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Update - Bell Fab Delivery and First Impressions

8
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Joined Feb 13, 2022
The wait is finally over! I received delivery of my new Bell Fabrications smoker on May 5th. It has a 24"x48" cook chamber and is 3/8" steel all the way around. It arrived on a massive pallet, and watching it get unloaded made me glad that I opted to have the freight company deliver it to the driveway, rather than trying to manage the process myself.

After cutting it off of the pallet I was hit with two minor disappointments- one of which was my fault, and the other happened at some point in the shipping. Firstly, I failed to lift the rod that supports the folding front shelf before rolling it off the pallet, which ended up bending it and weakening the weld. When I went to bend it back in place, I broke the weld. Whoops. I was able to come up with a solution by buying some 1/4" threaded rod, along with a threaded corner and tee pipe fitting. I cut the rod down to the right size with a hack saw, cut smaller sections for the tee joint to support the shelf, and cut one more smaller section for the elbow joint, securing it in the hole with a zip tie. So far it is holding strong and actually kind of looks cool. No big deal.

The second thing that I noticed was that at some point during shipping, the firebox side of the smoker must have been jammed into something, because the butterfly damper on the top side was bent in by about 3 inches, and the end of the adjustment rod was all scuffed up. I'd hate to see what was on the receiving end of that blow. I attempted to remedy this by cutting a 2x4 down to the interior length of the firebox, wedging it up against the bottom of the butterfly damper so it wouldn't counteract the movement, and wailing on the top side with a rubber mallet. I got the gap down to about a 1/4", and I may have another go at it later in time, but for now it's okay.

After acknowledging those initial hiccups, I cleaned out the metal shavings and scrap from inside the firebox and cook chamber, washed it with some dish soap and water, rinsed it down really well, and seasoned it with a combination of Lodge cast iron seasoning spray and Pam (this is just what I had on hand).

To make grease draining easier, I bought a ball valve and a small section of 3/4" pipe to fit the grease drain hole. I also grabbed a UF cable connector to plug the temp probe port and reduce the smoke loss coming out of that hole.

So far, I've burned a few fires, cooked a couple of batches of chicken thighs, as well as a hot and fast no-brine salmon, and am just trying to learn the pit, but I'm looking forward to throwing a pork butt on tomorrow so I can put in some good hours of learning more how it operates. I put an expanded metal grate over the existing grate in the firebox to discourage the coals from dropping down to the bottom, but I am still struggling to find the sweet spot in terms of split size. Once this beast comes up to temp, I'm finding it hard to maintain a good coal bed without running it too hot. It just holds the heat so very well.

I have noticed that the 2" stemmed Tel-Tru thermometers I installed on the lids are reading about 50-75 degrees cooler than the fireboard probe installed on the grate. I'm wondering if it would be more accurate if I had gotten 4" stems, but unless I see the need to replace them, I'll probably just do the mental math.

Here are some pics!

Arriving on the pallet:
IMG_1900.JPG


Detailed shot of the firebox after hammering the butterfly damper back in place:
IMG_1902.JPG


After vacuuming out the metal shavings, pre-seasoning:
E0711C01-D7B1-42C3-8F26-5F6C810E8FB9.JPG


After seasoning, fixing the broken rod on the folding front shelf, installing the ball valve to the grease drain, and installing the UF cable connector to the probe port:
0FF3F9D5-D494-4EF7-8A07-E1DDED951BC3.JPG


All closed up:
D4AB2361-F4E2-498F-BC64-73DA668BC2EE.JPG


**Glamor Shot**
D6C5432A-601F-4505-BA3D-38BE8BD7040D.JPG



Chicken thighs about to go in (you can see I had propped the shelf up with 2x4s before fixing the rod)
IMG_1913.JPG


Hot 'n fast no-brine salmon cooked to 135º right before pulling it out:
IMG_1998.JPG
 
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jcam222

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Looks awesome! Glad you were able to work around the issues. I honestly think that installing the thermometers on smokers is a waste. I’ve never seen any accurate. My Lang Tel Trus are off by a mile
 

nothingtoofancy

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Joined Feb 13, 2022
Very nice. A beautiful rig. Hope you get many good cooks from her.

JC :emoji_cat:
Thank you, so do I!

Congrats on the new smoker. You need the 4in stems
Thanks - I had a feeling this was the case. I even asked Craig if I should go for 2" or 4" and he said 2". 🤔

Anybody need a couple brand newi-ish Tel-Tru thermos for less than market price?

Looks awesome! Glad you were able to work around the issues. I honestly think that installing the thermometers on smokers is a waste. I’ve never seen any accurate. My Lang Tel Trus are off by a mile
I see what you're saying. I still think it's nice to have a general sense of what's going on inside the CC in case my digital thermo craps out for some reason.

