Inherited Smoker help

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

NSSeager

Newbie
Original poster
May 12, 2023
11
10
Howdy!

I have inherited(see: first one that wanted) a smoker from a friend of a family member. Her husband passed a couple years back and is now working on going through his stuff and getting rid of it. One of those was this smoker(pictures attached). I told her I'd take it sight unseen. My small propane smoker had just bit the dust and I was expecting something similar. I. Was. Wrong. This is what he used to take to football games and tailgate with.

I'm currently working on cleaning and fixing it up. Outside and electrical I have no problem with. The issue lies in heating this behemoth. It is 4 foot across and roughly 4 feet tall. In other words, I'm going from smoking in about 5 cubic feet to this being over 50 cubic feet of space to heat up.

I honestly have no idea how he ran it. I do know that there was at least propane piped into the burner in the middle. My question is, do y'all honestly think he went solely propane for heat with wood chunks? Did he use the propane burner to light wood and use that? I'm stupid when it comes to propane, and know I will at least have to replace the pipe to the burner as it's rusted out at this point, but don't know if that's the best option.

I'm no purist. It doesn't matter to me the method of how it gets up and running. I will be using it at work events(work for a non profit in the recovery community - no commercial stuff), my family(live on a family farm), and/or for hunting trips. It will not be a competition smoker. I do not need the "best" method, but what would be the easiest for me to fix and use.

Thank you for the advice!

**EDIT/UPDATE**

First off, thank you everyone who has commented, asked more questions, pictures, brained through this to try and figure it out with me. This forum is amazing and has quickly turned into my...porcelain magazine, if you will.

I have figured it out and wasn't going to leave y'all hanging!

I had resigned to the fact that I was just going to cut out the propane burner and run it off of splits, piling them up in the middle, figuring out how much/how long/how hot it was going to burn with a couple test runs before I threw in any meat. However, once I did so, I had a thought to just try the tray again, to see if it slid better w/o running into the burner. Alas, I was able to get it all the way out!

That, in tandem with talking to one of his buddies that tailgated with him, allowed me to figure out how it was ran. It turns out, the propane burner was actually the second iteration of this smoker. It originally just ran off of charcoal/wood using this tray. Can slide it out, light, slide in, and if ever needed more fuel just slide it out and back in again without ever opening the doors to the meat. This, however, didn't work when he started to tailgate with it, as he had to worry about the embers before heading into the game. That is where the propane burner was added. In talking to one of his buddies, I learned he would bring two 100 gallon propane tanks with him. Indeed, he was running the whole thing off of propane. Convenient for the game? Sure. Cheap and practical for my uses? Negative.

I've been able to give it a little TLC on the inside, fix up the L Beams the tray slides on, paint up the outside with some high temp paint, and ready to fire it up tomorrow for a test run. Looking forward to seeing how this turns out and try out the recipes/ideas that are fabulous all over this forum!

1684458965740.png
 

Attachments

  • 20230512_170738.jpg
    20230512_170738.jpg
    258.1 KB · Views: 124
  • 20230512_170733.jpg
    20230512_170733.jpg
    151 KB · Views: 116
  • 20230512_170711.jpg
    20230512_170711.jpg
    283.2 KB · Views: 118
  • 20230512_170755.jpg
    20230512_170755.jpg
    296.9 KB · Views: 129
  • 1684457461692.png
    1684457461692.png
    26.9 KB · Views: 27
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: JLeonard
I’d say he likely burned splits in there lit by the propane, but what is the electric motor contraption on top?
 
I've never seen another like it, so not sure how he ran it. Following along because it's definitely an interesting setup.
 
  • Like
Reactions: babydocsmoke
This is a wild cooker and does look interesting. At first look we're talking propane, electric, and possibly hardwood.

So, there are tail lights in one photo... is this a trailer? I see intake vents, so I'm wondering if the propane is to light hardwood for a bed of coals, or if the vents are to provide a proper gas/air ratio? And does the motor (with drive belt) connect to a gear box that may turn a vertical rotisserie of sorts?
 
This is a wild cooker and does look interesting. At first look we're talking propane, electric, and possibly hardwood.

