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First Big Smoker Build. Advice welcomed!

themule69

Epic Pitmaster
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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
aces  i misspelled work area twice in the the same post put are instead of area....i'm thinking Q not spelling....i love Q.....also something to think about is a jack on both back corners of the trailer...so when you hit the road to smoke or grill you can level the trailer. if you are using foil pans or foil wrapped meat. the juices won't run to one side.......and more important, if people sit on it, or climb up to get fuel or something out of a cooler. it doesn't raise the front up.....i saw a trailer with turkey fryers raise up from someone climbing on it. 4 people  went by air to the burn unit (jacks are cheap)

david
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
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Joined Dec 28, 2012
I have thought about this,(not the flipping boiling oil on people part) and I am wondering if one jack centered in the back is enough for this trailer? This is a 15-16' jon boat trailer and the weight is pretty heavily distributed to the front. I would definitely want the fold-away style. It seems easier and faster to put away when I'm ready to leave. What do you think? This trailer is 44" wide frame to frame. 
 

themule69

Epic Pitmaster
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Joined Oct 7, 2012
I have thought about this,(not the flipping boiling oil on people part) and I am wondering if one jack centered in the back is enough for this trailer? This is a 15-16' jon boat trailer and the weight is pretty heavily distributed to the front. I would definitely want the fold-away style. It seems easier and faster to put away when I'm ready to leave. What do you think? This trailer is 44" wide frame to frame. 
i would do two, one on each corner. harbor freight has them fold away for about 20.00 . the last build i did i put the jacks on first thing so i could level the trailer for the build. i was building outside. the jacks made it to where i could use a level. to get everything streight.
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
194
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Joined Dec 28, 2012
Yeah, It would be worth it to have two. I plan to do some more work on it tomorrow. I will be sure to take plenty of pictures and update the build thread. 
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
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Joined Dec 28, 2012
Does anyone have any ideas of how to make a rack that can be adjusted height ways? The part of this smoker that is the firebox will also be used as a grill and I want that rack to be adjustable height. Thank you!
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
194
12
Joined Dec 28, 2012
I got a little done on the smoker today. I finished cutting the doors out, put strapping inside 2/3 of the doors, put "stoppers" on the hinges, started on the exhaust box, and I got 2/3 of the racks in. 

Here are some pictures to better explain my progress.

The doors all cut out 


Here you can see the doors all open to the same angle because of the "stoppers" I made.


Here is a close up of one of the stoppers with the door open against it.


Here is a view of the stoppers on the top half of the hinges.


From the other end.


A close up of one of the stoppers.


The straps inside the doors and the 2 racks.


The start of the exhaust box held up to the end of the tank.


Isometric view of the exhaust box. The exhaust pipe will be on top of this.

 

themule69

Epic Pitmaster
12,888
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Joined Oct 7, 2012
I got a little done on the smoker today. I finished cutting the doors out, put strapping inside 2/3 of the doors, put "stoppers" on the hinges, started on the exhaust box, and I got 2/3 of the racks in. 

Here are some pictures to better explain my progress.

The doors all cut out 


Here you can see the doors all open to the same angle because of the "stoppers" I made.


Here is a close up of one of the stoppers with the door open against it.


Here is a view of the stoppers on the top half of the hinges.


From the other end.


A close up of one of the stoppers.


The straps inside the doors and the 2 racks.


The start of the exhaust box held up to the end of the tank.


Isometric view of the exhaust box. The exhaust pipe will be on top of this.

looking good...i like to see the welds ground flat like the last pic...i hear welders say i want you to see my weld. i prefer ground flat for looks...if i was welding for a living, the just chip...but for a grill..that's just that extra that not many people will know that they noticed... but it's like shaved door handles on a hot rod... you know you spent the extra time and it's there.........keep the pics coming. when you get a chance to weld.....

  as far as racks... i don't know how to make them adjustable.. other than several  slides to slide them in........the grills that most parks have you can adjust.... but you are using a pipe which if you move the grate it won't be the right size for the pipe..,..you can do  2 or 3 grates in each door. take out what you are not using.....if the fire box is the only place you are doing a fire. it shouldn't have to raise or lower.............

  again my .02
 

themule69

Epic Pitmaster
12,888
349
Joined Oct 7, 2012
I got a little done on the smoker today. I finished cutting the doors out, put strapping inside 2/3 of the doors, put "stoppers" on the hinges, started on the exhaust box, and I got 2/3 of the racks in. 

Here are some pictures to better explain my progress.

The doors all cut out 


Here you can see the doors all open to the same angle because of the "stoppers" I made.


