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Da Freezerator!

A few years back, I converted an old, grungy refrigerator into a kegerator. It was a lot of fun, and gave me much enjoyment (and cold brews!).

When we moved to a new home, I was lucky enough to purchase a new freezer to convert for my brews. For a few years, I've sat in envy of a freezer conversion done by Dan Schultz. It was a thing of beauty. I had to have one!

What follows are the steps I took to build my own beast. Click on any image to get a full sized picture. It's based on a lot of what Dan did, plus a ton of great tips I got from the rec.craft.brewing newsgroup. If you're interested in becoming a better brewer, this is the place to go.

Click here to see the drip tray I made for the Freezerator!

I started with a Sears 19 cubic foot model. This is a huge freezer. I got the large size because I wanted to be able to serve at least 5 different brews at a time, plus refreshments for my kids. This model will hold 10 5-gallon corney kegs comfortably, and 12 in a pinch.

This next image shows the back of the freezer, and my first challenge. Notice the electrical cord that goes to the lid? It powers the "dummy light" that tells you when the compressor is cycling, plus it runs the light inside of the lid. It only had about 3 inches of slack in it (I tried to disconnect it, but couldn't get electrical for it taken apart).

You can also see the hinges. Be very careful removing these, as they are under spring tension - and only remove them from the body of the freezer, not from the lid.

My plan was to build a skirt out of 2 x 4's to fit in the opening, and then attach the lid to the skirt. This would also facilitate the holes that needed to be drilled for the taps and the gas lines. The problem was, a 2 x 4 is actually 1.5 x 3.5 inches. I only had 3 inches of slack in the cord going to the lid.

Time for the table saw!

I ripped the wood to 3 inches wide and built this simple frame to match the outside dimensions of the freezer opening. You can see the wood putty that was used to fill in imperfections in the wood (knots and the counter-sunk screw holes).

You can also see the holes drilled for the taps. There are 9 of them, spaced 4 inches on center (since these pictures were taken, I've added a 10th tap to the far right side for my stout - not using beer gas, just regular CO2... for now!).

I really wanted this to look like a professional job, so I decided to paint the skirt with a high-gloss indoor/outdoor white paint. This would most closely match the body of the freezer. It will also protect the wood against moisture on the inside of the freezer.

To help with the seal to the freezer, I ran some caulking tape that's normally used for bathtubs, along the bottom edge of the skirt (sorry, the image is a bit blurry).

Next, I placed the skirt on the freezer opening, drilled new holes (two into the skirt, and two into the freezer itself - be careful here!), and attached the skirt to the top. Piece of cake!

UPDATE I've received a lot of email inquiries to further explain how everything is held together. This top image is a sketch of how the hinges were originally attached to the lid and body.

This next image is a sketch of how everything was put back together. The two upper screws that were originally in the body now go into the skirt. Two new holes were drilled into the body of the freezer for the bottom two screws. This arrangement pulls the entire structure together, and provides for a very stable lid.

I then climbed into the beast and caulked all of the seams inside of the freezer, then along the outer rim between the freezer body and the skirt.

I now attached my gas manifolds. I've got two of them: One 3-line and one 6-line (each has it's own regulator). The 3-line manifold is running 20 psi. These taps will be for root beer, carbonated water, etc., for my kids and non-drinkers. The 6-line manifold is for the homebrew and is set at 12 psi.

Now I had to get the CO2 to the manifolds. I drilled two holes in the side of the skirt for gas, and one smaller one for the probe for the temperature controller. You can see it on the right of the photo.

This thing is a must when converting a freezer. To use it, you tell it what temperature you want your freezer - 40 degrees in my case. You then set a differential - this allows the freezer to slightly raise its temperature before the compressor cycles again. I have mine set at 4 degrees.

You then set the freezer to it's coldest setting, plug the freezer into the controller, and plug the controller into the wall socket. When the temperature goes to 44 degrees, the compressor will start. When the temperature drops to 40 degrees, it will stop. This keeps your beer from freezing, and with the 4 degree differential, the compressor won't burn out by trying to keep the temperature exactly at 40 degrees.

Here's the final product. You'll notice the 3 taps on the left have "natural" colored handle. These are the non-alcoholic taps for my kids. They'll have body parts removed if I find their finger prints on any of the black beer taps!

Here's another angle.

Finally, a picture of the interior, full 'o brew!

In the future, I plan on building a "skin" around this thing to match the Mission-style bar furniture we've got.

Click here to see the drip tray I made for the Freezerator!

That won't be for many a keg.....JMS


 

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