Help, starting all over. Thanksgiving in jeopardy.

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by watermelonslim, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. watermelonslim

    watermelonslim Meat Mopper

    So I've been using a Char Griller with side fire box for a few years.

    I've gotten to know it pretty well. I have a stoker that I connect to it. And I have this routine where I stuff aluminum foil in all the cracks, and duct tape welding blankets all around it on the cold days.

    I added a dryer vent to to the smokestack to bring it down to the grate level. And I flip the basket in the bottom over and slide it to one side to act as a damper plate (in the smoke chamber).

    I also built a couple of charcoal baskets for the the fire box that sit above the ash area.

    This is a nice setup. The only thing I was planning on doing was riveting the welding blankets on so I don't have to tape them, and riveting some oven rope in the cracks so I don't need to stuff aluminum foil in there.

    Then, I bought a house. Some Asians lived in it before me, and they had modified an area of the garage for cooking. Coming off the garage, there is an area that would normally be considered a small workshop.

    They mounted a fan inside the wall (one of those ones that has 2 fans, normally sits in a window) and this blows outside. There is also a makeshift hood over this fan, and a countertop under it.

    They had apparently used this area for greasy wok cooking.

    I saw it, and immediately thought it was perfect for my smoker. No more smoking turkeys in freezing cold, windy, snowy conditions.

    The problem is, my char griller is a little too big for this area.

    It actually fits in there, but the fire box is only a couple feet from a wall. I don't want to burn the house down, so this isn't going to work for me.

    I need this ready by next week so I can smoke thanksgiving turkey. I don't really have time (or money) to properly shield and insulate this room. And the weather has been pretty bad, so I really want to do the smoking in there.

    What I'm thinking I'll do, is buy an el cheapo brinkman. You know, the $40 deal that sits vertically.

    That should easily fit in there, it's cheap so I can find the cash for it, and thanksgiving will go on without a hitch.

    The issue is, I have never used a vertical smoker. The only smoker I have ever used its my char griller.

    Is there a list of things I need to do to get it ready? Will my stoker's vent connection for my char griller (which I think was actually made for a Weber) fit the cheapo brinkman? I'm sure the technique is totally different, is there a guide or something for these cheapos? Do I need a special charcoal basket or something to make it last long enough?

    I have always been worried about cooking the meat directly over the fire. How does this not burn it?

    I want to get a turkey breast going this weekend just to practice, but I don't think I'll have time with everything else I have going on (just barely moved). So you guys are basically my only hope this thanksgiving.
  2. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Why go through buying a new smoker and trying to figure out what mods will and will not work...Just put the Chargriller a safe distance from anything that will burn and run a Flexible Aluminum Dryer Vent Hose from the Smoker to a point just below and near but not touching one of the fans. As the smoke exits the hose it will be sucked out buy the fan...JJ

  3. I agree with JJ.  If you go buy a smoker now for a T-bird, your going to be stressin 'cause that thing isn't going to react the same as yours.  You're gonna need a few cooks on it to learn the glitches and how to overcome them and you simply don't have time.  Pumping the smoke outside with the dryer duct seems like a better short term solution since you've "gotten to know it pretty well." 
  4. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    IMHO it is always a mistake to do what you are proposing with a leaky old smoker. You are running several risks, including carbon monoxide poisoning.

    A properly installed wood burning appliance must meet code, what you want to do certainly will not do that. Then there is insurance liability considerations, if there is any kind of incident what will your homeowners insurance cover for an improper installation? I cook outside in all kinds of cold, snowy weather on a CG, you should, too.
  5. watermelonslim

    watermelonslim Meat Mopper

    The problem is there is no way to put the char griller a safe distance away from everything. It's sui big that when it's in there the Firefox sits a couple feet away from a wall. Much too close, in my opinion.

    Yeah I'm sure there's some kind of code for this type of thing. I'll have to look into that when I get more time. I'm not talking about doing a permanent install right now, just something to get me through thanksgiving. Then I'll get this done properly in the spring.

    I know there will be all kinds of glitches and differences from what I'm used to, that's why I'm asking about it. Hopefully someone uses one of those el cheapo brinkmans and can send me in the right direction and give me some tips on what to expect.

    There is over 2 feet of snow outside right now, so I definitely want to do this inside if at all possible. I have a separate room, sealed off, with 2 big fans built into the wall for blowing air in and out (the fans go from this room to the backyard, they don't go from this room to the house).

    This room is built off the back of the garage. Concrete floors, high ceilings, etc. And it's completely sealed off from the house. It even has a not so perfectly sealed door to seal out off from the garage, and its own door to the backyard.

    No need for ducting or dryer vent, the fans will blow the smoke out.
  6. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You've heard the expression "You're playing with fire" right? You know, the one used to describe an activity so fraught with peril as to be almost guaranteed to end in disaster? Yeah that one.

