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Installing a Wunder-Bar or Schroeder Bargun in your Home Bar


Wunderbar Bargun

Contact Tim or Pat at (800) 633-2256
to enquire about new or quality refurbished barguns.
Tim or Pat can also be reached at
orders@markpowers-and-company.com

Don't forget to ask for our premix bargun specials!
Ever considered installing your own bargun? I have - that's why I researched and wrote this article.

Did you know that you can buy soda syrup at retailers like Sams Club and Costco? And soda dispensed from a bargun can be 1/10 the cost per glass of soda bought from your local store? This can be quite a motivator especially if you have four teenagers running around the house!

The greatest advantages of a bargun are low dispense cost, size and convenience. A bargun is really nothing more than a mini-soda dispenser that fits in your hand. An equivelent counter top soda machine can easily take up 2' - 3' of counter space where a bargun can sit in its stand at the back of  the counter. A bargun will require some plumbing, some storage space and power (for postmix type barguns) but every bit of this can be hidden under the counter.

This article gives complete instructions for installing your own bargun soda dispenser in your den, game room, home bar or kitchen. And when you are done your bargin will work exactly like the one at the local bar or club. Depending on how you configure your bargun and the syrups you choose, you will be able to dispense Coke Products, Pepsi products, juices, energy drinks and carbonated / seltzer water. Just about any beverage can be dispensed through a bargun except for beer. Beer is too sensitive a product to dispense through a bargun.

Considerations before installing your own bargun

Barguns fall into two general classifications - post-mix and pre-mix.

A post-mix bargun brings carbonated water and syrup into the bargun and then mixes the two while dispensing. Per glass cost is less with a post-mix system because you are only buying soda syrup from your local distributor. Install cost is higher for a post-mix system because you must install a carbonator pump to supply carbonated water to the bargun. A carbonator pump is a self contained pump, motor and tank that turns ordinary tap water into an endless supply of carbonated water (seltzer water) that can be delivered on demand (as soon as you push the bargun button). You will need a dedicated 110VAC outlet for a carbonator pump.

A pre-mix bargun dispenses pre-mixed soda. The soda can be purchased from your local distributor in pre-mixed 5 gallon cans or you can "can your own" by emptying 2 liter sodas into cleaned, used 5 gallon Cornelius style kegs or by dumping one gallon of syrup into a Cornelius style keg, adding water to make 5 gallons and then force carbonating the mix with CO2. Unless you are mixing your own, per glass cost is more with a pre-mix system because the soda cost is higher but the installation cost is considerably less because a pre-mix system does not use a carbonator pump or BIB pumps. A permanently installed & continuously used pre-mix bargun will still require AC power for refrigeration but a portable system or "weekend use only" system will not need any AC power.

Refrigeration

All bargun systems require refrigeration on the way to the gun. Dispensing warm soda into a glass, even a glass full of ice, will cause the CO2 to immediately leave the soda (off gas) and will result in a flat glass of soda.

Commercial refrigeration is usually accomplished through a cold plate. A cold plate is a block of aluminum with stainless steel tubing wrapped back and forth inside. A typical cold plate will have 10 feet, 16 feet, or more stainless steel tubing cast into the aluminum for each flavor. A cold plate can have 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 or more circuits and outer dimensions will be from 8" wide X 12" long X 2" tall up to quite large. Larger cold plates have more "buffer" or reserve capacity than smaller cold plates. In some post-mix systems, only the carbonated water is sent through the cold plate. These systems depend on the carbonated water to be chilled enough to keep the soda from off gassing in the glass.

To be effective, a cold plate must sit under constant ice or in constant 32 F water. As the soda or carbonated water passes through the tubing, the heat is pulled into the aluminum and then on out into chilled water or ice. A counter mounted ice bin or cooler will work for a temporary or portable home install or a permanent home install that will only be used on the weekends. A under counter refrigeration unit can be installed in place of a ice bin / cold plate for a permanent install that will get constant use.