Here is a close up of one of the stoppers with the door open against it.


Here is a view of the stoppers on the top half of the hinges.


From the other end.


A close up of one of the stoppers.


The straps inside the doors and the 2 racks.


The start of the exhaust box held up to the end of the tank.


Isometric view of the exhaust box. The exhaust pipe will be on top of this.

put an extra weld pass on the door stop...that is a weak point for a big door.

  now am i up to .03?
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
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Joined Dec 28, 2012
Thank you for the comment about the welds. I agree, I think the little details is what makes something like this look better than the rest. If it doesn't look like it was welded, that makes it look better. On the other hand, if I were making a structural weld that didn't need to be cosmetically pleasing, then yes I would leave it alone and be proud of my weld, but here it needs to look good as well as be strong.

As far as the adjustable rack goes, I need it to be adjustable only in the fire box side. Just like the grills at parks, I want to be able to adjust how close the meat is to the flame. That is the reason for the need of adjustability. I just haven't came up with any ideas yet that allows for the rack to be adjustable and removable.  
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
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Joined Dec 28, 2012
The door stops actually are welded on both sides, it's just hard to see from those pictures. And yes you are up to .03 but that's good. I need all the extra eyes and advice I can get.
 

daveomak

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How far above the fire? How hard would it be to put a fan on a thermostat here?  What temp zone would the thermostat be linked to ?? If you had a fan on an adj. speed controller, that would be a killer idea...  I would have it about 4-6" below the top of the FB so air shot directly into the cooking chamber and not screw up the BBQ grate heat flow.... 

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.  The fire has plenty of BTU's and heat is lost in the FB... Moving the heat through to the CC is where efficiency is gained...  

Getting the heat of the fire box, through to the CC and out the stack, is the big problem..... If the fire box and CC are not air tight, efficiency is lost from the natural convection/draw of the stack.... without a perfectly air tight system, the FB just heats up and nothing else....  Sealing up the system to absolutely air tight, and getting the heat to move, is where the ROI will be seen...   A little help from a fan at the top of the FB to help direct that heat would be a major deal...  The FB will be at about 600-700 degrees and using some of that heat to get the CC up to 225 ish would be a good thing....

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?  Yes, in an upside down "smile" shape..  The opening can be larger also.... That is the minimum size opening...   

About the shelf in the FB for the BBQ grate...   I thought I read where the 3rd shelf you bought was smaller.... I couldn't find that dimension...   Cantilever braces in the back of the FB, to hold up the cooking grate, might work...  I'm not sure you will need an adjustable shelf... The FB is going to be screaming hot while smoking...   6-700 deg or higher....  

As a side note... Anything you put inside the FB will restrict the air/heat flow to the CC...

Dave
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
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Joined Dec 28, 2012
First of all thank you for the input Dave. Now as far as the adjustable shelf goes, chances are that I will not be cooking in the FB while smoking. Cause like you said it will be extremely hot in there. So I want to be able to adjust the shelf so that when I am only grilling I can move the shelf closer to the fire or further away to regulate how it cooks. I also want it to be removable so that it isn't always exposed to the flame. Also, I think you were asking the size of the FB BBQ shelf. It is a 24 X 24" square. I wanted it smaller so it could move up and down in the FB without binding. Please elaborate on this cantilever system. I am not familiar with that.

For the fan idea, I had originally thought about putting the fan on the outside of the FB blowing across the top of the fire and into the CC. I was planning on putting the thermostat in the CC probably in the center. This way when it gets below 200 or so the fan would kick on.

I have seen a smoker with this kind of setup with the fan and thermostat, but it works backwards to what you would naturally think it should. When the temp gets to hot, it turns on and blows across the fire which evidently makes the flame smaller. When it gets down to the temp it is set on the fan turns off. This just doesn't seem right to me. What do ya'll think?

Another question I have is what kind of fans can withstand the temperatures that the FB reach? I originally thought about an electric fan used for vehicles. These are the fans that go on the radiator and they are used to save space and free up HP. The problem is that I don't think a radiator gets as hot as the FB will. If a car's thermostat is 190 degrees, I can only assume that the radiator would get to 300 degrees at the hottest. The FB will be hotter than this and may damage the fan. Any ideas about which fan to use? And can I use a universal thermostat with any fan?

