Newbie needs help on a build question please!!!

Discussion in 'Smoker Builds' started by hokah legend, Apr 23, 2013.

  1. HI everyone, I joined the site recently, am thinking of a bigger smoker build. Something just hit me. I have  on the side a meat business that keeps me very busy seasonally, and I have a 6 foot wide, 8 feet deep, and 8 feet high walk in cooler. Just like you would see in a restaurant, bar, or meat shop. It is old, compressor is shot.  Wood floor, which I would take out, snap panel construction inside is like a thin tin. I'm thinking this could be turned into a hell of a smoker, I want a walk in type anyway. So. would like your thoughts on if it would work..Walls are like 4 inches thick and insulated.

    Next question...for smaller gatherings, does it sound feasible to figure out a way to section off a area of it so I could make 300 lbs of sausage one day, and the next day do a brisket so I don't have to get the whole thing to temp???? Maybe I'm nuts, just wanted to hear from the people that know best. Thanks in advance....

    Oh yes, was thinking of  wood fired....or mix charcoal..hmmmmm.Not sure.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Converting a refrigeration unit into an oven can be an expensive task....  You could use it as a cold smoker no problem....   

    I would replace the compressor and have a cooler, fermenting chamber for pancetta, brasciola, etc.... Stuff that takes months and needs lots of storage space.... fermented kraut, kimchi, dry aged salami .....   
  3. Thanks Dave. I have a different cooler and compressors, especially outdoor are way spendy. I was wondering if I built a separate firebox, is it possible to have it do both, cold smoke and get it up to temp as a hot smoker, or am I dreaming???  I obviously don't want to spend my life savings on the thing, but I suppose if it's a cold smoker I could do a lot of bacon and bologna, hot dogs, and boil.....????
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hokah, I don't know what to tell you about the remodel.... A recirculating fan for heat / smoke will be needed in that size smoker whether cold or hot smoke is used... I'm not sure how well an external firebox would heat the cook chamber....  There is a lot of heat loss using an external FB...  Fat dripping from meat is a real fire hazard....  I had a smoke house catch on fire... it was a concrete block with external FB.... I lost 200 #'s of salmon... smoker was OK...  Fat from salmon burns real good... and hot...  once the fat hit the smoke stack the temp started going up... the higher it got, the more fat dripped.... a never ending cycle and I was standing there watching.... by the time I closed all the dampers, took about 30 seconds, everything was toast.. 

    Check around commercial smokers.... see what they do...  I worked at a commercial smoker doing their welding... their smokers were heated with high temp, high pressure steam...  not much chance of fire using steam...  

    My friend did commercial smoking...  built a smoker totally out of steel... It was about the size of your cooler....   He had a fire in the center of the floor....  It was about 18" x 24" steel box suspended under the floor on rails.... he pulled the firebox out, added a split or two and slid it back under the smoker....   That was a cool design and worked very well... with long remote therms you could keep track of temps from outside...  some type of baffles would be needed for the fire... mild air recirc would be needed....  replace the wood floor with steel joists and flooring....  A couple grand and you would have one dandy smoker able to hold 1000#'s of meat...   a lot cheaper than some small smokers on the market now....  My friend designed some very unique meat hanging equipment in that smoker....  he was a steel fabricator all his life.... his wife ran the smoking business from home for small butchers and home sausage makers....   If you decide to build the smoker, I have more ideas to help you out.... or convince you not to do it...

  5. Wow Dave thanks for the thoughts and the time..You may have convinced me not to do  I am gonna take a look soon at a guy who supposedly has the best homemade smokehouse in the area, I think his capacity is about 500 pounds. I may post a pic to see what some thoughts on it are out there. Not sure on how the dampers and the fans would work....With it being insulated not sure if it going to be that hard to get it hot or not, hate to put too much into it and find out it won't be hot enough. Would be nice like your buddy to have the metal skills, I certainly do not but have a lot of contacts with anything that would need to be done. I sure appreciate you helping me out, I will know more about what I am gonna do soon. Caught some nice Sturgeon and shot a big gobbler yesterday after work so will have to smoke them somewhere else...but not for long! Amazing the resources on this website.....Thanks again.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2013
  6. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    And if you want to bring that walk in cooler back to it's original purpose without spending a ton of money on a replacement compressor, check out the Cool-Bot.   They use an external controller to convert a window A/C unit into the source of cold air for a walk in cooler (sort of like the way we use PID's to run heating elements in a smoker, just to cool instead of heat).

    Here is a video of how it works & the install (about 2 to 3 minutes to install one)


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