    I'm not saying this is a bad idea. I'm saying this is a T E R R I B L E idea. Put the smoker safely outside and call the Darwin Awards committee and tell them you've changed your mind.

    **As an alternative may I suggest an ELECTRIC Brinkmann? Only a few bucks more than the charcoal one, and a slightly smaller risk of burning your new house down. Besides, your stoker won't work on a charcoal ECB, the bottom's wide open so there's no way to control the amount of incoming air. You'd end up getting the thing up to 400˚ and burning through charcoal at a ridiculous rate. Of course, once the house caught fire, this would become much less of a priority.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012
  7. If it won't fit in the room without being a hazard, I'd just leave it outside and smoke as usual for your Holiday dinner. I wouldn't go buy a smoker I'm unfamiliar, it will just cause you unnecessary grief and stress. I'm in the mountains of Colorado and I smoke outside year round.
  8. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have a char griller and would be very scared to put it inside. The only way I would even think about it is if it was concrete floors, walls and ceiling. Does sound like the fans will help, but would also have concerns with them working good enough to not smoke out the adjacent room. We use a MES in our comercial kitchen with mega hood system and even with all of their power we still get some smoke in the kitchen. If you are set on smoking in this area I would invest in an electric smoker and figure a way to vent it directly outside..

    I have a bad habit of ending up with hitting Murphy's Law when there is a possibility, so this one kind of freaks me out....
  9. watermelonslim

    watermelonslim Meat Mopper

    Just to clarify, this room is vented directly outside. The double fan is built into the wall, and you can see the backyard through the fan.

    The adjacent room is the garage, and there is a door between them (though it's not a perfect seal, has a gap at the bottom). So there is no concern about getting smoke in the house, and not even much of a concern about getting smoke in the garage. There are 2 doors in this room, 1 leads to the garage, the other leads to the back yard. It's like they walled off the back of the garage with drywall, and put a door in it.

    There is a door from the garage to the house, but that door is tightly sealed with extra insulation around the inside of the door jam. Not worried about anything leaking into the house.

    What I'll end up doing is, turn both fans on to blow air outside (into the back yard), and then open the garage door up a few inches. That way the air can come into the garage (from the front yard), go under the gap in the smoke room door, and then the fans will blow it outside (to the back yard).

    The floor in this room is concrete, the walls are drywall, and the ceiling is also drywall.

    One of the walls has an electrical outlet, and the ceiling has a light.

    The char griller has about 2 feet of clearance on every side when sitting in there.

    There are counter tops on 2 sides of the room, shelving on the 3rd side, and nothing on the 4th side (just an electrical outlet, which my sprinkler control is plugged into and mounted on that wall).

    So I could make considerably more room in there if I took out some shelving and counter tops. But I kind of want to leave it there because it should help make my cooks more organized.

    I just need a little smaller footprint on that char griller and it would be perfect.

    I'll probably try to have one built for me this spring. Maybe I'll throw a few layers of sheet metal over the drywall, with welding blanket sandwiched between. That and a custom built smoker that fits in there and passes code. But for now I just need something for a turkey next week.

    Sounds like that el cheapo brinkman is out of the question though if I can't connect my stoker to it. Good thing I asked before I bought one.

    So my next task them is to find something with a smaller footprint than the char griller, and will connect to my stoker, at the cheapest possible price.
  10. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I made my comments based in being safe. My char griller sits on my wooden porch and when I open my lid the stack hits the wooden railing. So my fire box is close to the railing made of wood. I keep a garden hose near by and have even sprayed the rail with water a couple times to make sure I was good. The wood railing by the fire box gets quite warm, not hot enought to smoke but very warm. It sounds like you have no concerns with the ventilation of the room. Where my concern comes in is the radiant heat from the fire box and the dry wall. Maybe try getting a couple pieces of the concrete board you can get at Lowes or Home Depot and putting them against the wall behind and beside the fire box. Test it by lighting a chimney of charcole and see what the heat and smoke do.

    Just be safe! The family would rather enjoy time with you in your new home with no smoked turkey, then the othe possibilities.....
  11. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sorry forgot something......

    Smoke stack extension. Not sure how the window lines up with he stack, but you could take the slide damper off of the stack and slide a piece of the drier vent tube over it and attach it the same way you did inside and run it to rest in front of the exhaust fan. Would help while the lid is closed, but once you open the lid.......well you know.
  12. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    We are all speculating on the safety or other issues of a room...We have not seen! Is this a 6' X 6' tiny Shed sized room or a 12' X 14' Bedroom sized room? Is it full of stuff or empty except for the counter under the fans? Some pics would be helpful...A room with sufficient space, a couple of feet, all around the Smoker with a source of Fresh Air, door partially open to the out side, and two Fans exhausting Smoke and CO to the outside, would not be an issue with constant supervision and a 5# ABC Fire extinguisher. But use your judgement as to what you think is safe...JJ
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012
  13. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    IMHO you should not consider doing this, period. Doesn't matter how well you think you are isolating the CG, it is a bad idea from start to finish.
  14. watermelonslim

    watermelonslim Meat Mopper

    I didn't know you could get concrete boards at home depot. I'll have to look into that. A few of those and I'd have no concerns at all.

