Hi all, I'm a brit currently in southern uk who decided he should build himself a smoker....... last January.
The learning curve hasn't eased any, even with this and the other forums out there and the smoker is still being developed.
I chose probably the worst kind with reference to fuel efficiency and sustainability but asthetics told me to go for horizontal rather than vertical, and of course having the space to smoke more than a shoulder (butt) at a time. Also, I know no welders, and didn't want to hire a spot welder as I thought seam welding (or braising) would be the way to go but too much to take on given that the last and only metalwork I've done was forty years back....a tack hammer.
So, found drums, begged bits of weld mesh, 4 inch Erw tubing, stainless nuts bolts and a piece of steel plate, commandeered an angle grinder and built what I call an over and under reverse flow (debatable) smoker.
First smoke wasn't getting enough heat, so dropped the cook chamber by a couple of inches....and got it up to scratch. Discarded the bottom tubing, made a box to sit between them sealed up with ceramic rope and food safe hi temp silicone.
and then I found the feldon calculator.......which still confuses me(where in the calculations does the volume under the rf plate belong?)
Amended my firebox opening to what was asked for, to find that the fire box was churning out lots of smoke, but through the fire box door. There was still smoke coming from the chimney, and yes it was generally that thin blue line, and the Charcoal was burning blue....however whenever I've added wood (I've used bay (own tree) /oak/birch/mesquite) some was chips, others lumps, dry and pre-soaked, and....well.....they burst into flames, or when using the chips in aluminium, made Charcoal....and got good reports, though not perhaps as robust a flavour or bark/ring that I'd prefer.
So progress is happening, smoked half shoulders, chickens, garlic and bell peppers so far, resetting the variables with each cook and next, I'm going to try to reduce the fire box size by attaching some more (begged) metal to the outerside of the grate in an attempt to create a shield , and using that as an internal firebox door, which hopefully will allow more smoke to bark the meat.
Oh and if in any doubt - yes, it is rather 'heath Robinson' but that's just the way I roll.
I won't post a pic of it yet, as feel it pointless until all the tweaks bare fruit, but thought I'd share the first half shoulder with you all....and for the other newbies thought I'd say, take your time, plan your twiddles for advancement after each smoke....and if in doubt, or emergency, turn on the oven, wrap the meat til the ovens hot, then stack it in!
Good luck to you all!