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Fire box damper placement...offset smoker

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Joined May 1, 2021
Do you prefer the dampers on your firebox to be on the back opposite the cooking chamber entrance or on the sides and why?

My dampers on my Lang 84 are on the side and often I feel like the wind blows straight through the firebox. I’m thinking rear mounted may be better but I’ve never used one made that way.
 

pineywoods

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I open both dampers on the side the wind is not blowing into and find I have better control that way. With them open on the side the wind is blowing into the air into the firebox seems to change with the wind speed if there's much wind
 
17
9
Joined May 1, 2021
I open both dampers on the side the wind is not blowing into and find I have better control that way. With them open on the side the wind is blowing into the air into the firebox seems to change with the wind speed if there's much wind
Normally that’s what I do as well but during a couple cooks the other week the wind kept shifting directions. At times it was blowing ashes out the opposite side.

There has been a few times over the years I’ve felt I was loosing more heat out the dampers than going in the cc.

Ive cooked on mine for 14 years and hadn’t given it much thought and actually reworked my dampers a few years ago with springs and better handles but I’m just about to make some other changes and thought it might be a good idea to change that too.

Rear has always seemed logical to me but wanted some opinions.
 

civilsmoker

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I have one with vents in the door opposite the chamber and on with them on the side and what piney said is the most important vs vent locations. Lang’s work so I wouldn’t change it up.

edit.....also just adding you don’t have to open both.....ie close one side and open the other up more. That will keep the cross draft affect at bay....
 
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17
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Joined May 1, 2021
I have one with vents in the door opposite the chamber and on with them on the side and what piney said is the most important vs vent locations. Lang’s work so I wouldn’t change it up.
They do work well, no doubt, but I just posted a thread about adding cabinet style doors to mine. After 14 years I know it inside and out and would like to make a few changes to enhance my enjoyment as they say. Since day one I haven’t loved the interior access and rack placements.

I‘m a habitual tinker and always looking to make something good even better. A Lang with a Jambo fit and finish would be right up my alley.
 

civilsmoker

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The best solution may be to add one on the door, have both locations and use whichever is best at the time.
Ah yes I saw that post.....have you looked at the Shirley smokers for ideas on the cabinet door make up? I used their door/cabinets framing on both my copper pot and XFire builds. I’m a cabinet door fan (especially the high back ones), but you are the one that has to like it!

If it’s going under the grinder then have one in the door as well As the sides will let you have lots of adjustments. If adding one to the door, I would add a lower and upper so you can have total control.

oh and not to tempt you but I would be thinking about insulating the fire box....for a big smoker like you have it will pay for it’s self
 
17
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Joined May 1, 2021
Ah yes I saw that post.....have you looked at the Shirley smokers for ideas on the cabinet door make up? I used their door/cabinets framing on both my copper pot and XFire builds. I’m a cabinet door fan (especially the high back ones), but you are the one that has to like it!

If it’s going under the grinder then have one in the door as well As the sides will let you have lots of adjustments. If adding one to the door, I would add a lower and upper so you can have total control.

oh and not to tempt you but I would be thinking about insulating the fire box....for a big smoker like you have it will pay for it’s self
I read through your builds. Both very nicely done. The damper between the firebox and the vertical chamber on the copper pot is one of the modifications I’ve contemplated for years now on my Lang as it doesn’t have one. It only has one from the cooking chamber to the vertical box but not on top of the firebox. How does it work for you? And how do you use it? The Lang was designed to redirect the exhaust into the vertical box rather than out the stack of the main cooking chamber.

i’ve always thought that would’nt work that well but have only used the vertical box as a warming box. I thought the adding the secondary damper on top of the firebox was a better idea to get the vertical up to cooking temperature?

I have even considered adding a coal pan to the bottom of the vertical just to use when I don’t want to fire up the large section of the grill for small cooks.

And yes I’ve been thinking of insulating the firebox as well. I’m a forester and own a timber company so wood supply is not usually an issue. I’ve considered more adding a gas burner for switching to propane heat source after wrapping to get some sleep on those long cooks.