A cold plate or under counter refrigeration unit can be eliminated if dispensing pre-mix sodas from Cornelius type soda kegs, providing the kegs are kept as close to 32 degrees F as possible. This can be accomplished by setting up one or more mini-refrigerators under the bar that are large enough to house the flavors you intend to dispense. If shopping for a mini-fridge, plan for at least 25" inside height and at least 17" width to house 1 or 2 pre-mix tanks. Sanyo makes a great 4.9 cu ft mini-fridge without a freezer compartment that can be converted to house pre-mix tanks.

CO2

Regardless of the type of system installed, you will need a CO2 source and one or more CO2 regulators.

A post-mix system will use CO2 to carbonate the water through a carbonator pump and will use CO2 to drive the BIB pumps - the pumps used to deliver the soda syrup to the bargun. A post-mix system will also need a dual regulator, one set to the correct pressure for the carbonation pump, usually 100 PSI and the other set to the correct pressure for the BIB pumps, usually 35 PSI.

A pre-mix system will use CO2 to push the pre-mixed soda out of the Cornelius style kegs and a pre-mix system only needs a single pressure regulator.

CO2 tanks are available in 2.5, 5, 10, 20 and 50 pound cylinders with a 20 pound cylinder being the most economical for home use. Plan a 27" high by 8" wide space for a 20# CO2 tank.

Warning - CO2 gas is a deadly poison in high concentrations and any install should be thoroughly tested for leaks.

Plumbing

A clean, potable water source (city water) and an in-line pressure regulator will be needed for a post-mix bargun install. An in-line water filter is also needed if your water supply has any off flavors or a strong chlorine taste.

A drain or drain bucket will be needed to catch water run-off if you use a cold plate and a direct run from your bargun drip cup to a floor drain may be required by your local code.

CO2 and syrup lines can be run with food grade 1/4" or 3/8" ID braided line. If installing a post-mix (BIB) system, the lines from the BIB syrup and BIB pumps should be run with heavy duty 3/16" or 3/8" BIB tubing for flexibility.

Location

Your cold plate or mini-refrigerator should be as close to the bargun as possible to reduce the amount of warm soda in the lines. One cold plate or mini-refrigerator can supply more than one bargun by teeing the supply lines between the two.

If installing a carbonator pump, the pump should be mounted on a solid shelf. Mounting on a shelf that can flex will cause the entire assembly to vibrate and the noise will be very annoying.

Installing a Post-mix system

Install

Place or mount the CO2 tank & CO2 regulator upright and in a location where it can not be tipped or knocked over.

Install the carbonator pump, following the manufacturers instructions. Installation is straight foreword, involving mounting the pump, running the water supply, supplying AC power and running CO2 from the higher pressure CO2 regulator to the pump.

Install the BIB rack and BIB pump rack (may be the same rack) and run a CO2 line from the lower pressure CO2 regulator to the BIB pumps. You may need to supply tee fittings to split the CO2 out to more than one BIB pump. If not using a BIB rack then mount the BIB pumps on a secure surface - a 1' X 2' X 1/2" plywood base mounted under your bar works great.

Install BIB tubing (thick wall, heavy duty, clear beverage tubing) on the BIB pump IN ports, leaving enough length to easily reach over to the BIB rack or shelf where you plan to place the flavor boxes. Install the BIB fittings on the ends of the BIB hoses.

Install the ice bin and cold plate (ice bin may come with the cold plate already installed).

Install the bargun, making sure that you can access the metering (adjustment) screws located in the manifold for calibration later.

Run beverage lines and carbonated water line from the cold plate to the bargun manifold.

Run beverage lines from the BIB pump to the cold plate.

Run carbonated water line from the carbonator pump to the cold plate.

Setup and Calibration

Post-mix systems have 2 regulators, one for the carbonator pump and one for the BIB pumps. The carbonator pump CO2 regulator should be set to initial 100 PSI and the BIB pump CO2 regulator should be set to 35 PSI. The carbonator pump CO2 pressure can be adjusted up or down, but no more than 75 - 125 PSI. Your actual soda carbonation level is adjusted during brixing.

