First of all, just wanted to say hello, this is my first post here and this forum has been a wealth of knowledge so far, so thanks for that! I finally got my hands on a very old fridge and I have decided to try my hand at building my own smoker. Following some of the advice here i have taken the first step and removed all the plastic and the refrigeration unit. There were too refrigeration lines that were burried inside the wall of the fridge that i was unable to remove, but i have cut them on both ends, and removed the compressor completely as well.
What remains is what is pictured below. My roommate mentioned that in these old appliances they used to use lead paint, which kind of scares me. I have also read that they often used ceramic paint, which should be ok? How do i tell what kind of paint it has? is there a way to test this? If the paint is a problem, i had two ideas:
1) strip the paint. obviously this seems like a TON of work, and I worry that it will cause problems later with having exposed steel that isn't stainless, probably leading to rusting and such.
2) paint over the paint with high temperature furnace paint. Has anyone ever tried this? would this work? or am i crazy?
In some other tutorials i have seen people cut holes in the side and then connect ducting to their heat/smoke source. But i have not seen anyone cover up the insulation. Is there no danger here (fire hazard, or perhaps health risks) of leaving that insulation exposed? Is there a simple way of covering up the insulation in that area? In the other areas I plan to patch it with some pieces of stainless steel sheet metal.
What about the door seal? I have seen some people removing theirs and replacing it with a different type of seal. This fridge has a locking handle mechanism so I assume i could just replace it with a strip of some fire proof sealing rope. Is this necessary? or could i just leave the existing seal?
Thank you for reading, and i look forward to hearing your advice. I promise to follow up with more photos of my complete build and the steps I take along the way. Perhaps I will even make a tutorial once I have it all figured out.