Thursday, April 2, 2009

Make Your Own Keggle Sight Glass

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With some simple tools and a little basic understanding any one can make a sight glass for their keggle or pot in a couple hours time. Below are pictured the parts (sorry about the pic quality) that are available at the local hardware store with the exception of the clear plastic tube which can be found at a plastics place.

3/8" compression
1/2" compression with plastic sleeve and nut
15" of copper pipe 1/2" with 1/2" cap (grind to within 1" at each end)
14 3/4" plastic tubing 1/2" outside dimension
1/2" x 1/2" female elbow
1/2" male pipe thread x 1/2" compression adapter
1/2" male pipe thread x 3/8" compression adapter
1/2" o-ring or similar washer
3/16" eye bolt with 2 nuts

The first step is to cut a length of 1/2" copper pipe to 15" and grind the copper down the length so that you go through the pipe leaving a narrow channel. I used a table top belt sander for this process. Before you start grinding, mark with a sharpie two lines 1" from each end. This will keep you from grinding off the metal too close to the ends. As you grind or sand away the material keep track of how deep you have gone, at a certain point you will have sanded through the body but a thin layer of copper will still be covering this area and you should scrape or cut this material out so you can see your progress better. The idea is to get a straight even channel cut out stopping short of each end. To see a video on making this extruded copper piece, go here. When the grinding is done, the hard part is over. Solder the 1/2" cap to one end. If you don't solder, it's no problem, just crimp the cap very slightly and press in place. Next, after applying teflon tape, screw the 3/8" and 1/2" compression adapters into the 1/2" elbow and tighten. Next, slip the 1/2" nut and plastic sleeve onto the plastic tubing and secure the tubing to the adapter that is now in the elbow. You can now slip the copper tubing over the plastic tubing.

You will need to drill a 3/8" hole in your keggle or pot to attach the elbow. I positioned mine low on the keg but above the radius area, where the side get flat (if that makes sense). I drilled a 3/16" pilot hole followed by the 3/8" bit. Some suggest using oil or water where you drill the hole to help in the process but I just drill through and had no problem. You also need to drill a 3/16" hole in the upper apron of the keg to install the eye bolt. This should be directly above the other hole and the eye bolt will be installed here to hold the upper end of the sight glass in place.

Place the rubber washer on the 3/8" compression adapter and push threaded portion through the keg. From the inside of the keg, attach 3/8" compression nut and tighten. Install eye bolt over the top of the sight glass. You will adjust the depth of the eye bolt by first screwing on one of the nuts then after pushing the eye bolt through the hole you drilled and attaching the other nut on the inside of the apron. Loosen or tighten the outer nut to adjust the depth.

That's it. You now have a sight glass. I hope the
pictures help because after reading what I just
wrote, even I am confused. Good luck. Since this post I've come up with an alternative that is better and easier.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comment area below.
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Nick said...

This is very cool. I am glad I ran across your site and saw the homemade site glass.
I really like the copper shroud that protects the glass. Very cool! said...

Thanks Nick,
and it's important that if you make one of these that you use a "plastic" sleeve with the 1/2" compression nut to prevent the compression from squeezing the tubing too badly and causing it to leak.

Andrew said...

I want to make one of these but I want to make sure I am reading this right. The parts list calls for 15" of copper pipe, then the first sentence in the instructions say to cut the pipe down to 23".

If you could clarify, that would be much appreciated!!


Beer Diary... said...

Thanks for the correction, you should cut the copper pipe to 15" not 23". I have corrected the typo on the post. Good luck with the project and thanks for reading Beer Diary...

patrick said...

would the placement be the same if i were to put this on my mash tun? since fly sparging with the manifold in my lid im in need of a sight glass and finding this site made my year.

Beer Diary... said...

Yes, the sight glass can be located in the same way for your mash tun however, if you are using a false bottom you may not be able to position the sight glass low enough to be below the false bottom. If this is the case, I would attach a braided hose filter to prevent too much grain from entering the tube. Additionally, rinse the sight glass thoroughly when done.
Thanks for enjoying Beer Diary...

Patrick said...

sounds great, thank you for the advice!

Anonymous said...

Where do you find the plastic tubing? I'm having a hard time locating that. Thanks!

Beer Diary... said...

In Santa Cruz near where I live is a shop that sells all kinds of plastic and acrylic sheets, rods and tubing. They are a fabrication shop for the most part but will sell material as well. Wherever you live, do a search for plastic fabrication and I'm sure they will have the tubing. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Very cool and simple. Thank you for sharing what you've figured out already. Cheers.

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