A General Warning on Purchasing Kegs - New or Used

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A General Warning on Purchasing Kegs - New or Used

Post by BIABrewer » 1 year ago

Preface: This post claims copyright. You may though link to it or, instead, copy it in entirety, including this preface and the diagram. Partial copies are not permitted.

It is very important that you check and investigate the quality of kegs before purchasing.

Brand New doesn't mean they are Quality Kegs

More and more brand new kegs are being offered to the home brewer however, the quality of these kegs is often poor. These brand new kegs come in many shapes and forms; some even look identical to genuine Cornelius kegs.

The rapid increase in low quality brand new kegs being offered in the market will act as a time-bomb for home brewers. About 8 years ago, PistolPatch purchased probably the first batch of brand new kegs. It took about a year for problems to develop and about another three years for him to work out that it was the kegs causing off-flavours and, even, infections. (Brand new kegs, perfectly maintained are the last place you would think to look for a problem.) After that, he managed to get his kegs replaced with brand new ones that were of even worse design. He's often warned of this in posts on BIABrewer.info but, as the trend towards new kegs has not abated, a general warning seems appropriate.

It also seems that some others are now starting to recognise this problem.

Because of the above, Used Kegs for Sale could also Become a Problem in the Market

As time goes on, some brewers who develop a problem with their kegs will try and sell them on the open market, unethically handing their problem onto you. Whilst we see no evidence of this as yet, we haven't looked for it but it is sure to occur so be aware of that.

What are the Problems?

There are several "slow-release" problems. The first culprit is poor welding. Pitting on the inside of the keg welds acts as the perfect harbour for microbes to reside and they are impossible to remove. In desperation, at one point, PistolPatch boiled his kegs in a kettle but this only brought a few months of relief. Some kegs also have a flange on the welds. Stainless steel quality is another problem.

Instant problems include quality/match of the posts and the pressure rating. Some kegs being sold will not accept 'normal' disconnects. Others being sold won't handle the pressure we would expect them to.

What to Check

The diagram below illustrates what to check. If you have any questions or know of a source of quality kegs you are most welcome to post them in this thread.

Cheers,
BIABrewer
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Last edited by BIABrewer on 30 Apr 2016, 02:00, edited 1 time in total.


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Post by Hoover » 1 year ago

If this is the case, we need a list of approved suppliers in each country! I was going to start setting up this weekend !


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Post by PistolPatch » 1 year ago

I must say that those kegs nearly made me give up brewing - again.

I'd given up twice before, the first time twenty years ago and the second time about ten years later, both brewing with tinned extract kits. That's another story though.

My palate is hopeless at picking up some things and excellent at picking up some others. I suspect, but, don't really know as yet, that might be true of everyone. When I was going through the keg problem above, I found many of my beers undrinkable whilst others found them great. Some of them even got Silver medals despite having a real acetaldehyde problem. (A few knowledgeable/pro brewers I know here also noticed it so it wasn't just me.)

I think the BIABrewer post above covers everything except the cost.

After quitting brewing twice before, I was determined on my third attempt to do everything right, forget the cost. I was going to (and did) buy a fridge and kegs. How could I go wrong? After a few awful tinned extract beers, I was ready to give up again but then found Aussienomebrewer (don't bother going there now as the site is nothing like what it was ten years ago, pretty much totally destroyed) and I learned all-grain.

So I brewed heaps of great beers and then, very slowly, this problem crept in, very randomly at first. I blamed yeast at first and then went on to blame, and replace, many other things. Whilst I was a new brewer then, I doubt even an experienced brewer would question brand new kegs.

I cleaned and sanitised furiously, I replaced fermenters, beer lines, connectors and god knows how many other things. It was a big financial cost and a massive labour cost. Has anyone else here boiled their kegs? That was my last act of desperation.

I looked inside my kegs. I had, by that time, heard they can rust but I never noticed that. Finally, I bought a telescopic mirror so I could look at the welds more closely. I also, by that time, had far more knowledge. WTF? There was no way those welds could be kept sanitary!

After a lot of to and fro, the distributor finally agreed to replace the kegs with worse ones! The BIABrewer post above explains that. Eventually, I got my money back but, that was tiny compensation compared to all the other bits and pieces I had replaced let alone the many tedious hours I spent cleaning and sanitising plus the hours spent making beers I ended up throwing out. The last bit was the worst.

...

One thing to remember about this site is that it has no affiliations so information you find here you won't find anywhere else. In fact, a lot of stuff you find on this site (Clear Brewing Terminology and the BIABacus are two fast examples), whilst totally correct, are a real threat to the status quo.

