Cornelius Keg Startup Kit

I’ve made a reasonable effort to look for a straightforward answer to my question; “what the hell do I need to buy so that I can use my Cornelius (Corny) kegs?”.  I didn’t find a straightforward answer.  Is there one?

This will be a work in progress, hopefully with your friendly input, and then I’ll update at the end with the setup.

Updated 30/10/12:  Thanks to the very helpful comments below, I have now purchased everything I need, except the CO2 cylinder.  Time to go and find a friendly ‘local’ shop!

Here’s what I have on my shopping list so far:

  • Disconnect for CO2 (with 3/8″ John Guest push-fit)
  • Disconnect for beer (with 3/8″ John Guest push-fit)
  • Dispense line for gas (3/8″) 3ft 3″
  • Dispense line for beer (3/8″) 3ft 3″
  • Dispense line for beer (3/16″) 3ft 3″
  • Dispense tap (most likely a nice stainless one)
  • Female adapter to go from the brass (BSP thread) to John Guest. part no PI451213S (3/8″ x 3/8″)
  • John Guest straight reducer (3/8″ x 3/16″)
  • Replacement O Rings set for cornie

Here are the items that I know I need, but not sure which product:

  • Dual gauge CO2 regulator (any particular kind / compatibility? or just any?)   see suggestion in ‘comments’ from Jeff at Lovibonds.
  • CO2 bottle – hobbyweld

Here are the items I’ve purchased:

  • Dual gauge CO2 regulator – ebay £22.94 + £4.80 postage = £27.74
  • Tap – ebay £16.00 incl. postage = £16.00
  • *Disconnect for CO2 (with 3/8″ John Guest push-fit) £8.40
  • *Disconnect for beer (with 3/8″ John Guest push-fit) £8.40
  • *Dispense line for gas (3/8″) 3ft 3″ £0.80/m £0.80
  • *Dispense line for beer (3/8″) 3ft 3″ £0.80/m £0.80
  • *Dispense line for beer (3/16″) 3ft 3″ £0.50/m £1.00
  • *John Guest straight reducer (3/8″ x 3/16″) £2.40
  • *Replacement O Rings set for cornie £3.16
  • Female adapter to go from the brass (BSP thread) to John Guest. part no PI451213S (3/8″ x 3/8″) ebay £3.35 + £1.99 = too much £5.24
  • Running Total £69.68

*all items bought from Hop & Grape (running total incl. £4.70 delivery).

Update 20/11/12 :  I assembled the kit last week and kegged my first beer! AG#22 Tricks of the Shade, a 6% Black IPA.  After some initial issues with a leaky cornie lid, I took advice and spun the lid 180 degrees as some kegs fit better one way, also pressurised the keg to 40psi to get the lid to pop into place.  This worked.  I set it to 30psi for two days and then dropped to 11psi.   Thanks to the help from @leedsbrew @lovibonds @misterjk and @jamesbwxm.

Update 24/11/12 : I tried the beer this evening.  Result! No dramatic fobbing and a cold, lightly carbonated beer with a head!

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19 thoughts on “Cornelius Keg Startup Kit

  1. I have very recently done this. I should make some time and talk to you as I was meaning to do a blog post on it as I had all the same problems!

    I am still trying to iron out a couple of kinks, namely beer line lengths etc.

    Mike.

  2. Hey Dave,

    are u planning to use a regular fridge or chest freezer? Taps on the door or a tower?

    I would recommend using side loading fridges so u do not have to carry full kegs into the chest freezer. A tower is nice but not practical because the lines above the fridge compartment will be warm, and its a PITA to open if its placed by the wall.

    2.5kg CO2 tank is a good place to start, and its best to also get those gauge cage/protector cuz they get damaged very easily when (NOT IF BUT WHEN) tank drops.

    Perlick taps cost a little more but u wont regret it!! The cheaper generic ones can stick as beer gets dried up in the faucet, n u will have trouble dispensing the tap.

    Its better to err on longer beer lines so that u wont end up with half a glass of foam even when set to the right pressure/temperature setting for CO2 volume. 8 feet is generally the norm i guess.

    Spare O rings for the keg.

    Is it alot cheaper to assemble the kit yourself from different supplier than getting for a hbs that has ready kits available?

  3. Hi John,
    I’m planning to use a regular fridge. FOr starters, just one tap, most likely hanging loose 🙂

    Good tips on the cage, tap brand, line length, thanks.

