Adding a Tri-clamp Fitting to a Homebrew Keg Lid!

This article is by Homebrew Finds Reader Kris G.  Thank you Kris for your creativity and hard work!

Editors Note: This is an advanced project that requires additional tools, skill and materials. This post outlines the process that Kris took to modify his keg lid with a weldless tri-clamp bulkhead.

Adding a Tri-clamp Fitting to a Homebrew Keg Lid

Carboys, conicals, buckets, kegs, etc. There is an ever-growing number of options for fermentation vessels. I recently moved away from carboys to experiment with pressurized fermentation. I didn’t feel like buying anything new, so why not repurpose a corny keg for fermentation? This past year I “right-sized” my batches down to 2.5-3 gallons making a corny the perfect size for fermenting. With a couple modifications (shortened dip tube, hop screen, etc), I had an old 5 gallon corny now as a dedicated fermenter. An added bonus was that it fit perfectly in my temp-controlled chest freezer.

Fermenting in a Keg Using TC Equipped Lid


Related: Fermenting Under Pressure


I started seeing some other homebrew fermenters with tri-clamp connections on top. Blogs all around showed them used with blowoff tubes, thermowells, carbonation stones, CIP spray balls, etc. It seemed like a great universal connection with a ton of uses. Most importantly to me, I wanted the tri-clamp connection to build an oxygen-free dry hop dropper (that build is an article for another day).

TC Equipped Lid with Butterfly Valve – Also: Color Coded Keg O-Rings

Read on to see my trials and tribulations while adding a TC bulkhead to my corny lid.
Build note: This is a weldless build. If you’ve got the ability/skill/tools to weld stainless, go for it!

Safety Note: Ensure that you are using all tools properly and wearing all the proper PPE. You will be drilling/cutting metal which is both sharp and hot.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL WHEN FOLLOWING THESE INSTRUCTIONS.
HBF is not responsible for your irresponsibility. At time of this writing, I am fully up to date with my tetanus shot. That may or may not be related…

Supplies

Editors Note: Note that multiple variations of these products may be available, as such a different version may appear at these links. Double check sizes and features.


Converting a Homebrew Keg Lid to Tri-Clamp

This breaks down into 3 steps: (1) reversing/flipping the direction of the bail, (2) marking and drilling the hole, and (3) installing the bulkhead

Reversing the bail

Modified Lid with Reversed Bail

This is, by far, the hardest part of this build. If I knew I could have just welded it after, I would have cut the bracket that held the bail in place. If I try this again, I may attempt to cut the bracket and re-attach it with JB Weld KwikWeld for steel.

  •  Use pliers to pull off one of the rubber ends on the bail
  • Then using a combination of pliers, vise grips, trigger clamps, and workbench vise, I straightened the 90º bend as flat as possible at the end of the bail. (This is one of those times that I wish I just had the right tool for the job. I just don’t know what the ‘right’ tool would have been).
  • Using both trigger and C-clamps, I squeezed the bail until I could pull through the hole in the bracket.
  • To add some extra space to work, use a hacksaw to front part of the bracket that has the hole to lock the bail. Once it’s cut off, it would be a good idea to file down any sharp edges. I used a small rotary tool with a grinding stone for that, but a hand file would work, too.
  • Now feed the bail back into the brackets so that it faces the opposite direction closing over the PRV.
  • Using the vise grips, vise, pliers, elbow grease, brute force, etc, bend the end of the bail back down to a 90-ishº angle and push the rubber tip back on.

Marking and drilling the hole

The hard part is done. This next step is relatively easy, but requires some accuracy.

  •  Turn the lid over and place the large nut of the bulkhead on its underside.
  • The nut should be as far from the PRV as possible while still being able to rotate. Using a punch or auto-punch, mark the center point inside the nut.
  • Remove the nut and prepare to drill. Place the lid on a scrap piece of wood.
  • The tungsten carbide hole saw works perfectly in a cordless hand drill. No special drills or machines are needed to cut though the stainless. I successfully did it on 2 lids with no issue.
  • Once the hole is cut, file any sharp edges using a hand file or rotary tool.

Installing the bulkhead

The bulkhead comes with 2 large red o-rings. You only need one. The other is a spare. If you use both, the bulkhead will not hold pressure properly.

  • Slide the bulkhead through the hole with the o-ring on the top of the lid.
  • Tighten the nut on the bottom. I used channel lock pliers on the nut and I threw a clamp on the ferrule to tighten it as far as I could by hand.

There you have it! You have installed a tri-clamp ferrule on your corny keg lid. Now go out and find all the possible uses for this excellent connection.Pressure Test Using Spunding Valve

Results

  • Fully functioning 1.5” tri-clamp ferrule now attached to the corny keg lid
  • The lid easily goes on and off corny kegs, even with the new bulkhead. I actually find it easier than the carbonation caps I have.
  • Pressure tested at 22psi for 24+ hours with no leaks

Limitations

  • The reversed bail doesn’t fit on a standard keg with 2 rubber handles. I cut one of the handles to make room for the bail. It was easy enough with a reciprocating saw and 24tpi blade, but not ideal.
  • The lid can be installed or removed only when there are no attachments on the bulkhead. A cover and clamp is even too much.
  • The 1.5” tri-clamp butterfly valve isn’t quite big enough to reliably be used for a dry hopper setup. I have a new design in mind to solve that. I just haven’t purchased the pieces needed yet.
  • There is little room for error when drilling the hole. If it’s too far near the edge, the nut can’t tighten enough to seal the bulkhead. If it’s too close to the PRV, there’s not enough room to get a clamp around the ferrule.

Fermenting Under Pressure. Kveik NEIPA Day 6. Real life test, no leaks!  This is a sneak peek at Kris next write up – a Dry Hopper attachment.  Connect with Us to stay in the loop and see build details.


Supplies

Editors Note: Note that multiple variations of these products may be available, as such a different version may appear at these links. Double check sizes and features.


Single Strap Handle Kegs

Single strap handle keg design is required to work correctly with this build.

More Tri-Clamp Gear

More Homebrew Hacks!

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1 thought on “Adding a Tri-clamp Fitting to a Homebrew Keg Lid!

  1. Richard

    With the amount of hardware and the labor involved, it appears it would have been cheaper to buy an actual fermenter, designed for pressure fermenting.

    Reply

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