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Westinghouse refrigerator Smoker build

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Hello fellow builders! i have recently, as of yesterday, began the build on my smoker out of an old Westinghouse refrigerator that i found in my barn! it's a smaller refrigerator, inside dimensions being 33"x21"x15, but i think it will be perfect for smoking jerky since that is what i will primarily be using the smoker for. The entire fridge is metal, including the door which is about 3 inches thick!


i've read a few threads but haven't found any with a refrigerator of this type.... my questions are as follows:


Do i need to gut the old insulation or will it be alright?


What type of heating source will i need to obtain the proper heat range?

    i have a smaller electric dual range that is approximitely 900 or so watts on the larger side and 500-600 watts on the smaller side.... i'm concerned it isn't going to be enough......


would it be better to simply place the range on the bottom, or cut holes in the bottom for the range to protrude from?


Also, what type of temperature gauge is cheap and easy to install but also reliable to tell the overall temperature of the smoker?


Any and all help would be very appreciated!









post #2 of 24
Thread Starter 
Well, after a little research I found that my old insulation will be fine so that saves time and money!

I've been debating on the size of exhaust I should use..... In an effort to not drill through the top of the fridge I am planning on using the existing hole on the back..I am thinking a 2 inch hole should be sufficient enough, but would like to hear some purge opinions about it....

On the topic of exhaust vents, will out cause a problem to go from a 2 inch hole into a piece of 5 inch crome exhaust pipe? I'm concerned it may cause back pressure....
post #3 of 24

nice looking fridge, should have rockwool in it- the black trim around the door is most likely fibre board, like mine i   replaced it with metal  , i went with the afterburner

propane burner so far it runs perfectly very easy to control and maintain heat as well as cheap to operate        this is the thermometer i bought  actully bought 2

going to use this one on my next   its a 1946 wizzard     http://www.ebay.com/itm/5-RCT55-BBQ-CHARCOAL-GAS-ELECTRIC-GRILL-SMOKER-PIT-THERMOMETER-5-STEM-50-550-/360452165821?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53ec9f90bd

post #4 of 24

Nice project. I would go with a 3" exhaust. You can always restrict it if it's too much but if 2" is not enough your stuck with it.

post #5 of 24


I have a 1-1/2" exhaust coming out the back of my electric fridge conversion, and a 1-1/4" intake in the bottom. I have not had any problems thus far. See this link:


post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
I after looking through a few older threads, I think my 2 inch is fine... especially for the size of my smoker..... I'm planning on giving it 2-1 inch vent holes in the bottom, maybe three with a slide to regulate.....

My inner exhaust hole is 2 inches, going into a 2¹/2 inch pipe, which will go into my 5 inch crome exhaust tip....leaves me plenty of room for expansion....
post #7 of 24

I made a smoker using an old frig also. I have a 3" exhaust but it is dampered almost closed. I also have a 1 1/2" intake. For heat I have a electric burner from a stove. Because the insulation is so thick it is way more than enough, it just sits on the bottom and is controlled by a PID. Matter of fact just making smoke gets it too warm for cheese.

post #8 of 24
Originally Posted by shorte2326 View Post

Matter of fact just making smoke gets it too warm for cheese.
that's where the A-Maz-N smoker comes in
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
What are good ways to create smoke without using a smoke generator? Will a cast iron pan on the burner work sufficiently? My budget is nearly zero, and don't want to have to spend too much....
post #10 of 24

 a juice can with the wood stuffed inside sitting directly on the burner works

post #11 of 24

Check out the egg shaped cutout in the attached link. It holds a juice can over the burner just right to produce smoke.


I just installed the C-burner in my build - I highly recommend these burners as they work so well. I however make smoke with an AMNPS.



post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 

so i tore my fridge door down last night only to find out the insulation inside is completely destroyed and there is no salvaging it.... i was told by the owner of a local BBQ/Smoker store that i could use normal housing insulation all i have to do is tear the paper off.... any thoughts on whether this is going to work?

post #13 of 24

I used rockwool on mine, but I've heard that pink fiberglass insulation will work as well. You can buy it without the paper batting.

post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 

so, it's been a while since my last post, i have run into a bit of a problem.... my heat source that i was planning on using will not get hot enough to produce temperatures higher than 170 degrees after almost 3 hours. I've been doing research for the past 3 or 4 days about heating elements and have found several that i believe will work. I found one on cabelas, but an unsure that it will produce proper temperatures when the description of the element states that it only gets up to 220-250 degrees. will it heat an approximate 6 cubic feet space?


The other problem that i've run into with this is the use of a PID.... i know absolutely nothing about these devices and was hoping to avoid them considering price. any and all help will be very appreciated!


i will post pictures of progress as soon as i can find my camera!

post #15 of 24

jparker, mine is approx. 12.5 cubic feet. I am using a 1500w Brinkmann replacement element and it can hold temps over 250* no problem.


They also make the Cabela's one you mentioned that feeds from the bottom: http://www.cabelas.com/product/Smoker-Electric-Converter/734414.uts?Ntk=AllProducts&searchPath=%2Fcatalog%2Fsearch.cmd%3Fform_state%3DsearchForm%26N%3D0%26fsch%3Dtrue%26Ntk%3DAllProducts%26Ntt%3Dbrinkmann%2Belement%26WTz_l%3DHeader%253BSearch-All%2BProducts&Ntt=brinkmann+element&WTz_l=Header%3BSearch-All+Products

I think the 210*-220* may be misleading. I think they're talking about temps in a Brinkmann smoker, which is not insulated like a fridge conversion.


I think you could have good results with either of these if you're just using it for smoking, I have with mine. However I've never tried maxing mine out to see how high it'll go. Why tempt Fate?

post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 

so i've been looking into a PID controller for a few weeks debating which route to take and i found this link:




it seams to be pretty easy, but  my question is, do i need a smoke generator, or will it work just fine with the heating element?

post #17 of 24

@J Parker - The SSR Relay is rated at 25 amps. Check your heating element and see what the draw is.

Remember most wall receptacles are only 20 amp for 110 volts, then figure line loss from an extension cord, if you use one.

I wouldn't go smaller than a #12 for 15-20 feet. That applies to the Male and Female ends too (ie cut power tool cord, that was mentioned)

post #18 of 24

We make jerky in an old deep feeze set on end and useing a 100 watt light bulb for heat. No vent outside.

I'm not sure about the timing but it sure does turn out good.


I don't know how you would use smoke in a set up like his.


Best wishes, I can't wait to hear the results.

Edited by Tom Walker - 2/10/13 at 3:45am
post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 

Well, it's been a VERY long time since my last post, and i figured i'd come back and post a few pictures of the smoker i built..... 


This picture is just before the paint..... unfortunitely i accidentally deleted my picture from after the paint... it's now all black, except for the chrome.....




this is the first batch of jerky..... turned out amazing





since i've built the smoker i've smoked approximitely 200lbs of jerky. Mostly deer and duck/goose meat, but every bit has been amazing! so far i can't ever seem to smoke enough to satisfy my family and friends! 


I appreciate all the advise you all threw my way!


now i am looking for another old fridge to covert for a friend of mine... if any of you know where i can get a good one for cheap (or free) in the Oregon, or southeast Washington please let me know!!!


Happy Smoking!

post #20 of 24

nice looking smoker.

happy smoken.


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