As it is now I have to add wood about every 45 minutes to an hour.

most definitely I have looked at the Shirley ‘s! I don’t need much extra capacity which is why I was keeping my cabinet doors small rather than going up higher. Essentially this gives me a wide mouth opening for better access to the interior of the grill.

Also, my going up higher with the cabinet would be further increasing the cooking chamber volume. The Lang already seems to defy the smoker calculations having a undersized fire box yet cooking very well.
 
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civilsmoker

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The damper to the vertical chamber allows me to get the VC the same temp as the HC. It also allows me to dump heat/smoke to the HC a little bit As you have noticed with your VC the temp is much more stable to spikes and such. I have used it for both warming and cooking. IE..If I want to do a prime rib and I want a very precise 225 deg, I use the vertical chamber because I can control the heat very precisely (note I'm not doing volume cooking like you). What I do love about it is the ability to do vertical fire cooking....ie the coal pan and fire or coals. This is what inspired the XFire Grill build. To me this adds the most functionality to the VC as anything. I would NOT have a VC without this function!!! Given what you said about wood and such, I would lean toward insulating the VC as that will make it even more of a cooking chamber (This will add lots of volume for your large cooks). It may raise the temp for warming and such though, but you can always open the vent (if you add one for fire cooking) to cool it down. I also think the insulation will off set the smaller fire box the Lang has vs the chamber volume. Since you have the VC insulated the FB size should be less of an issue.

Here and example of the VC under an active fire. I have some LTales on the on the top shelf and open flame searing some NYs. This fire with the door closed with make the VC about 375-400 deg. I have also added spuds, beans, and other sides in the VC to cook while the HC is smoking, I would suggest a bigger ash pan than what I have and add a lower coal grate to sit above to allow for air flow and better heat control. This coal grate shelf could also serve as a place for a deflector plate/water pan to smoke vertically. If it is a plate make sure it is smaller than the ash pan so any grease will be captured.
PrimetimeSandT.jpg



On to the gas burner...….I have spent lots of time thinking about this and the #1 concern is gas build up in a confined space. The fire box of a smoker is a very dirty place and that doesn't play nice with sensitive gas equipment, ie.. thermocouple's, pilots, burners, etc. Having a mishap is simply NOT an option!!!! So I have thought about adding a pipe burner in this fashion (IE similar to the common BBQ design).....Sorry but I have to note, this is an un-tested design and when working with gas, safety should be the #1 consideration!!! Making a mistake with gas has and does take life so that should be the #1 driver in any design.

GasBurnerIdea.PNG

The pipe burner (I happen to have a nice one from a Capital Gas Range, was saving for a built in bbq build) would be attached to the side of the FB in an isolated box with some type of gate on the top. This gate could be as easy as a sliding removable plate on the inside of the FB vs a swinging one. It just needs to be in place when you want to do fire heat. The gas burner box (GBB) would be open below to allow an gas to evacuate in the event a blow out occurs and the fail safe vales fail. My thought is a pilot and thermocouple similar to a outdoor fire place would be a secondary safety feature incase of a blow out (un like a common BBQ that have even gone boom when a blow our has occurred and the lid wasn't open to let gas dissipate prior to re-light). Next a higher removable burner shelf would be added so wood chucks splits could be added to add the flavor smoke if desired. This could also just be a large pellet log or maze to keep it simple and efficient....

That said......The pellet log and pipe burner would be a very consistent and set it and don't touch it but NOT forget it......this is just me but I will not leave a grill of any kind un-attended.....even a pellet grill......I learned this the hard way with a pizza night after the PID on my Memphis glitzed and it went into grill mode and actually lit a couple of nice racks of beef ribs on fire. Yes when I opened the grill lid the bones were burning like wood. I wasted 3 lbs of salt putting the flames out not to mention we had to eat pizza and not ribs!

The final thought on the gas burner application is that of efficiency, a RF smoker is not very efficient so it could burn a lots of gas to keep it at a proper temp........your 84 has a lot of volume!
 
