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First Big Smoker Build. Advice welcomed!

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
194
12
Joined Dec 28, 2012
Hey guys,

I am starting my first "big" smoker project, and of course big is relative. I have built two 55 gallon double barrel smokers in the past (one this May and one a few weeks ago), but I decided to step into the big leagues and make a trailer smoker. 

The smoker I am making is a tank that is 7 feet long and has a 30 inch diameter. I was originally going to make a typical smoker with a separated fire box piped into the tank, but today plans changed a little. As I was pulling out my 5 foot fire box to cut down to size, it was obvious that it would be big and gauty. So my biggest critic (my dad) suggested that I make 1/3 of  the tank the fire box and make the other 2/3 of the tank the smoker since more than likely I will not need 7 feet of smoking room any way. BUT the twist is that the fire area  will have a rack in it to turn it into a direct heat/open flame grill. This will give the rig the versatility of wood fire grilling steaks, burgers, and hot dogs while at the same time being able to slow cook boston butts, ribs, chickens, and turkeys on the other side.

The inside of the tank will have a steel plate dividing the fire area from the smoker area so true smoking can be done on the larger portion.

The question is, what is this setup called? I'm sure I am not the first person to build this type of cooker.

Also, has anyone ever used a down draft style smoker? Where the smoke and heat enter the tank high and the exhaust is below the cook racks. This is the setup I will have to use due to the fire "box" and the smoker tank being the same thing and on the same level. 

Another question I have is, has anyone ever used wire pallet racks for meat racks? They are the wire part that sits on the metal frame that is used to store pallets of goods in ware houses. They are rated at 2000+ lbs. and they sell on ebay for $14 for a 36X48 inch rack. My only concern is on the "grill/firebox" side hotdogs and burgers may fall through when being flipped. 

Another option I thought of is wire racks sold by Uline and Global industrial. They come in a variety of sizes but cost anywhere from $26-$50 a piece. Their weight capacity is 800 lbs and they come in a chrome finish. 

Any tips and advice is much welcomed.   

Here is the start of this project. I started this Saturday.


I am going to deck in the back part of the trailer and put removable walls to carry wood with me. I am also going to build a table over about half of this area. The table will be high enough to store wood under but not so high that it would be uncomfortable to prepare food on. The angle iron I welded in this area is to bolt the decking onto in the future. Plus it stiffens the trailer up a little. 

 
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smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
194
12
Joined Dec 28, 2012
For anybody that is silently watching this build.. here is the progress so far. 

I made the handles for all three doors. 




I got the hinges "dressed up" and welded on. These hinges started as big 4" commercial grade hinges. 


The welding is rough, but I will grind them down to make them presentable.


I only cut one door completely. I have them all cut along the top and bottom but I still have to make the vertical cuts on two of them. Any ideas of what to use for exhaust? I'm thinking 5 or 6 inch square tubing... I believe that would look better than plain round pipe.
 

s2k9k

AMNPS Test Group
11,326
180
Joined Sep 8, 2011
Looking good so far!

I've never built one but I like the look of big bore bologna cut chrome exhaust tips for the stacks!
 

daveomak

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
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Joined Nov 12, 2010
Hey guys,

I am starting my first "big" smoker project, and of course big is relative. I have built two 55 gallon double barrel smokers in the past (one this May and one a few weeks ago), but I decided to step into the big leagues and make a trailer smoker. 

The smoker I am making is a tank that is 7 feet long and has a 30 inch diameter. I was originally going to make a typical smoker with a separated fire box piped into the tank, but today plans changed a little. As I was pulling out my 5 foot fire box to cut down to size, it was obvious that it would be big and gauty. So my biggest critic (my dad) suggested that I make 1/3 of  the tank the fire box and make the other 2/3 of the tank the smoker since more than likely I will not need 7 feet of smoking room any way. BUT the twist is that the fire area  will have a rack in it to turn it into a direct heat/open flame grill.

This will give the rig the versatility of wood fire grilling steaks, burgers, and hot dogs while at the same time being able to slow cook boston butts, ribs, chickens, and turkeys on the other side.

That might be a physics nightmare....  Keeping the heat traveling through the smoker while cooking steaks at the same time... 

One or the other could be accomplished... 

The inside of the tank will have a steel plate dividing the fire area from the smoker area so true smoking can be done on the larger portion.

The question is, what is this setup called? I'm sure I am not the first person to build this type of cooker.

I would call it a "down draft" smoker... I think Jabbo, (or something like that),  uses it... 

Also, has anyone ever used a down draft style smoker? Where the smoke and heat enter the tank high and the exhaust is below the cook racks. This is the setup I will have to use due to the fire "box" and the smoker tank being the same thing and on the same level. 

