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Help with lab oven conversion

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I have a somewhat unusual problem, I have a few lab ovens I picked up really cheap at a university surplus store (think ongoing garage sale for entire uni, with really, really low prices), that I think will make great smokers, similar to CookShack's. They have wonderful temp control keeping within +/-2C; quick heat recovery if door is opened; really thick insulatation- 1 1/2"-2" on all sides, including door; temp ranges vary by oven, but its generally room temp+5 to around 500F, etc. My problem is I need some help on the finer details, like catching grease, what to put the wood chips in, what type of paint to use on the outside, etc.

I don't have pictures of the actual one I plan to use right now, but its interior dimensions are pretty close to the old style Smokette. This is the closest I could find online, though this isn't the exact model/size:

To see a couple more pics, including inside, top vent, etc (Note: at the bottom of the 3rd pic & middle of the 4th pic- that little wire mess cage is were the thermostat probe is: http://www.surpluseq.com/detail.asp?ProdID=5591

The one I plan on using has something like this type of control panel horizontally across the bottom:
minus the timer (which would have been nice, I know), plus a digital display of temp (I'm assuming set temp, I haven't fully tested it yet). Some of you who are more electronically sophisticated could probably figure how to hook up to its remote monitoring & temp control functions...me, I'll just keep my eyes peeled at the surplus store for unit to do so.

The other lab ovens I have do have the basic, non-electronic controls like the other one pictured. They all do have 2 RobertShaw thermostats; the one you set & the other one, connected via gears behind the control panel, that I assume is set to turn the oven off if it gets too warm. The first one I bought, which is larger, has been promoted to come inside the house, as its a forced air convection oven that heats up to 500F & happens to hold several half sheet pans. At 1500watts, its much more economical then my regular oven...and yes, it plugs into a regular outlet. I just have to decide on how to cover the not so lovely brown front door so it looks more homey, less 'lablike'. I also have 2 lab ovens/incubators, which are smaller then the one I plan on using as a smoker, but they will make great dehydrators, as they top out at 70C/160F...better yet, they only take 75watts (all that insulation, I guess). The final lab oven I have is one I rescued from the metal scrapper, but he had already taken some parts off. Its the largest I have, but it will take more energy & time to get it working then I have now.

So does anyone have any ideas for me? ...besides shopping lists that is icon_mrgreen.gif
post #2 of 8
I can't help but I'll bump this up and maybe someone else will come around with some. Good luck.
post #3 of 8
I also have a lab oven I got for free. It keeps perfect temp like you said. It has a little air that circulates and is stainless steel inside. I was thinking of making a smoke generator and using the electric controls on the oven to set the temperature I need. Here's a link to the smoke generator I was going to make. I think this will be perfect for making summer sausage.

post #4 of 8
I have a cookshack smoker, so I know what your trying to achive. I did turn a chest freezer into a cookshack clone.
I looked at the pic's you posted. The one thing I couldn't tell is where the heating element is located in the oven? If it is mounted under the bottom of the unit in the area that the cage is, you could just set a small metal coffee can, cut down, on the bottom over the element for wood chips. It doesn't need to be to big, because with the cookshacks they don't use alot of wood since they are well insulated and sealed. As for a grease pan you could mount some rails on the sides like the ones for the racks and use a foil or cookie sheet that will fit in the unit. Mount it between the bottom rack and the coffee can. The smoke will still flow around it. If you have seen how the drip pan is mounted in a little cheif or big cheif smokers, that is what I am talking about. If you need any more help feel free to drop me a line. I enjoy tinkering as much as I do smoking. Hope this helps and that you can understand what I as talking about.

P.S. Forgot to talk about paint for the outside. If the outside stays cool to the touch when it is running then you should be able to use normal metal spray paint. If it gets warm or hot on the outside then you might want to look at using high temp grill paint. And whatever you do don't paint the inside, leave it bare metal. Looks like the inside is either stainless steel or alumion. So I would just spray the inside with pam or olive oil.
post #5 of 8
If its like the lab oven I have, there is a metal bottom with the elements under it. I think the elements have electricty going trough it so you DO NOT want put a can directly on them. Also if you just put them on the floor it wouldnt get hot enough unless the temperature is really high. The smoke generator would be much better IMO because you could get plenty of smoke and keep low temps if you wanted.
post #6 of 8
I know on the little cheifs the pan sits right on the element. The smoke generator is a great option, but it does take more work to make and add to the cost. Either way will work. Without having the unit here I am just giving out ideas and my opinin on how to do it. Setting a can on the element would be no different then putting a frying pan on your electric stove top element. Samething. Another option would be to remove factory element and cut open a hole in floor of unit for a stove top drip pan and element and rewive it to factory controls. Then you can set your chip pan on it.
post #7 of 8

post interior picture

Lets see what the inside looks like. Are there more available?

You can always add an external smoke generator. Easy to make, easier to buy. Search Smoke daddy in the forum.
post #8 of 8

Anwered my own question

Speed reading took over, looks like a nice unit. I would take the back off and see if there is a place to run a pipe thru. I use a 1/2 inch black pipe, I will replace it with stainless when I can.
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