Just Starting - Need Advice

Forum How-to's, questions or issues and the site slang database.
Post Reply
bigpappa1
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 4
Joined: June 17th, 2019, 3:45 am

Just Starting - Need Advice

Post by bigpappa1 » June 17th, 2019, 8:00 am

Hello All,

This site is awesome, I'm glad I found it. I really could use your help in deciding which direction to go, and how to get there.

I've been smoking for about 10 years now. I do it all on my WSM, but I'm ready to move up a notch. I would like to get into a stick burner and embrace the process even more. I have looked at buying one, but I'm not sure the budget is going to be there, and I don't want anything light/cheap. I think that with the proper guidance, I could build one (and maybe learn a lot in the process), though there are definitely some challenges. Here is a breakdown of the basic pros and cons, plus what I am trying to achieve:

Smoker desired:
Stick burner, probably a horizontal offset, open to traditional of RF, with no less than around 800 sq. in. of cooking space.

Resources:
I work at a shop where we have welders, a brake press, CNC plasma cutter, and hoists. I can also probably burn up some scrap steel we have sitting around for odds and ends.

Challenges:
I don't have a lot of space at my house for this after it's built. Truth be told, I haven't even figured out where to put it, but I know I can't manage a big one. Anything on a trailer is definitely out. At MOST I could probably do a 48" long cooking chamber. Also, baby number two is on the way so time is going to be a premium come August. The only way I see a build being possible is if I can be very tedious about preparation (cutting parts, laying out, etc.) and then have the actual welding/assembly come together in a couple of full days. I'd like to think that with careful prep, layout, and cutting of all components prior to build, that would be realistic. I'm not the best welder either. I learned on a stick and we only have wire here. My brother really inherited all the welding skills anyhow. I'm not sure how much of his time I can get from him either, he has three little ones of his own. I THINK I could either do it myself or get one of the guys at work to help. Cost is definitely an issue and material isn't cheap. I am just starting to scrounge around for what I can find on the cheap to make one up. The structural pipe will probably be the hardest grab.

My biggest concerns:
How much time it will take with regards to covering my duty with the baby (since I don't have a shop at home), how well it will work, and how good it will look if I build it. I am also somewhat concerned that by the time I scrounge up all the material, do the running around, etc. I won't be any further ahead than just buying one. Jury's still out on this one...

Options:
The first option is obviously that I build the thing myself, just dive in there. I'd start accumulating material and such right now and pull the trigger on the build when it's all ready.

My second option would be to just buy one, though I will probably need to wait longer to get some scratch saved up.

My third option - and please correct me if this is inappropriate for any reason, I truly wish to be respectful - would be to see if there are any "part-time" fabricators that want a cash gig. Obviously, I would think this site would be the place to find them.

I already work lots of hours and travel for work, so home time is a premium. At the same time, so is family income and mine is the only one we have. Even with a really good year in sales, which is looking optimistic, we have about 1,000 other places to send money than a new smoker for me. If I can wisely allocate time and money, though, maybe I can squeeze it in.

Anyone have any thoughts? Recommendations for what to do, or for what smoker to pursue and how? Sorry if I sound lost, I just really don't know what goes into this...



User avatar
Dirtytires
Expert
Expert
Posts: 2247
Joined: November 24th, 2015, 12:36 am
Title: It ain't broke...yet
BBQ Comp Team Name: Dont compete...cook for events once in a while
Location: Phoenix, Az

Re: Just Starting - Need Advice

Post by Dirtytires » June 17th, 2019, 8:45 am

I built a 48x24 rf with a 4 rich warmer cabinet. I built a steerable cart with swing shelves, and added some extra dampers between all the chambers. I bought the plans from this site to avoid mistakes and used all new material.

I was working full time so probably averaged 10hours a week on it- and I am pretty meticulous so probably took me longer than most. All told, I’ve got $2000 and 6 months in it.

I completely uunderstand your concerns. My pit runs perfectly and I built it to last a lifetime. I feel it was worth it but not at the expense of family time. Most of my work was done after the family went to bed as I would head out to the shop for a few hours. A new baby is precious and a miracle in its own...don’t miss the memories.

It really depends on what you want. A UDS can be built in a day, Frank has kits that you can assemble in a few weeks. Having plans and everything CNc cut will save time If you decide to build from scratch.



User avatar
McBroom
Expert
Expert
Posts: 295
Joined: January 31st, 2018, 10:02 am
Title: Retired U.S.Marine
BBQ Comp Team Name: Not competing yet...
Location: Denison Texas

Re: Just Starting - Need Advice

Post by McBroom » June 17th, 2019, 9:08 am

Where are you located? If your not too far away I can donate some time to help you get it built.
I’m a retired Marine and pretty good welder ta boot.


