My name is Roger, 60 years old and born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas "Hawg country" (football hawg, Arkansas Razorbacks). I've been dropping into your site for about a month as I have been working on a very unique (maybe even "crazy" smoker build) and decided to join tonight because as much as I know about smoking my "craziness" will need some help/ideas mainly in the electronics department.
A little background, I'll try to brief, but I can get wound up when I start talking, so I will keep myself in check for tonight and add some details and photos of my build in the next few days and as it progresses.
About the time I was born in 1954 my father started selling restaurant equipment for a small supplier in the state, ice machines, grills, fryers, coolers and pots and utensils. He was a people lover and treated folks with respect and he was a natural salesman. It wasn't long until he went out and started his own restaurant supply business which he grew into the largest in Arkansas until his death in 1997. Those of you my age will remember there were no chains, i.e. McDonald's, BK, or franchise eateries. They were "mom & pop" dairy bars, and home cooking cafes/diners and restaurants. He helped people by learning to draw their blueprints and helping them chose what they wanted to operate/own and hook them up with meat and produce food suppliers. He traveled the entire state and parts of Tennessee, Texas, and Louisiana.
He had been a cook - Chief Petty Officer of the "galley"in the Navy and then Merchant Marines on troop transport ships crossing the Atlantic delivering troops to the European & African theaters, many times the ship would carry 10,000 troops (they squeezed them on board the ships as tight as possible to get them to the war). He often told us kids that they started serving breakfast at 5:00 AM and when the last soldier came through for his breakfast the man who had been first was back in line for the dinner mess (2 meals a day was all they could do). So my dad was a natural in the food service industry).
So that is how I grew up,dad learned from the "ole timers" who where BBQ or hot dog/hamburger masters or cooks and we passed on what we learned to the newbies that wanted to cook & feed people in their restaurants. I can still travel the back roads and see a diner, or building and recognize it as one my family equipped.
Sorry, I told you I can talk, but I hope that it will help you understand the rather unique build I am working on.AI lot of what I am building comes from those "ole timers" while I am making my smoker multi-faceted with a fire pit next to the smoker to burn wood for coals to put in my firebox, which is a concrete block enclosed fire box that vents over and into my smokehouse. But I am also making it versatile, adding electric elements for those times when I don't need or want to smoke a lot and can close off the firebox and go with electric elements and chips.
I know it might sound crazy but you will see over the next few weeks as I get further along and post pictures. The electric part will be where I hope you guys can guide me with most, I'm not a great electrician just a "jack of many trades" and trying to master a couple!
Thanks I look forward to hearing from you and seeing your smokers.