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Need HELP! Smoker question

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone, I am new here to the site and love all the info here!!
I have a question for the "PROS" here. I recently purchased a buddy's homemade dehydrator. It is approx. 5' tall, 5' wide and 4' deep. It is made of steel and is heavily insulated. He used it to dehydrate his deer jerky. He has a small electric heater in the back and it got to temps of 150 degress. I am converting it into a smokehouse. I bought a Bradley smoker generator (the kind that mounts to the side and uses the pellets and advaces another pellet every 20mins). I tried it out and got a bunch of smoke out of it. That at least worked ok. I am about to smoke 150 lb of deer summer sausage. BUT I have a few questions about the conversion.
Question 1. I plan on buying a 1500watt electric heating element or two from Cabelas tomorrow to place them in the bottom of the smoke house. It says it will allow for consistent heating at temps from 210-220. It is supposed to be to convert a charcoal smoker to an electric one. Will this be sufficient to raise the temp. to where it needs to be for 150lb of sausage? Should I buy one or two? I am not sure if the smoke generator will put off any heat during the process. I plan on buying the heat element and having a trial run tomorrow to see how hot the unit gets.
Question 2. I dont think that I want to be running the electric heater to try to raise the temp do I? I would think that by blowing hot air into the smoker, it would infact act like the dehydrator it once was. Am I correct here?
Question 3. I was planning on removing the old electric heater from the back of the unit and placing some tin over it to act as a vent hole. I also need to cut a smoke stack into the top of the unit. How big of a hole/stack should I use? I was planning on going to Lowes and finding a stove pipe stack with a damper in it to place on top.

I appreciate any help here. Trying to convert this thing has been a huge undertaking on my part, but I think that it will have GREAT REWARDS>!
I will try and get some pics of the unit to show everyone.

Thanks again!
post #2 of 11
Hi Jeff -

according to Bradley that thing won't get your food above 70 degrees. It's designed for cold smoking. So it you need to cold smoke foods such as bacon, cheese and some sausages that will be fine by itself.

I think the 1500 watt electric heating element your looking at is designed for a Brinkman. They are alot smaller than 5x5x4 feet in fact they are about 20" diameter by maybe 24" high. It'll keep it cool enough but do you want to hot smoke as well?

a 4 inch stack is common in most horizontal smokers but this being a vertcal box you can just cut in a top vent. You might also want to consider a botom vent opposite the smoke generator to help control the heat and or smoke flow.

Good luck - sound like the making of a great hot AND cold smoker!
post #3 of 11
I can't answer the question about the heating elements, but being a Bradley Original owner, I can tell you about the smoke generator. The small heating disc that burns the bisquettes does get hot but puts off a minimal amount of heat. The amount that my generator puts off would be insignificant in the overall heating plan.
post #4 of 11
Welcome to the SMF, best smokin' site on the net. You'll have plenty of help before you know it. Have a great week.
post #5 of 11
Hi Jeff, welcome
I installed a 240V 2400 watt element in my homemade smoker that measures 48 X 36 X 18. 3/16 steel walls with no insulation. I use it for backup heat, so I don't have to get up in the middle of the night to ad more coals. With every thing already preheated it will maintain 220 to 270. MAX on a cool day. I don't think it will be very efficient if it gets much colder.
post #6 of 11
DJ had some great point's there..........
You might need 4 of thsoe plates to get the heat you want.
Definetly need to think out the vent thing............
A couple of pic's and we could answer ALL your questions PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #7 of 11


Welcme to the forum.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
As for the heating problem, would it be better to get a cast iron double propane burner from Cabelas. Do you think that would help get the heat up there so that I can hot smoke? Will I have to put a water pan or something over the burner to keep the flare ups down?

Thanks everyone for your input. I will try and get pics of the unit soon so that you can see what I am trying to describe. Thanks again. You guys really know your smoke. What a great site this is. Glad I found it.

post #9 of 11

i use a 1100 watt burner in my smoker it is an old fridge it heats my smoker to 210 it may get hotter but my thermostat only goes to 210 i think a 1500 electric burner will work fine if you want to use propane get a afterburner propane burner it is made for a small smoker http://gassmoker.com/
post #10 of 11
I use one of those Brinkman electric elements in my house. Check out my avatar. I did my original burn in with no thermostat, and the house actually got up to 350* inside. I would definitely recommend one for your smoker. BUT, I would get some type of thermostat to run it, or it will just be on the whole time. I spend my money on a nice unit from Allied Kenco. Got one for about $150, many years ago. I have the Brinkman element plugged into an outlet that is controlled by the thermostat, and turns the element on, and off, as needed. The nice thing about that thermostat, it is designed for smokehouses.

As far as the chimney and damper. Make sure you get a damper that will completely seal off the chimney. I have to re-do mine. It is just a standard air duct damper, with a lot of space around the edges. I lose quite a bit of smoke because of this. I have almost taken the stack apart and used just a cap, to close the chimney, and remove it when I want to dry things out.

One other thing, I have issues with airflow/circulation. I have tried several types of fans/blowers to help with this. I haven't come up with a good solution yet. Just something you might want to think about.

Good luck
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Well, I got it up and working!

I went to Cabela's a bought a propane cast iron burner and hose connector. Plugged in my Bradely and ignited my burner. The temp got up to 250. I bought a burner that has 3 valves and you can adjust it down to hardly and fire. I turned off two valves and ran it on 1/2 of one side of the burner. Temp remained at 225 for some time.

The problem I ran into was the bradley just didnt seem to put out enough smoke. Mabe it was because I didnt have things sealed up very well or a very good exhaust hole cut. But I could hardly see any smoke in the unit when I opened the door to check things out.

So here is what I did, I went in to the house and got the wifes broiler pan (just the top part with the holes) Place it on my burner added lava rocks and then added wet hickory chips. SMOKED GREAT! I also put a large pan of water on top of the lid with the rocks around it to add moisture.
I took some pictures of it and will have to find out how to add them on here.

Hope this works out for the 150lb of summer sausage that I have to smoke. I have to cut the exhaust hole in the top and seal up the hole were the old ceramic heater was.
I will keep you all posted on the progress. I am going to go home and run another trial run on 1 small log of sausage tomorrow.
Thanks again for everyones help. You guys ROCK!!
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