First Smoker Build

Discussion in 'Side Fire Box' started by mblair68, Aug 27, 2014.

  1. mblair68

    mblair68 Newbie

    I am just about finished with my first smoker build and it is ready for action this Labor Day. Can't wait to fill it with meat!

    I've never done a lot of metal work prior to this so I ended up with some things that are not straight, or level and I did a lot of grinding on some ugly welds. All in all I am very happy with the way it turned out.

    The trailer is from an old pop-up camper I tore down and scrapped.

    The cooking chamber is an old air tank. I cut off the top plate and cut a single door into it. I wanted it to have a large enough opening so I could get a whole hog into it.

    The handle, shelf, counter weight and stacks are made from pipe and scrap I had laying around the shop. I did buy the 2"x2" tubing that supports the tank, the grating sheets, some 1 1/4" angle and the 2" flat stock that is around the doors. All total I have about $400 dollars into it.

    The cooking chamber and fire box are welded to the support underneath but the whole thing is bolted to the trailer so I can move the whole thing to another trailer or mount it to something else in the future without having to grind a bunch of welds.

    The fire box is made from an old 100 gal. propane tank that I shortened. After I shortened the tank I did find a few smoker build calculators online. A couple of them calculated that my fire box was only about 80% the size it should be for the size of the cooking chamber but I have burned some fires in it and my cooking chamber reaches over 700 degrees very easily and I can maintain 200-300 degrees so I think it will be fine.

    I cut air holes in both sides with adjustable dampers to make sure I have plenty of air flow.

    I placed a damper at the fire box to cooking chamber opening for more control. I figure you can never have too much control.

    I cleaned and coated the entire inside of the cooking chamber with Crisco to season it and keep it from rusting. Same idea as a cast iron skillet. Tonight I will light it up and complete that step. Labor Day I plan to fill it with meat for it's virgin smoke.

    There are still a few things yet to do like add fenders and do some more work on the floor grating. I also want to make sliding lids for the storage cage that when slid out will create a table on both sides of the smoker. I also have a large burner I want to mount as well as a mount for my tap system. It will make a great tailgating and BBQ competition trailer! The old brackets that were used for support poles on the pop-up will also make great flag pole mounts. I also plan to mount supports for some type of canopy or umbrella for shade on those hot Texas days.

    I plan to start a BBQ business at our RV Park called Backyard BBQ and this is the first step. I also have a 1967 Airstream trailer I plan to convert into a kitchen. That is the next project.
  2. Hello.  Great looking rig.  Hope you have many great meals from that smoker.  Keep Smokin!

  3. dockman

    dockman Smoking Fanatic

    Looks like you done a great job
  4. saltasylum

    saltasylum Newbie

    I'm thinking it looks pretty durn awesome! Nice job!
  5. lee-warren

    lee-warren Fire Starter

    Very impressive indeed, well done on what looks like a beautiful piece of kit. Looking forward to seeing her in action soon...[​IMG]
  6. mblair68

    mblair68 Newbie

    The virgin smoke!

    I did a brisket, pork butt and a rack of ribs to try out the new smoker.

    In order to get a feel for the smoker and it's adjustments I had done a couple of test runs with some elm and mulberry wood I had laying around. All went well and I was easily able to maintain a good temp all day with little fuss other than to feed the firebox wood now and then.

    A different story with the mesquite and hickory I bought. The mesquite was green and gave me fits all night long. If I adjusted for 225-250 degrees in the cooking chamber the fire would die and smolder putting too much smoke in the cooking chamber and the temp would drop. If I adjusted to keep the fire going I got to high of temps in the cooking chamber. I switched to hickory once the pork starting hitting the grates and things smoothed out a bit and temps were much easier to maintain.

    I rubbed the brisket with salt and pepper only, Texas style. The pork butt was salt and pepper with garlic powder and onion powder added. A Texas style pork butt. The ribs are rubbed with a rub I typically use on most pork. It contains brown sugar and usually leaves a nice crust or glaze on the meat.

    The brisket went on the smoker at 12:30 am. The brisket was about 13 lbs. and I figured about 1.25 hours per pound.

    The pork butt went on at 6:00 am. It weighed 7 lbs. and I figured about 1.5 hours per pound.

    The rack of spare ribs went on at 11:30 am. I use a 50/50 mix of Stubb's BBQ sauce and apple cider to mop the butt and ribs.

    The brisket was done at 4pm. I had targeted 5pm with an hour to rest and feast at 6pm. I'm sure the higher temps at times during the night made for a quicker cook since the 1.25 hours per pound is typically accurate at 225 degrees.

    The pork but was done at 5pm as planned. It didn't experience the higher temps through the night since I switched to hickory when it went on at 6am and was able to maintain a temp closer to the target 225.

    The ribs came off at 5:30pm as planned. I used the 3-2-1 method but the last hour I was called away to deal with a problem and the smoker temp got to high. The ribs were good but with more bark than I like.

    The pulled pork was excellent. The outside had a nice bark with lots of flavor from the rub and mop and the inside was tender and juicy.

    This is a bad pick of the ribs and some had already disappeared from the time I finished cutting them to getting the camera. A bit too much bard but tasty none the less.

    The brisket was very good. A very nice bark with a dark and thick smoke ring created by all the smoke through the night.

    All in all a very successful virgin smoke on the new smoker. Looking forward to the next one with some better seasoned mesquite.

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