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Help required from across "The Pond"

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Hi everybody,

I hope nobody objects to me joining this group but I’ve been searching the Internet for a good source of help and information about smoking food and this one looks the best. You can probably guess from my accent that I’m not a resident of North America, in fact I live in England (about 30 miles South of London). I had to lie on the registration form – I said I lived in British Columbia. It was the name closest to the truth (apart from the Columbia bit that is).

Anyway I got interested in smoking meat when I decided a few months ago that I would love to be able to make my own Pastrami and soon found out that Pastrami needs to be smoked to get a good result so I made a very makeshift smoker out of a pile of house bricks (see attachments) which I stacked to form a square box, placed some mesh half way up and plonked a stainless sheet on the top of the brick pile to keep the heat and smoke in. In the bottom I started a fire using lump wood charcoal upon which I placed some Cherry wood chips in an aluminium foil dish. The net result was quite acceptable but I did have trouble regulating the heat and the quantity of smoke produced.

Anyway I got thinking about how to improve what I’ve called “Old Norm’s Smokehutchâ€. You have to remember that most gardens in England are quite small and could not accommodate some of monster smokers I have seen on the group's pages. Don’t get me wrong I would love a monster smoker but space is at a premium and “She-that-has-to-be-obeyed†would never allow it anyway.

I built the BBQ that Smoker v.1.0 sat on, and as you can see has seen a lot of action. Basically if it isn’t cold and windy I will have a BBQ and after the meal we will sit in front of the BBQ and have a log fire with a few beers etc. As I intend to rebuild the BBQ I thought I might be able to convert the enclosure to the left of the grill into a smoker.

I know this going to offend a lot of you but I thought that if I could get my hands on a old electric cooker I could cannibalise it and utilise the heating components and their controls to regulate the quantity of smoke whilst maintaining an appropriate temperature within the enclosure.

So I placed a “Wanted†request in our local “Freecycle†group for an electric cooker and got one in a couple of days. So I guess I became committed at this point.

I stripped it down and made the “Heath Robinson†type of set up shown in attachments.

The control box houses the hotplate controller which has six positions of heat adjustment (which I thought would be OK as the wood chip heat source) as well as the oven thermostat controller which capable of supplying up to 2500Watts of power.

I need some advice:
  • I have hotplates ranging from 700Watts to 1800Watts
  • Oven heating elements ranging from 800Watts to 2500Watts
  • The oven volume will be about a 3 foot cube which I thought I might internally clad with 1 inch thick pine timber for insulation purposes.

Do any of you guys and gals have any experience of this type of proposed configuration and can you advise on the heat requirements necessary for both the smoke generating hotplate as well as that for the oven.

I apologise for being so long winded but I thought it best to give the whole story so that I might be able to get some good advice from the experts amongst you all.


Old Norm confused.gif
post #2 of 27
Hello Norm and welcome.I'm also new to this forum but I know the more the merrier to me!Just cause' your on the other side of the pond doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy smoked meat.This is a great place for asking q's cause the knowledge is second to none.I don't know about your wattage q's but I would highly advise against the pine for insulation.Pine when exposed to heat and allowed to seep rosin over time is poisonous.Basically a creasote(spelling) situation.Hope you get your answers and welcome!
post #3 of 27
Welcome Norm, Nice to have you join. I would say any of those heat sources should be ok if wired to a thermostat. If you have the time, get a thermostat wire in the smaller of the elements, try it out. if it doesnt get hot enough or seem to work to har try the next size up. I use a 1200 wat element in a smoker much larger and it works well. hope this helps ya buddy. Regardless let us know how it is going... again welcome
post #4 of 27
Welcome to the group, Norm. Glad you decided to join in. I admire your ingenuity, and I am sure that you will find the help you need here. Best of luck on your project.

post #5 of 27
Welcome to the forum Norm! Glad you decided to join us. Lots of knowledgeable people here and I am sure someone with some expertise in eletric smokers will be along shortly to give some suggestions.

As someone who is a big fan of some beers from your side of the pond I can say for all that you are more then welcome here. Pull up a chair, open your favorite adult beverage and dive right in.
post #6 of 27

Hi from an ex-pat

Hey Norm, good to have you here. There is at least one other brit joined here. Fenman, he's up in Norfolk.
I moved across the pond from Kent so probably wasn't far from you.

This is definitely the best place i've found for info. The people are great and willing to share what they know.

I'd only bbq'ed maybe three times in England but when i moved here i was bitten by the bug. Then one day the wife came home with a smoker (ecb). Think she got it for $20.00. Been even more hooked ever since.

I understand the whole lack of space thing. You ever thought of doing a drum smoker ? A 35 gallon one wouldn't take up too much space.

Anyway, welcome to the smf, you're in real good hands.
post #7 of 27
Welcome to the forum Norm. I loved the attatched pics, great job. I would also use the smaller wattage to start. Some electrial units sold here only have a 800watt heating element. And yes, watch out for the nasties in the pine if exposed to all that heat. Hope this helps...
post #8 of 27
Welcome to the site....................Glad you found us on your side of the pond.................Looks like you are off to a good start..............
post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the welcome. I can't wait until Spring has sprung. Yesterday we had 4 inches of snow but today it's all gone and the sun is out. As they say over here (in UK land), "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute".

Old Norm
post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks for welcome. You mentioned an 800Watt element - Was that for heating the wood chips or to maintain the correct enclosure temperature?

Old Norm
post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 
Again many thanks for the welcome. I'm glad you appreciate the space limitations us Brits have put up with. My garden is quite large compared to some but is still not large enough for a 35 gallon oil drum version. Well it is but you know who would object. Maybe if I get good at smoking 'Er-in-doors might change her mind and grant me permission.

Old Norm
post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the welcome and as you can see I've already got some good feedback. Glad you appreciate some of our amber nectars. I have a few favourites like Theakstones "Old Peculier", Marstons "Bombadier", Fullers "London Pride" to name but a few.

Old Norm
post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your welcome. Advice has already been given. Great.

Old Norm
post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks for pointing out the problem with my pine cladding idea - Most appreciated. I only suggested it as it is readily available. Are there other woods that would be more suitable?

Old Norm
post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the welcome. Do you use your 1200Watt element to heat your smoker enclosure or to heat the wood chips?

Old Norm
post #16 of 27
Teeotee, you must have been over here awhile. Shouldn't you be quoting barrel size in liters?

post #17 of 27
Welcome to the forum Norm, glad to have you here!smile.gif
post #18 of 27
Welcome to SMF. Glad to have you. British EH from the accent I would have guessed southern Canadian
post #19 of 27
Welcome to the SMF, great way of introducing yourself and your experiences. Looking forward to your next smoke.
post #20 of 27
Dave, i've been here almost 7 years. I did do the conversion tho, just not sure what size barrels they use over there now. PDT_Armataz_01_05.gif
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