Westinghouse HS-52

Discussion in 'Fridge/Freezer Builds' started by simulacrum, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. simulacrum

    simulacrum Newbie

    A friend of mine was moving and offered me a Westinghouse HS-52 refrigerator; in working condition. I debated keeping it as a beer fridge in the garage but ultimately decided it's too old and too inefficient to keep as refrigerator. I think it's circa 1930's - 1940's based on one or two others I've found on the internet.


    I have been running a laboratory PID on a red vertical Brinkman smoker for years. It works great if it's sunny and still outside; if it's below 70 or windy, it has trouble keeping temperature. 'que view here: https://plus.google.com/photos/1145...s/5713993606450446033?authkey=COHroe_owdbW_gE

    I debated buying the smallest backwoods smoker for a time but I really wanted the electric heating element. So here we go...

    I didn't get any photos of disassembly. There were a few extra coats of paint on it which masked some key screws. Had I found these, disassembly would have been a great deal easier. In the end I broke out the plastic strips which connected the inside box to the outside carcass and just tore it apart. It used two steel packing straps to support the weight of the box and prevent it from crushing the insulation, a brown fibrous hair type material. I kept all the hardware and trim pieces for reassembly.


    I decided to mount a 1500W heating element in the lower back side of the inner box. After seeing some alarming threads on smoker fires, I decided to add a shield over the element. I used a piece of 304 stainless.


    I did a quick trial run and could not get a reasonable temperature... I'm going to need to insulate. A lot!


    I reached out to a local sheet metal shop to reproduce the plastic strips I had broken during disassembly. I reassembled the door shell as a trial run. The original trim pieces and the stainless steel look really sharp. I mounted it on the carcass to check fit and position a thermometer.



    At this point, there's not much more I want to do before I paint and insulate. I sent all of the parts out to be blasted and epoxy primed. The inside box has a porcelain coating which I am going to keep. I plan to paint everything else.  In the meantime I got busy with life and lost the weather...  now the parts are back, clean and primed, so I am reassembling indoors. Fortunately, my wife loves bbq as much or more than I do, so the mess is greeted with a smile.

    I'm doing another dry assembly to see how much damage I might do to the paint. I have to choose a paint as well. I was originally planning a white pearlescent tri-coat, but that now seems way overkill and costly for a smoker that is going to sit outside. I better figure this out though or it's going to stall again.

    You can see the holes I put in the box and carcass to let in air and smoke.


    One of the first things I did after I found this forum was decide to use a smoke generator instead of reusing the Brinkman heating element and a cast-iron skillet. I decided to go with a Smokai because the build quality looked superior to the other generators I saw for sale. I chose the larger 3l model because it suggested 12+ hours between refills, that was probably overkill. It is really large, the 1l model would probably have been sufficient.


    I also had a close fitting removable stainless drip pain fabricated to catch the drippings. It came out really nice. Proximity to the heating element may be an issue though.


    That pretty much brings us current. At this point I have a number of little things besides paint to finish, I need to make a list and start ticking them off the list.

  2. Can't believe no one commented on this, you've done some awesome work there.  I love the retro look, this is going to be a beautiful smoker.
  3. goliath

    goliath Smoking Fanatic

    GREAT JOB !!!!!!!

    i just finished my build and am loving it, also having trouble coming up to the temp at a reasonable time so im adding a fin strip heater to help and then let the PID controlled 1500 watt brinkman element take over after temp is reached..


    have fun  :0)
  4. Hello simulacrum .  Welcome.  I see this is your thread contains your first posts.  Please take some time and swing over to Roll Call and introduce yourself so that we may give you a proper "Hello". All info you can provide us with such as smoker type, location and so on will help us answer any questions you may have.  GREAT looking build.  Keep Smokin!

  5. simulacrum

    simulacrum Newbie

    Thanks guys. I really like the look and size. It can sit outside with a nice cover and it won't be too intrusive.

    If I can get to the store tomorrow, and escape company later in the week, I will throw a coat of paint on it over the holiday. 

    I have a pretty solid handle on how I will install the insulation, but I don't think it will survive assembly and disassembly. I have to paint and reassemble with the hope that I can reach 225F (actually higher for verification, maybe 350 - 400F) in freezing conditions.

    Fortunately, winter is nearly upon us, so I will get to test it while zero degrees out. I would be pretty upset if I finished it over the summer only to discover it won't work in the cold.

    In the event that it doesn't reach the temperature, or takes too long to ramp up, or has too slow of a recovery upon opening the door. I will add a second element. Currently I am running a 110V 1550W element. If I were to run that same element at 220V it would be nearly 28A and 6200W, too much, it would melt. What I am considering is adding a second 1550W element in series @ 220V. That would give me 3100W and still fall within 15A @ 220V. For arbitrary reasons, this is preferable to adding propane burner inside the box.

    Has anyone used a regulated, flame sensing, pilot valve and PID to control temperature? It should be straightforward....
  6. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Somehow I also missed this one...... 


    If you are thinking of converting the smoker to 220v, I would not run the 2nd element in series.  I would run a 4 wire 220v dedicated line to the smoker location and split the L1 and L2 "hot" feeds into two individual 110v circuits each returning to neutral inside the smoker circuitry.  Then treat each element as a stand alone unit.  You will need to add a 2nd SSR for the 2nd element, but you can still trigger them both simultaneously with a single PID (wire the SSR's in parallel on the PID triggering output).  Just put a SPST switch in the triggering signal line to one of the SSR's and you can switch the 2nd element off when not needed.
  7. simulacrum

    simulacrum Newbie

    That's easy enough to do as well. Any particular reason why?
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
  8. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Well, you don't want to run them in series on 220v for reasons you already covered.

    It is easy to do this way, and provides plenty of power for each of the elements with a minimum of additional components. 220v lets you stay with lower gauge wiring or longer runs and still keep individual amp draw at 1/2 of a single 110v run. You have the option of only running one element when needed for lower temp smokes or in hotter weather, but retain the ability to quickly bring the cabinet up to operating temp from a cold start or if the single element is just not enough in very cold weather.

    It's simpler to keep all the components running at 110v, instead of running elements at 220v and then splitting a 110v feed to the PID (even though most PID's will run just fine at 220v). Another reason is most people seem to be able to understand wiring a single 110v element to a PID & SSR, and once you get them to understand a 220v line is nothing more than two 110v circuits if you use the neutral return and split it like I described, they can work with that.  For some reason 220v wiring which does not use a neutral return seems to make a lot of people just scratch their head and go huh....   Add in wiring the PID for 220v and you loose most of them.

    Since you clearly understood the power issues involved in wiring those element in series and upping the voltage, the 220v to dual 110v split inside the cabinet seemed the logical solution the problem.

    The only other suggestion I can think of right now is you might want to consider a small "squirrel cage" fan to circulate cabinet air across those finned heating elements (especially if you add a 2nd one).  It would make the cabinet temps more even.  Some finned elements need airflow to keep them from overheating and self destructing.

    take a look at this build from Walleye1.  He used dual strip heaters and the recirculating fan.


    Here is a photo from his thread.  The round hole below the heaters is the air  inlet to the fan.  The exhaust from the fan is behind the heaters (blows across them).  The 2nd image is his wiring diagram.  He used two 110v feeds, but you could accomplish the same thing with the 220v split into L1 to neutral and L2 to neutral as I described.


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