I've never written this before, but, if you do appreciate this site, please read my signature and act upon it. Becoming a Donor doesn't really make any financial difference; it does though, send a tangible signal that you do appreciate the innovation, time and attention given here.

:peace:
PP
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Post by dom » 1 year ago

Hmmm... I've bought 3 used Corneys with some questionable welding too. So far I don't *think* this has caused a problem, although I had a drain pour a couple of batches ago but put that down to yeast. There are a lot of used corneys here in NZ that people are using, and as I say some have questionable welds. Thanks for raising this.
cheers


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Post by Pat » 1 year ago

Hoover wrote:If this is the case, we need a list of approved suppliers in each country! I was going to start setting up this weekend !
That would be excellent but would be very hard to do. On my research to date, if buying new kegs, I would ensure that they originate from AEB in Italy and are of the "NC" type. NC means "non-Coca Cola" and so will be ball-lock kegs. Even if they do originate from AEB, check the points made in the BIABrewer diagram in the first post.

If not buying new, I would go for used cornies however...
dom wrote:Hmmm... I've bought 3 used Corneys with some questionable welding too.
From dom's post, it is possible that the used cornie problem is already beginning. Many non-genuine cornies look identical to the genuine ones. Once again, check the BIABrewer diagram in the first post before purchasing.

I'll get some pics of the internal welds of my kegs in the next few days.

Cheers,
Pat
Last edited by Pat on 05 May 2016, 22:39, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by PistolPatch » 1 year ago

Okay, before I forget, there are two other big problems that can drive you mad with crappy kegs...

Problem 1: Welding: Covered above.

Problem 2: Posts: Test that you can easily connect and disconnect your gas and liquid connectors. Posts that are not manufactured within tight tolerances will cause you a world of grief.

Problem 3: Poppets: These are the bit in the post that makes a seal when you remove a connector from the keg. Imagine removing the connector and the poppet not seating correctly? Beer sprays everywhere in a fine mist and you are forced to using a strong but really narrow round implement to repeatedly push the poppet up and down until it finally/hopefully seals.

...

I've been sold many kegs in the last ten years. The problems above have cost me so much. In lost beer, I would estimate I lost 5 times the volume of every dodgy keg I bought (but probably ten times). In time, trying to solve the insolvable, I'd guess each keg cost me 15 hours. I can't put a value on the frustration of dodgy posts and poppets.

...

I could say a lot more than I have but I think the above is enough. I'm really pissed off at the retailers who sold me those kegs. All I'll say here is that before you buy any kegs, ask for a written, money-back guarantee on the above three problems.

I'm not sure why some retailers sell crap kegs (and other stuff) as all it will do is force serious brewers to stop brewing. But, then again, I suppose if you have sold them everything you can imagine, before they give up, then that is a good business model for the unscrupulous?

:think:
PP
Last edited by PistolPatch on 19 May 2016, 23:44, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Scott » 1 year ago

This is the first I've seen of this post... Missed it before.

I have 6 Corney kegs now. 2 of the 6 were bought from Adventures in Homebrewing, here in the US. They get plugged from the Brulosophy site... They look great but the poppets are so stiff it seems to slow down the flow of beer dramatically compared to the other Corneys... I complained to AIB and they sent me more brand new poppets, identical to what was in there already, so I decided not to mess with changing them. Hoped in time they would "break in". I'll have to pay closer attention when cleaning these kegs for some of the issues you mentioned. These new ones were priced about the same as used ones and I thought this was the right move...

Hopefully no problems... :think:

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Post by mally » 1 year ago

There is a keg beginning to win over corny users here in the UK called crusader.

Access isn't as good as cornies...... but look, no poppets!!!! :champ:

If interested look at the "KEGS", they have stock & bespoke which show the range.

Based on history though Pat, these would probably still bring problems & woes, just different! :lol:
Last edited by mally on 20 May 2016, 15:06, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by PistolPatch » 1 year ago

Scott: Glad you found the post and that's great you are going to check the things mentioned in the BIABrewer.info original post. (More below on poppets).

mally: The link above isn't working but I got to the site with this link okay. It looks like they are using Sanke fittings - such a setup AEB calls a closed container versus the Cornie type which they call an open container (meaning you can reach into it.

I think you've nailed it on the access side of things. I really wouldn't want to buy a "closed container" unless I had a keg washer designed to handle them.

I also couldn't find any pressure ratings on their kegs and, who knows what the welds are like?

An Update of My Situation

I threw the towel in yesterday and decided to buy all new AEB closed containers (Corny kegs - the NC ones). I picked up four yesterday and will grab the other four in the next few days. To make that decision was expensive and frustrating but, I was really pleased to receive a response from my retailer (after sending a grumpy email requesting a refund on my old cornies :)), agreeing to a refund on my old cornies. He also mentioned that the Chinese stuff is getting better over time so fingers crossed that these problems will become less and less.

