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Smoker Help

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
First let me say I am glad I came across this site, seems like everybody is blowing smoke.icon_confused.gif Just a joke... I recently bought a 500 gal propane tank converted to a smoker. I tried to use it over the weekend and couldnt get the temp. at the middle & front over 190 although the gauge was reading 325. My fire box is in the center of the unit on the back with 2- 4inch stacks on the top of the smoker. The fire box is about 30 inch wide by 19 tall with a 22 x 9 opening inside of the box cut into the tank for the heat to go into the smoker. I am trying to see if I need to add a deflector inside the tank to guide the heat towards the front, build a bigger fire box, add more openings for the box to breath, or what. Any suggestions would be great thanks.
post #2 of 19
First welcome to SMF. Do you have some pics of the smoker and the firebox? Wat kind of wood were you using was it seasoned, dry, etc? What kind of air intake system on the firebox and how did you have them set. Sorry its lots of questions but it could be a number of different things
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
The smoker is shown on my avatar, I would attach a picture of the firebox but I am not sure how to get it in my response. I was using charcoal, apple and hickory. The air intake on the fire box is above the grate for the wood and probably has 2 openings on one side under a dampner(?)around 1.5 x 2.5. I tried them open and slightly closed not much diff. It seemed to me that you would want the air intakes under the grate so the air would fuel the fire. I will try and get some more pics when I get home. Thanks for your help. I am about to break out the torch and welder if needed love the beast. I just need it to work for me. icon_mrgreen.gif
post #4 of 19
The intakes are generally under the grate that the fire sits on and that could be a problem. Many of us use Photobucket to host our photos we can help you post picks when you get ready to.
post #5 of 19
This is a fantastic additude!

I agree it may need the air intake moved,,, Jerry is right get us some pix so we can take a closer look.

Do you have tuning plates? Might need a move.
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 

Some pictures

Here are a couple of pictures of the smoker. I am guessing with the fire box on the back and the exhaust stacks on the top that the heat probably is going in the smoker and straight up and out of the stacks. I am thinking about installing a steel deflector of some sort on top of the fire box intake inside the chamber and slightly sloped downward about 24 inches deep and 6 feet long to force the heat down and towards the front, As well as making some new intakes on the fire box. Do you think I need a larger fire box? I can send more pics just let me know what shots I should post. Thanks.
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
I added some pics, what do you think about the heat issue. I notice most smokers have the fire box on the ends, is that better than on the back like mine is? Should mine work? What is this stuff I see about tuning plates?
post #8 of 19
It should work I think a big part of it may be no air intakes below the fire. At least I think thats where I would start. For a tank that size the box may be a bit small but I'm not exactly sure how big it should be
post #9 of 19
First thing I thought was the fire box looks to small.
The lack of combustion air cant help. What about tuning plates?
post #10 of 19
From the picture of the firebox on the back it appears to be mounter quite high on the tank. It looks as though the heat is entering at mid height.

The firebox also looks pretty small, that could be because of the location and is just an optical illusion comparing it to the larger tank.
post #11 of 19
Someone posted that link to Smoker build proportions... according to that the firebox was suppose to be 1/3 the size of the cooking area...

That smoke stacks look ok but I'm not sure they should BOTH be open at the same time, heat would just go right out the top like that...
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 


Thanks for all of your thoughts, keep them coming. I am determined to get this tuned in.
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
The fire box is 27" wide x 16.25" tall x 20.75 deep. The opening in the box to the chamber is 22.5" wide x 9" tall. I am thinking about making a bigger fire box, but I dont think I can get the heat opening much lower.
post #14 of 19
From the looks of things, it appears that there a few things that could be done differently. If you are planning on making a different firebox, then I would patch the hole from the old firebox and re-cut it lower on the tank. Look at the side view of both the smoker and the firebox and visualize the face of a clock on it. On the smoker, I would cut the hole around the 5 o'clock position and the eleven o'clock position on the firebox, then weld those 2 back together. There's nothing wrong with having the firebox in the middle like you have, in fact several people on here have done it like that. Its just more common for them to be on the ends. The firebox may be a tad bit on the small side, but I think if you were to readjust the placement of the firebox, you would see a noticeable improvement. Also, I cant tell, but it looks like you have vent holes for the firebox above the grates? Relocate those to the bottom, a few inches below grate level. Its a great looking rig, and with some changes, you would have one heck of a smoker. Tuning plates as others have suggested, are nothing more than flat pieces of steel set across the bottom to help evenly disperse heat. On something like yours, what I would do, is cut a few pieces of steel and lay them across the entire bottom so they meet the top edge of the inlet where the firebox dumps into the main chamber, (after modifications like suggested above). What this will do is act something like a reverse flow system, will help distribute the heat and the thick steel plates will also absorb and help maintain temps. It will also help the cooking process so to speak by convection. Hope I did not confuse you, but if I did, just message me and Ill try to clarify. Its a learning process and I am in the process right now of making adjustments to my reverse flow. One more thing. It looks like your temp gauge is the same kind that comes standard on all smoker. The kind with the colored areas that read something like warm, hot ideal and so on. Scrap it, and look for a solid reliable guage that reads in increments of degrees and make sure it is placed at grate level as that is where you place the meat. There are several places on ebay that you can get a good reliable therm.
post #15 of 19
Can you post some pic of the cooking chamber, rack placement and also of how the firebox opening is in relation to the cooking grates?

From the outside it looks as though the heat is coming in at the same level as the cooking grate would be.
post #16 of 19
In the picture it looks like your vent stacks are completely closed off....I would recommend opening them FULL OPEN....and adjusting your firebox air intakes to control temp.

I may get hammered for this, but try using a small bag of lump charcoal first to test out controlling temps and getting air flow adjusted to your needs.....

just my .02cents
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
Here are afew more pix. I cant really lower the fire box do to the fender etc. on the trailer. I was thinking of making the fire box larger if need be and installing a .25 steel plate at the top of the fire box opening in the chamber and angeling it downward to force the heat down and towards the front of the chamber. This would also help with heat sice the plate would heat up. I plan on filling in the corners with cooking grates and adding a second level of shelves. Let me know what you think. Thanks.
post #18 of 19
From the pics you posted it appears that the firebox opening is on the same level as the cooking grates and to me this is a problem. It is going to be very hard if not impossible to evenly distribute the heat, the middle back is going to have a hot spot when the ends are at the right temp.

If you are talking about enlarging the fire box why not just move it to one end and place it lower? Then you can place tuning plates inside the tank to evenly distribute the heat.

That is just my thoughts.
post #19 of 19
If you are talking about enlarging the fire box why not just move it to one end and place it lower? Then you can place tuning plates inside the tank to evenly distribute the heat.

That is just my thoughts.[/quote]

You are going to have to get that firebox lower, I do not see any other way around it. Lowering it where it is, I see your problem with the tires, but like he said, move it to one end. Mounted on one end, you can cap the stack nearest the firebox, and install tuning plates to help distribute heat. It will take some work for sure, but you will be glad you did it in the end.
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