"The Meatwagon"

Discussion in 'Other Builds' started by themeatwagon, Oct 22, 2015.

  1. themeatwagon

    themeatwagon Newbie

    So, a buddy of mine has been intrigued by my meat smoking. I have a "BBQ" photo album on Facebook that I post to from time to time, and he said he wanted to get into it too. I'm also a home brewer; he and I do a ton of brewing together, we're both into cars and trucks (both have owned ridiculous cars, both currently own Ford Diesels), I figure smoking's a great hobby, might as well suck someone else in! He's probably in the process of joining the forum now as I write this, since I just told him I registered this username. Anyways, I was volunteering for a local brewery (actually another friend that went from home brewer to nano commercial brewer, his beer is on local store shelves, which is beyond awesome), and I saw another one of these BBQ grill/smoker trailers. I send him a text with a picture of it saying "we build this". Say no more, he was all in. Turns out, he had a free trailer coming to him from a friend he gave an air compressor to. So, we head out to western Mass. from his place in New Hampshire to pick it up. It's roughly 8x16, a former camper trailer that someone converted to a deck trailer - a dual acxle lowboy that's probably waaaay toobig for a BBQ trailer, but we live in a dimension where bigger is better, and "that's too big" is an unknown phrase.

    After a few hours of loading an 8x16 trailer with 2 flat tires and a missing wheel onto another 8x16 trailer, using a combination of a little brains, a lot of braun, two ratchet straps, a half-broken cumalong, a floor jack, some wooden planks and a metal pipe, we head on back to his place. On the way, all we could talk about were ideas for the trailer. The creative juices were flowing like rendered tallow from a 20 hour brisket. So I say to him... "we need to name this thing",m and almost instantly, he pops out with "The Meatwagon". After busting a gut laughing and regaining my composure, I agreed. It was perfect and I couldn't possibly think of a better name.

    So, we had a free trailer. I got a free 275-gallon home heating oil tank from Craigslist, and got 2 55-gallon drums from a local farm that I buy hay bales from every year for a family "harvest party". I also got two free small expansion tanks - one from the heating oil tank guy, and another from my parents' basement. I'm going to make a cold smoker out of one of them, just haven't decided which one yet. Finally, we got an old cast iron wood stove from his neighbor (we have lots of wood stoves up here in New England), to use as the fire box.

    We have a friend with a sandblaster who will blast down the frame so we can paint it. My build friend also has a paint sprayer, so we'll likely paint it ourselves. Then, we're going to lace it with LEDs. Probably 50 3/4" bullet lights, and 17" LED strip lights for brake and tail lights.

    Last weekend, we started the build. We got the trailer off the other trailer, parked in front of the garage, and stripped of it's decking. We also emptied the last 10 gallons of heating oil and sludge from the tank, and 2-3 gallons of 15w40 from one of the drums, cut them all open, and burned the crap out of them via a few roaring heating oil-assisted brush fires in the driveway. I had Googled this in advance, and low-and-behold, this forum seemed to be the place with all the answers. To my surprise and delight, it was burned completely clean, with ZERO residue or odor. We burned a LOT of brush and kindling in it, then moved to logs and scrap wood, with more brush. It was a long hot blaze.

    Ok, picture time.

    Here's the trailer, with the oil tank on it draining, and another shot after we got it off and the decking stripped. It has a few years of good old New England rust on it, but luckily it's just a tad on the surface, nothing major or a structural hazard.

    Starting on the oil tank. That's me on the cutoff wheel.

    And the barrels. I got two - one has bigger ribs on it, the thought was that we'd use that as a lid, since the ribs would be bigger than the other barrel's ribs, and it would close nicely. Worked perfect. We cut out the lid from the second barrel about 4-5" bigger than the opening of the first barrel, to have a nice overlap when closed (pictured)

    Here are some conceptual drawings. Between an IT Manager and an Electromechanical Engineer, we make a pretty good design team. He did the 3D modeling based on my sketches. The "Party Porch" on the back is intended to be a storage rack (first pic) that hinges out into more deck space (second pic). The total area is about 9' x 8' - so plenty big enough to pop a table, chairs, and cooler under an 8' EZ-up tent (lloking for one of those now too). The final drawing is the latest iteration, but is still missing the cold smoker

    Then I did some on my end, in my crappy Microsoft Visio...

    Here's a drawing I did for a preliminary door opening mechanism for the smoker. Likely going to re-purpose some old server rack sliding rails I got for free from work, but retail the pulleys and weights. They'll counter-balance the door, so opening is almost effortless. We're going to incorporate some kind of latch too, so it doesn't open or close unexpectedly.

    That's all I have for pictures and work for now. We'll be spending Sunday up in NH again at his house doing more fabrication. I was able to score 10 free stainless steel sopping carts from a local grocery store (actually it was my first job). They actually have very odd looking tall square carts, but they should work perfectly for smoking racks. We also have an old half-charcoal half-propane grill that has given up the ghost, that we'll be scrapping parts from (choke doors, cast iron grates for the grill, handles, etc

    Here's a couple pics of some recent BBQ. I feel that no post in this forum would be complete without some meat in it...

    travisty and kawboy like this.
  2. And I am the friend who supplied the trailer for this epic build....hoping to learn lots about smoking meat!

