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Advice on Vertical Smoker Build


Joined Dec 1, 2009

This is my first post but I have read lots of very helpful threads on smoker builds.  My MES has flamed out on me again and it's time for me to build my own.  This is my first build and it's a little intimidating.  I would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions around my general plan below (particularly about dimensions, placement, etc.).

Goals:  I have always had an electric smoker and want to continue that capability with temperature control.  I also have a MES smoke generator that I will be transferring to the new unit for cold smoking.  But my main goal is to add charcoal and wood chunk capabilities.   

I found a bargain used Cres Cor warmer box on Craigslist and want to start with that.  Looks like this (but obviously older and a bit beat up):

Here is a quick diagram of the general plan (not to scale):

First step is to fill gaps with high temperature caulk and insulate the box with kaowool and additional exterior panels.  This includes a tight seal for the door, which will also be insulated. This should make the box air tight other than the two 3" pipes.  Then cut the holes for those pipes and the other components.

Air Intake:  One 3" aluminum pipe.  Serves two purposes.  The MES smoke generator slides into it when in use.  For charcoal/wood air intake the threaded end of the pipe will accept a ball valve to control air.  May make the pipe go into the box a little bit but not much.

Chimney: One 3" aluminum pipe with damper in the center of the top of the box.  I may push it down into the box a little but not by much.  Not planning to makes this reverse flow at this point.

Electric: Heating element in the bottom of the box attached to a temperature controller with thermocouple in the CC.  It will be just below the air intake and will be covered to prevent drippings issues.  Note neither the charcoal basket nor the diffuser will be in place when using just the electric heat.  That's the beauty of the slide in/out design.

Charcoal:  A slide-in basket for charcoal and wood chunks.  The air intake will be in this chamber just below the basket.  I am adding a sheet pan with cutouts to act as a diffuser to push smoke to the sides of the chamber.  It should then come together to the chimney in the center of the box.  I will replace it with a heavier panel if this one burns through.

This leaves about 30 potential slots for racks above the heating portion.  Please let me know what you think.  I know people have some great experiences with pipe sizing, element placement, etc.  Any suggestions welcome.  Thanks.

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