    I'll try to get some pics and measurements tomorrow. I'm at work until late tonight so I won't have time today.

    It is mostly empty though, except for counters on 2 walls, shelving on the 3rd wall, and an electrical outlet (and electronic sprinkler control) on the 4th wall.
  15. watermelonslim

    watermelonslim Meat Mopper

    I didn't get a chance to take any pictures. I did have some time to walk around Lowe's while the Walmart next door changed my tires.

    I think that cement board will work for me. Thank you to the person who suggested it! (posting from my phone and this tapatalk app doesn't show me the rest of the thread while typing a reply)

    I think I'm just going to take the little side shelf off the char griller, which should give me a little smaller footprint, and more space between the side fire box and the wall.

    I will then put cement board on the wall near the fire box.

    In addition, I will stack some cinder blocks and cement board all around and over the side fire box. Kind of build a bottomless box around it that rests on cinder blocks, with several inches of space between the cement board "box" and the fire box.

    The panels will be made from the cement topper bricks that go on landscaping cinder blocks, and cement board. Each panel will be like a cinder block topper brick sandwich with cement board bread.

    I'll put a panel about 6 inches in front of the side fire box, another 6 inches behind the side fire box, another 6 inches "outside" the fire box (but touching the other 2 panels), and another 6 inches above the side fire box (but resting on the other 3 panels).

    The only concern I have is how will I add wood and lump during the cook?

    Just to make sure all bases are covered, I'll use bricks to hold up additional cement board "shields" all around the char griller cooking chamber and fire box.

    So I am no longer thinking about a new smoker right now. I do want to have one custom built this spring, but for Thanksgiving and Christmas I'll just use the char griller.

    I'm kind of curious to see how the char griller performs with the fire box "insulated" by the cement board. I definitely want to see how it performs in an insulated and wind free room too.
  16. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Leave the area in front where you add the wood open and maybe not so close with the board and cinder blocks. You will still need air flow for the fire to breath. Maybe just to the back and side by the walls. Test it and see what it does......
  17. vegassmokeout

    vegassmokeout Meat Mopper

    I will throw my 2 cents in.  1st, bad idea all the way around but if you must then the cement board will work.  Do not put it up against the drywall.  Leave an air gap and that will address that issue.  Next you have thought about air exhaust but not air intake.  You will be pulling spent air out of that room and not replacing it thus causing less O2 to be in that room.  Next we will read about you passing out.  Finally, if you bring in free air, you will still be cold.  It may protect you from the wind but I would rather build a wind block, a down jacket, a bottle of Jack and be safe outside.  Just me 2 cents that would error on safety 1st.
  18. watermelonslim

    watermelonslim Meat Mopper

    I'm not too worried about the air flow. I'm not covering the bottom in any way, so it will be wide open. And I have a stoker (with fan) that will be blowing air into the fire box. Hopefully it can suck enough air from the open bottom to feed the fire.

    I am pretty worried about how to open the thing to add wood and lump though. Trying to think of a way to to make at least the front and top panels easy to remove and replace while in use, and hope they aren't too hot.
  19. davidhef88

    davidhef88 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sounds like a lot of work to try to burn the house down. I had a buddy burn his down with a spark from a grinder.

  20. watermelonslim

    watermelonslim Meat Mopper

    Air intake will come from the garage.

    This "room" has 2 doors, 1 that goes to the backyard, and another which goes to the garage (and has a 1 or 2 inch gap along the bottom).

    I'll leave the door to the backyard closed. I'll probably leave the garage door closed too. The main garage door (which does not go to this "room" but goes to the driveway) will be left open a few inches, to allow air intake.

    So the air will enter the garage through the opening in the garage door, travel through the garage, and at the back of the garage it can travel under the 2 inch gap that leads to the smoke room, which I'm naming the hot box.

    I could also open the door a little if the 2 inch gap isn't allowing enough air, and open the garage door a little more. Or I could even open other door in the room (the one that goes to the backyard). Air intake is not really a concern.

    It might be cold in there, but I doubt it will be as cold as it is outside. The smoker will be generating plenty of heat. I'm way more worried about burning the house down because of too much heat, than I am about it being cold in there. (I'm not to worried about burning the house down anymore either now that I know about that cement board)

    I've done it the other way (bottle of jack, heavy coat, outside in the snow, struggling to maintain a constant temperature with fluctuating wind) the last few years. I'm kind of excited to relax with that bottle of jack this year while the turkey smokes.

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