I am also in the process of putting in a soda fountain...
My project started when my girlfriend bought an old Sears 4 head soda fountain that is basically a fridge with a carbonator built in the back and dispensers on the front (found on Craigslist). After she bought it, I was told to "hook it up".
There are no parts available for that unit (anywhere, years ago Sears had been the sole supplier of parts since it was their unit) and I had no idea what I was doing, so it sat in our garage for a year instead.
Here are some pics of the beast:
Then I found a six head ice bin unit on Craigslist for $350. I talked the guy down to $150 (he was moving that day) and got the unit, 6 flojet pumps, carbonator, secondary back-flow valve and pressure regulators for that price.
Due to the massive size of this unit I was going to install it in our garage, until I realized that an ice bin unit in our Las Vegas garage during the summer isn't going to keep ice for more than 5 minutes AND the soda syrup is supposed to be stored between 40-77 degrees. A perfect combination to ruin syrup and produce flat soda.
My next choice was to put this thing in our wash room (utility room) above a sink on a shelf. It isn't pretty and it definitely is not concealed. The shelf is basic, it is metal with 5 supports that are bolted into 4 studs with 3 lag bolts per rail. Everything is solid, but I bolted a 2x4 support beneath the edge of the shelf just to ensure it won't go anywhere if we have a minor quake. Maybe if I make the installation ugly enough, my girlfriend will let us keep buying 30 12-packs a month instead?
I got my syrup from Costco and I put the bags on top of our washer (
) and the flojet pumps inside a cabinet above the washer. The carbonator and carbon dioxide tank are on the floor.
I had to buy the CO2 tank, $150 pre-filled from AirGas for a 20 pounder. Plus I bought a ton of hoses and clamps for the install. After getting everything initially hooked up, I connected the water supply and discovered that the secondary back-flow valve I got had a bad pressure release. Essentially that means the valve shot a bunch of water in my face before I got it shut off. It was a rebuildable Watts valve, but the release valve parts were $65 and then the fist and second one way valves could also be bad for another $45 each. Instead I found a brand new 1/2" Watts back-flow preventer valve for $108 through Google shopping. Unfortunately, the generic drop-ship company I used took 14 days to get the thing to me after taking my money. At least the price was right.
This brings me to today. I hooked up the new back-flow valve and it works as it should. Then I prepared to fire up the carbonator and flojet pumps for the first time (to see what else I get to replace). Upon opening the co2 valve everything seemed good. I cranked up the regulator for the flojet pumps and they all primed beautifully. Then I opened up the regulator for the carbonator and it failed..../sigh.
Pic of the bad pressure regulator:
I just ordered a two valve, three gauge unit that screws right on the tank like others in this thread have purchased. Now I am waiting for that to show up and then will hopefully be up and running.
One other thing, I bought a counter top Magic Chef ice maker to supplement what my freezer's ice maker puts out. This thing claims to produce up to 26 pounds of ice per day and after running it for three days I can confirm it! This may be useful for anyone else running an ice bin fountain.