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Stainless Steel Hospital Food Service Cart Build

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by hewgag, Sep 29, 2010.

  1. hewgag

    hewgag Fire Starter

    Hello all.... newbie smoker here! I recently acquired this beautiful stainless steel hospital food service cart from work, and everyone I know agrees that this would make a most excellent smoker! The inside dimensions are 25"wide, 32" deep, 50"high. It has removable aluminum railings with "L" metal pieces to hold racks..... lots of racks! And as you can see its door opens the entire height of the cabinet. It has a small drain hole at center of the bottom and 4 louvered vents at the top... 2 on each side.



    Now... the door will need some sort of silicone gasket to make a good seal as it currently has none and would clearly leak like crazy. I will also need to make some sort of access door at the bottom to be able to tend to the wood chips, water pan etc. Not sure how I want to go about this yet..

    My #1 main concern is... should I go electric, or propane? I like the ease of going electric, and an old electric oven heating element could work nicely with the controls mounted to the cabinet and whatnot...  I am just worried about what size I will need to heat this thing without going overkill... or insufficient. Propane would be nice as well. And would be easy to do I'd imagine

    But I'd really REALLY like some feedback as to what some of you well seasoned smokers would do with this cabinet and why? I need all the details I can get!!

    Many thanks in advance!!

  2. richoso1

    richoso1 Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the SMF. That's a very nice cabinet, and I know you'll make good use of it. I moved your thread to roll call so that others can have a chance to welcome you. It's all good my friend.
  3. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I would turn that electric in a heartbeat and I would get an AMAZNSMOKER to go in as the smoke source - that is gonna be a nice unit for sure
  4. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I agree with Scar.

    I would also look into having two separate elements. Use one for lower temp smokes, like up to maybe 160˚ or 180˚ (Like sausage, Canadian Bacon, Fish, etc). Then use both for smokes needing higher than that.

  5. shooter1

    shooter1 Smoking Fanatic

    Welcome aboard,

    and I agree that should make a Most Excellent Smoker! Great Score. [​IMG]
  6. smoke on brother  [​IMG]
  7. arnie

    arnie Smoking Fanatic

    Welcome to SMF 

    I agree with Bearcarver, go with 2 electric elements.

    It’s a tall unit with no insulation, you may need both of them to maintain temp if it’s cold or windy

    Good smoking to ya!
  8. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    First off Welcome Hewhag to SMF.  Sweet new smoker I hope you will have pictures when your done with it and smoke something. You'll like it here for there are alot of really good folks here that would just love to help you with just about anything to do with smoking. Now there are alot of proven recipes for some amazing things here too. So if you need sign up for the E-Course it's free and it will give you the basics of smoking and some good methods to use also. So the next big thing for you to do is go out and get you something to smoke and if you happen to have any questions just post it here and we will be happy to answer them for you.

    Welcome To Your New Addiction  
  9. hewgag

    hewgag Fire Starter

     Thank you all for your feedback!! So many have responded so fast!! I think I am going to like these forums alot! I agree that a dual electric element would be ideal as well. I was pondering the idea of gutting a cheap dual electric hot plate and mounting it to a stainless steel removable housing that can just sit freely at the bottom of the cabinet, and run the wiring to one of the sides and mount the knobs and power switch etc. I'd like to avoid modifying the cabinet itself as much as possible. I definitely will need to cut some sort of small access panel/door in the bottom of the door so I can get to the wood chips when needed without having to open the whole thing up and let all my heat out. Mehhh... I'll have plenty of time to hash out the fine details, I don't plan to dive right into this thing without some serious planning and design. I am a bit of an Alton Brown sort of guy when it comes to making stuff like this..... I like to get math involved and make things efficient and low maintenance!

    Now as far as my BBQ goes... I plan on getting seriously into smoke blends. hickory, mesquite, apple, oak, pecan/pecan shells, teas and spices, citrus peels... you get the idea. I also am really interested in cold smoking cheese too! I'm definitely an experimenter type!!

