500 Gallon RF newbie build

Discussion in 'Reverse Flow' started by bigboysmokehous, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. Morning Smoke fans!

    I am new the SMF and new the whole custom smoker design. I can tell you one thing for sure, I wish I would have found this site before I started to make a smoker.

    To give a little bit of a background I have been smoking on a little Walmart offset for about four years now and it turned into a hobby that went to insanity. My dad and I decided to give it a shot when we wanted to do some pulled pork for my Grandma's 80th birthday party and after that I was getting up at 5 am to start smoking every weekend that summer, fall and even some of the winter. But the biggest hook didn't start until I decided to do my first local contest for Ribs.

    After watching cooking shows on the BBQ tours and different triple D episodes most people have their own rub and bbq sauce. And I decided I need to do the same thing. Several months later I found it and have great success so far but I really needed a bigger smoker. Hints why I am here and hopefully some of you can help me out.

  2. The Tank

    Shouldn't have just cut the doors off and especially as high up the tank as we did.

    Cut the end off to put the baffle plate in.

    Welding up the firebox with a plate to cover the end of the tank.

  3. Fitting the baffle plate.

    The firebox attached to the tank

    Raised the unit up six inches and starting to build the warmer box. This is where the problems start to arise.

    The sides of the warmer box and filling for the back.
  4. The problems we have had with this build has been plentiful. Going in to this we knew we didn't have the right equipment to do the job and the tank ended up being 3/8" thick steel from being built back in the 50's. The firebox we used 1/4" plate steel and we figured with not a lot of heat we could get away with 1/8" steel for the warmer box, problem is lots of warp when we did the face plate and put the door together.

    What I am curious on did most of you guys use 1/4" steel for the warmer box also? I know I need to do strapping for the doors to make sure they aren't going to warp and I had originally bought 1/8 but I found out the hard way that 1/4" is the way to go.

    Also when you built your rackings did you use 1/8 or 1/4" angle iron for that? Did you use 1/8 expanded steel or did you go thicker? I am just sick of buying steel and wasting it along with a whole bunch of time. Thanks for the info guys!
  5. You might be able to rescue what you've started by using some angle iron, welding and clamping as you go. Put a cross piece in as soon as possible.
    Hope that helps.
  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Tack everything in place so you can change it later.. or weld it... 1/8"  is fine for the warmer.....  On the bottom edge of the cook chamber doors, weld a flange up about 1" so drips go back into the Cook Chamber instead of dripping down the outside of the Cook Chamber......

    From the height of the RF plate, it looks like you used a calculator, which is good, very good..... The are calculators in my signature line if you need them...  We are here to help..... We have many members with experience in tweaking smokers to make them better....  

  7. 05sprcrw

    05sprcrw Smoking Fanatic

    For the grates I have been using 1x1x1/8 angle iron, and #9 flat ground expanded metal with good luck.  And if you skip around when welding the 1/8" keeping the heat down as much as possible you can get away without too much warping but the key is small skip welds all over until you get it completely done.
  8. I thought about it more and more and after talking to a few guys around here they thought the warp was bad enough that a lot could get removed but there would still be some.

    So I bought a piece of 1/4 plate steel to do the warming box and also went with 1/4 1x1 angle iron. While this thing may not turn out to be the prettiest beast in the world I sure don't want to see a door out of kink. I appreciate the info so far guys, I will be building the rest of the warmer box this weekend after I remove the other and make sure I tack weld it around before going full weld on it.

    More pictures to come!
  9. Well I ripped off the old warmer box on Friday and installed the new one on Saturday. Much much easier using 1/4 plate and it sure came out a lot better. Just have everything tack welded right now and next weekend or whenever the water in the yard will allow me not to rut up the mud pit I have going on. Then I can finish welding it together and get the doors on.

    For some reason it shows these straight on my phone and on my computer but uploads sideways..  On a side note does anyone use Positive Latches for keeping your doors closed tight while traveling? I have looked on the net and everyone wants around $40 a piece and I would think there is a cheaper place to do that.

    Also I am a pizza addict and I am going to try to cook a pizza on the 1/4 plate just above the fire box that leads into the warmer box. Has anyone tried this? It should get pretty damn hot if I get some good flames in the fire box.
  10. looks great. Keep it up
  11. More pictures to come since we are buttoning up the warmer and firebox doors. I have been looking at Feldon's Pit Builder Calculator and it says if I go with a 6" Stack it needs to be 42" in length.

