Starting my build 250 gallon propane smoker with rear facing firebox.

Discussion in 'Smoker Builds' started by okieleo, May 16, 2013.

  1. okieleo

    okieleo Fire Starter

    First off I am giddy like a school boy, I finally started. I have had my 250 gallon tank for about 3 months and havent had the time to do anything with it. I went out and bought about $400 in steel, a trailer axle, and was given a smaller 120 gal tank. So with all of that in mind here is what I am thinking.....

    I am going to use the smaller 120 gal bottle for my rear mount firebox and fab up a vent box inbetween the small and large tank. I will mount it on an frame and axle for completion.

    I have a few concerns. My first and largest is the welding. I havent ever welded before and this build is going to be my batism by fire so to speak. I have watched videos and read how to books but my experience has always been learn by doing. I bought a new Lincoln flux/mig 140 which is rated to 1/4 inch with multipass and if I need to do anything larger than it will handle my neighbor told me he would let me borrow his Miller welder generator but it is stick so I wont have any eperience with it.

    My next concern is fabrication. I dont have much experience in this either but with some helpful hints, tricks, and a few ideas stolen from excellent fabricators off this sight I think I can do it.

    My last concern is cutting. I have a large amount of cut off wheels for my grinder and will also try using a circular saw with a carbide blade to cut my doors off.

    I am starting the cuts on my doors tomorrow and would appreciate any and all hints while doing this. Anywho I am taking pictures along the way to show my progress and will post them up while working on the this build.


    Last edited: Jun 10, 2013
  2. dutch

    dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well Okie, you won't be the first to start a build with no welding experience. That Lincoln should do the job for you-just practice a bit on some scrap so you get the feel of laying down a good bead. It should look like a stack of nickels that have been laid on it's side and push flat.

    Have you filled your tanks with water and soap and let them sit to disapate any gas in the tanks?

    As for cutting, I believe that most of the builders here had good results using cut-off wheels. The produce the narrowest cuts that I've seen-just remember to let the tool do the work and don't force it along. Oh yeah, if you go the cut-off wheel, have plenty on hand cuz you'll need them.

    I'm looking forward to your build.

    [​IMG]This will take the large bucket of popcorn. . .
  3. 05sprcrw

    05sprcrw Smoking Fanatic

    You can use a circular saw but it will need to be one meant for metal. It will burn up even a good worm gear saw in no time. Also carbide might last long enough to get through the cuts but more then likely not. I would recommend a cermet tipped blade (type of ceramic). I have a metal cutting circular saw and it leaves a nice finished cut and cuts 1/4 steel like worm gear saws handle aluminum (with ease). We cut a lot of aluminum at work with a circular saw but we only use worm gear saws and average having to replace one every couple years.

    Cut off wheels will work great just go slow and give it time, let the cut off wheel do the work.  The 140 welder is a good welder and will get you started off right.
  4. okieleo

    okieleo Fire Starter


    That makes me feel better about not being the first. The way I thought about it was I would have lots of practice while building it but for sure some practice on some junkyard stuff first. I have had the 250 gal tank filled with dawn soap and water for a week now and the smaller tank still has propane in it. I was planning on using some of the propane in the smaller tank along with a weed burner attachment to burn out the 250 gal tank then i will remove the propane and connectors and let it soak for a while too.


    Sounds like I will be using my cut off wheels then. I have a cheapo HF 4 1/2 grinder I have been using an it gets pretty warm but its also cheap and if it burns up I will just go buy another $26 HF one again. I will need to pick up quite a few wheels then sounds like and a few more grinder wheels too.

    This is why I joined this forum because you voice some concerns and in a few hours there are a few answers/ideas for you.

    Thanks guys.
  5. okieleo

    okieleo Fire Starter

    I have been looking and cant really find the information I am looking for so please bear with me. I have my plans on paper for what I want to do but dont know if I should cut my tank at complete center or just below for my doors to leave the very middle open for the largest removable cooking grate? I cant post pictures right now but as soon as I get off I will try and post some up of my plans to give yall a better idea of what I am talking about.
  6. okieleo

    okieleo Fire Starter

    This is some of my starting materials.... got the 250 gal tank for $75 from a guy selling off all his equipment.

    Starting my cutting and grinding. My cheapo grinder that I have had for years finally crapped out on me in the middle of cutting off the tool steel where the threads are. So tomorrow its off to HF to buy a new one and then back to the "grind".

