And Yet Another...Refrigerator Conversion! (Electric heat and PID Temperature Control)

Discussion in 'Fridge/Freezer Builds' started by flyboytr, Apr 11, 2011.

  1. flyboytr

    flyboytr Fire Starter

    While I love my Old Country, fire breathing, wood burning Smoker...I have decided that I wanted something that was more along the lines of set-it and forget-it! Years ago I used electric bullet smokers with great success...wore/rusted out 7 of them. So I was sort of used to leaving my smoker unattended for an hour or so. This prelude brings me to my new project...

     

    I have started construction of my refrigerator smoker. I have been reading, with great interest, all the refrigerator/freezer build threads in this Forum. Excellent stuff and a great knowledge base for me to work off of. My thanks to all those that have traveled this road and posted for others (me) to benefit from! :)

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    My General Electric unit is metal lined and the insulation appears to be Rock Wool. I, like many others, found the inside door panel was not metal, but some sort of plastic...possibly Bakelite (an early plastic). I have noticed on many builds that the trim panels between the front of the inside cabinet and the outside cabinet have been left in place. While they appear to be, and feel like metal,...on this unit they are not. A magnet confirmed my suspicions. They are made of the same material as the door panel. So...I have removed them.  In the picture below, the top trim panel was still in place...but was removed after the picture was taken.

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    This is my basic plan…   It will be electric with one or two U shaped burners (about 3”x20”) to provide the heat.   Control will be managed by a PID controller (JLD612).   Smoke will be via an A-Maze-N Smoker (Thanks Smoking Meats Forum…).   I will be looking at several different ways of managing the air-flow…from intake to exhaust, heat management and waste/drippings management.   I will keep this thread updated as the build progresses.

    Your comments, suggestions and guidance will always be appreciated!

     

    Again…and always…My thanks and gratitude to SMF and its members for providing the amazing knowledge base that exists here.   Good Stuff! [​IMG]



     
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011
  2. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    looks ambitious!  I have a similar freezer that died; thought of making a smoker out of it several times, but I don't really need it.  Keep us posted on your progress.
     
  3. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Keep us posted, looks like a cool project. 
     
  4. flyboytr

    flyboytr Fire Starter

    Thanks guys.  I'm really looking forward to getting this done.  Below is a picture and specs of the heating element I will be using.  I like it because it's compact and won't take up much floor space...more room for the A-Maze-N Smoker.  :)

    [​IMG]
     
  5. iowa josh83

    iowa josh83 Smoke Blower

    I'm just finishing my fridge conversion on what looks like the very same fridge. Mine looked like yours just a short while ago. I wish I had found this website early enough to post my progress keep the pics coming!
     
  6. flyboytr

    flyboytr Fire Starter

    Josh,

    Welcome to SMF.  Yep...lots of good info here.  It's not too late to post your build info and pictures.  Everyone here loves pictures!  Did you remove the plastic trim pieces around the front of the box?
     
  7. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I need to get started on my fridge build  as well. 
     
  8. iowa josh83

    iowa josh83 Smoke Blower

    Yep removed the inner door panel, and all pieces around the door too. Used 24ga sheet metal to cover all that up, even used cork as a gasket to insure I got a good seal between the new metal and the fridge. I'll take some pics and post it when I get a chance. Thanks and keep up the good work!
     
  9. flyboytr

    flyboytr Fire Starter

    I am almost finished with the metal trim (stainless) around the front edges.  I would like some input on using zinc plated self tapping screws to hold everything in place...including the rack guides. I have plenty of them...but was a little concerned about the coating.  Any thoughts???
     
  10. flyboytr

    flyboytr Fire Starter

    Completion of the exhaust flue:

    I drilled a 4.125” hole (using a bi-metal hole saw) through the outer and inner shells, centered on the top.   I used a piece of 4’ flue and cut it to length so it would stick out the top about 4” and about 1.25” on the inside.   I cut and folded the bottom to make a flange, drilled accordingly and installed it.   It has an airtight seal around the inside and the outside (I used the SU5005 food grade adhesive/sealant for that).   I left the stub-out on top short.   I felt that would be a better option for transport, positioning, etc…rather than trying to deal with a much taller fixed object on top of the unit.

