Franklin backyard smoker build

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I went for 250 for quite a while and then upped it to 275 :) Had to pull them a bit sooner than I wanted as it was getting down to 40*f outside and everyone was getting tired lol. Can't rush BBQ though! They still turned out pretty good. Great clean smoke flavor. I learned a lot and have quite a few things I'll do different next cook.

Also a lady at the makerspace joined us and threw a mackerel on for fun - that turned out REALLY delicious and only took maybe an hour.
Maaaannnn…… 100% Smoke Ring on those ribs!!! Ya done Good!!! Congratulations again- You Have to be Proud!! 😁👍👍
Hey man I know this is an older post but was wondering if you can add dimensions to your 3d picture, I am wanting to attempt this build and I really like the exact dimensions of your pit and don't want to be guessing. If possible really appreciated
I’ve started work on a fairly close copy of Aaron Franklin’s backyard smoker. I came to appreciate Franklin’s emphasis on clean smoke through good airflow and fire management after my own frustration trying to smoke on a weber kettle and not getting the results I’ve come to know growing up with BBQ in Texas. I would have loved to order one of his pits, but since there’s what seems to be a multi-year wait list I started planning out my own build.

I work a day job as a 3D modeler / artist and love building things, so even though parts of this big project are a bit out of my comfort zone, I think it’ll be really fun and rewarding if I pull it off.

I joined my local makerspace for access to their metal shop and have been sourcing everything for a couple months. Here’s some info on what I’ve picked up so far :
  • Drove a few hours from Utah to Wyoming to get some rusty 20” x ¼” pipes in a field for $250 (way cheaper than the $1700+ cost to roll some steel locally! Steel prices are nuts right now). More than enough for my 40” cook chamber and 22” fire box. I cut and had a local shop roll one of the fire box pipes down to 18” ID for the inner fire box sleeve as semi-insulation.
  • Had a 20” elliptical head with a 2" straight flange made in Fort Worth, TX - $300 shipped. Cook chamber total length will be 47"
  • Got some 5” steel and cast iron casters from casterconnection that look identical to what I see on Franklin’s prototypes - $100
  • Four 2’x 2’ x ⅜” surplus steel plates for end caps and hinge plates - $240
  • -4.5” smoke stack pipe from scrap for - $8
  • -10ft of 2 3/8” pipe for legs. I think about - $90
  • -A couple ¾” #9 flattened expanded steel grates - $30?
  • A Tel-true 4" stem thermometer - $50

I still need a little bit of ¼” plate, some angle iron, some ½” round bar, some square bar etc. Not much left really. Looks like it’ll be just a bit over $1000 in material. I’ve seen Franklin’s costs about $4k after shipping so if I can make mine of remotely comparable quality, I’ll make out pretty good!

Random fun build clip where I strapped a grinder with a brush wheel to a dowel to get the chunkier rust out of the inside of the pipes. Let the oscillation do most of the work for me.

I've almost finished a 3D model of the smoker after many hours of grabbing screenshots and matching them to my 3D model as well as using known measurements to measure other parts. Really tedious! I still need to finish up the hinges some and triple check a few things but I think I'm close.

I've got a few questions I'll post soon and I'll keep ya'll up to date on the build!
would you be able to share the dimensions of this build? I'm currently trying to also attempt this as a first timer. I have some buddies that offered to help me as i'm a first timer with 0 welding experience but they both have built offsets in the past.
Can you share details on the elliptical head? You mentioned you had a shop fabricate it. What did you need to supply them in terms of drawings or specs to get it made?
Can you share details on the elliptical head? You mentioned you had a shop fabricate it. What did you need to supply them in terms of drawings or specs to get it made?

I asked for :

"Looking for a carbon steel elliptical head for a smoker I'm building. Doesn't need to hold pressure if that matters.

2 : 1 Elliptical Head - 20" OD, 1/4" thick, straight flange 2"

Ordered mid-2021, 5 weeks fab time, $220 + $80 ups + tax = $335

Contact I used -

Brent McKnight
[email protected]
Fort Worth F&D Head Co.

817-236-8773 Office
817-236-1061 Fax
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Sweet build! Im impressed!
Thanks! I made a couple recent mods. After seeing MadScientistBBQ point out his new preferred deflector plate that directs heat up immediately and shields meat from the radiant heat, I took out the water pan shelf and put a deflector in. Haven't cooked with it yet but we'll see. Maybe I'll get some usable cooking space back.

Also started using some firebricks last year on the floor of the firebox and they made a massive difference in an easier to maintain fire, so I cut out some steel plates to put on them for better protection. Working great.


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Very nice fabrication! It will be an amazing tool for a lifetime. My wife and I went down to Texas last year and I spent a bunch of time looking at his early smoker!
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