Another question I have is, has anyone ever used wire pallet racks for meat racks? They are the wire part that sits on the metal frame that is used to store pallets of goods in ware houses. They are rated at 2000+ lbs. and they sell on ebay for $14 for a 36X48 inch rack. My only concern is on the "grill/firebox" side hotdogs and burgers may fall through when being flipped. 

Another option I thought of is wire racks sold by Uline and Global industrial. They come in a variety of sizes but cost anywhere from $26-$50 a piece. Their weight capacity is 800 lbs and they come in a chrome finish. 

Any tips and advice is much welcomed.   
It appears you have sectioned the tank into 3 equal parts....  The design you previously spoke of, "down draft", the firebox should be about 1/3 the size of the cook chamber....  If you use one of the sections for the grill / firebox, the firebox is 1/2 the cook chamber...   It will work, just wanted to let you know...  Dave
 
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daveomak

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Joined Nov 12, 2010
Aces, morning..... After looking and pondering.... trying to incorporate the BBQ grate in the firebox creates some logistical situations for all the parts needed to make the design functional....   Let us know what you came up with....   Dave

                  Click on picture to enlarge....


Calculations used for your smoker

Link to BBQ Pit Calculator
 

themule69

Epic Pitmaster
12,888
349
Joined Oct 7, 2012
Hey guys,

I am starting my first "big" smoker project, and of course big is relative. I have built two 55 gallon double barrel smokers in the past (one this May and one a few weeks ago), but I decided to step into the big leagues and make a trailer smoker. 

The smoker I am making is a tank that is 7 feet long and has a 30 inch diameter. I was originally going to make a typical smoker with a separated fire box piped into the tank, but today plans changed a little. As I was pulling out my 5 foot fire box to cut down to size, it was obvious that it would be big and gauty. So my biggest critic (my dad) suggested that I make 1/3 of  the tank the fire box and make the other 2/3 of the tank the smoker since more than likely I will not need 7 feet of smoking room any way. BUT the twist is that the fire area  will have a rack in it to turn it into a direct heat/open flame grill. This will give the rig the versatility of wood fire grilling steaks, burgers, and hot dogs while at the same time being able to slow cook boston butts, ribs, chickens, and turkeys on the other side.

The inside of the tank will have a steel plate dividing the fire area from the smoker area so true smoking can be done on the larger portion.

The question is, what is this setup called? I'm sure I am not the first person to build this type of cooker.

Also, has anyone ever used a down draft style smoker? Where the smoke and heat enter the tank high and the exhaust is below the cook racks. This is the setup I will have to use due to the fire "box" and the smoker tank being the same thing and on the same level. 

Another question I have is, has anyone ever used wire pallet racks for meat racks? They are the wire part that sits on the metal frame that is used to store pallets of goods in ware houses. They are rated at 2000+ lbs. and they sell on ebay for $14 for a 36X48 inch rack. My only concern is on the "grill/firebox" side hotdogs and burgers may fall through when being flipped. 

Another option I thought of is wire racks sold by Uline and Global industrial. They come in a variety of sizes but cost anywhere from $26-$50 a piece. Their weight capacity is 800 lbs and they come in a chrome finish. 

Any tips and advice is much welcomed.   

Here is the start of this project. I started this Saturday.


I am going to deck in the back part of the trailer and put removable walls to carry wood with me. I am also going to build a table over about half of this area. The table will be high enough to store wood under but not so high that it would be uncomfortable to prepare food on. The angle iron I welded in this area is to bolt the decking onto in the future. Plus it stiffens the trailer up a little. 

hello  i don't think you are going to be happy with the finished product. here is my reasoning. first heat rises. your opening into the cook chamber is on the top half. if it was on the bottom, same problem. that is why they put the fire box at the end and down. it may burn a lot of fuel only to find out you can't get it hot enough. i have built several smokes. and what you are trying to make is an offset smoker. but leaving out the off set part..........just my .02     hope others will jump in here.....i wish i could say i like the design. but you ask for input.

david
 

bruno994

Master of the Pit
1,319
63
Joined Dec 19, 2011
I'm not going to say it can't work, but my thinking you are going to have a heck of a time drafting that thing.  Smoke and heat want to go up no matter where your firebox enters the main chamber, so you may or may not have any heating problems, it may just not be very consistent.  You might come off better making it a reverse / reverse flow rig, with the exhausts under the RF plate back on the firebox side of the main chamber (still haven't convinced myself that this plan would even work for you.) 

And as far as having a work are up on the trailer, but having to get off and on the trailer while you are cooking, going to get old quick.  Maybe just mount some burners and wood storage on the trailer with some fold out shelves that can be worked on while standing on the ground.  If you could access the pit while on the trailer, not as big a problem.
 
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daveomak

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
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Joined Nov 12, 2010
bruno994, evening...   The air/heat flow design is a "copy" from Jambo Pit Smokers.... It is a very successful smoker and has won many awards...  Their design was pointed out to me several months ago by a member here...  