Turn on the CO2 and test the system for leaks by turning the valve back off & waiting 20 minutes for either pressure to drop down. If either gauge drops to zero then that branch has a leak and the leak needs to be chased and stopped before going any further.

Warning - CO2 gas is a deadly poison in high concentrations and any install should be thoroughly tested for leaks.

Turn on the carbonator pump water supply, turn on the carbonator pump, attach the BIB boxes and hold down each bargun button until carbonated water and syrup flows from each flavor.

Brixing

Brixing is the process of verifying that the CO2 level is correct and then verifying that the ratio of syrup to carbonated water is correct. Systems need to be re-brixed once a month and any time the carbonator pump or BIB pump CO2 regulator pressure is changed as both change the flow rate through the bargun.

Fill the ice bin with enough ice to thoroughly cover the cold plate and wait 15 minutes.

Following the bargun instructions, remove the dispense head and install the brixing head. Dispense a flavor into the brix cup & compare the results to the bargun brixing instructions. Adjust the syrup to carbonated water ratio with the metering screws located on the bargun manifold until the brix is correct.

System Troubleshooting

No carbonation

Verify that the carbonator pump is plugged in and is on
Verify the carbonation CO2 regulator is on & set to 100 PSI
Verify that the CO2 regulator ball valve (if equipped with one) is turned on
Verify that the carbonator pump is plugged in and is on and is operational

Dispenses syrup only

Verify that the carbonator pump is plugged in and is on and is operational
Verify water is turned on

Dispenses carbonated water only - one flavor

Verify that the BIB box is not empty
Check the connection at the BIB box to make sure it has not come loose
Verify the BIB pump is working correctly

Dispenses carbonated water only - all flavors

Verify the BIB pump CO2 regulator is on & set to 35 PSI
Verify that the BIB pump regulator ball valve (if equipped with one) is turned on

Dispenses non-carbonated water only - all flavors

Verify that the CO2 tank main valve is all the way on and that the regulator high pressure gauge is above the red "Fill" range

Soda tastes weak, watered down or too sweet

Re-brix the system

Other issues related to flow not stopping, syrup or water leaking from places it should not, etc

Although the bar-gun can be disassembled and all parts are replaceable, we recommend that you send the bargun in for professional repair, testing and calibration.

Installing a Pre-mix system - using a mini-fridge to house and chill the premix tanks

Install

Trial fit the mini-fridge (or mini-fridges) under the bar, leaving at least 1/2" of clearance on each side for air circulation and cooling.

Place or mount the CO2 tank & CO2 regulator upright and in a location where it can not be tipped or knocked over.

Mount the bargun.

Remove the mini-fridge from under the bar.

Drill holes in the mini-fridge wall to run CO2 in and beverages out, taking care to not drill through any refrigerant lines. If possible, the beverage lines should be run through the same side the bargun is mounted to keep the lines as short as possible.

Run the beverage and CO2 line through the mini-fridge wall, leaving more than enough length to reach the CO2 regulator and bargun manifold. Seal the holes with silicone type sealant.

Install a tee on the inside branch of the CO2 line, attach 2 short pieces of line to the tee & attach 2 gas disconnects to the ends of the lines.

Install 2 liquid disconnects on the inside branches of the 2 beverage lines.

Install the mini-fridge under the bar.

Route the CO2 line to the CO2 regulator & attach to the regulator output.

Route the beverage lines to the bargun manifold and attach.

Turn on the CO2 and test the system for leaks by turning the valve back off & waiting 20 minutes for the pressure to drop down. If the low pressure gauge drops to zero then you have a leak and the leak needs to be chased and stopped before going any further.

Warning - CO2 gas is a deadly poison in high concentrations and any install should be thoroughly tested for leaks.

Setup and Calibration

If mixing your own, pour in the syrup and top off with water to make 5 gallons.

Place premix tanks (Cornelius kegs) in the mini-fridge and wait for them to fully chill.

