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Questions<---will lead to new RF trailer build

Discussion in 'Reverse Flow' started by e-zlight, Oct 6, 2013.

  1. e-zlight

    e-zlight Newbie

    So I'm in planning stages right now. I've been spying/reading/lurking for a while now off and on, but haven't really found what I'm looking for.

    I want to build a Reverse flow smoker on a trailer. (we'll fab up the trailer too)

    I've decided that I want to use a propane tank as the cook chamber, my decision is on what size tank. (120 gallon upright {will be layed down of course} or 250 gallon horizontal) It will be a backyard smoker, but will also do the occasional family/friend gathering. I currently have an 120 gallon upright tank, but I like the smokers with a lay down style tank with 2 doors to CC, 2 sets of shelves in each door, side firebox, and a warming cabinet with shelves also. I have a source for whatever size tank I want (just found him yesterday after looking for a tank for over a year now), $1 a gallon, evap'd, and de-valved, so ready to cut with no risk. Or he'll charge me $100 to evap & devalve my tank (not worth while IMHO when I can just go grab a tank for $20 more, and not have to make multiple trips)

    Which size tank would suit my use better?

    Am I correct in thinking that either one, built correctly, will be just as efficient, and use the same amount of fuel (charcol/wood) as the other to smoke? In other words, if I only want to do a few racks of ribs, a brisket, and a butt. Would the 250 use the same amount of fuel as the 120, built the same way?

    I only want to do this once, and don't want to run into the 120 not being big enough for the max i'd want to throw in there. Although I wonder if with the warming cabinet if the 120 would give me enough for what I'm after.

    An no, I probably wont ever want to do a whole hog, just pieces works for me. Easier to control the outcome that way in my opinion.

    I saw on one of the build pages that the person used angle iron in the center of the RF plate with a drain, so that it can double as a water pan, I like that, and will probably duplicate it in this one. 

    Thanks in advance for your time and info.
  2. Hello e-zlight. Welcome to the forum.

    My personal opinion is to go with the 250. That's what I have and in the last 2 years I've run out of cooking real estate at least a half dozen times.

    Mine uses a 40# bag of mesquite charcoal to run for 6 or so hours  at 225 to 250 degrees. And yes it will require a bit more fuel when the smoker is packed with vittles. I use small limbs of apple, peach or plum wood for the smoke. Imho the mesquite charcoal mostly delivers heat, not much smoke.

    And I have fired up the old girl for a small cook. 1 turkey or 16 is almost the same cooking time.

    I look forward to seeing your build and post lots of pictures.

  3. e-zlight

    e-zlight Newbie

    Thanks for the advice. I think the 250 will be the answer. (thanks for confirming what I already thought!)

    Given that size, what layout works best as far as the trailer is concerned? I'd like to hear from those that have built them already. Kinda learn from others mistakes.

    I'd like a box/compartment to hold some wood, and I have a container I can mount someplace that is waterproof to hold charcoal, or build a box and lid? I'm thinking a double burner on it would be nice someplace with a mount for tanks. I have a source I can probably get the whole setup from the front of a camper for the propane setup.. 

    What size trailer would work the best considering what I've listed above?? I have a boat trailer that held a 20' boat, (boat is a little big for the trailer)
  4. Sounds like that trailer should work. What's the GVW on it? A little more trailer than you need is always good. I keep adding things to mine. I did a center fire but you probably want to go conventional with the fire box at one end. That will allow you to mount a warming box over the firebox. I believe I have solved the hot spot issue but will have to wait until this build is finished to try it out. Good luck and post pictures!

  5. gary s

    gary s SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Sounds like you are going to have a nice smoker
  6. Welcome
    • FIXME: needs styling from "post-user-info"
    • e-zlight
    I'd take the time to think more about what you want the smoker to do before deciding on the size.  The 120 can be built as a nice compact unit that would probably be better suited for the back yard smoker.

    But the 250 gallon is just about the perfect size to trailer around for large functions,

    So, to give better advise, let me ask:
    • How many people would you be trying to feed during your normal back yard cook outs.
    • How many do you expect to feed at the family gatherings you mentioned?
    Now take a look at this pic, its a 120 gallon that has been cut and extended. But if you just look at the top two racks, that is how much room you would have on a 120 gallon cooker. As you can see, 16 slabs would fit easily, enough to feed 50 to 60 people.  And with a nice warmer box, and good cooking / planning skills, you could feed twice that many out of it.

    If that is all you ever plan to do, then I'd stick with the 120, fireing up a 250 everytime you wanted to do one slab and a chicken would get old real quick.

    But if you plan on feeding 75/100 or more on a regular basis, go with the 250. Its the perfect size for catering/ large parties. The thing would feed an army and you will have more room for a 2nd cook.

  7. gary s

    gary s SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I have a friend that built a 250 because he said he was going to be cooking for a lot of people. He did about once a year. So he ended up building a 100 gal. that he uses all the time to cook for his family. Said he wasn't going to fire that big rig up just to cook a briskets and a couple racks of ribs.

  8. e-zlight

    e-zlight Newbie

    You raise some valid concerns. But I don't see 16 racks of ribs feeding more than say...25 people.....

    Family gatherings for me would be in the 40-50 range. While a normal Q with a few people would be 15-20. I can see the possibility of the 120 being enough with the warming rack, but would be upset of it doesn't quite make it. Then again, I'd also have at least one gas grill going, so maybe it would do just fine.

    Big gatherings being couple briskets, couple butts, bunch of ribs, and at least a couple chickens/racks of breasts. Trying to cook all that at the same time, I think the rack would come in very handy.

    Maybe the 120 would work......Your making me flip flop. on what I should do. Decisions, decisions.
  9. You would be surprised,  Those are not baby back slabs, they are mediums trimmed,  I usually go with a slab feeding 3 people, and always have left over......figure 4 ribs, beans, slaw,potato or macaroni salad and some bread, that's a hefty plate right there and your gonna get 48 of them.

    And that's laying the slabs flat ...angle them on rib racks and you should easily get 8 more slabs on there,

    Anyway, maybe the 250 is more what you need,