I am designing, and planning to build, a concrete block smoker similar to what is used where I am from (Western Kentucky). It would be 4X8 feet outside by 4 ft tall. This would yield a 80 in x 32 in cooking area inside. I plan to build this smoker inside an existing building that has a concrete floor. It would have an opening in the front bottom (16 in x 64 in, two courses) to add the burning coals, vents leading to a chimney in the back. It would also have a hinged lid counterbalanced with pulleys and weights. The meat would be placed on a stainless steel grate one cinder block (8 in) below the top. The lid would be heavy grade plywood with galvanized lining the underside for protection from the heat. A course of 2x12 cut to width (8 in) would line the top of the concrete blocks to provide a cover over the openings in the blocks and provide a tighter seal for the lid.
The plan is to burn the wood (Hickory) outside in a burning barrel with a false bottom and bring the coals (charcoal) inside with a flat bottom shovel and distribute them on the floor of the smoker. The heat would be regulated by adjusting a damper on the chimney that links the vents to the roof chimney.
I have been a member of this forum for years and I thought others had built similar smokers before but I cannot find any plans. I distinctly remember seeing a burning barrel picture posted here at one point.
I have some unanswered questions that I hope you folks can help with.
Should I line the bottom with fire brick? I was thinking I would need to. The inside of the smoker (other than the floor where the coals sit) would normally not go above 250F or so. Is this within the safe temperature for concrete block?
I have not decided how to mount the stainless steel grate. My first thought was to embed rebar about every foot from front to back into the next to top course of blocks as I mortared them in and set the grate on top of the rebar. However, if I ever need to work on the smoker after it is built (or even clean it out) I could not climb in.
Am I in the ballpark on the opening size in the front (16 in x 64 in)? Is it tall enough to allow adding hot coals? It would shrink to 14x64 in if I added fire brick to the bottom.
The top vents are planned as 2 (10in x 4in with 5 in round pipe outlets) register boxes embeded in the back that join into a single 7 inch vent with damper that goes to the roof vent. The hope being that controlling the damper would control the heat and smoke density.
Any thoughts? Help is welcome.