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Smoker Build with Justrite Flammable (insulated) cabinet

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

OK, I am in the NW and use a "cheapo" smoker. Its a Chargriller with all the mods learned from this website. However I still struggle from October to April with controlling my temp. I have tried everything except the add on blowers..

I read on here some time ago, a suggestion of using a Just-rite Flammable cabinet for a build. Those cabinets are expensive , but I just so happen to have one. Brand new, that was an extra on a construction  project. So free to me..

So I could use a little help with how to set this thing up.

In my mind it seams easy. Electric Burner.. Smoke Source. Meat...

I want to be able to finally smoke in the winter and also get some sleep when I am cooking those 4 pork butts for my summer party..



Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 5

A smoker is an environment that the user fills with smoke and regulates the heat inside.


Your current smoker is allowing so much heat to escape that you are unable to provide enough hear to keep up.


Looking at the Just-rite web site it appears that these cabinets are designed to keep flammable liquids from igniting in the event of a building fire.


I am not sure if this is a good candidate to convert to a smoker for several reasons:


You might be able to sell it to someone to use for it's intended purpose and collect enough from the sale to pay for all of the pieces to build yourself a really nice smoker.


The insulation in the cabinet might not be a good choice.  I am not sure of what they are using for insulation the web site only says 2 inches of high density insulation.  It looks like the spec they are designed to comply with is:


 Storage cabinets shall be designed and constructed to limit the internal temperature to not more than 325ºF. when subjected to a 10-minute fire test using the standard time-temperature curve as set forth in Standard Methods of Fire Tests of Building Construction and Materials, NFPA 251-1969.


Here they want the cabinet to prevent the solvents inside from going over 325ºF for 10 minutes.  A record safe has a similar spec, but that is that it must not allow the content of the safe to be over 350ºF when baked in a fire at 1450ºF for one hour.  With a fire safe, the insulation is a cement based slurry that has in it's matrix material that retains water until heated, then it releases water vapor into the safe.  It works really well but it is a one time deal, once the water is gone it doesn't insulate too well.


If you look at insulation they use in ovens, what they have is fiber glass or ceramic fiber that slows down the rate that heat can pass through so that the oven can be maintained at temp.  This type of insulation is what you want in a smoker as you want to be able to cycle the temp up and down over many cycles without loosing efficiency of the insulation.


Newer refrigerators and freezers use a foam to do the same thing but there the concept is to slow down the heat from coming into the box.  Foam is not really good for a smoker as the foam does not like getting hot, so it will melt and burn releasing all sorts of nasty tasting and potentially toxic stuff into your food.  If you have ever tossed a Styrofoam cooler into a camp fire and got a whiff of the smoke you might have an idea here.


Your fire cabinet is also coated on the inside with paint.  This will have to be burned off before using the cabinet for food smoking.  This will probably cook off the insulation.


Two commonly available household appliances are really slick things to convert to a smoker.  A regular household oven.  It already has a burner, and the right kind of insulation.  The best kind is one that is self cleaning because it has lots of insulation as it has to get to about 900ºF long enough to burn off the crud inside with out catching the kitchen on fire.  The drawback to converting an oven is that the size of the oven might be a bit inconvenient for hanging a bunch of hams or sausages.


Another candidate is an old fridge from the 40's or 50's.  These have nice enameled steel interiors and the tall box is convenient for hanging stuff you might be smoking.  I also think most of them have fiberglass insulation although some have a cardboard type paper insulation that needs to be removed.  Often the panel on the inside of the door needs to be replaced, but that is easy.  You then need to remove the refrigeration works and replace the door gasket with some stove rope.  Now all you have to do is to install a burner and some form of control (Easy with electric and a PID ) and then you need to have some provision for smoke and vents.  With this set-up you could control your temps in arctic conditions and in the middle of the Mojave with ease. 

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the comments. Sounds like I may be up the creek. I believe it douse have the "Slurry" insulation cause this thing probably weighs 350 lbs. I may try to open it up to find out.

Why do you need to burn of the paint.

If you buy a smoker , say the chargriller, the inside is painted black?


I think maybe I go to plan B.. and build a UDS. I have a couple of barrels used for storing high concentrate grape juice..

post #4 of 5
Originally Posted by S2K9K 

edited post

Yesterday at 8:39 pm

I just wanted to let you know I had to edit one of your posts and delete a link. As per @TulsaJeff and our User Guidelines, offsite links are not permitted to be posted on this forum.
Here is a link to the edited post:
Thank You for understanding,
Moderator Team

That's OK, edit my posts as you like :deadhorse: 

Edited by Black - 10/17/13 at 4:53am
post #5 of 5
Originally Posted by Grizzlypass View Post

"Thanks for the comments. Sounds like I may be up the creek. I believe it douse have the "Slurry" insulation cause this thing probably weighs 350 lbs. I may try to open it up to find out."


First off you probably can find out with an e-mail to the company so there is no need to damage the cabinet.  


Since these things are expensive, and you don't have a need for a flamable locker why not see what kind of offers you can get on e-bay or craigslist?  I am sure there is some company that needs one and would be happy to give 25-50% for the price of a new one so they can be in compliance with the regulations.



"Why do you need to burn of the paint."


Have you ever used a torch or a heat gun to burn off paint?  Nasty fumes.  you really don't want to contaminate your food do you?



"I think maybe I go to plan B.. and build a UDS. I have a couple of barrels used for storing high concentrate grape juice.."


If you want to go this route you can, but the typical UDS wastes a lot of wood and it's thermal efficiancy sucks because the drum looses a lot of heat.  How about a design where the drum is insulated and it can be raised and lowered with some sort of a hoist and the racks containing your food are at the lower level?

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