Dave 
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
194
12
Joined Dec 28, 2012
I'm not going to say it can't work, but my thinking you are going to have a heck of a time drafting that thing.  Smoke and heat want to go up no matter where your firebox enters the main chamber, so you may or may not have any heating problems, it may just not be very consistent.  You might come off better making it a reverse / reverse flow rig, with the exhausts under the RF plate back on the firebox side of the main chamber (still haven't convinced myself that this plan would even work for you.) 

And as far as having a work are up on the trailer, but having to get off and on the trailer while you are cooking, going to get old quick.  Maybe just mount some burners and wood storage on the trailer with some fold out shelves that can be worked on while standing on the ground.  If you could access the pit while on the trailer, not as big a problem.
I think you may have misunderstood my plan, or maybe I didn't explain it good. My plan is to floor the trailer from the tank back. I will put walls around the floor to hold wood. About waist high or a little higher will be the wood table. I will have complete access to the table flat footed on the ground (this is a jon boat trailer mind you) , as well as access to the smoker from the ground. Hopefully this is more clear than before. Thank you for your input!
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
194
12
Joined Dec 28, 2012
Aces, morning..... After looking and pondering.... trying to incorporate the BBQ grate in the firebox creates some logistical situations for all the parts needed to make the design functional....   Let us know what you came up with....   Dave

                  Click on picture to enlarge....


Calculations used for your smoker

Link to BBQ Pit Calculator
Okay, let me try to explain my thinkology on the logistics of this firebox/grill. I am planning to put the fire grate in the bottom of the barrel where the wood is ~6-8" above the bottom. The cook surface will be at cooking door level ~15" above the bottom of the barrel. I plan to put a door on the flat side of the the barrel to feed the wood and a intake damper under that. 

Is 6-8" high enough from the bottom to keep the fire alive? Keep in mind this is a 30" barrel. 

I may decide that I want to make the cooking surface only in the tank when in use in order to keep it from being continuously exposed to the flame.

I appreciate the input! It makes me consider things I previously had not thought about. That is how good products are developed!

Here are a few drawings. 




Maybe this clarifies.. if you can see it.
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
194
12
Joined Dec 28, 2012
After looking at the Jambo design, I can see how similar my ideas are to their product. However, I did not "copy" them, I just have to do it this way because the "firebox" and cook chamber are on the same level because they are the same tank. 

One major difference between the Jambo design and mine is that I am planning to have the heat to cook chamber hole at the very top of the barrel in a crescent shape. And I plan to have the exhaust below the cooking surface by 8" or so. 

I look forward to see how this design will work. If I have similar results to the Jambo design, it should be evenly heated and have a consistent temperature for long periods. WE WILL SEE!
 

bruno994

Master of the Pit
1,319
63
Joined Dec 19, 2011
Dave, yep, I'm very familiar with the Jambo design, cooked next to a few of them, but the Jambo "heat chute" entering the cook chamber starts below or at grate level and angles upward to come in above the bottom grate, not even with it.  You might have to put a deflector plate in the smoke chamber to divert the heat upward and not directly on the meat.  I hope you understand what I'm saying, similiar to a Jambo.  Obviously that design will work great (because alot and I mean alot of comp teams have gone Jambo) and I had a guy on another forum building a Jambo clone that worked out very well for him.  But on the Jambo, your firebox is still an offset, not on a level playing field as this build.  I understand the concept, just not your usual design with basically the upper level of the fire being at food height.  I can't wait to see it completed Smokin-aces, because that's what makes the world go round, different ideas, different takes on the same concept.  If we all had the same pit, it would be a boring world! 

To answer a few of your questions:

Is 6-8" high enough from the bottom to keep the fire alive? Keep in mind this is a 30" barrel.    Should have no problem getting air flow underneath the fire at this height.  Dave can and will give you some more insight into the dampers for your firebox.  You might not need one below your fire, but maybe one even with if not a bit higher.  To feed air to the fire, but not push it, making fire control easier.  Like I said, Dave will come along and explain that better.

I may decide that I want to make the cooking surface only in the tank when in use in order to keep it from being continuously exposed to the flame.  Excellent idea.

I appreciate the input! It makes me consider things I previously had not thought about. That is how good products are developed!  Glad to help, anything for someone wanting to smoke meat!

Another question I have is, has anyone ever used wire pallet racks for meat racks? They are the wire part that sits on the metal frame that is used to store pallets of goods in ware houses. They are rated at 2000+ lbs. and they sell on ebay for $14 for a 36X48 inch rack. My only concern is on the "grill/firebox" side hotdogs and burgers may fall through when being flipped. 

