Saturday, December 12, 2015

Building a Jockey Box, my way

This is something that I've always wanted to build and own.  Something that if built correctly, should have years and years of enjoyment.  Before this my problem was, not how to build a Jockey Box, but how to build a Dream Jockey Box.  Something that works, all the time, tossing costs out the window.  Now this is more difficult than it seems.  Most Jockey Boxes (JB from here on out) are build to sell and not built to use.  What does that mean?  Simply put, they are price point items.  A good example is this one.  Which is mostly achieved by cutting corners on the cooling element(s) or the coil length.

So let me explain my thinking when trying to build my Dream Jockey Box:

  • Coil Only, the hate for cold plates are well documented.  The hate for coils is solely length related.
  • So two 120ft stainless coil are needed.  Please do NOT use Copper. 
  • I wanted 2 taps, since more choices are better.  (remember you do not need to use both at the same time)
  • Solid Metal cooler.  Staying away from the toss-a-way red and blue cheapies that don't hold ice more than an afternoon.
  • Everything stainless.  From the shanks to the couplers to the nuts, no brass (hey... except the taps, which I'm changing soon.)
  • Needs to last 10+ years with solid 10 to 12 uses per year over 3 to 4 days at a time.
  • No drip collectors since when camping no one cares anyway. 
  • Make it look freaking awesome if at all possible.
So my list was set.  A double tap setup in a metal cooler.  All stainless parts.   Seems simple enough. :)  right? 

So started with a Colman Classic Cooler in Hunter Green and white trim.  This classic cooler can hold 60 cans and is about as small as you would want to go if building a cooler with my specs.  Its pretty tight inside once all done.  Since this cooler had a classic green paint and a plastic white bottom and trim, I wanted the parts that are not stainless painted white to match.  This cooler will also hold ice for 4 days if you keep the lid closed.  Which is perfect for a jockey box. 

For the coils, I went to Beverage Factory purchasing two 120ft stainless coils in 5/8th into 3/8th's ID.  This is as narrow and as long as I would recommend.  Issues with using smaller length coils are plates are well documented.  I wanted the kegs to be at ambient temperatures (outside), not worrying about keeping them I needed the JB able to pour 4 to 5 pints in concession.  Hear me out, while camping (BTW I purchased a 2015 Rockwood Pop-up Camper) normally I finish my drink along with 3 to 5 buddies and then walk over to the JB together, pouring in rapid fire.  I will not tolerate warm beers at this point.  Which is why I wanted to go with at least 120ft coils.  In my finished JB testing, a warm 75° keg will pour 8 pints below 39° before I gave up with no temp change.

Left and Right Hand coils (the back shanks are not installed yet)

For the fittings I again purchased everything from Beverage Factory.  Using 3" stainless shanks on the front with 5/8th's stainless tailpiece(s).  Which attaches directly onto the coils.  For the back end, I went with 3" stainless threaded couplers which go from the coils onto a 1/4 tailpiece to the back of the JB.  I wanted everything threaded and not sodded in, so that I can disassemble it quickly for cleaning.  This also helps with attaching it to my brewing Camlocks and March pump for easy cleaning.

Painted the plastic shank surrounds white to match the trim

Assembly was easy with a 5/8th's hole bit that costs around $20.00 at Home Depot.  It was used on the front two holes and the back two holes.  I then filled the gaps with 100% clear silicone to keep the water out.  On this cooler there is a lip about three inches down from the lip/top.  I wanted to drill above that lip on the taps and below that lip on the "beer in" due to the way the hinges are.  So I had to bend the coils down a little bit to use the thicker area on the cooler.  Just be aware of this if you use a coil that has a exit point that is lower or taller than the top, or is short and wide.  When looking some other brands had the "Beer In" coming thru the coils about 3/4 of the way up.  Not out the top of the coils.  This also could cause problems being below the water level inside the cooler and rotting.

Rear (Beer in)
To date I've used the JB 6 times in 4 months.  So the investment, while large is paying off.  I think I am going to add a double secondary regulator on the back of the cooler, but that's down the road.  The 120ft coils do hold about 5 to 6 pints of liquid inside them, so keep that in mind when pouring. 

I've found an ambient Co2 tank needs to be around 13-18 psi to properly serve one keg of beer.  Remember 120ft stainless is a long draw.  I have had zero foaming issues.  In fact, they have been a little under carbonated in my testing so far.  But that is a much beer problem to have vs foam bombs. 

Cleaning is very simple with a 1/2" I.D. tailpeice that I have attached to a silicone tube (about 18" long) with a camlock at the end of.  This then attaches to my Brewing Tower and March pump.  I simply fill a kettle with hot water or cleaner and use the march pump to push the liquid thru the coils/taps. 

Now I need to work on a Co2 adapter for pushing out the left over continues. 


  1. I think the cooler selection makes the whole project. Looks classy.

  2. Thank you Daniel. Me to

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