    I plan on keeping you all updated with the progress of the build and would like to invite y'all to be a part of it from the beginning. I'll be posting pics and asking a crap-ton of questions!

    This is gonna be fun!!
  10. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Sounds great Hewgag!

    I think a lot of the "howto" for calculations you might need are on this forum.

    We'll all be right with you, if you need any suggestions or info. So many guys on here with so much knowledge--It amazes me!

  11. smoke_chef

    smoke_chef Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the site.

    I look forward to seeing what you do with that. It should make an awesome smoker!!!
  12. justpassingthru

    justpassingthru Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Welcome to SMF and our smoking passion, what a score, the possibilities are endless! 

    You might consider a PID controlled finned heater strip, you can program temperature and holding times.

    I installed one in my propane GOSM so that I cold smoke at lower temperatures and it works fine, total cost was about $250.

    Enjoy whatever you chose to do and I'll be waiting to see your Q-view,

  13. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member


    Welcome to Hewgag SMF, Glad to have you with us.

    This is the place to learn, lots of good info and helpful friendly Members.

    For those of you new to Smoking, be sure to check out Jeff's 5 Day Smoking Basics eCourse.

    Click Here it's "FREE" ... 5 Day eCourseE

    I would go electric and use the A-MAZE-N-SMOKER like Scarbelly and Bearcarver said... You would love it...
  14. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the SMF. Glad to have you here. Lots of good folks, great recipes and knowledge. Looking forward to your first qview. [​IMG]
  15. hewgag

    hewgag Fire Starter

    Given that this thing is 40,000 cubic inches or 23.1 cubic feet in volume, do you guys think a standard dual electric hotplate somewhere in the 2000 watt range would be sufficient in holding a temperature in the 90F - 250F range? I am toying with the idea of mounting the elements into a remote metal "box" of sorts that could just be placed into the bottom of the cabinet on top of some fire brick. I can then feed the wires straight down between the bricks and through the air intake hole in the bottom of the box. I can then just use strong magnets to mount the controls to the outside of the cabinet in their own little housing. This way I can easily remove the whole element from the box and re arrange the bricks to make a fire ring! Hola!! Instant charcoal grill! The beautiful thing about this box is the door swings all the way open and locks to the outer wall for easy access to the whole inside of the box without the door being in your way.

    My other concern is operating cost... I don't want to have to pump a shit-ton of wattage into this system just to maintain the desired temps. Especially if it would be easier and cheaper to do it with propane.1000 - 2000 watts during a 10hr smoke is a lot of juice!! So I am weighing all of these considerations.
  16. bowtieracin

    bowtieracin Smoke Blower

    I scored one almost identical to this only mine is 80'' tall and has double doors. I used a turkey fryer propane element and it works great
  17. bamaboy

    bamaboy Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    awesome score...wanna sell it[​IMG]....welcome to the forum
  18. meat magician

    meat magician Smoke Blower

    Congrats on the score! I've been trying to get ahold of one of those carts for a while now. The only ones I can find locally run $400 ish for a used one, they are the full size version however not the shorter one you have. Welcome to the forum too!
  19. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    Welcome to SMF!

     The access issue is an easy fix.

    Cut the door all the way across at whatever hieght you need to access the bottom part of the cabinet. get a strip of metal 2" wide and the length of the width of the door. screw it onto the inside of the bottom edge of the top door  door, w/ 1" hanging down below the top door.You may have to add a door latch or two so that both doors close securely. I looked at the pic of the cabinet again and you will have to add one hinge on the bottom access door.

     To make a gasket you can use high temp silicone .

     If the cabinet is stainless you may have trouble getting magnets to stick.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2010
  20. tjohnson

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

    Now that thing is cool!

    Electric is waaay easy, and your warmer should be so well insulated that you could practically heat it up with a candle.  A oven element my be way overkill for the unit.  I bet 1000 watts would be enough to heat the thing up.  You want steady heat, and not allow the unit to "Short Cycle".  This way you can keep smoke going all the all thru.  Lots of good info in the electric build section.

    By the way.....Welcome to SMF!