I love my truck!
Blue Mule 18 Ram 4x4 C/C
Tradesman Power Wagon



bigpappa1
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 4
Joined: June 17th, 2019, 3:45 am

Re: Just Starting - Need Advice

Post by bigpappa1 » June 17th, 2019, 9:55 am

@Dirtytires

That sounds like a killer rig, good for you! You're spot on with the family time. If my son were older it would be a great tag-team project, but he's still working on getting words together. I would do the exact same as you if I could. In other words, if I had a pole building and an acreage I would have already started and would just chip away here and there. Get a little done at night after everyone goes to sleep, just like you. Unfortunately, I live in suburbia with 1/8 acre and a two stall garage that is so rapidly filling up with children's toys that I park in the street. I was surprised at the cost you called out, but then I re-red your description and saw that you have quite a few bells and whistles. That really is cool!

@McBroom
That is an incredibly kind offer, but if I'm reading your location correctly I would be a bit of a hike for you. I live in Iowa. The great part about living here: access to some of the most sought after meat in the world. The bad part: for some reason there isn't a smoker fabricator around here for hours...



User avatar
McBroom
Expert
Expert
Posts: 295
Joined: January 31st, 2018, 10:02 am
Title: Retired U.S.Marine
BBQ Comp Team Name: Not competing yet...
Location: Denison Texas

Re: Just Starting - Need Advice

Post by McBroom » June 17th, 2019, 12:21 pm

Yes I’m from Denison Texas.
We can all help you learn to make good strong welds here. One of the first things I learned about welding was to take your time and watch your puddle. It’s easier to pull the puddle than push it.
Before Daddy let me strike the first arc he sat me down with a pencil and paper. He had me draw small tight overlapping circles in the same way I would with the welder. I practiced constantly till he finally put the lead in my hand and said show me you can do it. That was with a stick welder. The only real difference in technique


I love my truck!
Blue Mule 18 Ram 4x4 C/C
Tradesman Power Wagon



User avatar
Dirtytires
Expert
Expert
Posts: 2247
Joined: November 24th, 2015, 12:36 am
Title: It ain't broke...yet
BBQ Comp Team Name: Dont compete...cook for events once in a while
Location: Phoenix, Az

Re: Just Starting - Need Advice

Post by Dirtytires » June 17th, 2019, 5:57 pm

Too funny....I am actually IN Iowa right now visiting family —they own a total of 3 huge dairy farms. Believe me, if I could find a cooler big enough I’d throw one in the bed of the truck.

Don’t fret on a new smoker. I ran a store bought offset for over 10 years before I built the new one. It was definitely more work to operate but I feel I am a much better pit master for having worked thru all the problems. And it was fun eating thru the whole process as well.

With that said, check out the plans. Frank May have a smaller pipe-built pit. If you don’t put on a warmer and have the parts cut, it should go together pretty fast.

Don’t let my cost scare you, just know it can be expensive. That total included over $200 in thermometers, all the steel, the hardware, wire/tips/gas and abrasives, as well as any shipping and tax.



User avatar
Big T
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 5604
Joined: September 1st, 2013, 2:40 pm
Title: Go Getter
BBQ Comp Team Name: Backyard Boys
Location: Lower Alabama

Re: Just Starting - Need Advice

Post by Big T » June 17th, 2019, 7:21 pm

It sounds like the guys have given you some great advice. I've built a few smokers from the the scrap pile of a friends fab shop, they were basic with no bells and whistles but they worked great. The best part was that I had very little money invested in them, just my time and energy. I believe that you could build a smaller cooker in a pretty quick time frame if it's well planned. I would recommend building a RF because it'll have more usable space IMO. If you could come up with a long enough piece of pipe then you could use part of it for the FB. It would save you a lot of fitting and welding, just slap a cap on one end and a simple door and intake on the other end and weld it to the CC. The main thing is to make sure that you use the calculator to size everything so that your pit will perform like a champ.


Measure Twice.....Cut Three Times.

User avatar
temurf
Expert
Expert
Posts: 916
Joined: May 12th, 2016, 7:37 pm
Title: Train Driver
BBQ Comp Team Name: Rednecks con Fuego
Location: El Paso, Texas

Re: Just Starting - Need Advice

Post by temurf » June 21st, 2019, 9:59 pm

Welcome to the site.
I believe that if you plan it out properly, it can be done.
As far as the third option you mentioned, its possible that you might be able to find someone who will work for "Q".


Yer gonna like what we've been smokin'.

Post Reply

Return to “Welcome!”