I appreciate any input. And I appreciate anyone that can read my rather lengthy posts.  
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
194
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Joined Dec 28, 2012
I am thinking about putting a sink on the back of the trailer as well. I have already planned to make the back of the trailer floored so I can haul wood with me. Above that. half will be a work area/counter. Now the question is, should I put a sink on the other half to help prepare the meat? Would it be useful or in the way. I would run a pipe that would come out from under the trailer that I could hook a garden hose up to for water supply. I have seen sinks on smoking rigs, but I wonder how useful they actually are? 
 

daveomak

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For the fan idea, I had originally thought about putting the fan on the outside of the FB blowing across the top of the fire and into the CC.

That is what I thought, and I thought it would work well....  If the fan is on a constant speed, adjust the air to the fire to heat it up a little.... The two controls will work together..  I was thinking a fan like a hair dryer into a 2" pipe type thing.... maybe 3 speed hair dryer or fan speed controller.... Of course a hair dryer wouldn't stand the radiant heat from the FB but that is just an example...   

The fan is only necessary because of the elevation of the exhaust stack inlet and it is a down draft smoker.....

 

bruno994

Master of the Pit
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Joined Dec 19, 2011
I am thinking about putting a sink on the back of the trailer as well. I have already planned to make the back of the trailer floored so I can haul wood with me. Above that. half will be a work area/counter. Now the question is, should I put a sink on the other half to help prepare the meat? Would it be useful or in the way. I would run a pipe that would come out from under the trailer that I could hook a garden hose up to for water supply. I have seen sinks on smoking rigs, but I wonder how useful they actually are? 
If your planning on cooking on the road, comps, family get togethers, festivals, etc, a sink will come in quite handy.  I use mine more for washing hands and knives than anything else.  As far as meat prep, I do all of it in foil pans or on butcher paper so I can just throw them away, wash my hands and be done.  If your going to be doing most of or all your cooking at home, it probably won't be used as much, but it's still a nice addition.  At my last comp, I had as many people compliment me about the sink and water setup as I did the actual pit!  I have mine setup 2 ways, I can feed it with a garden hose if I am somewhere with water or I can feed it off my fresh water tank with a 2.9 GPM 12 volt RV water pump.  The grey water tank under the sink is a 21 gallon, the fresh water is 16 gallons, it's on the other side.  I have room for a larger sink that would allow me to fit larger things in, but for now the 15" square one works just fine ($99 at Home Depot with faucet and strainer included).



Your build is shaping up nicely.
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
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Joined Dec 28, 2012
Dave, I like the idea of the hair dryer just because it is making me consider other than ordinary fan types. But like you said, the hair dryer wouldn't hold up to the heat from the FB. Also, I have in the back of my mind a fan that will run off of the trucks charging system (battery) so that if I am off somewhere, I can still use the fan. Maybe some of you onlookers can come up with a fan idea that is large enough to move heat through this setup (I do not know how powerful it needs to be), withstand Fire Box heat (I do not know how hot that is), and run off of a 12 volt system without draining it completely. I really am enjoying all the ideas and comments on here. It is making me think about many scenarios before acting on one.
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
194
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Joined Dec 28, 2012
Bruno, I like the sink on your rig. I like how you have tanks to carry your own water. I think I will probably get a small sink like this, just because I do not know what my future with this rig will be. I may compete, or I may take it to a family event, but either way I want to be prepared. What do you power your water pump from? Do you have it wired to a car battery? By the way I am keeping my eyes peeled on craigslist for a used sink, there are 2 bay stainless sinks for ~$20, compared to ~$80 at Lowes. Thank you for the pics of your setup, it cleared the mud up.
 

daveomak

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Aces, evening..... Check the rules to events before you start.... some places you need 3 sinks, one of them a certain distance from the others for washing hands... grey water tank and hot water etc...   don't want to see you build it twice...   Dave
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
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Joined Dec 28, 2012
Really? What if I have no sinks? Is that also against the rules? How does one get involved in BBQ competitions? Most of the ones I have seen are invitation only. Thanks for the heads up.
 

smokin-aces

Meat Mopper
194
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Joined Dec 28, 2012
For the fan idea, I had originally thought about putting the fan on the outside of the FB blowing across the top of the fire and into the CC.

That is what I thought, and I thought it would work well....  If the fan is on a constant speed, adjust the air to the fire to heat it up a little.... The two controls will work together..  I was thinking a fan like a hair dryer into a 2" pipe type thing.... maybe 3 speed hair dryer or fan speed controller.... Of course a hair dryer wouldn't stand the radiant heat from the FB but that is just an example...   

The fan is only necessary because of the elevation of the exhaust stack inlet and it is a down draft smoker.....

Could you explain the drawing a little? I'm not sure What you mean at the top of the drawing. Also how did you come up with 25" on the closest side of the tank? What are the rectangles inside the tank? Thank you.
 

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