My Fridge Smoker Chronicles

Discussion in 'Fridge/Freezer Builds' started by zach5483, Oct 19, 2015.

  1. zach5483

    zach5483 Fire Starter

    As of 10-19-2015, I do not have my fridge yet. (As of 11-4-15 I do!!!)

    I have started this thread for a couple of reasons. 1. To contribute to the forums. 2. As a journal of my fridge smoker journey. 3. As a way of working out ideas in my head, with your help of course. 

    Below is my plan as of right now.  It will probably change with the wind and weather.

    I want to do this as cheaply as possible, or "free", and I want it to look good when I am done.  I have a CGDw/SFB, I want this one to be electric.

    The Fridge:  I am in search of a 40's-60's full metal fridge.  I do not want a working one because: (A).  I will want to use it as a fridge. (B). It will be more expensive. (C). I just do not like the idea of breaking something that works.  I have tried the local scrap yards, and they tell me they do not sell off the yard.  So the search continues.  If you have any ideas for a guy in North Alabama, let me know.  ​(I ended up with a pretty sweet 1955-ish Frigidaire)

    The Heat: My plan is to make it electric.  I was a half size wall oven from the 60's-70's, it used to be olive green,  that is about to get replaced.  I plan on harvesting the heating element, probe, and controls.  Basically just going to turn the fridge into a glorified oven. My thoughts is this keeps me from buying some type of heating element and some type of thermostat or PID.  I am not good with electronics. I realize I will have to run a 240v or convert it to 120v, but I have a friend who is an electrician. 

    The Smoke:  Naturally, I would have to have some type of smoke generated in the fridge, or it would just be an oven.   My original plan was to go with the Bradley Smoke Generator. (When I first saw it I thought it provided heat also) I like the way it looks. It is not too terribly expensive $120ish, but it takes those pucks.  I do not know if any stores in my area sell those, and if I forget to order them online, or they don't come in time...  I thought about getting a Smoke Daddy "Big Kahuna".  it takes wood chucks that I can buy anywhere, but only a 2 hour burn time.  Problem is it is really expensive for what seems so simple.   I thought about building my own "Big Kahuna", but once again, I want it to look good.  I thought about the a-maz-n smoker.  Its cheap, but once again the dust/pellets are a specialty product I have to order, plus if it doesn't smoke for 10hrs like it says, I have to open the fridge. Plus I like the look of something on the outside, make it look like it not just a fridge.

    My biggest problem, besides finding a fridge, is deciding on the smoke generator, or an all in one.  (I really like the Smoke Daddy pellet pro.  It has the heating element and PID allready in it, but it is too expensive, and runs off of pellets.)

    I have no problem with pucks or pellets, I just do not know if my stores around here carry them.  (Gander Mountain in my town carries pellets and powder.)
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
  2. Try for local auctions or even ebay or craigslist. I bought a late 40's / early 50's model Kelvinator last week from a local person that had it advertised on ebay.
  3. My first post here. I just started my fridge conversion. I've been looking for a mostly all metal fridge for several years and gave up about two years ago. Then during one of my trash dump run I cruised by the fridge area and there was a metal Frigidaire cold wall. The bottom was missing but I was just happy to see it. I went over to sign it out from the county and it was mine for free. I just finished removing the plastic parts around the opening and pulling any copper and electrical. I also pulled the guys out from the bottom. Whoever took it to the transfer station had already took the freon out. [​IMG]

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  4. madman mike

    madman mike Smoking Fanatic

    score!!! that will work really well. You can put something on the bottom and use it as storage for extra racks, sausage rods and wood chips.
  5. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I love mine,,,, 

    Amps,,,I have 3 draft holes by the amps only 3/4" BIP ,, they need to be a little larger,,,Hard to keep the amps going.

    Custom Racks, 

    If I can remember right I think I can get 7 racks in it.  And I have dowles at the very top for some long, 24" pepperoni sticks,,,24" each side so one strand is 4ft  OH YA 

    Two burner hot plate was first experiment and would not come up to temp enough. 

    Zach, good luck on your find and build...... 

    Double S you will love it when you get it done. 

    A full smoker is a happy smoker 

  6. zach5483

    zach5483 Fire Starter

    Well thanks to a couple of friends, and an online Facebook auction page, I have my fridge.  All I know is it is an old Frigidaire.  I got it for $50!  I only got it last night, so I haven't had a chance to explore it.  These pics are from the seller, I have not even had time to photograph it.  The light works, but I don't know if the fridge does, I hope it doesn't lol.  The inside is kinda wrecked anyway.

    If anyone know a year on this one, let me know.

    Also I was wondering, I see a lot of people taking the inside shell out, and replacing the insulation.  Why, and do you have too?

  7. zach5483

    zach5483 Fire Starter

    I think it is a 1955, but definitely 1950's, based on my 5 minutes of interment searching, ha.
  8. madman mike

    madman mike Smoking Fanatic

    great looking fridge!!

    the insulation jis removed to replace with a fire rated insulation, the best ti use is Roxul. Pink fiberglass insulation is fine to use as well, most often used in ovens, but the old insulation can have moisture in it, mold, mice droppings sometimes or it just stinks and when heated it stinks even more. For the $40 for a bag of new Roxul insulation its worth it.