So, there are tail lights in one photo... is this a trailer? I see intake vents, so I'm wondering if the propane is to light hardwood for a bed of coals, or if the vents are to provide a proper gas/air ratio? And does the motor (with drive belt) connect to a gear box that may turn a vertical rotisserie of sorts?
It is wild for sure.

It is trailer mounted. Welded to the frame for towing as all one unit.

Not sure for the intake exactly what he did but has to be one of them. With as large as it is would lead me to believe for wood, but as I'm cleaning this out I have more rust chips to clean rather than evidence of a coal bed.

The motor goes to a rotisserie style wheel in the top of the smoker. Was he using during smoking or just to get more meat in and used it to rotate around as he was loading it up, I don't know, but will have more pictures tomorrow for it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: JLeonard and DougE
Can we get some more inside pics? This looks interesting.
Sorry for the delay. Something, something, Mother's Day weekend(trying to get "my" projects done ;) )

Pictures attached. A better look at the inside, the different metal grates that are in there, the burner itself, as well as the wheel in the top which is rotated by the motor and drive belt on top.
 

Attachments

  • 20230513_181334.jpg
    20230513_181334.jpg
    172.4 KB · Views: 82
  • 20230513_181354.jpg
    20230513_181354.jpg
    278.8 KB · Views: 79
  • 20230513_181326.jpg
    20230513_181326.jpg
    203.9 KB · Views: 85
  • Like
Reactions: bigfurmn
I can't imagine that trailer exceeding 15 mph but the lights prove it was meant to go on public roads...was there a stadium near by? But the propane was to get the splits going and the vertical rotisserie was used at home or when close to shore power. You'll have it going again in a weekend.
 
I can't imagine that trailer exceeding 15 mph but the lights prove it was meant to go on public roads...was there a stadium near by? But the propane was to get the splits going and the vertical rotisserie was used at home or when close to shore power. You'll have it going again in a weekend.
Yeah, he lived not too far from Ross Aide(Purdue University) and would head there on most home games. The company he worked for would have a tent set up in the parking lot with multiple employees and he would smoke to tailgate. Would have a generator for power as well. The lines were cut to the taillights, however, as I'm 99% sure he just used the wheels to aid in getting it on another trailer to pull for the last few years.

Getting the propane to start splits makes sense, my concern is when I need to add more fuel. I've never used splits/chunks not in an offset box. Would it not lose too much heat/fluctuate the temperature with me opening the doors to add more?
 
Do you know any of his buddies that he tailgated with? Maybe his wife knows some of his tricks. They might give you a clue how it was used. I wonder if it was 100% propane and chunks. If primary use was football, may need instant on/off of propane. No worries about coals burning while inside stadium. Lot of room for hanging sausages, ribs and maybe some jerky racks.
 
This is more a drum smoker (UDS or WSM) than an offset---you over-fuel it, start just the middle, and let the fire spread out with time. Like the door on a firebox, little vents at the bottom control the rate your fuel is burned and hence your cook temperature. After a fuel cooks, you have the process dialed in. The doors would still allow some moderate interaction if things didn't quite go to plan. (The doors aren't large enough to allow a full size circular grate or fire shield to be added.)

I'm guessing he specialized in ribs (noting the absence of any grills/grates in your pics) hung off that carousel at the top. I suspect he could get 15-18 racks in there. He'd probably re-hang them upside down halfway through the total cook to average out top-to-bottom cooker temp gradients. (The rotational vertical rotisserie ensured any planar gradients averaged out.) You could ask the widow if he left a bunch of hooks behind, although he might have just bent them as needed from a spool of baling wire or old metal coathangers.
 
a somewhat off-topic comment...I'll bet he was a well-loved member of that campus community. I can imagine he did this for many years. I'll bet if you took the unit to the next game with a large photo of him hanging off it, a lot of alumni would come up and tell you a lot more about him and this cooker than even his wife could.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SmokeRing0909
a somewhat off-topic comment...I'll bet he was a well-loved member of that campus community. I can imagine he did this for many years. I'll bet if you took the unit to the next game with a large photo of him hanging off it, a lot of alumni would come up and tell you a lot more about him and this cooker than even his wife could.
No doubt. I coached football with one of his coworkers. He and I are planning on taking it to some games this year.
 
SmokingMeatForums.com is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Latest posts

Hot Threads

Clicky