Measure the mini-fridge inside temperature and using the following chart, set the initial CO2 regulator pressure to 3.5 - 3.6 volumes of CO2 (marked in yellow).

Soda water is carbonated to a much higher level, 4.5 volumes of CO2 instead of 3.5 volumes of CO2. If dispensing soda water, set the initial CO2 regulator pressure to 4.5 volumes of CO2 (marked in blue).

Volumes

Temperature
Pressure 32 F 35 F 40 F 45 F  50 F 55 F 60F
15 PSI 3.7 3.4 3.1        
20 PSI 4.0 3.7 3.4 3.1      
25 PSI 4.3 4.3 3.7 3.4 3.1    
30 PSI 5.2 4.8 4.3 3.9 3.6 3.3  
35 PSI     4.8 4.4 4.0 3.7 3.4
40 PSI     5.3 4.8 4.4 4.0 3.7
45 PSI       5.7 4.8 4.4 4.0
50 PSI         5.2 4.8 4.3
55 PSI           5.1 4.7
60 PSI             5.0
To read this chart: Find your temperature across the top
Drop down to the desired volumes of CO2
Read the CO2 pressure from the left column
If your pressure and / or temperature falls in the middle of two values, use the average the two values
Example: Your temperature measures 43 degrees, which is a little past mid way between 40 & 45. The chart shows 3.4 volumes @ 20 PSI & 3.7 volumes @ 25 PSI. The correct starting pressure would also be a little past the mid way - 23 PSI.

If mixing your own, wait a week for the soda to fully carbonate.

Dispense soda into an ice filled glass. Adjust the CO2 pressure down if the soda is all foam with no carbonation left after dispensing or adjust the CO2 pressure up if the soda dispenses too slow.

Juice, Lemonade and Tea

Juice, lemonade and tea can also be dispensed from a pre-mix system but using CO2 will carbonate these beverages in less than a week. Long term dispensing of juice, lemonade or tea needs to be done with nitrogen and the setup is identical to a CO2 based system.

System Troubleshooting

System troubleshooting starts with the correct install. Setting the CO2 pressure wrong or attempting to dispense above 40 degrees F will result in foaming issues. All hoses should be run complete with no splicing. If installing 2 bar guns, install full size stainless steel tees and keep the runs to an absolute minimum.

Foaming

Dispensing soda at more than 40 degrees F will cause foaming issues.

Pre-mixed carbonated beverages should not contain more than 3.5 - 3.6 volumes of CO2. If you suspect over carbonation, disconnect the CO2 and shake the tank to drive CO2 into the head space. Then re-connect the CO2 and test dispense.

Storing tanks in a relatively cold location without adjusting your CO2 pressure will cause over carbonation and foaming. For example, if you have a back yard bar set-up, the refrigerator usually cools to 40 degrees F but the outside temperature drops to 32 degrees F at night, the refrigerator inside temperature will also drop to 32 degrees F and the soda will absorb more CO2 into solution. The next day, when the inside of the refrigerator warms back to 40 degrees F, the soda will be over carbonated.

Any obstruction in the lines can cause foaming. Most common causes are an over tightened flare washer, a burr inside a barb fitting, a hose that has been spliced with a cheap plastic fitting that has a small inside diameter and re-using old hose or tubing.

Spitting (air in lines)

Excessively long runs without refrigerating the lines will allow the soda to warm up in the lines. The CO2 will come out of solution and will cause spitting.

Dropping your CO2 pressure and dispensing without letting the soda reach a new equilibrium will cause foaming. The soda will still be carbonated to the previous CO2 pressure level and now there will not be enough pressure behind the soda to prevent CO2 from coming out of solution in the lines.

Attempting to dispense from room temperature kegs through a cold plate will cause the CO2 to come out of solution in the lines between the kegs and cold plate and will cause spitting


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Mark Powers & Company, Inc.
P.O. Box 72 1821 Henry Street Guntersville, AL 35976
Phone: (800) 633-2256 Fax: (800) 216-6606

E-Mail: orders@markpowers-and-company.com

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