    What I am curious on is can I do side by side stacks, 2 stacks instead of one, to shorten the height? I want to be able to park this in the garage and that won't be happening with such a height stack on the unit. And on that has anyone every done a removeable stack for when transporting the unit?

    The only metal I can think about using for this is steel, have you guys used anything else less expensive for stacks?
  12. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The stack length is above the firebox.... If you do 2 stacks, they will need to be 4 1/2" inside diameter...   or you could have an extension that is removable and stay with the 6".... regular stove pipe (black) would work as an extension...
  13. bruno994

    bruno994 Master of the Pit

    Steel pipe is the way to go on the stacks.  Most of us have been able to find some scrap at a yard or elsewhere for pretty cheap.  As far as the locks on the doors to keep them from flying open while driving, I just took 2 pieces of 1/4" flat bar, maybe 2" long, drilled matching holes in each, then welded one on the door and one on the frame.  I then bought some $2 locking hitch pins and pinned the doors shut.  I have one on my chamber door and one on my firebox door.  Here is a link to my thread, the pic of the door locks is post #20 for the chamber door:


    Here is a pic of the door locks on the firebox, directly under the door handle.

    Hope this helps...keep the build going, looks like it will be awesome.
  14. If you do not have the pipe yet, you could just use a bigger pipe. If you go to 8" the stack would be much shorter.

  15. Be nice if mother nature would work with me to get this done. Winter just doesn't want to give it up here in WI.

    Here is the doors attached to the boxes and just getting the vents prepped for slider doors.

    The doors are on the tank and tacked up. Vertical toggle latches haven't shown up yet.

    A better view. Still some grinding to do and just need to do the finishing welding but so far things are coming along. I did find a chunk of 5" steel pipe but is just a bit short by 5 inches for what the calculator says but I think I am going to go with it. The issue is still the height of the unit, from the ground to the top of the stack would be over ten foot. This is one of the reasons I thought about cutting the pipe in half and welding them side by side and attaching. How high are you guys custom units? I doubt this will be stored indoors during the summer months since the pole shed is quite a drive.
  16. Looks like you're progressing quickly.  I used toggle clamps to hold my door firmly closed. They were expensive from the hardware store, but then I found the same on eBay for much less. I bought the cheaper ones for my next build. The clamps come in different sizes and I used 500lb.

    As far as the cooking grates I used 1" square tube .092" wall with the number 9, 3/4" flattened expanded metal. My grates are about 7 feet long and there is no warping problems. The bottom rack I supported both sides and middle, but the top rack is only supported on the ends, and still no problem even when fully loaded.

    Your tank looks hefty and I'm sure you will enjoy when finished.

    Keep asking questions and someone here will come up with some suggestions.
  17. Some more work completed but wasted a lot of time trying to figure out a counter weight that would work on these doors.

    Welding the racking supports in

    The grates in and we welded them in along with handles for pulling out today.

    Welding the smoke stack on. I had to get some new leaf springs because of the overall weight.

    From ground level to top of the stack is just over 10 feet tall. I will definitely have to make sure I get a large door when I build a workshop for at home.

    My problem lays here guys and hopefully someone has an idea. The door scales at 91 pounds of weight when opening the door from it's resting point. I built some counter weights to make it easier to lift the door, especially for safety. I am tall and strong enough to open the door with no problems but the fiance well lets say she is a sissy haha (glad she doesn't read this stuff!). The tank is 39 inch diameter and from the center of the tank to the door is 12 inches.

    When I tacked the square tubing for the counter weights to the door I can't find any area that would make it a viable area for the counter weights. I was going to slice and bend to form the weight for over the hoirzon point but nothing comes up. Anyone have any other idea besides using a cable system? I would love to have a fixed counter system.
  18. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    BBS, evening....   Open the door to where you will want it when removing food...take measurements and draw up sketches of a counter weight system you want...   Remember, the bracing you add to the CW system, will add to the weight of the door.... at least on the door side of the hinge..    

    OK, now the the big question......  Are you building the smoker inside one of the Govments Blimp Storage Hangars ??  I've seen them from the road....  not from the inside....    Dave
  19. I opened the door to find a way to do it and the size of the door makes it almost impossible to make the curve for counter weights. The only way would the weight be counter productive going up, so I think I am just going to grind a whole bunch off the door and try to lower the weight down that way.

    As for the building, it was purchased from the Army back in the day. Just a tin blimp storage that was converted to a barn setting. Works great but leaks where they used screws. It wasn't known for the rust proofing haha.
  20. lendecatural

    lendecatural Smoking Fanatic

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