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Never-Ending RF Build

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Greetings all, thought I would document my recently begun RF trailer project here for all to see and maybe get some feedback.  I named this the "Never-Ending RF Build" because that is what I envision it will be due to available time and money.  I have searched these forums and so many other places over the web and numerous BBQ competitions and have taken notes.  I plan to incorporate what are, in my opinion, some of the best ideas, or at least the ones I like best. There were, and continue to be so many sources, I doubt I will be able to give credit where it is due.  If you see your idea here, know that I have stolen it because you posted it on the web, and BTW.....Thanks!  


The journey begins:


I recently got a ridiculous deal on this trailer:




A neighbor wanted it and a running 5500 generator out of his yard and had them both sitting in his front yard with a sign, asking $275 for both.  I couldn't believe my luck when he not only agreed to the $260 I had in my pocket, but he came back over with a $10 bill saying it was my change.....he said he thought I said $250, and since in his own mind he agreed to $250, thought it only right to give me my change....I should have bought a lottery ticket that day.  BTW, if those drums look like future UDS builds, you'd be correct.  The cabinet behind the trailer is my propane smoker and friend and I built from a modified flammable liquids cabinet.


The front of the trailer is an old truck lift gate.  4ft x 5ft x 1/2" aluminum diamond plate.



 It's heavy and very expensive I imagine.


So first I stripped off the axle as I am replacing it, the springs, tires and rims and upgrading to a 3500lb axle with 15" tires.  I have priced that from a trailer company locally and should be just shy of $500.....another reason this may be a slow going project.


This past week the old guy that runs the propane company finally wrestled me up a 120 gal tank he couldn't refurbish and sell because some info plate was missing and its required by law.  It looked rough but I thought I could work on it.




You can see the trailer axle stripped off the trailer frame in the background.  First thing I did was fill this thing all the way up with water to push any remaining gas out.  My propane guy had already removed the valves (except for the gas gauge, which he couldn't get out).




Looks bad but......




Today it cleaned up pretty decently for a quick once-over with my 4 1/2" angle grinder using a 3" Dewalt Knotted Cup Brush.  I cut the valve ports off with a cut-off wheel and ground down the remaining so it was all flush.  I think I will have it sandblasted along with the trailer once I get everything built the way I want it before it's painted.  I have a buddy that does paint and body work and he has a professional set-up at home so I'm sure I can work a deal with him on that.  


I'm going to draw up a set of plans which currently reside in my head and are scribbled over 3-4 sheets of paper and post them as soon as I can. 


One question I do have is this:


Anybody have any advise for sealing those holes left by the valves?  I thought about filling them in by welding in some round metal rods, filling any gaps using the welding wire and then cutting/grinding the whole fix flush.  


Tomorrow I think I plan to attack that gigantic piece of diamond plate and get it cleaned up.   


Updates to follow.....

post #2 of 11



Anybody have any advise for sealing those holes left by the valves?  I thought about filling them in by welding in some round metal rods, filling any gaps using the welding wire and then cutting/grinding the whole fix flush.  

  I tapered the the holes and cut some plate steel to fit flush in them and welded 

post #3 of 11
Originally Posted by raptor700 View Post



Anybody have any advise for sealing those holes left by the valves?  I thought about filling them in by welding in some round metal rods, filling any gaps using the welding wire and then cutting/grinding the whole fix flush.  

  I tapered the the holes and cut some plate steel to fit flush in them and welded 

post #4 of 11

Sounds like a good start!

post #5 of 11

Looks like a good start. I had some round bar about the right sizes and cut off little pieces and used them to fill in the holes.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

Well my custom 3500lb axle and tires with all the hardware came in this weekend.  




Looks like it'll fit just right.




These are definitely gonna need a face lift.  Got something in mind, but first things first.




Picked up a couple of these to dress things up.


Now I have been trying to teach myself to weld lately since purchasing my new toy:




But since the learning curve is steep, well at least for me anyway LOL.......I figured it would be best to have a professional assist me with setting the axle hangars so that I don't accidentally kill anyone on the road while towing this thing.  Good thing our City welder is a good friend...


Spent the past couple weeks working a crap load of overtime details to fund this project and mama's summer beach vacation.  Got a few little things done though.




Baby Steps......




