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AliExpress Stainless Unitanks

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squirt in the turns

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Does anyone have any experience with stainless unitanks from AliExpress or other similar overseas retailers? I'm seriously considering an SS Brewtech Unitank 14 (52 litres), but something like this looks like comparitively better value: US $650.0 |55L Double Wall 2 Bar Brew Conical Beer Fermentation Tanks Micro Brewery Fermentation Tank. Wine fermenter Stainless Steel 304|Pipe Fittings| - AliExpress

This seller (Distillex Store) is the only one I can find on AliExpress currently selling unitanks in the < 1 BBL range. That 55L unit is around $670 cheaper, shipped, than the SS Brewtech product. It also appears to have the following advantages over the SS Brewtech:
  • Jacketed instead of a coil for cooling. This could actually make a massive difference in my setup as I'm planning to pump glycol directly from a deep freezer and am concerned about wort/beer freezing on the coil.
  • Slightly higher capacity
  • Comes with castors
Sadly, it doesn't come with (or even have TC ports for) a sampling valve, carb stone, PRV or blow-off cane. It also ships with ball valves instead of butterfly valves. I might send the seller an enquiry about having something custom made, but with fabrication times, Chinese New Year coming up, and the already notoriously long shipping times from China, I wouldn't expect it to be delivered any time soon, not that I'm in a huge rush.

Having typed all this out, I think I've just answered my own question. Still, I'm interested in others' experiences and opinions.
 

Grmblz

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I needed a stainless piece of equipment, found an Aussie supplier $4000.00 + shipping (about $200) the boiler wasn't exactly what I wanted so I enquired about extra tc ports, "down to you mate" was the response, they were happy to sell me the flanges but I would have to arrange the welding fitting etc. Turns out they are just a re-seller of Chinese off the shelf units.

A Chinese supplier I approached quoted $1800 for a similar unit, "can you fit extra ports, and how much" was my question. Their reply was "we are manufacturers not re-sellers, so just tell us what you want, no extra charge" WOW! The $1800 was FOB (freight on board) do NOT get caught out by this, you'll be up for wharf fees, freight forwarding fees, customs fees, etc, etc, and it costs big time. I insisted on "to the door" TNT were the carriers and it cost $450.
A box arrived at my front door about 2 months later, quality was every bit as good if not better than the stuff available here.

The take away here is make sure you are dealing with an actual manufacturer not a re-seller, and don't get caught out by FOB quotes, insist on "to the door" they are reluctant to do this as it increases the price, and they are fearful of losing the sale.
 

squirt in the turns

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Thanks folks.

I fired off a message to Distillex and got a prompt response telling me they could definitely custom fabricate something to my requirements, but asking me to message again after Chinese New Year. The person I was messaging explained that their engineers are already on leave and therefore couldn't even give me a ball-park estimate.

Grmblz, thanks for your advice, I'll definitely do as you suggest if I move forward with Distillex or another Chinese supplier.
 

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