Custom 80 Gallon Smoker Issues/Questions

Discussion in 'Smoker Builds' started by bdc1, May 11, 2012.

  1. bdc1

    bdc1 Newbie

    Hi SMF,

    When I was a sheetmetal worker in the phosphate mines...I used to be in contact with many welders and they all seemed to have created a great smoker at one time or another...its been a dream of mine to either build my own barrel style smoker or to have someone weld me a nice one from a tank; I missed out on many opportunities to get one. I finally decided to make the move and found what I was looking for online and bought it without even thinking twice! Drove far to get it it all the way home and now I have some concerns. Here are a few online photos of it -

    I have never owned a custom smoker of this size and style - I was hoping someone here could help this newbie answer some burning questions:

    • First off...the smoker and firebox doors have some gaps...I realize that no smoker is perfect, but I am having an issue bringing it up to temperature with the amount of charcoal I used (more on that below)...with that said - the firebox door has a 1/4 " wide gap all around 3 sides (last photo on bottom of this page) and the smoker door has a 2-3 inch long...1/4 " wide gap and narrows to an 1/8" for another 2-3 inches in some spots. Here is a short video showing the smoke leaks:

      Question #1...

      I have read that some gaps are normal on a custom-build and that they might seal themselves after its been heated to an intense temperature - is this true on this thick of a unit/tank? Do you recommend applying a fireproof caulk or fiberglass gasket of some sort? Should I be concerned about this design...should I contact the fabricator?

    • I think this firebox is unique, since its made from a smaller has two 2" holes on the right side to allow for air flow - but does not have a damper door - the smoke stack has a spring-loaded piece of flat bar and and is the only means of regulating the smoke. To season the smoker...I dropped in layer of about 10 lbs of Kingston/Mesquite Charcoal in the firebox (below)...but I was a little surprised that the temperature never rose above 170 Degrees Farenheit!

      Question # 2...
      Is this temperature normal for the amount of charcoal I used (see photo)? How much should I be using or how full should that firebox be when I attempt to start smoking some meats? Does the type of charcoal really make a difference?

    • There is no grate, cleanout, or damper door on this firebox...

      Question # 3...
      To prevent burnout - should I insert firebrick or a grate - any suggestions? What’s the best way to clean this type of firebox? Do I really need a damper door...if so, how should I do that now?

    I know this is a lot of info all at once...and I'm sorry about that - I'm just a little worrried that I may have jumped the gun on my purchase...any help or suggestions is much appreciated....Thanks

  2. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I am interested in the answers from other offset owners!  My youngest son just got a smoker given to him today!
  3. cdldriver

    cdldriver Meat Mopper

    sorry you did jump the gun BUT I bet some one will be by soon. looks like a nice smoker but would say the fire box is to small and need some expanded metal in their so fire can  breath and the ash sits an the bottom. as for the leaks maybe some high temp silicon will work for you.
  4. wjordan52

    wjordan52 Meat Mopper

    I am by no means an experienced builder nor metal worker, but a few ideas come to mind and I'll share my thoughts.

    Starting with the firebox, the charcoal does need to be up off the bottom of the tank. Reason is to let ash fall instead of smothering the coals, and allow plenty of air flow up through the coals. That should be an easy fix with a piece of expanded metal (as mentioned above). I would fabricate a damper of some sort for the air intake, and possibly add another intake if that one proves to be too small. I don't know the correct ratio of smoke chamber vs firebox, so someone else will have to address that.

    Most offset smokers I've seen leak a little smoke, but yours is a bit much. Being a sheet metal worker you probably know a thing or two about bending and forming metal. I'd first get the smoker to as high a heat as you can (after the firebox mods) to let it warp as much as it's going to. Then try to 'tweak' the doors to help close those gaps down a bit. That may get them close enough, but if not you can do what cdldriver suggested and use silicon and/or stove gasket to finish sealing them.

    Most of all don't be disappointed or discouraged! You have a fine looking smoker, and all the major work is done. I'm sure a few minor mods will have it performing like a champ. Please keep us posted on your progress.

  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    BDC, morning and welcome to the forum......  First, the gaps in the doors should be addressed.... Looks like you need to find an experienced welder who will shrink/stretch the metal for the parts to fit properly.... That can be done with heat and a big hammer.... no problem...  

    Then the actual dimensions of your smoker should be compared to the pit calculator.....  see if the dimensions in your smoker match.... adjust your smoker if need be....

    If your smoker is close, all is OK....

    CDL and Bill have great suggestions about the firebox..... 

    How about a picture of the entire unit so we can see the intake and exhaust stack and their placement.....  more pics would help...

  6. bdc1

    bdc1 Newbie

    Good Morning Everyone...thank you for your replies and words of encoragement - here is my followup on this.

    I christened the smoker on Saturday (Pork Butt, Country Ribs, and Chicken) and this is what I found...
    Im guessing the max temp because of the leaks from the doors and the no damper door on firebox...I'm almost happy with this smoker's performance, but not content; so I am going to try to seal these leaks with a combination of high temp caulk and gasket.
    Then I will try to create some kind of damper door and bolt it to firebox...and suggested...elevate the coals with a piece of expanded metal.

    Thanks again and I will post back when I have time to figure this all out...


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