New offset (Bell Fab) delivery tips, smoking tools, and tricks?

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nothingtoofancy

Newbie
Original poster
Feb 13, 2022
9
36
Hey SMFers,

After first speaking with Craig at Bell Fab back in October, I got a call from him a couple of weeks ago to go over the build (24"x48" patio with 4 wagon wheels, 3/8" thick all the way around) and late last week I got the word that he's done with construction and will be arranging shipping from OK to NJ soon. Having learned on a WSM for the last couple years, I'm excited to join the ranks of offset owners, and have to give special thanks to y'all at SMF for cluing me in to Bell Fabrications. I've passively absorbed so much information in the research phase by reading your posts from the last few years and am grateful for the depth of knowledge you all have shared. That all said, I still have a couple of questions that I hope you might be willing to chime in on. If you don't want to keep reading this diatribe, just keep scrollin' for a few pics of the build. Thanks in advance!
  1. For those of you who have received your smoker shipped terminal to terminal - what do you think the best way is for me to get this behemoth back to my house? I don't have a trailer/truck with a tow hitch, so I'd probably be looking to rent a truck from UHaul - would it be necessary to get one with a hydraulic lift gate, or would the ramp take the load? I'd be curious to know how others have gotten their smokers from the shipper to their house. It's all paved where I am so I wouldn't be dealing with any questionable terrain.

  2. For general offset smoker use and maintenance, I'd be looking to pick up a few tools, including a galvanized ash bucket, a maul or kindling cracker for cutting splits down to size, and some kind of shovel/ash rake to move coals around and get ashes out of the dump. Anything else you've found particularly handy to have around? I've already got tongs, gloves, probes, and stuff you would imagine having around running a WSM, so I'm trying to think of anything I might want that would be specific for running an offset.
As promised, here are a few pics of the build - can't wait to get it to the house, get it seasoned and get it fired up for smoking:

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A truck with a lift gate will be easier to get it off than a ramp. That looks like a heavy beast and you don’t want to loose control going down a ramp. A lift gate and chock the wheels I think would be your better option. Check into Enterprise or Penske if they can get you a truck. Might want to check into renting a pallet jack to help if it’s being shipped on a pallet.
 
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Congrats. I love my bell fab and you will too. Mine is 30x48 and weighs 1000lbs. Yours will be slightly lighter but not by much. If you go with a ramp you will need a winch. I use a manual one to get it on a trailer. Otherwise you will likely be crushed by your smoker. If that's not an option then definitely go with ramp. Have some men at your house to help you. Even on flat ground and with the 4 wheels and T-handle I can only move mine in a straight line when moving it alone.
 
Congrats. I love my bell fab and you will too. Mine is 30x48 and weighs 1000lbs. Yours will be slightly lighter but not by much. If you go with a ramp you will need a winch. I use a manual one to get it on a trailer. Otherwise you will likely be crushed by your smoker. If that's not an option then definitely go with ramp. Have some men at your house to help you. Even on flat ground and with the 4 wheels and T-handle I can only move mine in a straight line when moving it alone.
Excellent, thanks for the reply. I talked to Craig today, and he said that at the destination terminal they should be able to forklift the pallet it's on onto whatever vehicle I'm picking it up in. I'll probably end up getting a truck with a lift gate, leaving it on the pallet until we get to the house so it's not rolling around in the truck, then cut it off the pallet to offload it once we get home.

I've read some nightmare stories about smokers arriving damaged after being shipped LTL, so I have my fingers crossed pretty tightly at the moment. I'll be much more at ease once the cooker is sitting safely in the driveway behind my house.
 
I would leave it on the pallet until the lift gate is on the ground (you will need a pallet jack) otherwise I would "C" clamp a 2x4 on the front edge of the lift gate as they always go down on an angle. We had a section of a $40,000 paper folding machine take a header off the lift gate one time, The manufacturer was not happy with his driver that day.
 
Nothing to add on delivery. Mine is 24x48 also, about 750 pounds. I only have the 2 wheels. Frankly, having the 4 seems to me it would make it awkward to roll, but I'm sure you will do just fine. You may end up, because of the T-bar leverage, just lifting and rolling on the 2 wheels near the firebox, anyway.

Initial burn in is clean it real good, rub down or spray with linseed, grape, canola, whatever kind of oil you like, or Pam or similar cooking spray and get a hot, 400° in the cook chamber fire going for a few hours or so to season it. Craig should explain this to you and give you the low down.

I have tried tuning plates, and TNJAKE TNJAKE has them and I think has his dialed in. Now, this will be blasphemy to many, but Craig himself told me he does not use tuning plates. He will probably tell you all of this, but he cracks the damper and the ash dump a few inches or so and uses the stack cover to help regulate temp.

I have used hickory but am getting my first load of red oak Thursday as well as more hickory and will use a combination of the two.

Also, get Craig to show you the easiest way to remove the grates. Sounds elementary, but there is sort of a trick to getting them in and out that he can explain best. I have found his service after the sale to be really good. Last year I broke the handle on my firebox and he fabricated something for it and sent it to me no charge, and it worked.

Good luck, it's a great pit and a not quite as big of a secret anymore.
 