    You need to take the tub, or liner, out regardless so you might as well replace the insulation at the same time. If its in good shape and doesn't smell when you take the tub out, then its your call, leave it or replace it, youl know right away when you remove it.

    My 1st build had cardboard as the insulation, apparently it pre-dated fiberglass insulation. haha. Its actually fairly common to see cardboard in them.

    and depending on how you are wiring it you may be running the wire between the outer shell and the insulation, once you try to move the old insulation it usually falls apart and needs to be replaced anyways. It doesn't  hold up as well as the Roxul when handling and also isn't as good of an insulator as the Roxul.
  9. zach5483

    zach5483 Fire Starter

    Thanks!   Will I have to take the tub out, even if it is metal?  I know I do on the door, because it is plastic.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2015
  10. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great looking find!!!! SCOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Mine was all metal on the inside, Never removed the metal or the insulation, Many lbs of meat thru mine and I'm still kicking,,,,, I only take mine to a temp of 225MAX 

    What do you mean by tub? the bottom?? Freezer at top needs to come out and pinch old lines off, 

  11. zach5483

    zach5483 Fire Starter

    Thanks!  I assume Madman Mike was talking about the inside of the fridge when he said tub.

    I have seen many people take the inside out, and replace the insulation, and many did not. Trying to figure out the age old it or don't it.

    Indecision may or may not be my problem.
  12. madman mike

    madman mike Smoking Fanatic

    tub, liner, inside, interior,  use all the terms interchangeably sometimes in the same thread, lol.

    I would recommend doing it if there is an old slightly musty smell, if there is any dark or black spots, if it looks like there has been any moisture in there.

    Often you wont know fully unless you take it out to inspect both sides of the insulation and the inside of the shell Once its out, its usually like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube. It usually falls apart enough to make it not worth trying to put back in.

    Might as well do it with all new insulatin, it one the cheaper parts of the build and then you know its perfect.
  13. madman mike

    madman mike Smoking Fanatic

    remove plastic and replace with metal, you don't have to take it all off and seal it allup, but your fridge will have less heat and smoke loss, the moisture from the meats cooking wont leak into the insulation over time creating rotten moldy insulation and rusting the fridge out years earlier than it needs to.

    a little time, care and proper building will ensure that your smoker will last decades vs years
    jlawrence likes this.
  14. zach5483

    zach5483 Fire Starter

    Thanks Mike.  I am going to have to dive into her.  I definitely want it to last forever-ish.

    I plugged her up, let her run for 24hrs.  She is cool, not cold, plus she has shelves missing and the inside isn't great.  So i feel fully confident about using it for my smoker.  (I realize I could probably add Freon and find the shelves, but I won't)
  15. madman mike

    madman mike Smoking Fanatic

    You won't find gas for them. There has been dozens of new refrigeration gases since those were made. The cost of the gas to fill it is $100's per lb. I may be wrong, but I've seen enough bills for refrigeration gas over the years that the oder the compressor is the more valuable that gas has become.
  16. zach5483

    zach5483 Fire Starter

    Thanks Mike. Your making my mind feel at ease.

    I have done a little, very little, work on it today. I removed the plastic and insulation from the door. I took some pics, I will post them soon.
  17. zach5483

    zach5483 Fire Starter

    Below is a collection of pictures from my little bit of piddling I got done today. I basically just removed the plastic and insulation from the door. The inside top looked brand new. The only rough spot was at the bottom, but I do not think it will be a problem.

    My real concern at the moment is how am I going to get the outside emblem and handles back shiny, and if I have to take them off to do

  18. madman mike

    madman mike Smoking Fanatic

    I usually use a mixture of baking soda a touch of sunlight dishwashing detergent. But you can use tarnish remover cleaners,

    if using the baking soda mix just use a touch of liquid soap to make a paste, use a tooth btush to scrub the handles clean.

    It creats an oil busting fine abrasive. I use just baking soda and a little water to clean my cast iron pots and pans when rusty or in need of a fresh clean and seasoning. Works wonders. Takes a bit of elbow grease and time, but works great and is not going to damage anything.

    There shold be some screws or clips on the back of the handle and emblems that can be removed, the pins with clips ususally have some wax over them, just take the wax off and gently remove the clips, save them to put back on later. Be careuly of the pins on the back of the emblem as they will have become fragile with age.

    I have broken one or two on most occasions, I also use some epoxy on the back inside the fridge when replacing them to ensure they don't fall off, which is why they originally used the wax.

    Some guys reuse the handle mechanism, personally I prefer not to. It makes a little more work to fit the new metal trim around it while maintaining the best air tight fit possible.

    I usually remove the latch part but try to leave the spring portion of the door handle mechanism so it doesn't flop around. Sometimes its easy to do and some Using 2 latches to keep te door closed usually gives you a better seal all around the door.
  19. zach5483

    zach5483 Fire Starter

    I have been doing some pondering on the heating element for my build.  I was planning on using the heating element out of an old stove, but maybe not.

    What have y'all used, and what did you use as a thermostat?
  20. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I used a element out of of I think was an old smokey,,, Then this controler,,,works awesome,

    yep here is the element,

    If you just plug in element with no controller I have gotton to 300+ Degrees since I did not want to go that Hi I put the controller on and 220 is perfect,,,damper on exhaust and I can sit at 225* all day, plus I like the + or - 1* if needed. 


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