Cut the firebox off the old NB Silver Smoker, enlarged the opening in the side and welded the door from the FB to the side of the old cooking chamber.  This will serve as a slide-out charcoal grill on the trailer I have scribbled on several sheets of paper.  


I used a section of an old utility trailer ramp for my charcoal grate:



I hope to have the axle and tires mounted to the frame early next week.  I am stressing over every detail of this build, as I have no background in metalwork or mechanics so I am thinking and re-thinking every step.  Good thing I have friends that are pros to call on.  Still I want the project to be mine, so beyond the portions of the project absolutely requiring professional install, I am aiming to build this whole thing myself.  Learning as I go I reckon.....ie, (doing things the hard way).....but I don't recall ever learning anything worth learning, the easy way.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

OK...my buddy came by and expertly welded my up my spring hangars and enlightened me.  When I first bought my welder, I had only flux core wire...it sucked and was messy, but after a little practice, I got pretty good.  He tells me I gotta go to gas....many times....so finally I go get a bottle, expecting the heavens to open up and my welds to be a work of greatness as he described.  No so much...porous, crappy, poppy, sputtery...  He talked me through every possibility.....no luck.  Finally he comes by to help with my hangars and finds my wire cord is not completely seated in the welder, thus I have been trying to weld with gas.......without gas.....  So I pretty much felt like a dummkopf.  He kept sayin he'd come over and "dial'er in" for me.  Little did I know it'd be so easy.  So NOW my welds are beautiful :)




He welded my hangars to angle because I was worried about committing to a position on the trailer because I want my weight distribution just right, and since I still haven't completely decided what's gonna go where...I want to leave my options open.




Here she is.....if you are wondering.....yep, that is the smallest garage you have ever seen in your life.........I dream of the day I can build my next rig in an expansive, wide-open, plenty of room for everything, where I don't have to un-plug this..to run that garage.




Found these light protectors online and welded them on and flushed up the amateur welds to make them look like a part of the frame.


To all you pros....again, I must apologize, I am really trying to chronicle my journey through this project here.  Nothing is simple on this as I am learning every step of the way in my "School of Self-Taught Metal Fabrication.......miniature garage not included)




I know that I benefited greatly from all the step by step guides, photos, ideas, etc posted here and well, all over the net, so I figured I'd do my part and maybe help someone else.


More to come soon....

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

This weekend I did a lot of welding and grinding.  This trailer was a mess with old screw holes everywhere and the back end caps of the trailer needed a lot of fill in and smoothing.  But finally, the trailer is finished.  I wasn't worried about the holes in the cross-members as all that will be covered by tread plate.   Lights and fenders drilled removed here for a protective primer coat:




Earlier I had wondered how I would fill in those holes left by the valves in the cooker tank.  Some good suggestions were made but with what I learned in filling in gaps and holes in the trailer frame with my mig welder, I figured I'd try filling the holes with bead.  Now, I know when I cut the doors open I will have to add some bead and then grind flush the inside, but it actually worked pretty well.



I cut a small hole in the bottom corner of the tank so the water can drain overnight....looks like this future cooker has had a few too many beers LOL.  I want to move this thing inside and get down to business.  It will need a lot of smoothing to get the pitting out of the surface, but I'm not complaining.  I find that I need a constant project or I go crazy.  This project will fill that gap for a long time I think.... It's actually cool that this hobby lets me stare at a miniature fireworks show for hours and just zone out.  I guess if you do metal fab professionally, you probably don't look at it like that.  But after my workday, a couple of hours staring at my homemade light show is relaxing.



Had quite a workout getting this thing in my garage.  But NOW we can get down to some building.



Ordered four hinges for my two main cooker doors, they are 6" in length:



And a couple for my firebox door:




Going kayaking on the coast with mama and the boy this weekend so I probably won't get much done.  Sometimes ya just gotta bite the bullet and take em' fishin' ya know?  LOL

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Finally finished, I got lazy with the step by step walk-through and went through a dry spell with working on it mostly due to a combination of money shortage and well, when you finish the cooker first, it slowed me down. I did more cooking and beer drinking than metal fab for a while.

post #10 of 11

Wow!  That is BEAUTIFUL!  A great job.  I like the paint job!

post #11 of 11

Fabulous looking build.  Keep the pics and blogs coming.....I can taste the smoked meat already....Love ylour hinges....Gives me idea for next build..   What web site did you get them from?

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