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Oh no, my saggy grates!

Discussion in 'Fridge/Freezer Builds' started by thepackerbacker, Oct 28, 2013.

  1. Okay, so one of the most difficult things for me to source throughout my whole smoker build were the grates. I wasn't able to find a good "off the shelf" grate that would fit properly without it costing an arm and a leg...$80+ each.

    Stainless expanded metal was was to rich for my blood as well...so I settled for mild steel expanded metal. Based on the minimal amount of material needed and my lack of experience working metal I thought it easier to bid the job out, seems small and simple for a metal fab shop, just shear off some pieces to size and make a quick bend and be done with it. I bid the project out to several local companies sending them each the same set of plans/diagram for what I wanted. Prices ranged from $150-$450...for the same thing!

    I was then able to find a company over the internet willing to do this same project for $80 plus $30 shipping or $110 to my door. They too were a local metal fab shop, just not local to me. $40 doesn't seem like all that much money however it is when you think about the percent cost difference, about 36%. After numerous emails to this company who was very nice and easy to work with I decided to give it a go and placed an order for 3/4 x #9 mild steel expanded metal. 

    Below are some photos of what arrived. Everything was as described except for the pattern is running the wrong way. I specifically explained how these were going to be used and asked that they run the pattern so that the grates were strongest across the middle where they are unsupported. I went as far as to send them a photo of the smoker so they could also see where they would be placed. The way they are made up, the bends do nothing for support and if I lay the grates out supported on the other short edges they are actually way more rigid despite there being no bend and the unsupported distance much longer. 

    It seems pretty obvious that the pattern should have went the other way which is what I was expecting and that brings me to a problem. Do I kindly ask that they re-do the project running the pattern of the grates the other way? If so, am i expected to pay for this or do they re-do for no charge? Who pays for shipping? $30 to send these back, $30 to ship the new ones here again. Or am I nuts thinking I will get them to do anything? Is it my fault for not ordering local where I could have seen/shown them exactly how i wanted them made up?

    Or do I try to modify these grates to work somehow? Bring them to a local fab shop and have something welded to them trying to add support that way? Maybe ask for a partial refund and put that money towards part of the "repair" bill instead? I do not own a welder but at this point an almost thinking about buying a cheapy from Harbor Freight and learning to fix the darn things.

    I went the route of frameless based on the existing shelf supports on the sides, the grates fit well and there is no room for a frame around the grate unless I were to make them smaller. Maybe weld a flat piece of metal on the bent sides? Still wont add any support on the other side. One grate has 2 bends, was going to be my heavy duty Turkey/Ham, etc grate. 

    Please help!

  2. dewetha

    dewetha Smoking Fanatic

    i'm not sure the pattern matters. why not use weld a 1/6" or 1/8" by 2" flat steel frame around the inside perimeter of the expanded metal. it will support anything you want
  3. Hello thepackerbacker.  I was a fabricator for many years.  These are clearly not made the way you had in mind.  The problem you have is that if they were made your way, the bend might just go the other way; if you know what I mean.  I agree the pattern should have been reversed but it looks to me your problem for heavy food may have been the same.  The expanded metal is just too light without a support in my opinion.  You didn't get what you asked for so I would call and argue with the folks and see what you can get.  The quickest and cheapest fix now would be to take them to a fab shop and have them tack a 1/8" 1/4" x 1" flat bar edgeway left to right ( looking at the smoker ) across the centre ( front to back of smoker ) as a stiffener.  Form a "T" if you know what I mean.  This is always the problem unless you have more money than sense isn't it.  You try to save a few bucks and it winds up costing you even more in the long run.  You have my luck my friend.  If it wasn't for bad luck I would have no luck at all.  I always OVER build things.  If 1/4" will do the job fine I figure 1" will REALLY do the job.  [​IMG]   Sorry this turned out badly for you.  Hope all works out in the end.  Keep Smokin!

  4. bob1961

    bob1961 Smoking Fanatic

    in my plans i'm going with 1/8" think flattened expanded metal with 1/8" think 3/4" L channel for frame on grills....that should be stout enough for the size grates I need to fill 29" x 50" space....
  5.  Curious about your solution. Can You elaborate. Im a little confused what you mean. Run the flat bar across the middle front to back...but where would the "T" come in. And how do the dimensions play in? 1/8" 1/4" x 1" come into play. did you mean 1/8 to 1/4 thick by 1" wide?
  6. ldrus

    ldrus Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Cheapest fix is go to local hardware store (lowe's , Menards etc. ) get a short length of 1 inch angle iron cut to the length u need. And bolt them to the grates no welding required. Should be less then $10
  7. Hello.  WOW!  After rereading my explanation I can see where you got confused.  I think writing this stuff without picts is pretty tough.  I think Ikrus came up with a cheaper option.  I have looked closer at your drawing and I think I can explain better ( I hope I can ).  For orientation, your smoker is 17 7/8" W x 25 1/2" D, looking into your smoker.  1/8 "x 1" x 1" angle iron should do the trick.  You can go heavier but I don't think you will need to.  You have 2 options.  Buy angle iron.  Cut that angle iron 17 7/8" long and then bolt that angle iron under the existing angle iron rack supports, 12" back from the front of your smoker ( from the 1" 90 bend ).  That option means buying more angle iron.  Option 2 is to buy angle iron.  Cut it so that it fits between the existing rack supports.  Now bolt that angle iron directly to your racks 12." back from the front of your smoker ( from the 1" 90 bend ).  Each Rack has it's own support.   [​IMG]   I confused myself 3 times writing this but I hope my final draft makes sense to you.  If you have any questions please ask and if I can't explain better maybe I can find someone who can help us both.  Hope this helps.  GREAT idea @Ikrus.  Keep Smokin!

  8. driedstick

    driedstick Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  9. Hi there, I've tried this same material in my jerky smoker and had no luck. They worked great the first time but after that I started get black residue on the meat, oxidation I'm assuming..