New guy from Colorado building me first smoker...

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by bigchefpete, Nov 18, 2014.

  1. Hey folks...

    My name is Pete and I'm located here in beautiful Aurora Colorado.  While I am new to the whole world of smoking (other than an odd chicken or rack of ribs here and there) I am an avid cook and consumer of all things tasty (meat or otherwise).

    I joined the forum mainly to learn about all things smoking and to share my refrigerator>smoker conversion/build.  In the last few years I have reconnected with my father and we have begun a tradition of hunting once a year together.  Up until this year I have had most of the meat from our hunting (venison mostly) made into jerky and sausage by the meat processor.  This year I have decided take things into my own hands and learn the process myself.

    I looked into smokers on the web and got recommendations from friends on what to buy.  After much research and a quick peek at CL, I found a great candidate fridge for conversion and decided to take that route.  I love fabrication of all kinds and am a tinkerer by nature so this seemed to be the best option for me.  So off I went to pick up my new/old GE fridge for 35 bucks.  I figured is was kismet anywho as the fridge came up as the third hit in the CL search and the posting was less than two hours old.  I arrived to pick up the fridge and the seller noticed my Coast Guard plates, turns out he was in basic just a year before me and we chatted for a good hour about our adventures.  I don't imagine there aren't a whole lot of "Coasties" around these parts so I considered it a sign that I made the right choice to build my own!

    My plan in a nutshell:

    Fridge: old medium size GE fridge.  It's got mostly metal insides with the typical plastic door liner and trim around the outer/inner shell gap.

    Heating element:  Re-purposed from my old rusted out electric smoker.  It works and looks to have enough power.  If it doesn't then it will be easy to replace.  I was able to get the internal temp up to 300 with little effort and time so I figure its a good start as I understand that most smoking happens at 250 and lower anywho...

    Smoke:  After much consternation I decided to go with the Masterbuilt "cold smoker adapter kit" for smoke generation.  I wanted to be able keep the process as automated possible without the need to buy pellets/pucks/etc over the counter.  I'm hoping the Masterbuilt unit will get me there.  I found many many options in this area but liked the cost of the Masterbuilt and 99% of reviews seemed to like it a bunch.

    Controller:  Well this is where I went a little overboard.  I love electrical/electronic goodgies and gadgets.  The more flashy lights, dials, switches, indicators n'stuff the better.  There seems to be no shortage of this sort of stuff for the smoking world so I went bananas.  I chose an Auber dual sensor PID controller and all the accoutrements.  Instead of using the "plug and play" unit I went with the build it up yourself option (new in November from what I understand) for two reasons.  One, I love to wire things up and this gave me the ability to do so along with the opportunity to add all the fancy switches and lights that I most likely wont need or use but love to have anyway.  Two, on the more practical side, I liked that doing it this way gives me to ability to go with a larger heating element if need be without having to replace the whole control system.

    Venting and airflow:  I'm planning on going with the standard vent at the bottom and smoke stack (with damper) at the top setup to start.  That being said I have built into the control system the ability to control a fan.  I'm hoping that this will allow me to pull enough air through the smoker to be able to use it as a dehydrator as well as just a hot/cold smoker.  I'm not sure it will work but I will have fun finding out.

    I suppose that is enough for now.  Attached are a few pics of the fridge before I started the conversion and where I am now.  I picked up the raw materials for fabricating the shelves, drip shield, and replacing the door liner yesterday.  I will work on that while I wait for the smoker, PID components, and smoke stack to arrive.  I'm also planning on putting the unit on casters to make it easy to move around and store as needed.

    Would love to hear all your thoughts and suggestions.  Thanks for reading!


    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014
  2. wolfman1955

    wolfman1955 Master of the Pit

    Welcome, from southern Ohio, to the best forum on the internet if you are looking to learn how to BBQ/smoke/brine/cure/inject. Well you get the picture if you can do it to to something you put on a plate to eat then someone here has probably done it. Use the search bar at the top of the page and you will be led to the answer to most every question you can think of. If you don't find the answer there then just post it and someone will chime in with their opinion on the subject.

    Looks like you have that old fridge well on it's way to smoking heaven! My motto is take your time, do your research, and do it right the first time! Looks like you got all of those well covered on this build!

    Always remember the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask!!
    Keep Smokin!!!
  3. Glad you joined the group. The search bar at the top of any page is your best friend.
    About anything you wanna know about smoking/grilling/curing/brining/cutting or slicing
    and the list goes on has probably been posted. Remember to post a QVIEW of your smokes.
    We are all smoke junkies here and we have to get our fix. If you have questions
    Post it and you will probably get 10 replies with 11 different answers. That is
    because their are so many different ways to make great Q...
    Happy smoken.
  4. [​IMG]   Good morning and welcome to the forum, from a sunny, and  not quite as cold day in East Texas. Lots of great people with tons of information on just about  everything 

             Cool Build. Nice Buck    Keep us posted

  5. java

    java Smoking Fanatic

    Great looking buck, is that from around here?

    Nice smoker build also
  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Pete, morning..... You are miles ahead of me on that electrical stuff.... Maybe I can help with replacing the inner door liner.... I've done it and ran into problems with the door being out of plane....

    You may already know this but I'm adding my ideas anyway.....

    Lay the door flat... Have the corners shimmed with wedges for tweaking.... place taught strings from corner to corner on the door.... shim the corners until the strings touch, where they cross, in the middle.... Now the door is in plane and will close properly after the skin is applied...
    I failed to do that step "on my first attempt" of applying an inner door skin..... The door didn't even come close to sealing properly.... I used 3/4" manila rope, for a door seal.... stuck on with high temp silicone... worked very well.... of course today, there are more modern materials for door seals...
    Looking forward to your build....

  7. Thanks!  The buck isn't from Colorado.  I was born and raised in Montana and my father still lives up there.  So I head up there every year to hunt.  We got this guy literally minutes after entering our normal hunting grounds.  You could barely even call it hunting.  On the bright side, it gave us the rest of the weekend to look (to no avail) for Elk.

  8. Thanks for the heads up Dave! 

    I hadn't even thought that that might be an issue.  I will most certainly use your suggestion.  The door and shelves are on this weekends agenda.  I'll post pics once I get that part completed...

  9. Hey Pete,

    Welcome to a great site, I am fairly new to this smokin stuff too and I have found an incredible amount of help/information here!

    Everyone seems to be very willing to help whenever needed!

    Will be following your build, something I would love to do myself someday!

  10. Nice looking deer...what part of Aurora are you in?  I'm in SE area out by Southlands mall...Good luck with your build.
  11. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    :77: ....:77: ....:77: ......:77: ...... HEY!!!!! Dick,...... That, my friend, is one AWESOME antelope......
  12. Thanks Dave......he was crazy wide! I'm not a trophy hunter but I'll take him!
  13. Thanks everyone for you words of encouragement and advice.

    I just picked up some more raw materials for the smoker.  I walked through the scrap yard and my imagination just went rampant.  I'll post some more pics as I work through fabrication of the input vents and exhaust stack.

    I'm not sure how to do it but I would like to move this thread over to the build area.

    Any pointers?


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