Is shadow box useful for beer wall on the walkin cooler?

Discussion in 'Home Bar' started by howtoservebeer, Jun 2, 2018.

  1. howtoservebeer

    howtoservebeer Initiate (36) May 24, 2018 Spain

    Hi guys!

    Not sure if this is the right subforum to post this thread, but can't find any that fits the equipment part of things.

    Just saw micromatic advises to use a shadow box if we intend to install the tap and shank thru the wall.
    If the wall is too thick and we can't find a long shank, the shadow box would be useful.
    I also thought the shadow box is also good in preventing gain in heat via the shank thru the wall.

    Just wanna know if anybody done it before, how useful it is and would be grateful if you can share how you installed the shadow box thru the wall.

    I was thinking if there would be a lot of condensation on the taps wall as the shadow box would be introducing cold air.

    Thank you!
  2. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (366) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    A box on the cooler wall will work but it is not necessarily the required solution. You may simply drill through the cooler wall and use long shanks. Also, it is worth noting right up front, Micromatic dispense equipment is about twice the cost of everyone else and many of their draft towers and such are manufactured for them. They just slap on a Micromatic label. If you are buying for a commercial bar, set up an account with MM and save around 50% on every item. Or set up an account at Foxx Equipment or Canadian Beverage Supply and save more. Foxx and CBS are wholesale only and you must be a corporate account.

    Shanks up to 14 inches are available. I know, I use them. You can also use an extended tube shank up to 24 inches. Going though a wall is not a problem.

    It is important to get cold air on to every inch of the draft line. The shadow box allows this to happen. If you drill through the wall there will always be 4 or more inches of shank not being cooled and that will get you an ounce of foam on the first pout followed by cold keg beer. It is not the end of the world and manageable. If it were not professionals would not do those type of installations.

    As for sealing the gaps, yes. Do that. Cut some holes in your perfectly good cooler and you will want to be super up tight about sealing the holes. Use silicon caulk. Use foil tape over that.

    Get a brand new hole saw to cut the steel cooler, and plan on it being useless after about a dozen holes. Maybe less. Remember you are cutting both sides, so 6 faucets is 12 holes. Drilling a hole in steel is a real PITA. Go slow, if the bit gets hot it will not work at all. You will need a new hole saw.

    Drill from the outside in. Use a template to space your holes evenly and level. If the shanks are even a quarter inch out of alignment in any direction you will not see it until you put on the faucets, then it will be very obvious.

    Also, important, drill perfectly horizontal. If you are not level going through the 4 inch cooler, the inside will have shanks all cock eyed. Not too many will see that but it is annoying.

    Your faucets will and should sweat a bit. If they do not sweat they are not cold enough or you are in the desert. No, you can not stop physics, so learn to live with the sweat. Or pour warm beer. Those are the choices and there are no more.

    That's about it for now.
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  3. howtoservebeer

    howtoservebeer Initiate (36) May 24, 2018 Spain

    Thanks for the good tips bill and suz!

    You mean, measure and draw the measurements from outside and inside, drill from both sides, start drilling from the outside for a bit, then from the inside for a bit, meet in the middle of the wall, and you'll get a through hole?

    Thanks for the small important detail about drilling it perfectly horizontal in both X and Y plane.

    What would be the downside of using a shadowbox?
    Seems easier to cut a rectangle hole for the box thru the wall and punch out holes through the box for the shanks than drilling several 4inch horizontal holes.

    Thanks again for the advice.
  4. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (366) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    You can certainly use the shadow box. It is not a requirement though, and they are mostly designed for very thick walls or when the cooler is against another wall. For example, the walk in is placed against masonry block wall. We like to go minimalist as possible with direct draw, since the whole point of direct draw systems is to keep it simple.

    If you go without the shadow box the outside of your cooler and what you see at the bar is whatever you want it to be. The backsplash can be tile, barn wood, copper, shag rug, whatever. A shadow box limits you to a stainless plate. Though that really is a great option too.

    Also, we always swap out the cheap black plastic flange for brushed steel. They look much better and cost a few bucks. This.

    As for drilling a good hole, use a level and a partner. Make a jig to space the holes and mark with a sharpie. Make an X to get the center and drill a pilot hole dead nuts through each center. Use a level both H and V on the drill. Ask an experienced carpenter friend even. Then put your template on the other side and drill the hole. Once the steel is removed from each side you just have foam insulation inside, and that can be removed with the hole saw and a dry wall saw. You can open the hole a bit on the inside of the cooler if needed to align the shank correctly, but not too much or the screw wont have anything to press against. Drilling from the outside, the warm side, make sure you have the holes perfectly lined up. Then, if the hole in the insulation is out of line a few degrees or you hole inside the cooler is not perfect, it only shows inside the cooler. You don't want to telescope your screw up to the money side. Use a file to shave down the steel too, it will have rough edges. Cutting and drilling the steel is a lot harder than it looks. The bit wanders, wears out quickly, the steel is very hard, all of it is frustrating so go slow and sober.
    Bring the shank when you buy the hole saw, I think its 1 1/2", but the saw will fit perfectly around the shank.