    “Spare O rings for the keg”. Are you talking about the lid of the cornie?

    I’m yet to find a ready-assembled kit from a homebrew shop as they all include the kegs, which I already have. That’s not to say that there isn’t a shop doing this though. If I find one, I’ll cost it up both ways.

    Cheers.

    • Yeah O rings for the lid of the keg, just in case the old/current one doesn’t seal as well anymore. Its a small simple item but extremely important when ur losing pressure!!

      Regular fridge has more advantages really, and no risk of beer “accidentally” freezing (Dont ask).

      Have fun!!

  4. Hmm, where do I start.

    You do need a regulator. 100% CO2 regulators are usually all the same Female thread. If you get using mixed gas, those regulators typically have a Male thread on them. By dual gauge, it means that one of the gauges is the output pressure (pressure on keg) and the other gauge is the tank pressure. This gauge is meant to show you when you are about to run out…but the tank basically stays at 50bar until you run of of liquid CO2 and only have vapour left in the tank…which means that before you know it, the tank is empty before you were able to tell on the gauge…so this one is not necessarily useful. I recently bought a couple of these off ebay:

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/MIG-Gas-Regulator-Pub-Bottle-C02-Welding-Welder-conversion-Female-CO2-/290729569312?ssPageName=ADME:L:OC:GB:3160

    and they work fine…you will need an adapter to go from the brass to John Guest…part no PI451213S

    On CO2 bottles, as I said, most pub size bottles that I’ve seen all have the same thread. As a homebrewer I found it tricky to get CO2 as it is dangerous, you know. Originally I found a very small beer distributor that was willing to take the risk. Other options is to find a local welding or fire extinguisher shop. CO2 is CO2, don’t let anyone tell you differently…BOC has a lock on this market and won’t sell to you unless you have a business set up.

    On kegs…it depends on how you are cleaning…if you are dissembling each time, you will wear the two o-rings on the dip tubes (internal)…if not disturbed and cleaned in place (I built a keg wash), then these last for quite some time…and it is really just the o-rings on the outer posts that need replacement…as long as you are buying reconditioned kegs, these should have been replaced and will probably go for years without problems. Depending on how many kegs you are planning, it is worth having a spare set of o-rings around…note that they do come in different hardnesses and quality.

    Line balancing…here is an excerpt from an email that I sent to someone else recently:

    The Biggest lesson I’ve learned here is you need to start with the temperature that the beer is going to be at in the cellar/fridge. Then, if you know your CO2 level in volumes that is in the beer…simply use a CO2 Carbonation chart to determine the head pressure on the keg to keep it at that level of CO2.

    Once you know the head pressure needed to keep the gas in the beer…you just need to match that with line resistance… If you do not do this and have the gas set too low in the cellar, what happens is the gas comes out in the line and fobs like a fucker…if you have it too high, it may pour okay for a couple days, but then you over carbonate the beer and it starts fobbing like a fucker.

    Once you know the set point in the cellar you need to match this with the correct line resistance to have a balanced setup…assuming you are using standard kit, I use the following rough guidelines:

    3/8 OD beer tube resistance = 0.2 (note the point) psi per foot
    3/16 OD beer tube (this is the one you usually play with the length of to balance, connecting to the tap) = 5.8 psi per foot
    Height from middle of keg to tap = 0.5 psi per foot
    For Chillers I use the 3/8 rule above…with I believe 16 feet in a standard underbar chiller.

    So basically you will go from your keg to 3/8 John guest tubing for a majority of the run length and then you will reduce to 3/16 just before the tap…John Guest make every fitting under the sun, so download the catalog and start to familiarise yourself…a lot of the parts can be bought reasonably on ebay.

    Taps are another animal…you might want to start with a picnic tap, with the appropriate choker line on it…if you want to mount thru a fridge door, you need a tap and a Shank which is basically a stainless barrel that fits thru the door with the tap on one side and a John Guest fitting on the other…these I have yet to find in the UK…let me know if you find them…I built my 3 tap kegerator with parts I smuggled in from morebeer.com

    That’s all for now…hope that is clear as mud…any questions, let me know.

    Cheers,
    Jeff

  5. This year’s brewing xmas pressie was cornies, so you provided my shopping list, which saved the hassle of figuring out everything that I needed.

    My first brew is sitting in a keg as I type, and it should be drinkable in the next couple of days – so thanks a lot for this post!

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