Monday, June 22, 2009


Those of you who know me will vouch for my tendency to string together a home improvement solution out of miscellaneous items instead of spending the money on getting the right parts. Sometimes I do this out of ignorance of the existence of said parts, and other times I simply get fixated on an idea about how to do something and don't consider alternatives. This often results in a clunky failure, of course, and has led Amy to start using "trips to Lowe's" as a KPI on my efforts. ("Is this going to be a three-trip project?")

For the most part I have tried not to take my usual approach with the brewing project. I have purchased almost everything I'm using from known sources after tons of research. Even the mash/lauter tun I made out of the Gatorade cooler was provisioned with a parts list from someone else. Now, however, I find myself spiraling into the old ways when confronted with the problem of the CO2 system.

My primary regulator came with a threaded fitting that matches the ends of the pre-built CO2 supply lines I bought from Northern Brewer. Upon review it appears that this fitting is a 1/4" male flare connection. The supply line has a female 1/4" flare fitting attached to a 1/4" barb fitting. (The line is 1/4" ID clear tubing which is attached to a ball-lock quick disconnect.)

For a single keg installation it works as expected, but I need to be able to supply 3 or more kegs potentially at different pressures. The solution is a secondary regulator. I purchased a two-way one from MicroMatic. It has 3/8" barb fittings on both the inlet side and the two outlets. In theory I can supply one feed at serving pressure and one at carbing pressure, using tees and tubing to create manifolds for as many kegs as I want.

Here's the problem: how do I get the primary regulator, which terminates in the 1/4" flare fitting, to connect to the secondary regulator's 3/8" barb fitting? Once I have that, what do I use to get the 3/8" ID tubing coming off the secondary regulator to connect to the female flare fitting on the keg lines?

Using Amy's KPI as a reference, trip 1 got the correct tubing to make the connection (or so I thought). Trip 2 garnered me some additional parts out of which I can make a manifold, but I'm still short a key piece of the puzzle. I can't find anything like the 1/4" female connection on the pre-built gas supply line, which is what I need to connect to the primary regulator. Obviously I could sacrifice one of those lines and get a 1/4" to 3/8" barb coupler but that means I would have to somehow find the part eventually to repair the line, because I need it to pressurize a keg.

I'm open to suggestions.

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