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Stainless Steel fridge smoker success

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recently finished my home made refrigerator smoker, and I couldn't be more pleased with the initial outcome.

A friend of mine gave me a veterinarians fridge that he kept medicines in to keep them fresh. The temperature went to 34 degrees and kept my beer nice and cold. Then one day the compressor went out, but I kept it because it was a stainless steel body, and I was going to make a safe out of it.  Time went by and I decided to make a smoker of it as it is double walled and has a nice latch on the door. It is a short fridge not a full sized.....anyway....I'll try to post some pictures and see if anyone has any questions.  I've smoked chicken, pork loin, fish, stuffed jalapenos, sausages, and various items to make sure it works good, and it has simply blown me away..  It retains heat like no other smoker I have. Takes very little wood, and is unique in design, but works tremendously well.

post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 

Now that I have a little time add to my previous post about my new home made smoker, I'll explain in more details what I did to make it work so well.

 

I cut out two 2 1/4" holes in the top for the exhaust and placed in them two exhaust tips off of my 70 Torino GT, when I replaced them with new ones.

 

I cut out an 8" hole in the bottom of the fridge to accommodate the firebox entry pipe which comes up from the bottom.

 

I then cut out 5 2 1/4" holes in the bottom of the fridge to allow the heat and smoke in.  I added firebricks (about 6 of them) in the meat box to retain heat.   The fridge already came with one rack, but I added another above it.

 

When I got it all ready, I loaded wood into the firebox, which I used an old wood heater for.  I placed a thermometer in through the hole where the old temp guage used to be. The temperature got up to around 450 degrees and I kept it there for three and a half days to burn out/melt the insulation in the walls.

 

It is now cleaned out from the insulation, and it easily gets the temp up to 3-350 easy, and it is also easy to bring the heat back down to a range of 150 to 250, using other mods I will or can explain later if any one is interested.....

 

The heat inside the cook box last a long, long time.  After I'm finished cooking, I monitor the temperature in the cook box to see how well it retains the heat.....5 to 6 hours later, it is still up close to 180 after a 250 degree cook......a few hours later, the temp is still at or around 140....and the amazing thing is.....the fire in the fire box had gone out hours and hours ago.

 

The stainless steel being double lined, also allows you to place your hand on the outside and it only feels warm, even when the IT is 350 degrees.

 

Have to go for now....If anyone is Interested, I can answer any questions you may have....this thing takes such a small amout of wood...like I said earlier....I was, and am....blown away.

post #3 of 8
That's a cool conversion. I'm working on a similar one but I have a question. Does all the insulation from the walls need to burn out?
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

The insulation that was in mine, was the foam type, which breaks down pretty well with a long high heat "episode".....With mine, I threw in a lot of oak and anything else that would burn and build up heat in order to melt out the insulation. I did this at a temp of around 400 - 450 degrees for about 3 days straight.

 

There was no other feasible way to do it as I was not going to tear up the frig in order to pull out the insulation...I simply burned it out at a high temp.  Once the fire has burned at the high heat, then the fires I put in it afterwards will only be, maybe up to 325 degrees during a cook, which will not burn out any more insulation than before as the heat is lower now....Not only that, but I sealed off the interior walls with the red fire resistant silicone so that if there is any insulation burned it will not/ cannot get into the cook chamber. But, I don't think the insulation is a factor any more....I burned it out as much as it will burn out....this thing holds the heat for hours after the fire goes out....I mean, like 6 hours or more....such is it insulated with it being also double walled stainless steel.  Also, I have since removed the small wood burning stove and put on a larger one, because I had it and could do it, but it wasn't all that necessary, but I am glad I did....it really added to the efficiency....

 

Any other questions, please axe.....

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 


Another thing I did to this stickburner, is, I put about 5 firebricks in the floor of the cookbox, for two purposes. 1. to retain more of the heat and maintain it more evenly, and 2. to hold up a lower rack for a hotter cook, if I wanted it.  Don't recall if I mentioned it before, but, after I drilled the 5 holes in the floor of the firebox, I got a couple of empty beanie weenie cans and keep them handy in order to control the heat, as it will get easily over 350 degrees. When it gets too hot for whatever I'm smoking, I simply place an empty beanie weenie can upside down over the hole and it shuts off that much heat/smoke. If that isn't enough, then I place another can over another hole, and that usually does it.

 

Another great thing I like about it retaining the heat for 6 to 8 hours is, that I can finish off the meat, and then simply wrap it in aluminum foil and keep it in the smoker until dinner time. Even after 5, 6 or more hours, it is ready to pull out and put it on the table. If I want a crustier bark, I can crank up the fire again, since the coals are still red, and open up the aluminum foil to expose the meat to the open heat.

 

I have four other smokers and so far, I don't really want to use any of the others, even they are great smokers....this one blows them out of the water on several levels.  I am thinking about getting a light somehow to go in the top of the firebox to see inside better. Still working on that.....but pretty sure I can do it. Also, I'm going to make it so air circulates inside the box from the inside, so the air will be the same hot and smoky air that's in it already, w/o introducing outside colder air in the mix. The reason is, that by doing so, the heat and smoke will be mixed and evenly circulating the food. Right now, it's not a problem, but...I think it would be a great addition plus.....it would be cool. Figuratively speaking.

post #6 of 8
This is a cool design. Great idea using an old wood stove for the firebox. You sure you won't get plastic fumes from inside? Does the burnout work well? There is no odor?
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 


No....no fumes....for several reasons....

1. I burned out the cookbox for three or four days at a very high temperature, of up to 450 degrees, or thereabouts. That high temp took out any foam insulation that was susceptible to being melted during a regular 275 - 300 degree cook. During the burnout, there was the odor...but after the time period lapsed, there was none.

2. I sealed any and all interior cracks, crannies, and little holes with high temp silicon caulk.

3. there are a couple of holes about 1" in diameter on the outer shell that will release any gasses that may still be lingering. Those possible gases (which I cannot detect) cannot get into the smoke box.

 

As an aside....I have about 6 hours and $15 in any purchased material....the rest of the materials I had laying around.

I have smoked fish, chicken, pork butt, ribs, jalapeno bacon wrapped bullets, and brisket in this smoker, and they all came out perfect.

 

I also tested the seal on the frig and it has stayed cool enough that I did not have to replace it with the heat resistant rope seal. There is a hole about 1 1/2" across at the top of the cookbox, right above the door that I run my wires for the temp gauges through, so they aren't run through the doorway. That also is convenient. Tonight we're going to do some beef ribs.

post #8 of 8

A for creativity! That is an awesome build.

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