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Reverse Flow Smoker... How to calculate build tutorial...

  1. This is a tutorial and you will need a calculator and paper to note desired dimensions... This tutorial has been proven to make an excellent operating Reverse Flow smoker...

    Here's to "Alien BBQ" and the folks that first put the calculator together and "1728 Software Systems" for this great "Circle Calculator" and all the folks at "SmokingMeatForums" , with a special shout out to Ribwizzard, that contributed their ideas and feedback while this thing was coming together..

    The smoker and how it's supposed to work...... click on pics to enlarge.....


    ...

    Edit: 2-16-2014 ; You will need a hand held calculator, smart telephone, or your computer.... calculator, to use this tutorial.. It does not crunch numbers for you.....

    Calculations for a standard design, reverse flow smoker..

    Volume of the Cook Chamber.... Use the Inside Diameter of the tank... All smoker calculations are based on the volume of the Cook Chamber....

    Diameter X Diameter X 0.7854 X Length = Volume in cubic inches / 231 = Volume in gallons

    Volume in cubic inches X 0.004 = FB/CC opening in square inches

    Volume in cubic inches X 0.004 = Area under the RF plate in square inches

    Volume in cubic inches X 0.004 = Area required at the end of the RF plate in square inches

    Volume in cubic inches X 0.33 = minimum volume of the Fire Box

    The above areas are necessary for great air/heat/smoke flow.... using less may cause an overheated FB.... Narrow / Long CC may require an increase in those numbers due to increased surface area friction to volume... Wide/Fat Short CC may use smaller numbers due to reduced surface area friction to volume... edit 8-16-16... small volume patio type smokers will need some increases in measurements also.. FB/CC, under RF plate, end of RF plate... ~20-30%..

    Volume in cubic inches X 0.001 = FB air inlets in square inches...

    Recommended upper and lower air inlets... Upper air inlet directly across from the FB/CC opening to facilitate moving heat from the FB to the CC, and insuring good air flow through the CC.. The lower air inlet should be situated at or below the fuel grate.... The two air inlets can share the designated square inches of opening.... approx. 20% upper and 80% lower...

    Volume in cubic inches X 0.022 0.017 = Exhaust Stack Volume in cubic inches, above the CC.... (ESV) .. (The increase in volume ~30% shows a dramatic improvement in equalized temperatures across the cooking surface... edit 6/19/15 )

    Exhaust Calculation..

    ESV in cubic inches_____________________________ ... = Stack Length in inches (36" +/-)
    0.7854 X Stack Diameter X Stack Diameter

    Adjust the diameter of the stack, until the proper length is achieved... be sure to measure the actual internal diameter of the pipe used..
    this is for round stacks only..


    .... ..


    This circle calculator is really cool... It does it all.... Just fill in the necessary blanks...
    ......click on this link......
    http://www.1728.org/circsect.htm

    For calculating the FB/CC opening.... You are calculating for the GREEN area... that will be the cut-out area in the FB that mates to the CC....

    The green area is a segment. It is called a "Segment Area"... That area is the same as the FB/CC opening....



    When you open the "Circle Calculator" link, Click on the "bullet" to the left of Radius & Segment Height ED....

    Circle Calculator

    Click on the 2 variables you know

    ......Radius and Central Angle...........................Radius & Chord AB
    [X] Radius & Segment Height ED.....................Radius & Apothem OE
    ......................................................Radius & Arc AB
    ......Chord AB & Segment Height ED................Chord AB & Apothem OE
    ......Segment Height ED & Apothem OE...........Chord AB & Arc AB

    You should have opened the circle calculator and a bunch of boxes will appear below..
    and a box called [CALCULATE]..

    Enter the radius in the box so marked.... If you tank is 24" OD, and has a 3/8" thick steel wall, the ID of the tank 23.25".... the radius is 11.625"..... these numbers need to be accurate if you want stuff to fit... ALSO, take into account the thickness of the FB steel when cutting out the tank...