I really don't have the financial resources to be going and buying 8 new kegs but, if I had my time again, and knew what I know now, I would have bought one or two of the AEB kegs, new, every few years until I had my eight kegs. Not only would it have saved me financially so much but also hours and hours of really unpleasant frustration.

Last night, I actually sat here, connecting and disconnecting the disconnects from my new kegs, savouring the beauty of just having things work. Now, instead of swearing every time I have to approach my kegs, I'll be happy and we should be happy brewing.

Poppets

Scott, your example is a good one. If you wanted to swap those poppets for genuine ones, it is going to cost a lot. When you say "sticky," do you mean extremely hard to connect and disconnect? Sort of like when you put the liquid on the gas or vice versa? If it is that bad, I'd really consider saying to the retailer that they are "not fit for purpose".

If not that bad, there are some other options. One is to use food-grade lubricant. Put that on your posts sparingly. I've done that but don't like it as it is an oil so it will naturally attract dirt. What I'm trying as of today is a spray on dry silicone lubricant. Careful what you buy though as some of them have a real citronella smell about them (eg the WD40 silicone lubricant - and isn't "dry"). The one I am using is Selleys Ezy Glide Dry Lubricant.

Spray some on a sanitised cloth and wipe it on the posts and let it dry. Also, if you use John Guest fittings, do the same with the end of your beer/gas lines - it will make them easier to disconnect.

I think that's it ;),
PP
Last edited by PistolPatch on 20 May 2016, 22:12, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Scott » 1 year ago

One of my older used Cornys is extremely difficult to connect and disconnect... May just replace the poppet valve completely.

The new, likely Chinese ones are stiff to push on but the diameter is for sure right... But the springs are very stiff and the beer flow is less than the used kegs.

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Post by Lumpy5oh » 1 year ago

I can't believe the issues everyone is having here with kegs. Maybe I've just been lucky enough to have a great retailer with a number of options for kegs and a boat load of pretty inexpensive parts to fix them.
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Post by Hoover » 1 year ago

Sounds like a minefield.


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Post by Scott » 1 year ago

Hoover, I don't see it as all that bad... Really I do not enjoy bottling, and love being able to go out to my taps and pour the size of beer that I want... So kegging is overall very worth it in my opinion.


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Re: A General Warning on Purchasing Kegs - New or Used

Post by Jamato » 7 months ago

I remember when pepsi and coke went over to the plastic and cardboard containers they use now. We all were able to go behind restaurants and bars and grab all the corneys we wanted for free, they were throwing them out. I think at one time I had 30 in my garage rafters. I slowly traded most of them off for stuff until I now have the best 8 of the lot, but they are beginning to show their age and I am looking around for new pinlocks with out the fittings I can put ball locks on. Pin Locks fit better in my Keezer. I look at the cost of new corneys and just about choke. And then I read this, about substandard work. I guess we should expect it, we ship off our jobs to countries that have little experience for the cheap labor. Any way are there any brands that seem to be building better corneys we can look for?
Temperance is for those who cannot hold their liquor :drink: :drink:


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Re: A General Warning on Purchasing Kegs - New or Used

Post by PistolPatch » 7 months ago

Jamato wrote:
7 months ago
...are there any brands that seem to be building better corneys we can look for?
Pat wrote:
1 year ago
On my research to date, if buying new kegs, I would ensure that they originate from AEB in Italy and are of the "NC" type. NC means "non-Coca Cola" and so will be ball-lock kegs. Even if they do originate from AEB, check the points made in the BIABrewer diagram in the first post.
This is the brand I ended up with after going through all the prior drams I wrote about. Also buy quality posts and disconnects (Cornelius brand) as some, not all, generics can be a total PITA to connect and disconnect. Avoid 'Post' Traumatic Stress Disorder at all costs!
Last edited by PistolPatch on 09 May 2017, 11:21, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A General Warning on Purchasing Kegs - New or Used

Post by Jamato » 7 months ago

Thanks Pistol
great info
I do like the shorter kegs for my Keezer, I convert them to Ball lock. And I have found out about Cornelius fittings in my travels, I have had issues disconnecting generics.
somehow I wish that the sellers would get the message about cheap gods from China. I go out of my way not to buy the stuff because it never last.
Sorry guys but there is no quality control, just pump it out and let the retailer deal with the returns seems to be the policy they have.
Sorry for the rant
I need to get new kegs and this info resures me that good product can be found.
Temperance is for those who cannot hold their liquor :drink: :drink:

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