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I've bought a kegging system which came with a "Camping Style" faucet, essentially just some tubing with a ball lock disconnect on one end and a tiny plastic faucet on the other end.

I'm looking for a more permanent installation (inside a barrel). Naively, I thought I just get a faucet and some tubing, but then I saw beer shanks which seem to sit between the faucet and the tube? (and how thick is the tubing in that case?)

What exactly do I need going from a 5 Gallon Ball-Lock Soda Keg into my glass?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Images speak louder than words: http://www.draft-beer-made-easy.com/beershanks.html

To summarise:

To put a faucet on a keg fridge, you need three main parts:

1) Faucet, this is the "tap", you can get standard ones which are fairly cheap ($20 or so) or go for higher grade, such as perlicks, which are $40 or so, but use a different mechanism that prevents sticking if you don't use the tap.You can also get stout faucets, which are taller and provide creamier pours.

2) The shank, this goes through whatever medium you are using, collar, tower, coffin, etc... and is basically a large stainless steel part normally (or a similar material) which is threaded on the outside, and has a hole through the center for beer to run through.

3) The tailpiece, this is normally straight, but you can get 90 degree ones too, which connect to your beer line and allow you to push the beer to the shank.

The Faucet normally has a specialized collar on it, you shouldn't use a normal wrench, but get a specialized faucet wrench, otherwise you'll damage it.

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Thanks, that cleared it up, especially the tailpiece. – Michael Stum Apr 1 '13 at 6:14

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