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Attempting a Co2 build.

952 Views 12 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  jeffkrol
Hey all. I'm going to give this a try. I've done a lot of reading on several different sites, talked to several people that made DIY write ups and started a build about a year and a half ago but never got it done.

I currently have a victor vts 250 c regulator, hoke 1335 metering valve and a burkert 6011 solenoid valve.
The fitting on the regulator is for oxygen, so I need a CGA 320 fitting , I also need a bubble counter .

I need a Dissolution Method. I'm not sure what to do here. I see several types and styles. I see cheap ones on amazon that look like they'd leak if you look at them wrong.. I hear Rex grigg thrown around a lot..but I've not seen plans on building one.

I also don't know what to do/use for fittings to put all this together.

What else am I missing? Any help and tips would be greatly appreciated.
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Colin is great, I get ferts from him but I think it'd be cool to build it myself. I guess I was over analyzing the design. Maybe I need to go to lowes and get the parts listed and just do it.
Ya the Nilocg thread was more for the pics of the slightly different design. Both are super simple. The main difference is whether to use a barb fitting for the CO2 airline or just drill a small hole and rely on friction. My first one had the barb fitting and it had a tiny leak. I built a second one that combined the Rex reactor with an inline heater and I went with the drilled hole method.
I'll probably drill a hole and insert the tube. I've got some silicone (need to check and see if it's safe if it contacts the water at any time) I could use to seal it if needed.

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My advice is to use a drill bit much smaller than the diameter of the tubing and then keep going up one size until you can just squeeze a bit of the tube through. The tubing should be cut on an angle and once you get a little bit through you can then use needle-nose pliers to pull the tubing into the middle of the pipe, then you can cut the angled end flush. Just make sure you drill the hole and insert the tubing before you go and cement all the fittings together. I forgot to do that and ended up having to add an extra coupler.
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I also recommend staying as simple as possible on this one. There are dozens of mods suggested but there are also dozens of folks who have trouble after their mods, so I stay as close to the original as possible as it has always worked.
I believe this is a link to the one and only original Rex Grigg's site??
Pulling the tubing through is one point that many want to change but I find it works very well with risking a mod of any type.
When working with PVC for the first few times it is really important to cut things, sand the ends to remove the shine and then test fit it al together before you even open the cement. Mistakes can be made and corrected pretty easy but not after the glue goes on!
For price and ease/ time, I would look at getting the CGA320 at most any welding supply shop. Too cheap to pay for shipping and waiting?
Will lowes have the threaded hose barbs for the intake/exhaust? Or will I need to find those online.

I also have heard about issues where the canister wasn't powerful enough/flow was slowed down a lot. I've got a fluval 306 @303 US GPH. Sufficient? From Rex's write up: "With a 15” piece of PVC pipe you can use this reactor on most all canister filters. If you are moving a lot of water you might want to go a bit larger."
@PlantedRich Any idea what the welding/CO2 supply shop would charge for the fitting? I'm not in a rush on this project. I've got some other things that'll tie up my weekends for a while.
Lowe's and most hardware stores should carry the hose barbs you need.
Whether the big box stores carry things is often a store decision so it varies. Some depends on how your area perceives DIY projects as that effects what sells best. That leaves me to go check in each area where I build things. I'm often at the place for something else so I just do the walk around and check all the spots I mention and usually pick up at least some of the parts. But then there are times when I am wanting something specific like the 90 and strike out. Also I keep in mind that there will be times when it is more effective to go ahead and use a second fitting like a 3/4" to 1/2" adapter to get to the right size. Does get to be a mindbender at times?
Local supply on the nut and nipple for CGA320 is much less difficult if there is a shop nearby. Almost all shops I've been to that sell welding supplies will have them and the price is not an upcharge as they sell to the working guys and not as hobby supplies. Total cost to pick up can be cheaper than cost plus shipping. Around $10, perhaps?
Suggest giving the shop a call to verify stock and check the price.

I might start at Dillon Supply if I was North, Roberts Oxygen if East?
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McMaster-Carr is a great online resource for fittings and barbs for you yanks. I've found all of my hardware stores, like Lowe's, to be severely lacking in these items. I ended up having to go to a plumbing contractor supplier to find my parts.
Alright I've got all the parts needed for the Rex reactor. Shouldn't be a big problem fitting it together.

Next hurdles:

1. Co2 tank size. I first though that a 10lb tank would be best mostly due to size. But I'm having a tough time finding them used, I find 20lbs are much more common on craigslist. I could buy-in to the swap from someone like Airgas, but that's more expensive. My question is this: I've got about 32 1/2" of clearance under my tank inside my stand. Seeing that the regular height of a 20lb tank is ~27-28", would I have enough room once my regulator, solenoid and other attachments are connected? I don't want it to be a hassle every time I need to adjust something barely being able to fit my hand close to the valve and what not. I understand that the actual port is lower then the total height number and the regulator will attach at about a 45deg angle. I'm just not convinced it'll fit well.

2. Where/how do I find metal fittings to combine the regulator, solenoid, needle valve and all. I'm not exactly sure how to go about this process. Obviously, I need to find out the size of what's coming out of the regulator and then reduce it to match the solenoid and needle valve. But again, I'm not sure about the easiest way to do so. I also don't know where to get the fittings from.

Edit: I'm at work and just looked up info about the victor VTS250c regulator I have. Maybe it wont be mounted at a 45. Looks like it'll be pretty level, not sure what I was thinking. Also, for what it's worth, (what I'd call) the exhaust fitting is 5/8" - 18 (RH Female). Info online says the solenoid is 1/8 npt but that sounds smaller then I thought(thought it was 1/4). The metering valve is 1/4 npt.
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5/8" end should be removed.. Will put the Victor to 1/4npt at the regulator body..
Reducing 1/4 to 1/8 is no problem..
most hardware stores carry small brass pipe, nipples,fittings..stainless steel or even chrome plated may be more problematic..but the Victors brass (I assume)

Buying used off Craigslist you need to know 1)is it CO2 rated? 2)Is it still certified?
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