The foundation material for the conical needs to be stainless steel in order to keep the vessel from rusting. Now for grade of stainless – something like 304 or 18/8 which is used for stainless pots and buckets should be just fine and is fairly common. With that determined what options exist for us to get that material at reasonable cost. Well, free is obviously best, but since I used up much of my pile of salvaged stainless steel sheets (mainly BBQs) building the wood fired pizza oven I don’t have much of that left.
Then there’s the buy option, and actually as I am going forward I find myself buying some stainless material for the legs – but now that I consider it I could have gotten away without making that purchase, but more on that once we get to that stage of the build…
Anyway back to the fundamental parts of the conical – the vertical segment and the cone. Well since the top is basically like a pot without a base I thought I might as well go that route and build it out of stainless steel pots which are readily available and low cost. As an added bonus the top segment is already nicely rolled and sealed.
Now some folks I’ve seen building conicals use a cone made from spun stainless funnels – but since I couldn’t find one easily and at low cost I figured I would just form one up from some more stainless steel sheet (or pot bits). It’s more welding but I kinda want the practice to improve my skills so really not all that bad. Plus as indicated before – by brewing in the conical with the associated 90 minute boil I would be able to achieve excellent sanitation even where weld imperfections might otherwise thwart chemical cleaning.
Now for the disadvantages… well these pots are pretty thin – definitely thick enough to do the job without problem but thinner material is often more difficult to weld effectively. Still cost and availability prompted me to consider this my best option – especially since I was reasonably sure that I would be able to handle the welding of the think stainless with the Henrob OA torch based on my experience with the stainless pizza oven.
The price – well a pot set from Harbor Freight where the largest pot is 4 gallons cost me $20 and and a 5 gallon pot at the local homestore cost me another $20. Now some folks I’ve seen building conicals use a cone made from spun stainless funnels – but since
Now for the cool part right – the triclamp fittings that make the conical so versatile. Well, these are available at low cost off ebay or amazon from manufacturers in China. How low cost is low cost? Well a 1.5″ weld-on tricalmp fitting runs $1.99 with free shipping! So I purchased a bunch of 1.5″ fittings, gaskets, caps, threaded fittings, valves and the like along with a few 2″ fittings to allow me to pass the electrical heating element into the conical.
Total cost for the bits and bobs… slightly over a hundred bucks. Not bad for a prototype.