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Roger Herpst
Junior Member
Username: Roger456

Post Number: 40
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Saturday, March 12, 2005 - 11:31 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It'll probably be back to (Northern Cal) winter-esque weather again next week, but because we had 80s last week I decided to get to building an ale fermenting extension on a mini lab fridge I've had for a few years.

Because it has one of those built in freezer/freon-filled shelf, it wouldn't accept either a 6.5 gal bucket or carboy, so I had to go this way.

My inspiration was the fermentation chiller a la Ken Schwartz, but I figured that I would prefer the set it and forget it quality of a regular fridge w/out buying a chest freezer. I'll be adding a DC computer fan to keep the cool air circulating, and using a Ranco temp controller to regulate the fridge.

Now I just need to figure out the best way to seal the lid... I didn't quite get the cuts on the 2" rigid insulation straight on the top, so I am putting a big thick bead of silicone around the top and going to put some duct tape flaps on both the interior and exterior sides of the lid. I'll probably put a cinder block or some other big mass on top to keep it sealed.

The box can hold at least one corny keg, one carboy, and one bucket with room to spare (say, for a liter starter or two). The liquid nails and silicone are still drying, so once it's done I'll see what it can really handle.

I'm brewing up an american wheat this weekend and DC's rye IPA next weekend, so it'll have to get to work real quick!
 

Roger Herpst
Junior Member
Username: Roger456

Post Number: 41
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Saturday, March 12, 2005 - 11:32 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sketch
 

Roger Herpst
Junior Member
Username: Roger456

Post Number: 42
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Saturday, March 12, 2005 - 11:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

exterior
 

Roger Herpst
Junior Member
Username: Roger456

Post Number: 43
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Saturday, March 12, 2005 - 11:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

As you can see in the above picture, the extension is resting on 2x4's. This is so the coils on the bottom of the fridge can breathe.
 

Roger Herpst
Junior Member
Username: Roger456

Post Number: 44
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Saturday, March 12, 2005 - 11:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

interior
Full of empties... not for long.
 

Roger Herpst
Junior Member
Username: Roger456

Post Number: 45
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Saturday, March 12, 2005 - 11:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

view into fridge
you can see through the "cuff" that connects the box into the fridge in this picture.

That's it. Let me know what you all think, and if you've got any good ideas for sealing a lid on a not-so-level surface that are better than a big-ole-bead-o-silicone-with-a-large-mass-pressing-done-on the-lid.
 

Wortgames
Junior Member
Username: Wortgames

Post Number: 55
Registered: 06-2003
Posted on Sunday, March 13, 2005 - 03:28 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

How about using a thick layer of something soft, like closed-cell foam or carpet underlay, attached to the lid? If you made the lid out of a decent chunk of plywood, with a layer of styrofoam, and then your soft layer, it would probably be heavy enough to make a nice seal each time.

I would be tempted though to get another sheet of styrofoam and seal it across the top of your box, with a cutout for access. This way you have a nice flat surface to seal against, and the piece you cut out can be stuck to the underside of the lid as extra insulation and to help locate the lid.
Wortgames is an independent home brewer, and has no commercial interests in the brewing arena. In fact, brewing is a significant burden on his resources.
 

Roger Herpst
Junior Member
Username: Roger456

Post Number: 46
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Monday, March 14, 2005 - 05:16 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

WHen I read that yesterday, I didn't understand. Now it becomes clear, thanks wortgames
 

Wortgames
Junior Member
Username: Wortgames

Post Number: 61
Registered: 06-2003
Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2005 - 12:41 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Maybe you can explain it to me then!
Wortgames is an independent home brewer, and has no commercial interests in the brewing arena. In fact, brewing is largely a gadget-based obsession that places a significant burden on his resources.
 

Tom Burk
Junior Member
Username: Tomburk

Post Number: 83
Registered: 03-2003
Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2005 - 11:47 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Roger, how about a double layer foam lid. One piece fits snugly inside the opening and the other covers to the outside edge. With them fastened together it will give you 2" to 4" for the lid depending on the foam you use.I've had good luck sealing lids like that with foam tape designed to seal truck caps onto beds. One side adhesive and the other wasn't, so the lid lifts right off.
 

Roger Herpst
Junior Member
Username: Roger456

Post Number: 50
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 01:36 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for the replies wortgames & tom. It turns out that the big bead of silicon is doing a good job of sealing the lid to the box with a couple of well placed empty cornies. I've examined the seal by shining a light all the way around the exterior of the lid and looking through a short section between the box & lid without silicone (I ran out!). I also made a skirt out of duct tape that goes around the lid and hangs over the edge in an attempt to minimize heat transfer.

If the weather cools back down next weekend I might modify the box in the way that you both suggest, though with a different material. That is, I will cut a frame of plywood to make a smooth edge around the top of the box, then I will use the cut out by gluing it to the bottom of the lid to seat it in place. Oh, and I'll be switching from the prewired Johnson control I settled for (It was already wired) for the aforementioned Ranco, so I don't have to peek inside to get an idea of what the temp is.

R
 

Roger Herpst
Junior Member
Username: Roger456

Post Number: 51
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 02:01 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

exterior
This is the way it is sealed down right now... looks solame with those cornies on top, I might have to get to that plywood lid idea sooner. Maybe a rigid sheet of plastic on the top of the lid and the sides of the box to protect the insulation and let me use the lid as a counter top.
 

Roger Herpst
Junior Member
Username: Roger456

Post Number: 52
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 02:06 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Gap / Flap / Temp Controller
This is the spot where I ran out of silicone. I'll be fixing that soon. You can see the duct tape flap, my hand, and the johnson control in the upper left.
 

Roger Herpst
Junior Member
Username: Roger456

Post Number: 53
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 02:11 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Brew, thermometer, & bulb
Here's a wheat beer, a fridge thermometer, and the temp controller bulb. I check the fermometer on the bucket, and adjust the temp controller accordingly.
 

Belly Buster Bob
Senior Member
Username: Canman

Post Number: 2223
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 02:28 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Roger...I've been tossing around a similar Idea for a bar cooler to hold 4 kegs. Do you know how many times in any hour the fridge comes on?
I suggest you sit in front of it for 1 hour just to get me my answer
Bellybuster Bob
www.bellybuster.netfirms.com
 

Roger Herpst
Junior Member
Username: Roger456

Post Number: 55
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 08:05 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'll be brewing in the vicinity of this beast on Sunday, so I'll be sitting in front of it for several hours. I'll hook up a light to the temp controller so that I can see how often it turns on.

Since I have it set to just 60F, I think that it's safe to say it won't be cycling on nearly as much as if it were set in the 40s for serving/lagering.
 

Steve Funk
Junior Member
Username: Tundra45

Post Number: 60
Registered: 06-2004
Posted on Wednesday, March 23, 2005 - 08:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm curious if that small frig setup can keep ~45F temps at 70F ambient when full with an active lager fermentation without running too much. I have a couple small glass display coolers that I'd like to adapt to accomodate a sanke fermenter. I'm thinking of using fiberglass re-enforced paneling on the interior to seal and create a vapor barrier. Air leaks in refrigeration chambers can lead to premature compressor failure.

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