets
I had some 1/8th" aluminum that I'm using for the interior lining, so I cut a little extra in order to build brackets for the hinges..
I cut some strips at 2" wide and about 15" long. you'll want it to be roughly the length of your collar height with a little extra for the length of your hinge. I think I cut mine at 15". test fit your lid on the collar when you measure it just to be safe. I then traced the bolt pattern of the hinges on to them, and drilled them out. after being test fit, I gave them a coat of appliance white so that they don't stand out.
while you're at this stage you want to look at tap placement. if your lid has a handle on it keep that in mind too.
I put my taps centered in height of the collar. I went with 5 taps on 4" centres, with the first tap 6" from the outside edge. in retrospect I should have been a bit tighter to the side so that the lids handle didn't block my last tap from having handles more than 4" high. you'll either want to keep these measurements handy for when you cut the aluminum sheet, or put the aluminum in place as you do your pilot holes.
Step 3: Insulation and Mounting
before you mount your collar, you want to measure it for foam insulation while its easy.
I cut mine down on the table saw so that I would have nice smooth regular cuts, but you can do it with a box cutter as well.
once you have your insulation for the back side cut, you want to test fit it and drill a hole through for your temperature probe wire. you can do this later, but its easier now. test fit all your insulation and then measure the inside dimensions.
next lay a nice thick bead of silicone down on the top of the freezer and ever so carefully place the collar on it, press down, wipe away any excess. mount your brackets and hinges. then use a bead of silicone to hold the insulation in place as you add all of those one at a time. make sure to add your back piece with the temp probe wire through first. I ran my wire through the insulation first, then the collar, then pressed the insulation into position as trying to feed the wire though the insulation and the collar blindly is a pain.
Step 4: Liner
The sensor for the brain needs to be mounted. lots of people place theirs in a bottle of water, or some such thing because it needs a bit of thermal mass so that its not affected by a breeze every time you open the lid for 5 seconds. the liner I'm putting into my collar will accomplish a few things: the rear piece will provide thermal mass for my sensor. the front will provide thermal mass for the faucets themselves. It will provide something to tighten the shanks to as the insulation will just compress and you'll never reall y get it tight. the whole thing together will assist in ensuring that my insulation doesn't end up dirty, scuffed, or moldy. it will also look slick.
I taped my sensor to the back center of the sheet, but you could really have it anywhere, so long as you're aware of where it is for when you mount your manifold. speaking of which, trace that bolt pattern onto the sheet, and drill out pilot hols before you put the sheet in place.
now that you have your collar mounted you want to cut the aluminum for it. just like my collar had to add a bit of height to accommodate the pop-out on the lid, so did the original manufacturer - so the aluminum here ended up taller than the 9 1/4" main board of the collar. once the pieces were cut and fitted I slid them into place and drilled holes to mount them with 2" screws. What I should have done was measure and drill the pilot holes outside the freezer so that I didn't have to fish swaff out later.
because the PVC is soft, you can only screw into and out of it so many times before your screws have nothing to bite into, so don't be doing this until you're ready to leave them on.
Step 5: Mount Hardware
slide your shanks through. I drilled 7/8" holes for mine so I mostly had to thread mine through. tighten them down. mount the manifold through the holes you drilled earlier.
connect all your hoses and lines from the shanks, couplers, manifold, regulator etc. make sure its all tight. then go through making sure everything is tighter, and that you have gaskets everywhere you should.
tighten it all again.
seriously, you have a leak. find it, tighten it down.
turn your gas on and pressurise each line one at a time checking for leaks. remember. you probably have a leak, and you need to find it before you empty your CO2 tank.
if you haven't found at least one leak, you are probably missing something. try spraying each connection with star san or windex, and looking for bubbles. turning the gas up before you do this will often help.
Step 6: Fabricate Your Controller Bracket/panel and Mount the Brain
I had some leftover aluminum so I cut a piece that would be the same size as the stock panel. then I filed it down to size, and drilled out the center to mount my ITC-1000 in it. I painted this with the same appliance paint I used for the hinge brackets.
then I wired it up.
my stock controller had 5 wires coming into it: one black from the wall, one red and one white that lead into the compressor's housing, and two very thin gauge ones.
in this case the two thin wires are the temp sensor for the stock brain. it has a different resistance, so even though I tried to use it for the cleaner install, it was reading about 50°c too high.
the black wire is power to the system.
the red wire is power TO the compressor
the white is common return FROM the brain.
so for my ITC-100 I wired it up the jumpers as follows:
1. black wire from the wall
2. white returning from the brain
3.ITC-1000 temp probe - these are not directional
4.ITC-1000 temp probe - these are not directional
5. heat control, not used
6. heat control, not used
7. black wire from the wall
8. Red TO the compressor
I drilled holes in the four corners of the plate, and used a step bit to countersink them. then after placing the bracket I put a fender washer before the nut when tightening it down to hold it in place.
Step 7: Almost Done
plug it in. turn it on. put some kegs in there to chill if you haven't already.
put some tap handles on.
pour yourself a pint.