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28 Gallon Compressor - Go vertical like a UDS or do a Side Fire Box Build

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Alright so I stumbled upon this place trying to find build ideas and tips. I smoked my first pork butt on. Weber kettle 2 years Ago and then built myself a mini wsm and have done probably 25-30 cooks on that. Problem is it's too small. 


I have a 28 gallon vertical compressor tank in the garage I kept after the pump burnt up that I want to make a smoker out of it's about 28" tall and 19" diameter. I'm considering either a side firebox or a UDS style build. Any suggestions on how I should go? Unless you think I can get two racks in it in the vertical orientation it's not really worth going that way. Main reason for the build is so I have room to do a brisket. 


If I do a UDS Style build and use a water pan or clay saucer diffuser what is the minimum distance from the charcoal grate to the bottom grate that I can use? I have found the calculators online for building a SFB Smoker so I have a pretty good handle on that. Just not sure I want to drop all the extra $ building the SFB smoker vs a UDS Style smoker (Cost should be less than half for the UDS build as I won't have to buy all the steel to make the firebox)


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post #2 of 3

Your third option...a vertical with SFB. That would keep the main entire space of the smoke chamber available for food, just as a horizontal/sfb would do, and allow the use of a water pan or drip-catch, if you desired. You could likely fit 3 grates in the space between the bulk-heads, with properly designed hardware for supports. Fully cut the upper bulk-head for the lid, of course. Although, 19" diameter is not really adequate for a very large packer brisket, unless it were a separated flat and point on 2 grates (I've done that a lot over the years)..that does change cooking technique significantly. A horizontal would give you close to 20" or more of grate width, based your 28" tank height (actual bulk-head shoulder has to be accounted for), with a cut-out door opening. 20" grates will fit medium packers to about 15lb. I've fit 18lb packers onto my SV-24 grates (seems I had a monster 22lb in there once, too), being about 22.5" actual width, so I think 15-16lb could be done on a 20" grate.


Overall, with the correct hardware, you could gain more grate space in the vertical design, but suffer a slightly smaller overall grate size. A bit smaller packer brisket would be the main compromise. The flip-side would be to make a full-width door, including the bulk-heads in your cut-out. That would allow for much wider grate(s)...you could add a second grate with hinged supports operated by the lid (similar to a warming rack in a grill), or stationary supports for a fixed grate.


I'd measure the actual distance from the weld-joints on the bulk-heads...then determine what width would be allowed for a cut-out type door (restricts grate width, as well, unless non-removable grate or 2-piece grate is installed), or if I would go for a full width lid. Then, decide whether or not a horizontal would offer enough benefits over the vertical design. A second grate could still be installed, regardless of door opening for the horizontal, and could also be a 2-piece removable grate. A full width lid does not have to be a complete split of the tank into matched size...it could be a 45* cut from plumb (level of grate), and only 1/3 or so of the full diameter as measure on the bulk-heads...or, it could even be a semi-cresent shaped cut-out. There are lots of ways to overcome size restrictions.


Anyway, that's my take, for whatever it's worth...


Don't forget...have fun with the build and the smoking!!!





BTW, please drop by the Roll Call Forum and introduce yourself so we can properly welcome you to the SMF Family!!!

Edited by forluvofsmoke - 6/18/15 at 12:35pm
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
I don't plan to be making anything huge so smaller cuts of meat don't bother me. I just can't fit anything more than a 8 lb butt on the mini WSM or 1 rack of ribs cut in half.

Having two essentially 18" weber grates in a vertical charcoal smoker would be a huge upgrade. I would likely use a 2 piece grate in the horizontal smoker giving me roughly 18"x24" of grate space. Again not a huge difference than (1) 18" round grate but having two 18" grates would give you more surface area. My only concern is making that work with a charcoal basket in the bottom of that tank. I'm not 100% sure on how to build a vertical SFB so if anyone has any links to calculators or builds please post them.

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