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    I plan to install a deflector plate about an inch below the opening.   It will be about 12” to 16” in diameter.   I am in hopes that this will allow a larger area for the exhaust to be pulled from.   So if I have meat close to the top there won’t be a strong draft in one place…it will be spread over a much larger area.

    I found a dryer vent that I like, aluminum and fairly heavy duty.   It has an internal screen.   The flap door also has a seal…this should help keep critters out!   I plan to drill a hole in the rain cover, close to the bottom and cut a small slit in the bottom of the hole.   I want to attach a piece of beaded chain to the door and route it through the new opening.   That will allow me to easily control the door opening.   The wire between the beads will slip down into the small slit and lock it off.   Should be simple and effective.

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    Last edited: Apr 21, 2011
  11. iowa josh83

    iowa josh83 Smoke Blower

    Adding the chimney/stack is one of the last things I have to do and I've been mulling over what I should use. I was just wondering, is this galvanized piping or stainless?

    Thanks
     
  12. flyboytr

    flyboytr Fire Starter

    Josh,

    I used 4" galvanized flue.  Since it is drafting out...I don't believe any nasties that would leach out of the galvanizing would cause a problem. Any outgassing would be instantly removed.  I would not use galvanized on the air intake...different story there!  I found a 16" pizza pan last evening.  I will be using it as my chimney outlet diffuser.
     
  13. flyboytr

    flyboytr Fire Starter

    Wiring Diagram for PID Controller & Relay

    I have started the wiring on an old breaker box I had in the shop.  It will be used to house the PID, SSR and breakers (that will be used as switches).  Main power is from a GFI protected 220 circuit.  This does not show the 110vac circuit to power the PID.  Also note...the 220vac circuit going in are 110vac each...thought I'd mention that before it caused some confusion.

    Sorry for the fuzzy picture...converting my PDF to a JPEG didn't turn out well.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2011
  14. hardslicer

    hardslicer Smoking Fanatic

    very impressive....can't wait to see how this one turns out.....good luck
     
  15. flyboytr

    flyboytr Fire Starter

    Thanks.  I am praying that it will make me go ....WOW!

    I have ordered gasket material for the door.  It is 5/8" diameter.  It will be attached with the SU5005 adhesive sealant that I'm using in other places.  My local appliance parts place has 12 gauge appliance (high temp) wire available.  I will be using that for the heater element wiring.

    Travis  :)
     
  16. flyboytr

    flyboytr Fire Starter

    I have finished the shelf rack guides and they are all installed.   I welded a small piece of angle on the top of each shelf bracket to support the shelf while it is pulled out. This will help to prevent accidental spills and thrills!

      

     [​IMG]

    I’ve installed the temperature probe in the rear of the unit.   It is just below the second cooking shelf and is about 6” south of the center of the box.   I was able to feed the thermocouple down through the existing opening, between the Rock Wool insulation and the inside wall, and bring it through the drilled hole.   I used a piece of threaded rod to slide in first and move the insulation off the wall.   This allowed me the clearance I needed.   It was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

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    The inside exhaust flue deflector is now in place.

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    The stainless door panel has been installed.  After drilling the screw holes, I hung it temporarily so I could mark the holes on the door and establish a datum point for the latch cutout.   I removed the door.   Using the datum points, I measured for the door latch mechanism cut-out and transferred these measurements to the door panel, using the same datum points.   It was absolutely perfect…with one exception…when I measured from the top screw (datum point) to my second point it was 22”.   When I laid it out on the panel I accidently used 24”!   SUCKS!   Oh well…just make the cutout larger and stick a patch on it (visible in picture below)!