Got any big trees in your yard? A couple "come-a-longs" and web straps would lift it off of a truck pretty easily.

You could also ask a local auto wrecker service if they would come by and help you out.
 
I would leave it on the pallet until the lift gate is on the ground (you will need a pallet jack) otherwise I would "C" clamp a 2x4 on the front edge of the lift gate as they always go down on an angle. We had a section of a $40,000 paper folding machine take a header off the lift gate one time, The manufacturer was not happy with his driver that day.
That's good advice and something I definitely hadn't considered. Thank you!

I have tried tuning plates, and TNJAKE TNJAKE has them and I think has his dialed in. Now, this will be blasphemy to many, but Craig himself told me he does not use tuning plates. He will probably tell you all of this, but he cracks the damper and the ash dump a few inches or so and uses the stack cover to help regulate temp.
Interesting - I've seen you mention this in previous posts and he did mention this in an earlier call I had with him. I opted to not get tuning plates or any other major modifications because I figured Craig knows a little bit more than I do about his own pits, and I have seen others attempt to get him to build something quite different from his design and be less than thrilled with the result. I would rather learn how to run a good pit the way it's been proven to run well (even if it goes against gospel) than start tinkering with a design I know next to nothing about.

Also, get Craig to show you the easiest way to remove the grates. Sounds elementary, but there is sort of a trick to getting them in and out that he can explain best. I have found his service after the sale to be really good. Last year I broke the handle on my firebox and he fabricated something for it and sent it to me no charge, and it worked.

Good luck, it's a great pit and a not quite as big of a secret anymore.
Sadly, I won't be meeting Craig in person, but I will be sure to ask him for the trick if I encounter any difficulty. I'm glad to hear he is so service oriented, that definitely gives me more confidence in the purchase. Thanks again for the lengthy response.
 
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I flew in to Tulsa and rented a Ryder truck. This was in November 2020. Should heave rented a U-Haul since they have much lower ramps. Anyway, the wheelbase was literally inches too wide. Craig loaded her up on his flatbed trailer and used a few steel sheets on the ramp and we got it inside.

Back home, I went to Home Depot and grabbed some scraps of plywood and 3 neighbors helped brace the pit as I rolled it down. Here you can see it inside the truck and the setup I used at home.

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IMG_8140.JPG
 
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That's good advice and something I definitely hadn't considered. Thank you!


Interesting - I've seen you mention this in previous posts and he did mention this in an earlier call I had with him. I opted to not get tuning plates or any other major modifications because I figured Craig knows a little bit more than I do about his own pits, and I have seen others attempt to get him to build something quite different from his design and be less than thrilled with the result. I would rather learn how to run a good pit the way it's been proven to run well (even if it goes against gospel) than start tinkering with a design I know next to nothing about.


Sadly, I won't be meeting Craig in person, but I will be sure to ask him for the trick if I encounter any difficulty. I'm glad to hear he is so service oriented, that definitely gives me more confidence in the purchase. Thanks again for the lengthy response.
Yeah, I think, even though I bought a much better quality pit that should be easier to run than my old cheap Char Broil, I started over thinking this pit.

I guess it isn't that much of a trick, but just thought I would mention it. Enjoy!
 
I would leave it on the pallet until the lift gate is on the ground (you will need a pallet jack) otherwise I would "C" clamp a 2x4 on the front edge of the lift gate as they always go down on an angle. We had a section of a $40,000 paper folding machine take a header off the lift gate one time, The manufacturer was not happy with his driver that day.
Been there done that… Cept was a multi million dollar microscope. Lucky they blamed the installer for not helping.
 
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Congrats on the new smoker! Can't wait to see you put it to use. I'm guessing when it's time to unload it would be a bad time to hear... hold my beer and watch this sh--! :emoji_blush:

Ryan
 
Nothing to add on delivery. Mine is 24x48 also, about 750 pounds. I only have the 2 wheels. Frankly, having the 4 seems to me it would make it awkward to roll, but I'm sure you will do just fine. You may end up, because of the T-bar leverage, just lifting and rolling on the 2 wheels near the firebox, anyway.

Initial burn in is clean it real good, rub down or spray with linseed, grape, canola, whatever kind of oil you like, or Pam or similar cooking spray and get a hot, 400° in the cook chamber fire going for a few hours or so to season it. Craig should explain this to you and give you the low down.

I have tried tuning plates, and TNJAKE TNJAKE has them and I think has his dialed in. Now, this will be blasphemy to many, but Craig himself told me he does not use tuning plates. He will probably tell you all of this, but he cracks the damper and the ash dump a few inches or so and uses the stack cover to help regulate temp.

I have used hickory but am getting my first load of red oak Thursday as well as more hickory and will use a combination of the two.

Also, get Craig to show you the easiest way to remove the grates. Sounds elementary, but there is sort of a trick to getting them in and out that he can explain best. I have found his service after the sale to be really good. Last year I broke the handle on my firebox and he fabricated something for it and sent it to me no charge, and it worked.

Good luck, it's a great pit and a not quite as big of a secret anymore.
I have talked to Craig about removing bottom cooking grate and still cannot get it out. Do you have any tricks? Thanks
 
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