    A set of beer taps may also make an appearance on this trailer!
  3. themeatwagon

    themeatwagon Newbie

    Hahaha nice SN
  4. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    WOW quite the build you got going on and [​IMG]  from Idaho hope to see alot of good smokes coming this way 

    A full smoker is a happy smoker 

  5. I'm in for this build! Can't wait to see the progress!
  6. themeatwagon

    themeatwagon Newbie

    Unfortunately we didn't get any work in this weekend - by build buddy had a full day planned with his wife. Next weekend's not looking good either, but we should be on track after that.

    I have a few questions though:


    We're going to use a small water expansion tank as the cold smoking chamber. The plan is: Old wood stove is the fire box; the hot smoke travels through a short (a few feet) 6" wood stove exhaust pipe into the oil tank smoker (bottom), then out the opposite side (top), through about 5-6' of more 6" pipe, down, into the cold smoker; it then will travel up and meet with the exhaust from the grill, and out dual Caterpillar stacks.

    I've seen a LOT of these trailers and rigs with the fire boxes attached directly to the smoker. Is mounting it a few feet remotely a bad idea? Should it be attached directly?


    What is the desired temp for cold smoking? My plan is pork belly, ham, fish (MMmMMMMmm smoked salmon!), and cheeses. I LOVE smoked cheese. I want to make sure that the smoke has enough time to cool down when it leaves the hot smoker before it gets to the cold smoker.

    Going to go research best practices again now. I looked before, but couldn't find any sort of definitive answers.
  7. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    What is the desired temp for cold smoking? My plan is pork belly, ham, fish (MMmMMMMmm smoked salmon!), and cheeses. I LOVE smoked cheese. I want to make sure that the smoke has enough time to cool down when it leaves the hot smoker before it gets to the cold smoker.

    The link below is a good source.....

  8. themeatwagon

    themeatwagon Newbie

    Awesome, thanks for the info!
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  10. As usual...life gets in the way of these fun projects....hopefully we'll get back on track by next weekend.
  11. themeatwagon

    themeatwagon Newbie

    I've been saving up scrap metal to build the smoker door and racks with. This sliding door system is gonna be boss.
  12. worktogthr

    worktogthr Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    As someone with absolutely no skills to build anything...I cannot wait to watch this unfold!  Very impressive concept.  Can't wait to see the final product!!  Might have to work a flat screen TV and beer fridge into that party area haha
  13. themeatwagon

    themeatwagon Newbie

    I like your style hahaha.

    We're home brewers also, and have already discussed the possibility of draft beer taps in the trailer. I'd like to add a battery box and a couple of batteries to power the trailer lights and maybe some other cool stuff like a projector and music or something... All in due time!
  14. zach5483

    zach5483 Fire Starter

    This all looks and sounds amazing.  I am definatley going to subscribe to see this unfold.  If your going balls out, add a roof!  Smoke in the rain!  The beer taps sound awesome.  Food looks great, btw.
  15. themeatwagon

    themeatwagon Newbie

    Hmmm... the roof is a good idea. The thought was having an ez-up for over the party porch, but a full roof is a cool idea too...

    We'll be getting some work done Sunday, hopefully I'll have some new pictures then!
  16. themeatwagon

    themeatwagon Newbie

    Got some more fabrication done yesterday. Gino ("TheMeatwagontoo" - lol) did the grill, came out mint. That's almost done, then will be ready to mount to the trailer. My project is the smoker, and I got the door slides mounted to the door, and some other pieces added. It's going to need some pulleys and weights to counter-weight the door, but that was all in the plan anyways. Had to make a game-day decision to change the plan slightly, but i think it worked out well.

    We're just waiting on a buddy to provide us with the last wheel we're missing, and I'm going to get 4 new tires mounted so we can move it around and bring it to the sandblaster, etc.

    NH plates: MEATWGN
  17. The next day we work on this....we should make some burgers on the grill.....I mean we'll need to test out or work...
  18. themeatwagon

    themeatwagon Newbie

    I think that's a fantastic idea. I'll bring the charcoal...
  19. themeatwagon

    themeatwagon Newbie

    So we got a little more work done this weekend. I turned an old Harley frame and lawn mower deck pulleys into the smoker door counterweight pulleys... And both of our welding skills improved a bunch lol.

    Here's the pulley support on the flanges that we later welded to the roof of the smoker:

    This is the whole pulley assembly - I made two of them (one for each side):

    Mounted inside:

    The master welder at work:

    We also got the smoker door assembly welded to the smoker, and it slides up and down and closes perfectly flush, exactly as planned. I love it when a plan comes together... It was too dark though, and unfortunately I didn't get any pictures...

    Just a picture of our fire, in the hobo burn barrel we made out of the rest of the barrel that we cut the grill door out of:

    Gino's ("The Meatwagontoo") grill didn't get much love this weekend.. He did get the second handle welded onto the grill grate though. We used a section of chain and welded it together to make badass handles.

    So now we just need to get the trailer cleaned up a bit, get some tires, and assemble everything together... 
  20. travisty

    travisty Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Lookin great! Keeps us all updated, im excited to see how it goes.

    Just a question, wouldn't you want the wood stove FB closer to the CC for heat transfer purposes? It just seems to me that you may not be able to get enough heat transfer through the tube, but i am in now way experienced in this, it was just a head scratcher i thought of when looking at the design.

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