    The door was removed and laid flat.   Lines were drawn where I wanted the fiberglass door seal.   A 3/16” bead of SU5005 white adhesive sealant was applied along the line and the rope seal positioned in the bead.   This was also easier than I was first expecting.  


     


    NOTE TO OTHER BUILDERS… the fiberglass wood stove seal is wonderful stuff.   It looks like rope and is available in many different diameters.   It is also very soft.   It can be pushed together to make it a little larger, or stretched and made thinner (think Chinese finger hand-cuffs…same principle).   I suggest that you buy your stove seal at least 50% larger than the space you’re needing to seal.   It is very soft and pliable and will give you a much better seal.

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    So…now I’m back to waiting on the oven elements to arrive…   All input and suggestions to this build are welcome and appreciated.

     

    FlyboyTR  
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2011
  17. iowa josh83

    iowa josh83 Smoke Blower

    Flyboy,

    You've got that thing looking good. I like your shelves with the anti-spill device! Can you explain the purpose of the smoke deflector and what it is made of? I was wondering of doing a similar thing on mine.

    Also, how are you planning on getting the smoke from your wood? Are you planning a smoke generator? I fired up mine this weekend with pretty good results but I was struggling maintaining constant smoke. Now I did only have the wood sitting on the bottom of the fridge close to the element. Are you planning vent holes of some sort near the bottom of the fridge?

    One final thing that I'm sure you found...I believe you and I are working on the same if not very similar fridge, the 4 bolts/screws on the bottom need to come out. There is some type of plastic spacer on there or something. Needless to say I had a melted mess.

    btw, I posted a few pics of my fridge in my post.

    Happy Smoking!

    Josh
     
  18. flyboytr

    flyboytr Fire Starter

    Josh,

    Thanks! My Old Country Smoker had similar clips to hold each shelf in place while they are extended.  I like that.  I will be using an A-Maze-N Smoker.  It will sit in the right front corner and will be protected from drips.  It will also be shielded on on the two open sides to keep the intake air and the oven element from causing problems.  I had already purchased the AMNS before I realized that they do not recommend using it above 180 degrees.  However, MANY folks are using it at higher temps...they're just shielding it from the heat source and keeping direct air flow off of it.  Since my heating elements are 17"x2", and will be stacked close to each other, they will only extend 3" forward from the rear wall.  That clearance should help as well.

    The air inlet is towards the front on the left side.  You can see it below in this picture (4" round circle).  I will install the actual vent, with damper, after I have finished the element install...just one less thing in the way! [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The smoke deflector....................?  More of an exhaust/air difusser/baffle...  You can see it at the top in the picture above.  It is a 12" pizza pan. :)  My thoughts were...with a 4" diameter opening on the exhaust stack/flue, there would be a lot of air movement in one concentrated area.  Since my top shelf is close to the top, I was concerned about the air movement that close to any meat (possibly a drying effect or a cold/hot spot, etc...).  Anyway... my thoughts were that with a diffuser/baffle in place the air flow would come from a larger area, 12" versus a 4" diameter area and would be pulling from right along the top of the fridge.  Based upon the clearance I have, it should not restrict the airflow...just change how/where it pulls from.  ........I hope![​IMG]

    The four plastic pieces you mentioned...I don't have any plastic parts on the bottom.  Can you poin them out in a picture...  Our units look identical...but there could be some differences.  Thanks!

    OH....I will be painting this morning. I was going to paint it with the copper colored high temp paint (same as the shelf brackets) but the coverage on that paint is terrible.  So...I am going to add some Flowtrol to my quart of BLACK paint and apply it with a brush.

    FlyboyTR  [​IMG]
     
  19. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Your build is really going well. I can't wait to see the finish!
     
  20. flyboytr

    flyboytr Fire Starter

    Thanks Al!

    I am hoping the elements will be in this week and I can finish it up and apply some heat.  Your support is appreciated!  [​IMG]
     

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