    Here is the design that I am looking at. Not real sure on if I am going to cut for the bottom of my doors straight at the middle or just a touch south so that my grate can have the maximum length. What do yall think?
  7. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    for me.. and I heard others say.. the bottom of the door needs to be at about 2- 2:30 (just above the 3 o'clock position).. anything below that and the grease and oil drip from the inside of the door onto the outside of the smoker...
  8. okieleo

    okieleo Fire Starter

    Ok, that makes sense. So what are the upper cuts that you would make say 12 o clock and 2:30?
    Last edited: May 16, 2013
  9. okiedave

    okiedave Smoke Blower

    OkieLEO, where in Norman are you?  I'm just over on the west side, down in the flats, and I'm about to start on my project again too.
  10. okieleo

    okieleo Fire Starter

    I am just south of the river. I am about two miles west of the casino off highway 9.
  11. bbq bill

    bbq bill Smoke Blower

    OkieLOE, I sent you a PM...  Good luck on your build.  When I started I had next to no experience welding & fabricating.  I used my cheapo 4" side grinder w/cutting disks and did every single cut with it!  It got pretty warm a few times, but never burned out.  Like the other guy said, fill your tank with water and about a cup of dishwashing liquid.  cut the doors while it is full !!  your doors should be 1/4 of the diameter of your tank.  Top cut at 12, and your bottom cut just above 3. 
  12. 05sprcrw

    05sprcrw Smoking Fanatic

    I put mine at 4 o'clock on mine with it starting around 1 o'clock, this way it keeps a lot more heat trapped in for fast recovery. I added a lip that keeps it from dripping down the cooker instead it directs the moister to the r/f plate where it can steam off and not drip outside.  But if you don't want to do that then keep it above the 3 o'clock mark as JckDanls 07 stated.
  13. okieleo

    okieleo Fire Starter

    Thanks guys. I am probably going to do the 12 and just before the three. I went out and bought a new grinder this morning due to my last one burning up but it looks like it is going to be raining all day so I might not get to break it in.
  14. Regarding the welder...go slow, keep the puddle fluid and eating away at the edges, and did I mention go slow? Oh yeah, and go slow!
    Seriously, scrap is a great idea. There will be several "ah-ha" moments, and it will all come together if you're patient. Have fun and good luck ( And buy your cutoff discs in bulk at a welding supply store).
    okieleo likes this.
  15. okieleo

    okieleo Fire Starter

  16. okieleo

    okieleo Fire Starter

    Well today as seen above I have emptied and then rinsed my tank one last time (first soak was for two weeks with dawn dish soap and then with TSP found at my local Ace hardware for another week). I have made my first cut for the door to help drain the tank along with a hose to help siphon out the water towards the bottom. Oh how I hate getting that water started flowing through that hose. After my water drains I am going to finish cutting off the legs and then roll it over so I can finish cutting out my doors. The bottom of the tank is going to be what you see now so I can make one of those holes my drain valve. I will keep posting pics but work is going to be very slow the next month or two. The tornado that hit Moore,OK was about 4 miles from my home. My Department has placed us on 12 hour rotations to help out with the S&R and now recovery efforts. Please keep the families of those affected in the forefront of your minds and pray for them. For so many have a long road ahead of them.
    Last edited: May 23, 2013
  17. okieleo

    okieleo Fire Starter

    Got the legs cut off and I will finish cutting out the doors next week hopefully as it started raining on me.
    Last edited: May 23, 2013
  18. okieleo

    okieleo Fire Starter

    I realized I never posted the picture of the smoker with the legs cut off and I also picked this up today for FREEEEEEE!!!

    I should specify... The trailer not the baby. Lol
    Last edited: May 23, 2013
  19. okieleo

    okieleo Fire Starter[IMG]

    After taping off where I wanted the doors I started cutting and finally finished what I started last week and finished the last cuts on the doors tonight.

    [GALLERY="media, 226155"][/GALLERY]

    My wife snuck around and caught me in the act.

    [GALLERY="media, 226156"][/GALLERY]

    [GALLERY="media, 226157"][/GALLERY]

    I also started welding tonight on the first door adding the flange around the outside, picture tomorrow but this is my very first weld I have ever made. Not too bad right?
    Last edited: May 30, 2013
  20. okieleo

    okieleo Fire Starter

    As promised here is my first door. Have to go back a redo some welds but I am going to practice some more on scrap to try and get the motions down.


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