Another option I thought of is wire racks sold by Uline and Global industrial. They come in a variety of sizes but cost anywhere from $26-$50 a piece. Their weight capacity is 800 lbs and they come in a chrome finish.   I would go with just plain old 3/4 x 9 expanded metal.  I know we can get it for about $60 for a 4 x 8 sheet around here, your area may be a bit different.  Then I framed out my grates with 3/4 x 3/4 x 1/8 angle. 

Most of all, keep it moving and keep us updated with the pics, I love watching a build come together.  That's what inspired me to take on my build last year. 
 
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smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
194
12
Joined Dec 28, 2012
Thank you for your input bruno! I will not be doing anything on the smoker build at least until the weekend. However, I did acquire two wire shelves like I explained earlier. One is a 24" X 24" and the other is 60" X 30". FREE!! It doesn't get any better than that. I will be sure to post pictures when I make progress.
 

daveomak

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Aces, evening.... Using 5" sq tube w/ 0.125 wall I would make the stack 48" above the cook chamber to exceed the calculator numbers... that allows for some friction loss...   

The firebox intake calls for 60 Sq in. intake..  I would have that at grate level or lower.... that way the ash under the wood can fall out... burning a fire from the top is OK except the ash falls into the wood choking off the air....  then I would have a second air inlet above the fire to move the heat, when necessary, into the cook chamber..  doesn't have to be big, maybe 4 sq in....  You will not be able to open it until the cook chamber gets to temp and the stack gets hot and can draw from the cooker...  others have found the "above grate" inlet made their smokers 1000% better than the original design... better cook chamber temp control, less fuel usage...  Just passing on what they write me after changing their smoker design...

If you made a slide in ash pan that fit under the grate, you could put the intakes in the ash pan face...  or slide the ash pan in and out for air control....  might work... tricky to adjust... just thinking outside the box.... 

When you cut the arc for the opening to the cook chamber, the distance from the wall to the horizontal cut needs to be 8.25" to meet the calculator specs for good heat/air flow...

Sitting back and thinking about all the pieces and how they go together and what the outcome will be, will help you seeing the big picture....  1 hour of thought beats 5 hours of redo..  

I and others love builds and are willing to help in any way we can... We want you to have the best smoker in the neighborhood and make the best Q......     We don't want much do we...

Dave
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
194
12
Joined Dec 28, 2012
Aces, evening.... Using 5" sq tube w/ 0.125 wall I would make the stack 48" above the cook chamber to exceed the calculator numbers... that allows for some friction loss...   

The firebox intake calls for 60 Sq in. intake..  I would have that at grate level or lower.... that way the ash under the wood can fall out... burning a fire from the top is OK except the ash falls into the wood choking off the air....  then I would have a second air inlet above the fire to move the heat,

How far above the fire? How hard would it be to put a fan on a thermostat here? What I mean is, would the efficiency gain of having a fan offset the trouble and initial cost of installing a thermostat controlled fan to blow across the fire? ROI if you are familiar with that acronym. 

when necessary, into the cook chamber..  doesn't have to be big, maybe 4 sq in....  You will not be able to open it until the cook chamber gets to temp and the stack gets hot and can draw from the cooker...  others have found the "above grate" inlet made their smokers 1000% better than the original design... better cook chamber temp control, less fuel usage...  Just passing on what they write me after changing their smoker design...

If you made a slide in ash pan that fit under the grate, you could put the intakes in the ash pan face...  or slide the ash pan in and out for air control....  might work... tricky to adjust... just thinking outside the box.... 

When you cut the arc for the opening to the cook chamber, the distance from the wall to the horizontal cut needs to be 8.25" to meet the calculator specs for good heat/air flow...

Is this from the top center of the tank down?

Sitting back and thinking about all the pieces and how they go together and what the outcome will be, will help you seeing the big picture....  1 hour of thought beats 5 hours of redo..  

I and others love builds and are willing to help in any way we can... We want you to have the best smoker in the neighborhood and make the best Q......     We don't want much do we...

Dave
Wow! There is some good information in that post!  Thank you for the detailed information... very useful stuff
 

themule69

Epic Pitmaster
12,888
349
Joined Oct 7, 2012
aces.. may i suggest the handle for the fire box. add a piece of pipe to the right side. long enough to extend past the end of the fire box. so when you are getting the fire going, flames are shooting  up. you can close the lid without being in the fire. also for adding fuel, your face is not in the direct heat that will be rising....if you end up with a work are on the fire box end make sure the handle will not flip a plate or anything else that is on the work are off......building a smoker is a lot more work than most people think it is..... i know i said i'm not liking the fire box at grill height. i hope i'm wrong.......i hope this ends up being a great smoker for you.... keep the pics coming.


david
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
194
12
Joined Dec 28, 2012
About the extended handle. I am planning to put a stove door on the flat side of the fire box end. In other words, when looking at the smoker from the back, on that end you will see a stove door where I can put the wood in and build the fire. This end will also have a damper or two to control air intake.
 

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