Mar 08

Overbrew! brewverflow?

Overbrew! brewverflow?

Posting form my phone is a little annoying – but it’s better than nothing. The text above was all I sent – but I had to remove 3 paragraphs of drivel that Verizon felt they needed to add. And of course being a phone it’s hard to enter much of a message.

The cause for such spur the moment updating however is our critical capacity on homebrew. The Yuma Brewers have been busy this year even if we haven’t been updating our old blog! Matt’s fridge is at capacity – plus J has some kegs at his house in his new converted freezer. Mark found us a pile of new kegs and Rich just got a used fridge for $10. And don’t forget my own cooler project.

Matts freezer/fridge above is holding 7 kegs and a 20lb CO2 bottle, we could move the CO2 out to make room for one more keg…but he’s basically at capacity. We did finish one of those last Wednesday, and one will be coming over here tomorrow for my birthday party. Thanks to Tommy we’ll also be tapping tomorrows beer with Nitrogen which will be an exciting experiment. But we’ve got more waiting to go into kegs so it’s a good thing more homes for them are becoming available!

Mar 08

Crazy project update (Take 2)

Hmmm, didn’t get any images with that. Apparently Picasa’s blogging features still have some issues even if you stick to their <=4 images rule. So here goes again:

Well, with my dad posting his much anticipated big reveal – I figure it’s time for me go to the other direction and post an incremental update on my latest crazy project. Namely the conversion of our back cabinet into a beer/whine fridge. When I last blogged about this I left the insulation specifics somewhat up in the air. Since then I’ve spoken to our resident refrigeration expert and decided on my final plan of attack (Well for everything except the doors. The first layer will be aluminum foil to act as a reflective heat barrier and somewhat as a moisture barrier. After that will be a layer of plastic to make sure I’ve got a good external moisture barrier. I’ve been working on layer one since before my last post about this, but it was just today that I finished it:

While I do expect the aluminum to help as a moisture barrier…I didn’t go crazy making sure it was 100% airtight since I still have the plastic layer (and a few other layers) coming. I did use 3M Super 77 spray glue to bond the aluminum to the walls and itself so even where it appears there are gaps usually there’s a layer underneath and it is all sealed at some point. Lines for more serving taps will require more holes in the future…but for now I just want to keep the holes as small as possible even though my tap is insulated inside.

Oh yeah, I also picked up some Brasso and cleaned the tap tower back up again. It had gotten real nasty looking living outside as long as it had without being cleaned. And I picked up some vintage tap handles cheap on ebay…well most were cheap. This one I paid a bit much for..but I just had to have it to go with my Schlitz ball and in memory of many a happily wasted evening at the union. Goes rather nice with the brass tower I think!

So layer one is finished. Tomorrow I’ll try and do layer 2 – the plastic moisture barrier. Once that’s up layers 3 and 4 should go quick and easy since I have them on hand…but just what they are I think I’ll leave up to the imagination for now.

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Feb 08

Latest Crazy Project

So, a few weeks ago we finally got around to holding our housewarming party. I had my camera sitting at the ready in my office (which was pretty much centrally located for the festivities) but was so busy with other things I only really had one or two photos that I took!

I had taken a pano of the backyard before the party started…but I’ve been having some serious exposure issues with my camera lately and need to setup to tests to see if I’m crazy or if the camera is. It may just be that the dynamic range in my yard is way too much for the D7…I have a feeling it may be a lens issue though. Reminds me of a previous issue I had with one of my cameras…but that’s a whole different story. Maybe if I find my old film cameras while organizing the house I’ll talk about it. But it’s not the story for today the point right now is either I’ve completely forgotten how to meter a scene…or my camera isn’t really doing what it says it’s doing. Don’t rule out me completely forgetting about some setting I forgot I had changed in some special situation and just need to change back. This one frame from that series though showed a good “party mode” before photo of our designated bar. Here’s a little less “formal” (though the tap has now been polished) day to day view of it as I prepare to embark on my latest experiment:

The tap when up hours before the party after a few days of debating where it should go. With the tap in place the question became of course…how to keep the beer cold. For now we’re just using a bucket of ice with the 5gal homebrew keg sitting in it. It works…but I can’t leave the beer in place and have to move it to the fridge at the end of a party. But we do use that fridge for some things so having the beer take up space isn’t a permanant solution. I also don’t want to drill a hole (it’s a nice fridge), use the ice water inlet or any other modifications to the fridge.

So I figured why not use the space under the tap! This space isn’t used for much of anything right now other than as a bar at parties and storing coolers. The area on the left with the red grill on top does not open, it is open to the left side. The power outlet available just above the counter is shared with the fridge. I found what I believe to be a gas line capped off inside the cabinet under one of the temporary “floors” that the previous owner had set in it. The fridge seldom runs right now in the winter. I had a fridge in a Yuma garage and have several friends with outdoor or garage fridges, freezers and freezers converted into fridges. I have an idea what to expect if I’m going to turn this cabinet into something truely usefull for us.

I figured Amy would never go for it – but when I offered to build a wine rack into 1/3rd of the cabinet she becam very supportive! I did find some inspiration and potential validation that my idea could work and is worth pursuing. I figure as a first step I can just turn the cabinet into a large cooler and see how long it will keep a 5 gallon bucket of ice. Won’t cost too much and will still make it more useful. The space available is only 46 cubic feet – and it will probably be less since I’m planning an inch or two of insulation on top of the studs.

The construction of the existing cabinet is pretty good. It’s all at least as square as I could get it, pressure treated lumber was used for the ground contact and it’s on a nice flat slab (with water, gas and drain available). As well as being on a slab it’s up against a large brick wall. I’m not sure if this thermal mass behind and under it will help me or hurt me…this part of the wall is pretty much in constant shade and seems to stay consistently cool. But I haven’t been here for a summer yet and Yuma summers are INTENSE so there’s a good chance that all that thermal mass could work against me if the sun gets near it. The hole for the tap is very small. I will be enlarging it at some point so I can upgrade to a 3 or 4 tap tower – but that’s way down the road unless I find a screaming deal. The west wall (Left in the overview photos) is a solid board much like the north wall seen on the left here. The east wall is just slats however. The south wall (my worst for sun exposure) is the doors.

I’m going with a multiple layer approach to insulation to try and help deal with the extreme yuma summer temperatures. The first step is about half done. I also have supplies for the second and third layers. So far I have less invested than it cost for us to go bowling last Saturday but the big budget item will be a way of keeping this box cold once it’s insulated. I have some ideas there…but like the details on insulation they’ll have to wait for another day.

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