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I'm Feeling Clever

Perhaps this is already well known, but this week I was excited to discover that a 1/4" barb mates up perfectly with a standard bicycle pump.

After 5 years of bottling I’ve decided to give kegging a try. Money’s tight so I’ve been scouring Craigslist. I found an ad for pin-lock kegs, clean, pressure tight and $35 a piece. The price didn’t seem that great until I called the guy and found that they came with the disconnects and as much beverage tubing as I needed.

Of the two I picked out, one ended up having a leak around the relief valve. I truly believe the seller didn’t know. Long story short, my garage was quieter than his and I could hear the hiss when I got them home. Soapy water verified it was coming from the relief valve. Before spending $10 and shipping on a new relief valve, I decided to check the O-ring first.

I couldn’t find a square tool the right size to fit the socket in the valve, but managed to jam a large enough flat-head screw driver in there and unscrew it. The O-ring was badly mangled, but I then ran into my next problem. All the kegging and brewing websites sell replacement O-rings for the beer and gas ports and the lid, but nobody sells them for the valve.

Luckily, I found an O-ring at work that fit. I wanted to test it, but haven’t bought a CO2 tank yet. I also do not own an air compressor. I set out with the goal of rigging something to adapt my bicycle pump to the keg disconnects and was ecstatic to find I didn’t need to. It fit perfectly on the 1/4 barbs.

I pumped up to about 40 psi and it’s held for several days. I’m glad I don’t have to buy a new valve, but I am wondering whether Viton is an appropriate material for this application. Does anyone know?

Side note: Always replace the o-rings when buying used kegs and make sure to lube them up with some food grade lube.

P.S. $35 with disconnects and tubing is a great deal! My brew club sets up group buys and we can get the cost down to about $24-$25 per keg, but that does NOT include anything but the keg. And the o-rings ALWAYS need to be replaced. They even have soda in them sometimes! Gross :shock:

Thanks, Dobe. I do plan on buying the lube and new sets of O-rings for both kegs, but I’ve just been waiting 'til the next time I need ingredients.

I already asked whether a Viton O-ring would be suitable for a keg. Now that I think about it, I guess I ought to ask another question too. What kind of tool should I be using to install/unscrew a relief valve from a pin-lock keg? It looks like I could just use a socket wrench (without the socket), but most wrenches have either a 1/4" spindle or 3/8" spindle and the square hole in the valve seems to fall somewhere in between.

[quote=“Brick1083”]Thanks, Dobe. I do plan on buying the lube and new sets of O-rings for both kegs, but I’ve just been waiting 'til the next time I need ingredients.

I already asked whether a Viton O-ring would be suitable for a keg. Now that I think about it, I guess I ought to ask another question too. What kind of tool should I be using to install/unscrew a relief valve from a pin-lock keg? It looks like I could just use a socket wrench (without the socket), but most wrenches have either a 1/4" spindle or 3/8" spindle and the square hole in the valve seems to fall somewhere in between.[/quote]

Wish I had an answer for you… but do not. I have all ball lock kegs. They have 2 different relief valves. Meaning some of my kegs have one type… some have another. I’ve never had to remove the valves, but I’m sure someone on here will be able to help. Maybe you can post a picture or a link to the type of valve on your kegs.

Good suggestion. This is what the valves look like. Online, I’ve found several websites that sell them, but very little information beyond that. It’d be nice to know what O-ring size they’re built for and what sort of tool to install them with.

Here is a deal on some Orings that I put up in the past. Prices might have changed a little since then though.viewtopic.php?f=3&t=84210&p=786052&hilit=cheap+orings#p786052

Thanks, GC, but I’m looking for the O-ring that goes on the relief valve, not on the gas or beverage posts.

My local hardware store has a shipload of different O-rings. Try there.

You do know that beer pressurized with air rather than CO2 will go bad quickly? I would also be concerned that the bike pump may have oil in it.

Thanks for the replies, but I’m still looking for more answers. Either no-one else is using pin-lock kegs, or the relief valves never fail because information is hard to come by.

I may have a solution for an install tool, I just have to measure the square hole when I get home. If it is 5/16", I plan to buy square keystock and bend it 90* to make a tool in the style of an allen wrench.

I absolutely did not intend to pressurize my beer with a bike pump. That was only a crutch for pressure-testing my newly purchased kegs. Since then, I’ve purchased a used C02 tank & regulator and will be refilling it soon.

I do know where I can find O-rings. I don’t know which O-ring materials are acceptable for kegging and I’m not sure which size I need on the pin-lock relief valve.

The typical BUNA O-rings are fine. Just take your pressure relief valve with you to the hardware store.

As TG says, Buna-N (black) o-rings are standard in soda kegs. If it’s a pressure relief valve it’s an even more inert environment, since these typically are not constantly exposed to liquid. But anyway, go with buna-n, it’s the cheapest and most widely available type.

As far as removing the valve, could this use a standard square recess (sometimes called Robertson) bit? Look at the bits on this page

, many of the large screwdriver sets come with a few square recess drivers now. I’ve seen them used in screws meant to attach cement board or decking screws, but I’ve only seen ones smaller than 1/4" across the flats.

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