Fired it Up!

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by navionjim, Mar 3, 2008.

  1. navionjim

    navionjim Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I finally got my hands on this iron monstrosity!

    These photos were taken before I cleaned it up. Some unknown oil field pipe fitter welded this thing up some 15 odd years ago and it had been sitting in a friend's sister's yard for the last ten years unused. Free was a good price but hauling this thing out of her muddy back yard and trucking it home almost killed me. Who ever built this smoker welded it up from .5 inch pipeline steel, which is pretty good stuff because the rust is very light considering how long it's been sitting outside. Its a 24" diameter chunk of pipe that makes up the firebox / smoke chamber with two welded in vertical baffles separating them. All told this thing weighs in excess of 500 pounds and it took very three big boys to move it. The first thing I did when I got it home was to fill it with 15 pounds of lump (fire box and smoke chamber) and set the whole thing on fire to burn it out. The next day I scrapped it out and pressure washed it, then used my leaf blower to dry it off. The fire box is 12 X 12 square and 24" round with a downward swinging solid trap door. I noticed that my veggie roasting BBQ pan just fit inside the space, so that became my new fire grate. The smoking area isn't that big either with only the single shelf / grate. I think this smoker was designed to just hold one large or two medium sized packer briskets and thats about it.

    For the maiden smoke I found a cute little 7 pound packer at Sam's and a side of spare ribs, then I added two JD fattys just because. That amount of meat completely filled the smoke chamber with the well seared brisket rubbed with Zack's Brisket Rub sitting in an aluminum pan per the Smoky Okie method. The ribs were rubbed 24 hours in advance with Jeff's rub with a bit of TQ just to see what it would do. I also made a double batch of Jeff's sauce for serving.

    The first problem I had was temp monitoring. I only had one remote temp probe and that was running down the smoke stack to the brisket, but my batteries died after the third hour anyway. I also had a el-cheap-o oven thermo inside the chamber but even with the firebox packed with lump and pecan chunks I had trouble even getting to 200ºF! So I just gave up worrying about it and kept feeding it wood and coal as needed.

    The second problem I had was the dreaded WHITE SMOKE! with no flow control except for the flue in the stack and the crackage of the fire door I couldn't find any way to stop that except to limit how much wood I used in the firebox. To try and do that I ended up using more BC lump than I liked and only adding a stick or two of pecan every hour or so. Still there was more white smoke than I liked and I have no idea what to do about that.

    Since I got such an early start, at 4 in the afternoon, I smoked the ribs with a 4-2-1 method (pulled the fattys at 4) then pulled them off and kept feeding the fire until I fell asleep at midnight. I have no idea what happened to the temp after that except to say it cooled off somewhat, then I loaded it back up at 7:30 the next morning and let it go until 1:00 pm. The last five hours with the brisket in foil. All told that little brisket went for 21 hours at something between 150ºF and 210ºF, with all that variance I wasn't expecting much from it.

    At noon I put one fatty and the ribs back in the smoker in foil just to warm them up and Jeff's sauce too for the same reason. My neighbors came over for the first taste test after smelling the smoke for the last 21 hours or so. They loved the ribs but I thought they were just a bit too soft for my liking, that could have been a result of re-heating them in the foil though. But the sauce was fantastic on them! That was the first time I'd used both Jeff's rub and sauce on the same piece of pork and soft or otherwise was that ever a good combination! It was too much heat for my Texan wife, but my neighbors and I were in heaven.

    Now for the real shocker, that brisket was nothing short of fantastic white smoke or not! It was firm enough not to be mushy, and tender and juicy enough to melt in your mouth. The smoke flavor was very deep and rich. With Zack's Brisket Rub and Jeff's sauce, man o man was that good!

    All things considered I'm pleased with the way this smoker worked, but I wish I could get a better handle on the temp control issue and the white smoke production. I'm going to have to drill some thermometer ports in the smoke chamber's 1/2 steel plate for sure. Any probes running between the 50 pound lid and the chamber lip would be crushed by the weight of the lid.

    If anyone has some tips on how to improve the air flow and smoke production it would sure be welcome. I don't have these problems burning the same wood in my NBB vertical so I'm at a bit of a loss here. I can get some more photos of the fire door if that would help, there are no dampers at all, just how far you want to keep the door cracked open for control, with some designed in leakage as well.

    Ice Bait and Cold Beer,
  2. navionjim

    navionjim Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Yep! Heavy as hell but good quality steel, I have a cutting torch though, and a stick welder, no problem as far as tools go, I'll get some snaps tonight when I go home.

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