17
9
Joined May 1, 2021
The damper to the vertical chamber allows me to get the VC the same temp as the HC. It also allows me to dump heat/smoke to the HC a little bit As you have noticed with your VC the temp is much more stable to spikes and such. I have used it for both warming and cooking. IE..If I want to do a prime rib and I want a very precise 225 deg, I use the vertical chamber because I can control the heat very precisely (note I'm not doing volume cooking like you). What I do love about it is the ability to do vertical fire cooking....ie the coal pan and fire or coals. This is what inspired the XFire Grill build. To me this adds the most functionality to the VC as anything. I would NOT have a VC without this function!!! Given what you said about wood and such, I would lean toward insulating the VC as that will make it even more of a cooking chamber (This will add lots of volume for your large cooks). It may raise the temp for warming and such though, but you can always open the vent (if you add one for fire cooking) to cool it down. I also think the insulation will off set the smaller fire box the Lang has vs the chamber volume. Since you have the VC insulated the FB size should be less of an issue.

Here and example of the VC under an active fire. I have some LTales on the on the top shelf and open flame searing some NYs. This fire with the door closed with make the VC about 375-400 deg. I have also added spuds, beans, and other sides in the VC to cook while the HC is smoking, I would suggest a bigger ash pan than what I have and add a lower coal grate to sit above to allow for air flow and better heat control. This coal grate shelf could also serve as a place for a deflector plate/water pan to smoke vertically. If it is a plate make sure it is smaller than the ash pan so any grease will be captured.
View attachment 495059


On to the gas burner...….I have spent lots of time thinking about this and the #1 concern is gas build up in a confined space. The fire box of a smoker is a very dirty place and that doesn't play nice with sensitive gas equipment, ie.. thermocouple's, pilots, burners, etc. Having a mishap is simply NOT an option!!!! So I have thought about adding a pipe burner in this fashion (IE similar to the common BBQ design).....Sorry but I have to note, this is an un-tested design and when working with gas, safety should be the #1 consideration!!! Making a mistake with gas has and does take life so that should be the #1 driver in any design.

View attachment 495057
The pipe burner (I happen to have a nice one from a Capital Gas Range, was saving for a built in bbq build) would be attached to the side of the FB in an isolated box with some type of gate on the top. This gate could be as easy as a sliding removable plate on the inside of the FB vs a swinging one. It just needs to be in place when you want to do fire heat. The gas burner box (GBB) would be open below to allow an gas to evacuate in the event a blow out occurs and the fail safe vales fail. My thought is a pilot and thermocouple similar to a outdoor fire place would be a secondary safety feature incase of a blow out (un like a common BBQ that have even gone boom when a blow our has occurred and the lid wasn't open to let gas dissipate prior to re-light). Next a higher removable burner shelf would be added so wood chucks splits could be added to add the flavor smoke if desired. This could also just be a large pellet log or maze to keep it simple and efficient....

That said......The pellet log and pipe burner would be a very consistent and set it and don't touch it but NOT forget it......this is just me but I will not leave a grill of any kind un-attended.....even a pellet grill......I learned this the hard way with a pizza night after the PID on my Memphis glitzed and it went into grill mode and actually lit a couple of nice racks of beef ribs on fire. Yes when I opened the grill lid the bones were burning like wood. I wasted 3 lbs of salt putting the flames out not to mention we had to eat pizza and not ribs!

The final thought on the gas burner application is that of efficiency, a RF smoker is not very efficient so it could burn a lots of gas to keep it at a proper temp........your 84 has a lot of volume!
Thats a great post and lots of food for thought. Gives me some great ideas for a few other modifications I’d like to make. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the food looks great.

I love your vertical cabinet setup. So much more versatile than mine. I’d use mine much more if I were able to do small cooks in it without firing up the big grill. I’ll be adding a coal pan shortly.
 

civilsmoker

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Joined Jan 27, 2015
Thats a great post and lots of food for thought. Gives me some great ideas for a few other modifications I’d like to make. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the food looks great.

I love your vertical cabinet setup. So much more versatile than mine. I’d use mine much more if I were able to do small cooks in it without firing up the big grill. I’ll be adding a coal pan shortly.
Thanks and I think you will enjoy cooking in the vertical for sure. It’s way more hands on and active. Adding a ash pan will be really easy so added functionally with minimal work. Good luck and post pics of the changes.
 

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