    Good luck.[/QUOTE][/QUOTE][/QUOTE][/QUOTE]
    #4 billandsuz, Jun 2, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2018
  5. howtoservebeer

    howtoservebeer Initiate (36) May 24, 2018 Spain

    Thanks again bill!

    I might have misunderstood the use of a shadow box.

    I took a picture off a self pouring system company:
    Should be safe to say the above taps are done with through holes through the insulted walls?

    And a photo from a tucson food guide web:
    Assuming behind the tiled walls is a walkin cooler, would this set up be using a shadow box or simply thruhole through both the walkin cooler and the tiledwall? Or could be both?

    From MM: They illustrated using a shadow box and a driptray like youve mentioned.

    The box in blue is the backsplash. I thought the blacksplash (the feature wall of your bar) could still be whatever, even if we used the shadowbox in the cooler.
    Simply cut the same size hole through the backsplash, line up nicely against the shank holes punched from the shadowbox, then pinch the the backsplash and the shadow box together with the faucet on backsplash hot side and the nut of the shank on the shadowbox in the cooler on the cold side.
    This way we only have the area of the shank within the backsplash that is not cooled and not the backsplash + the insulated wall that is not cooled.
    I have not done the above before, but just gathering my thoughts before getting work done.

    Fully agreed. Never noticed this until I saw in all the photos. Where can I get this? via MM?
  6. IceAce

    IceAce Champion (897) Jan 8, 2004 California

    The photo above is (I believe) from the Los Angeles County Fair. I say that because I set up this system. It’s basically a shipping container with refrigeration added to the roof. Since we drilled through the steel wall, no shadow box was required.

    Shadow boxes are not normally needed with today’s standard walk-ins, but when one encounters thicker walls with much more insulation they become necessary.

    In your second pic, the account has a standard walk in cooler and then added the subway tile above for effect. Once again, no shadow box needed.

    As Bill noted above, go with the polished collars vs. the standard rubber ones. The difference is noteworthy.
    #6 IceAce, Jun 3, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
    PortLargo likes this.
  7. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (366) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    It is hard to know the set up used from the inside of the walk in only looking at the outside.

    But, I can tell you with 100% certainty, electronically controlled self pour systems are an absolute unmitigated disaster. We abhor these things. I don't need to rant here except to say, save your money. Way too expensive. Crazy waste of money. 1,Your patrons, who have likely never poured a draft beer, ever, in their entire life, will not get a good pour, will get foam, will over pay for the foam and will be annoyed. 2,Your bartender will not get any tips and will quit. 3,Your system will require attention day and night because 4, all the electronic junk needs attention, needs cleaning, needs a software tech 5, will be a nightmare if even 1 ounce of foam is poured, which it will.

    And on and on. Maybe @IceAce has had a better experience. We have nothing good to say. Zero.
  8. howtoservebeer

    howtoservebeer Initiate (36) May 24, 2018 Spain

    Thanks Ace. Interesting set up too! I didn't want to write the location of the photo as I'm not sure about the forum rules here if we're able to note websites or vendors.

    Chill bro! We are united by our love of beers!

    @billandsuz @IceAce How long do you reckon for a shank that's not exposed to the cool air before a shadow box becomes necessary? 4inch of it within the backsplash+wall? 8inch?

    In both cases that are without shadowbox, i suppose no major issues with foaming?
  9. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (435) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    When I was a young squirt my high school had guidance counselors that helped recommend what vocations to pursue. Options were things like school teacher, military, business, medicine, etc. At no time was I exposed to an option to create a "beer fantasy-land" . . . damn public schools, caused me to miss my true calling.
  10. IceAce

    IceAce Champion (897) Jan 8, 2004 California

    First point...yes it is impossible to determine the internal setup of a cooler by looking at the exterior. Imagine a Dr. looking at your obviously damaged leg without utilizing x-rays or an MRI.

    Second set of points. I am in no way an advocate of the electronically monitored self-pouring systems. Bill’s points are all valid in one way or another.

    That said...I’ve seen both sides of the fence. I’ve installed and currently clean systems which perform remarkably well (when the liquid temp is at 34-35*F).

    I’ve also witnessed unmitigated disasters with warm beer, excess foam, disgruntled bartenders and technical glitches.

    When all is said and done, the task of pouring beer in a commercial establishment should be left to professional bartenders...of which there are very few remaining. That’s a post for another day.
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