Old Mini Fridge into an A-Maze-N Cold Smoker!

Discussion in 'Info and Practices' started by pops6927, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    As luck would have it, my 1.7 cu.ft. little cube fridge at work conked out; it was by Haier, a semi-conductor fridge (no compressor, semi-conductor hot/cold technology).  It was 3+ years old and used at work constantly so it's time had come; for Father's day I asked for gift cards so I could go buy a new fridge, this time a GE 4.5 cu. ft. floor model that holds much more, and is compressor driven (but Energy Star compliant!).

    So... what to do with the little one?  A perfect cold smoker for a cold smoking device that generates little heat - the A-Maze-En smoking unit (patent pending)!   Sure, it's all plastic inside, but.. with little heat it should be little bother!   I wrote to Todd Johnson and asked his opinion and he said, "Sure! Go For It!" so here's what I came up with:

    The Unit:

    [​IMG]

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    Removed the semiconductor and fan plus the electronic board.  If you look from the inside, you see a supplementary fan inside the body.  It is moot if i cover up the hole, so I cut a piece of plywood and sealed it with caulking and screwed it down, plus put a little caulk on the drain hole to seal that.  Those were the only holes going into the inner chamber.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Got to fix dinner, will be back with more of the build!
     
  2. jak757

    jak757 Smoking Fanatic Group Lead

    Great idea Pops!  I love my AMS, and have been thinking of building a small smoke house/box.  This gives me some new ideas!

    Looking forward to seeing the finished unit.
     
  3. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Great idea I look forward to more pics
     
  4. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great Project Pops!!!

    What are you gonna use for vents?

    I can see Craigslist is gonna be busy tonight!!!

    Todd
     
  5. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks!

    Well, I've got the box sealed now with no holes to the outside.  Now to make an adjustable intake port and a smokestack out.  I went to Home Depot and they had cut pieces of PVC, 2' of 1" dia.  I got one piece of that, a couple 1" couplers, and a 1" right angle (one end was threaded but it didn't matter).  I also got an in-line valve, too. 

    I used a 1½" bimetal holesaw and sawed a hole in the right middle of the top:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    That's for the smokestack.

    Now, on the side, I drilled the same size hole for the intake.  I also drilled through the shelf in the door too, didn't mean to do that but it won't have any affect on it; I widened it with a coping saw.[​IMG]

    not going to use the space on the door for anything anyways, and I can cover up the exposed hole with some duct tape (of course!).[​IMG]

    Then, I cut off a small piece of pipe after dry-fitting it into the valve:

    I took one of the couplers and sawed off one end before the divider inside in the middle, making a ring.  I made a smokestack about 8" high, pushed the ring up the pipe,
     
  6. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    As I said before, I cut off a coupler.  The piece with the center divider I glued onto one end of the smokestack, and pushed up from the inside so that fitting was firm against the bottom of the hole.  Then I took one of the rings I made and fed it down from the top and glued it tight to the pipe at the top so the pipe could not slide down, pressing it down very quickly before the glue set (PVC Solvent, actually.. still a glue I guess!) affixing the pipe vertically.  Then, I glued on the right angle on top so rain wouldn't go straight down into the box.  I need to get a cap to screw into the threads to seal it.

    [​IMG]

    Yes, I know it's dirty, I cleaned it all after I got done, lol!

    The ring on top:

    [​IMG]

    I sealed around the top ring with some white caulk.   Then, the finished smokestack:

    [​IMG]

    Now for the intake valve; I glued a short piece of pipe to the valve and cut it off after dry-fitting to be only long enough to accept the ring.I positioned that on the opposite side near the front so it would waft over the A-Maze-En smokebox and up and out the other side out the chimney:

    [​IMG]

    Again, I used another ring I cut off to affix the valve on the inside, quickly pushing it on after gluing.  I got it reasonably tight but it will still turn. It's an intake so it can let in a small fraction of air, but you can shut it from zero to full open with the valve, so you can adjust your intake.

    [​IMG]

    Now, the intake and outtakes are done!

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    Next, whaddabout the plastic floor?  Well, just happened to have a full floor tile left over, so it fit perfectly on the bottom!

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    Lastly, the unit only came with one little shelf.  So, off to WalMart and I got two different shelves; a 3 tier spice rack and a 2 tier corner shelf:

    The corner shelf:

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    The three tier rack:

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    The two labels:

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    Time to clean up and put the tools away; I've got test subjects to prey upon sitting in the back fridge awaiting their cold-smoke fate for tomorrow's test smoke!  I'll burn off the A-Maze-En unit on the grill first, seasoning it, then after cooling, we'll load 'er up and see how well this contraption will work!  Wish me luck! (Oh, BTW, I cleaned off all the foam tape on the door.. that was from a paper towel holder we'd attached at work!  It all came out clean!)
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2010
  7. mythmaster

    mythmaster Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    That's pretty cool, Pops!  [​IMG]

    I'm guessing that you've got some cheeses or sausages to try out in that thing?
     