    Enter a guess for the Segment Height ED... I'd start with 6.0

    Click on [CALCULATE]....

    The other boxes will fill with numbers....

    The [Segment Area] box is what you area going to compare with the FB/CC opening in square inches...

    If the FB/CC opening number is smaller, change the number in the Segment Height ED box to 5.... continue changing that number until the [Segment Area] matches the FB/CC number.....

    Now look at the colored circles above.... Segment height ED is how tall the green area is and corresponds to the area to be cut out.....

    Also, [Chord AB] corresponds to the width of the RF plate... NOTE... for ease in fitment, the FB should be at least as wide as the RF plate..

    EDIT..2/13/17... A situation recently arose where the round FB was of different diameter than the CC.... In that event, it is imperative to use the radius of the CC to calculate the initial CC/FB opening.. THEN use the radius of the FB to calculate the FB/CC opening for the football dimensions... reason .. the football will NOT fit into the FB because of the larger diameter of the CC...

    Smoker Calculator reasoning
    The concept for the changes is below.... Alien and his associates, did an amazing job putting the original calculator together... 100% of my numbers are based on his original numbers... small changes were made for the improvements due to design changes in smokers.....
    The original measurements were taken from SFB smokers with tuning plates I do believe.... The advent of the RF smoker did not make any changes to the calculator... Now the exhaust has to travel twice as far as before, and the original FB/CC opening restricted the air flow from the FB, causing the FB to over heat... Some would get up to 450 deg and higher while the CC wouldn't get over 250.... And then there is the increased friction from the steel.... When using natural draft, any restriction/friction is very detrimental to the flow....
    So, on a whim, the FB/CC opening was enlarged, the area under the RF plate was increased and the area at the end of the RF plate was increased... all by 50%.... That solved ALL the problems.... fuel consumption was reduced.... folks were happy....
    I personally experienced members improvements and fuel usage by the letters/PMs they wrote me on their improvements...... One additional modification was suggested.... members here, tested a second air inlet to the FB.... directly across from the FB/CC opening... That was a significant improvement of some/most smokers.... If the FB was too hot, it could be cooled by opening the upper air inlet.... Also, the fire had a separate air inlet to adjust it's heat output.... It should be installed at or below the wood fire grate....
    All of this has been tested and proven by members building smoker on this forum.... The only place you will find using these numbers... or it used to be... I'm sure many builders are now using these ideas for their builds.... this process has been going for at least 2 years....

    Thanks for all your help...... DaveOmak

    ================== edit 12/24/14

    If you are planning a round FB and round CC.... Follow this.....


    Volume in cubic inches X 0.004 = FB/CC opening in square inches.... the answer is divided by 2.... then that number is solved for in the circle calculator by manipulating the segment height.. when the radius and segment height box is checked... That will give you the lower and upper halves of the football opening... then double the new segment height number and run the calculator... (if originally it was 4", put in 8").... that's the width of the football, AND the new height of the RF plate... and if you look at the chord AB number, when the 8" segment height was crunched, that is the width of the RF plate....

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  1. C.D.
    Dave, I've used the calculator and most of the numbers look good but some don't seem quite right. I have a tank 30" x 150" and the calculator says the RF plate and the FB/CC opening sould be about 419 sq. in. That would make the plate way to narrow and it would be below the FB/CC opening.
    Also the circle calculator makes the FB/CC opening higher than the bottom of the door should be and where the racks and should be.
    Should I just move the FB under the CC to lower the opening, or use a much wider RF?
  2. BBQ Boxy
    Hi its my first time on this forum and it is my fist build of a revese flow smoker. Its ID is 23.42519685 W X ID 61.023622 L. These are the dimensions of the C/C. The F/B is ID W 23.42519685 X ID 20.0. I am having problems working out the football shaped cut out for C/C to F/B opening. I have used the circle/ segment calculator but that gives me a cut out for a square F/B. Thanks for your help.