Enjoy. Looks like a beast. When is the first brisket?
Thank you! I bought two briskets at Costco the other day because they were $3.99/lb, a price I haven't seen in a couple years. They're hanging out in the chest freezer until I have the confidence to give it a shot. I'll start with the pork butt tomorrow and see how it goes. I'll be trimming a pork belly to get some bacon curing in the fridge and will make some belly burnt ends tomorrow too.
 

Displaced Texan

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Take my word for this, go simple with this beast. No tuning plates needed, no wired probes. 4 inch Tel Trus will do the trick. Use the butterfly valve and ash dump in combination to dial in the temps as you add fuel and burn it down. If temps go wild when adding fuel, don't be afraid to partially, or fully momentarily, close the exhaust. You will not ruin the fire and create smoldering and dirty smoke. You will just control the temps if they get out of hand real quick.

It is easy to read these forums and overthink things. Restaurants don't do all of that. Just keep it simple. Ask me why I know lol.

Enjoy.
 

forktender

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Super nice smoker, although I'd be pretty pissed if I got one that looked like that on the inside. It's takes nothing for them to spray on a thin layer of veg oil or wipe on a thin layer of shortening. Leaving the customer with that rust layer as thin as it may be is uncalled for in my opinion.

It looks awesome after you cleaned it up and seasoned it, good job!!!
 

jcam222

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Take my word for this, go simple with this beast. No tuning plates needed, no wired probes. 4 inch Tel Trus will do the trick. Use the butterfly valve and ash dump in combination to dial in the temps as you add fuel and burn it down. If temps go wild when adding fuel, don't be afraid to partially, or fully momentarily, close the exhaust. You will not ruin the fire and create smoldering and dirty smoke. You will just control the temps if they get out of hand real quick.

It is easy to read these forums and overthink things. Restaurants don't do all of that. Just keep it simple. Ask me why I know lol.

Enjoy.
Good advice. I used to really worry about temp fluctuations. Anymore even +/- 50F at times is not something I worry myself to death over. I try to keep a good average line on my FireBoard.
 

nothingtoofancy

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Joined Feb 13, 2022
Take my word for this, go simple with this beast. No tuning plates needed, no wired probes. 4 inch Tel Trus will do the trick. Use the butterfly valve and ash dump in combination to dial in the temps as you add fuel and burn it down. If temps go wild when adding fuel, don't be afraid to partially, or fully momentarily, close the exhaust. You will not ruin the fire and create smoldering and dirty smoke. You will just control the temps if they get out of hand real quick.

It is easy to read these forums and overthink things. Restaurants don't do all of that. Just keep it simple. Ask me why I know lol.

Enjoy.
Thank you for saying this. I tend to be the kind of person who will take an obsession with trying to achieve the best results and getting lost in the minutiae of processing every piece of advice I've read. I know that over time I will gain confidence with experience and learn what matters and what does not, but it's definitely helpful to hear this wisdom up front.

Super nice smoker, although I'd be pretty pissed if I got one that looked like that on the inside. It's takes nothing for them to spray on a thin layer of veg oil or wipe on a thin layer of shortening. Leaving the customer with that rust layer as thin as it may be is uncalled for in my opinion.

It looks awesome after you cleaned it up and seasoned it, good job!!!
I hear what you're saying - if anything I think it would have been cool to have vacuumed out the slag, metal scraps and dust out of it, but I don't care about seasoning it myself. Craig is selling these pits at like 1/2 to 1/3 the price of some of the bigger names in custom fabrication, so if I have to put a little sweat equity in it, then that's good by me. She may not be the prettiest girl at the ball, but as long as she can dance that's all I need!
 

mike243

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Looks great, most decent therms can be adjusted with a wrench, no need to put up with it being off. Get a wrench and hold the nut under the dial and turn the dial,
 

Displaced Texan

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Thank you for saying this. I tend to be the kind of person who will take an obsession with trying to achieve the best results and getting lost in the minutiae of processing every piece of advice I've read. I know that over time I will gain confidence with experience and learn what matters and what does not, but it's definitely helpful to hear this wisdom up front.

Yep, same here. That is why I said what I did. Keep it simple and you will love this pit.
Yep, same here. That is why I said what I did. Keep it simple and you will love this pit.
 
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Displaced Texan

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Joined Nov 11, 2020
Super nice smoker, although I'd be pretty pissed if I got one that looked like that on the inside. It's takes nothing for them to spray on a thin layer of veg oil or wipe on a thin layer of shortening. Leaving the customer with that rust layer as thin as it may be is uncalled for in my opinion.

It looks awesome after you cleaned it up and seasoned it, good job!!!
Craig is great through the whole process and after the sale. For the $950 I paid for my 24x48, 3/8" thick pit, I had not problem running a quick Shop Vac and seasoning it while saving $1500-$2000 for a comparable pit.
 

SmokinAl

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Nice rig!
Looks like your having some fun now!!
Al
 

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