  8. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Now I was telling my oldest son about this idea and his wife piped up, "Hey, up in the pool/rec room you've got that 4 cu. ft. fridge that's white that I hate... you could make a cold smoker out of that and I can get a stainless steel fridge that will go with the kegerator next to it!" with a big grin!  Then added.. "..and you know how much I love smoked cheese!" hitting him in the ribs, so I see another mod in the near future coming on if this works!
     
  9. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Sweet smoker Pops. Job well done!
     
  10. fftwarren

    fftwarren Smoking Fanatic

    cool, Im liking that. looks nice. 
     
  11. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Looks great and I look forward to hearing how well it works and what if anything you'd change
     
  12. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Another First for SMF!!!

    Cold Smoker Build.

    Place a frozen a milk carton in the fridge.  I'd be curious to see what the temps are before and after you light the smoker.

    Looks GREAT Pops!!

    Todd
     
  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Brilliant !

    Brilliant !!

    Brilliant !!!

    Exceptional idea Pops !

    I think you will need that frozen milk carton though, because that little guy is probably insulated way too good. It'll be holding all the heat the AMNS puts out. Even though the AMNS doesn't put out a lot of heat, I think that fridge will warm up fast without any ice in it. Could even get up to 140˚ or 150˚ with the door closed & no ice.

    Let us know,

    Bear
     
  14. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well, I did a little experimenting; I had a couple of frozen ice packs and put those in on the top shelf without any AMNS; it dropped the temp from 74° to 66°.  Then I added the AMNS with a small single run of dust in it lit, and a couple of cheese sticks.  The interesting thing is that the cold dropping down from the ice packs was inhibiting the upflow of the smoke out the chimney because there was little heat to create an airflow and it was being counteracted by the cold.  I held the lit torch to the intake on the bottom and got immediate results of smoke out the top; took it away and no smoke. But, opening the door the chamber was full of smoke.  Before opening, the temp had risen to 69° after about 30 minutes.

    So, I removed the blocks of ice and I'm now waiting for it to level off and see what it's doing.  A few pics:

    Starting temp:

    [​IMG]

    With the ice:

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    It dropped one more degree to 66° right after shooting this pic:

    [​IMG]

    test run of a small fill of dust to test with:

    [​IMG]

    Now another thing too; if I fill it with several bricks of cheese straight out of the fridge, it should provide enough natural cooling that I wouldn't need ice.  Also, the outdoor temp at this time is 81° and inside the chamber it's 74°, probably from overnight cooling.
     
  15. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The temp is now up to 87° and I do have positive airflow with smoke drafting out the chimney!  Outside temp is 82° so rise is only 5° so far after about ½ hr.

    [​IMG]

    another pic:

    [​IMG]

    I'll let it go another ½ hour, take a pic of the temp, then look inside to see how much burn I've got left.
     
  16. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It's up to 108°, looked inside real quick, the burn is almost to the end and the cheese sticks are fine, no melting at all, still nice smoke in the chamber.[​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I don't think the internal will rise much more over outside ambient temp, about a 25° rise (it's 83° right now).  I think I'll load it up fully and restart it on a full smoke with no ice and see what happens during the day with 1 brick of cheese, then tonight I'll restart it with another brick and go overnight with it when it's cooler.  I've got cheddar to do today and monterey jack tonight. 
     
  17. dutch

    dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Nice little smoker you built there Pops! Looking forward to the full run results.
     
  18. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Okeydokie!  We're off!  Cut the brick into 3 sticks to get more surface area, put them on the top shelf with the thermo, and filled up the AMNS to the brim with hickory:

    [​IMG]

    In the smoker all lit, ready to go!  It's 9:45 am, will let it go hopefully to 8pm, will check on it occasionally during the day, only thing I can see going wrong is if the cheddar gets too hot and melts, otherwise it should smoke just fine!  The cheesesticks were delicious! lol!

    [​IMG]
     
  19. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Great experiments Pops---Keep us posted----This is like a documentary!

    "And that's the way it was"

    Bear
     
  20. mythmaster

    mythmaster Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Maybe you could put a milk carton of ice on the bottom if you can figure out a way to shield it from the heat of the smoker.  Dry ice might even work that way.

    I'm no physicist -- just thinking out loud.  [​IMG]
     

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