Smoker firebox and other stuff questions!

Discussion in 'Side Fire Box' started by pbjs, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. pbjs

    pbjs Newbie

    Hey folks. Long time lurker, first time poster. Wow that sounded creepy.

    Anyway, I have the following issues that I am hoping the people here can help address.

    The PIT:

    Dimensions - 48" L x 24" H x 36" W. The cooker has 6 sides to it. I know weird right? It was a pit that was on a trailer that LOWES had out parked out in front of the store. I wouldn't normally have bought, BUT I was able to knock down the price significantly. It's 1/8" steel plate and it leaks like bad plumbing. It has a similar shaped offset firebox that is connected to the chamber via square tube. Very inefficient. Google Carry-on BBQ Trailer and you can see. Don't judge me.

    The IDEAS:

    New firebox, lowered smoke stack, and a 2nd shelf in the chamber.

    What I've DONE:

    Fab shop built a 24" x 24" x 24" with 2 " insulation firebox. I modeled it from a Jambo's dimensions. Full size door. About a 5" L x 2" W vent. (I know, not close to be long enough.) Opening to the chamber is is 18"W x 6"H. Honestly looks Bad A$$. Also lowered the smoke stack to grate level.


    He didn't have 6" pipe, so he made 2, 3.5" stacks and offset them. I think that is problem. I am and not getting enough draft. The pit only got up to about 150*. I know that the vent on the firebox isn't close to being large enough, but I look at the Jambo boxes (with out the boiler door) and I don't see a vent to begin with. Now, the box doesn't have a fire grate in it yet. I used a small charcoal basket I made for my offset Char-griller. I lit some lump, let it get ashy, and through some hickory split in it. Maybe not enough? I have to hold the firebox door open to keep the fire lit.

    Please help me?
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    PBJS, morning and welcome to the forum.... Please take a moment and stop into " /Roll Call/   " and introduce yourself and get a proper welcome from our members.... Also, if you would note your location in your profile, it will help in the future when answering questions about smokin'...   elevation, humidity etc....      Dave

    You need 4 each 3.5" stacks to equal 1  6" stack....  In my signature line are some calculators that will help you figure out what to do... 

    It is difficult at best to help you with just a description....  to much gets lost in the translation....   pictures would help....


    +++++++++++++++++++++++   from another forum..........

    Yeah, the lid didnt seal well because it was a little out of square so a bend here and a bend there got it flush. It seals good though I could add some oven gaskets to the lid to get it airtight. I just haven't felt the need to do that yet. 

    The 4 main mods I did were-

    Add an expanded steel fire grate so the fire isn't just sitting on the bottom of the firebox. Obviously without it airflow as non existent.

    I added some tuning plates/baffles in the cooking chamber. I actually copied them from a Yoder smoker where the plates are solid with holes that get bigger as you get farther from the firebox. That made a huge difference in temps. I have it to about 10 degree temp difference from the firebox end to the opposite end of the cooking chamber. 

    I added a tel tru thermometer to the lid though I still use my maverick and a couple of oven thermo's so i can monitor temps all over the cooking chamber. 

    And lastly, i built a shelf to add more capacity for larger cooks and for additional room for contests. 

    Overall I like the smoker. It has great capacity, pulls well behind my truck and the storage box and basket are great for loading up all the necessities. Took some work to get it where I wanted it but for what I could afford and what I wanted at the time it was a perfect fit. It takes about 30 mins or so to get up to temp and once you get it going fire and temp control are pretty easy. It's recovery time is very good. Doesn't take but 5 mins or so to get back up to temp after opening the lid. 

    I've done some small catering jobs with it too with the biggest one cooking 16 pork butts in it with no problem. I cooked a whole pig for July 4th and it came out pretty good for my first whole pig effort. It was about a 50lb pig, nothing too big but it fit fine. I cooked 5 contests after i got it and got calls in 3 of them so I'm looking forward to a lot more contests this year and hopefully some more catering gigs.

    one note..... I wouldn't have paid anywhere near full price for the pit. Definitely can get better pits for that money but again with the deal I got I thought it was worth it.
  3. @PBJS  

    I need your help with a consistent process for creating and maintaining my fire box. I am not to proud to ask for help. I have the same smoker and I have to make it work. Feel free to message me 1:1 since you can empathize with me efforts. Anyone else viewing this post and have constructive input to help me move forward, until I can buy that perfect smoker, would be greatly appreciated.

    Big Ron

    Central Ohio





    TulsaJeff sent you this private message on, April 27, 5:22 pm
    Hello there.. TulsaJeff here, founder of Welcome to the Smoking Meat Forums!
  4. maple sticks

    maple sticks Smoking Fanatic

    Hi Big Ron, If you go up to DaveOmak's posting and hit the triangle at the end of his name you can PM him asking for input. He's very good at what he does and he does smokers. Or you can quote him and he will be notified of your posting. You quote by hitting the "quote" at the bottom of his post.

    Good Luck
    big ron likes this.
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ron, morning...... Good looking smoker.... Nice fitting pieces..... Good welds.... Somebody was good at fit up and welding....

    I'm not sure as to what they were trying to build, as far as a particular cooking method.... Looks like it is meant to have the fire in the bottom of the Cooking Chamber and be able to start additional logs or charcoal in the box on the left, to have it ready to cook with...

    What size is the cooking grate... looks to be about 6' x 4'....

    What do you want to do with it....

  6. Thank you!
  7. The cooking area is a little under 12 square feet. I want to use it as an offset smoker. I did a test burn and I could only get the temp to about 195 degrees. With the air vent wide open I couldn't get the heat from the fire box through the opening if the the cooking chamber, with the chimney wide open. PBJS added some photos of his mods and charcoal basket looks like a great place to start. The other mods are out of my scope and I am limited to make what I have work. I'm really leaning toward your assessment of "Looks like it is meant to have the fire in the bottom of the Cooking Chamber and be able to start additional logs or charcoal in the box on the left, to have it ready to cook with..."

    I glady accept any advice you have to make this work efficiently. 


  8. Thank you for the photos of your mods! The charcoal basket looks like a great place to start. The other mods are out of my scope and I am limited to make what I have work. 


  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The CC is only 4' x 3' ????? looks a lot bigger than that in the pic... unless the wheels and tires are about 12" wheels.... take measurements of the CC..... so I can figure a volume.....

  10. surface is 4'x3'.... grill grate to the bottom of the chamber is @ 24" ....grill grate to the top of the chamber is @ 24". 
  11. maple sticks

    maple sticks Smoking Fanatic

    Hi Ron, That would make your CC four foot tall. Is that right?
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
  12. Correct...
  13. maple sticks

    maple sticks Smoking Fanatic

    Must say Ron your grill CC does not look as tall as it is wide.
  14. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ron.... Something similar to this might work for you........ With tuning plates, you will need a drain in the bottom of the smoker to remove fat to a container during the smoking process.... Dave on pic to enlarge....

    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
  15. You are correct: 
  16. Thank you sir.. I'll build the fire box and report back with the results. Again thank you all...
  17. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well......... I did the calculations based on 24" top and bottom....... Won't hurt anything.... A large FB is a good thing.....
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
  18. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would make the tuning plates 1/4" steel... 4" wide and the length will be the width of the CC body 6" or so below the food grate... 2" above the FB/CC opening.... To start with, space them about 1/4" apart and run the length of the CC..... spacing will need to increase the closer they get to the exhaust stack.... that will even the heat to the cooking grate... adjust spacing as needed to get even heat, or have warmer places on the grate... All personal preference to the cook.....
  19. I have the tuning plates and will follow your instructions. Is there any merit to extending the chimney to grate level?

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