New build, seeking input

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Finster
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New build, seeking input

Post by Finster » March 30th, 2018, 8:05 am

Just wanted to say Hello from Iowa. First time poster, long time lurker. Im Aaron. Im an industrial mechanic currently working in a foundry. I do a lot of fabrication at work, and have a modest collection of tools at home. So what Brought me here? Well, I took a couple of days off last year to do some work around the house. I had a brisket going, and while tending the smoker I was working on an old pop up camper I had acquired and was gutting to make a utility trailer. That's about the time the boy came around and started watching. Soon he was asking me to teach him to weld. So I let him weld on the trailer a bit. I think he was starting to figure out the MIG, so I got out some 7018. He struggled with that quite a bit. When the trailer was done, we fooled around with some scrap, but there's only so much you can learn welding on scrap. That's when I thought we need to start a new project. A father/son project. And I thought a new smoker....Why not?

The smoker I currently have came from my wife. She owned it before we married. Its paper thin, tends to run hot, and won't hold a steady temp for more than 30 minutes. It works, but its not the most enjoyable to use. I started using the minion method on this last year and it made it 10x better. Ive had to patch it a few times, and the fire box has almost had it. Its showing its age. So Im looking to upgrade. After researching, we decided on another offset, but only this one a trailer mounted reverse flow. We also figured we'd use an old propane tank. That seems to be pretty common. Theyre nice and thick, and looked to be readily available.

So I started searching for materials. Mostly on FB marketplace and craigslist. I originally wanted a 150 gallon. Those proved very difficult to find. I changed my mind and decided to look for a 250 gallon and still didn't have much luck. A few came up here and there but they were either priced way too high, or they were sold before I called about them. After surfing the net a while, I figured it must be a regional thing. If I search down south toward Ok, and Tx, I can find them all day long for dirt cheap. It seems the further north you go, the harder they get to find. But that makes sense. A lot of people here are on natural gas, and if you are on propane, you don't have less than a 500 gallon tank. Most people have 1000 or better. You might find a 250 on a garage or workshop, but that's about it. Not much came up over winter, I guess no one was looking to get rid of there yard junk when it was covered with snow anyway. Last week, after the majority of our snow melted I found a 250. I called and the guy said someone was coming to look at it. He took my number and said he'd call if it didn't get sold. I assumed I wouldn't hear back, but the next day he called and said he still had it. I grabbed my trailer and headed down to get it. It was just over 1 1/2 hours away. When I got there, I was surprised at its size. I thought it was a 500 gallon. The guy assured me it was a 250. I checked the tag. He was reading the shell thickness. .250. Gallons was listed at 300. I took it anyway, just because its a 30", the same diameter of a 250, and I kind of figured we'd chop one end off to make room for a warmer anyway. He took $200 for it, so this is what I have to start with;
2018032395091730.jpg
The next day, I stumbled across a trailer. Its rough, but nothing that cant be fixed. He was looking for $150. He took $100. I think I did alright. Thats less than what id spend on just an axle if I opted to build one. Currently, its a 4 x 8, but it will be closer to a 4 x 6 when im done. I plan to chop it off just behind the fender so the majority of the load is above the axle. I also planned to cut out the straight tongue and build an a-frame one the front;
2018032595192238.jpg
This is where I need some input and a little direction so we can get started. Whats a good size in a 30" diameter for a smoker? I was thinking around 60" or so. I want something big enough to use for family reunions, and my kids birthdays without struggling for room, but at the same time the majority of its use is going to be on occasion for a family of 5. I don't want to burn down an apple tree every time I want to throw a few ribs on. What would be a good compromise on length?

The original plan was to chop off one end to make room for a warmer and use the rest for the CC. The end I would probably turn into a fire ring. But the extra length also opens up another possibility. I have 105" of length to work with. If I go a little shorter, say around 52", I have enough cook chamber to build 2 of them. Not that I need or want a second one, but I could possibly sell it and recoup most of the money I spend on material. Of course that's a much larger upfront investment, and will be much more taxing on my time. I have no desires to build these as a business, but the thought of recouping money spent on steel is more than tempting. Last quote I got for 1/4" plate was $285 a sheet.

My last debacle was one door or two? I like the look of the 2 door, and minimizing heat loss when checking, mopping, whatever. But the single door leaves it wide open for larger cooks. A whole hog even. But I would think you'd lose a ton of heat opening it up. I think a single door would be more difficult to get to seal right too? Any one had both and have a preference? Opinions?
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Dirtytires
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Re: New build, seeking input

Post by Dirtytires » March 30th, 2018, 10:46 am

Great score on the tank.

That is going to be a bit oversized for a family smoker but would definitely give you room to grow. It will use (roughly) the same amount of fuel for 1rack of ribs or 30pork shoulders.

Check the load rating on the trailer axle and frame, if you are going to retain them. Your finished weight could easily approach 2000 lbs for that size smoker and if you plan to toss a few coolers, wood and supplies that weight could go up fast. Just make sure the trailer is rated as such to keep it safe.

My recommendation is one door is plenty for a 60inch smoker. Having 2 doors on that size is not really necessary and just forces you to use short racks instead of some beautiful long shelves. As far as the heat loss goes, once I put the meat on, I only check it once and take it off at the end so not really an issue. If built properly, the heat will rebound in about 7-10 minutes.

Just my opinion...we look forward to seeing your progress.



Finster
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Re: New build, seeking input

Post by Finster » March 30th, 2018, 11:08 am

Thanks. Like I stated earlier, the original plan was to find a 150. I think that size would have suited me better as far as my planned usage but that size is surprisingly hard to find here. The closest I could come was a 120 gallon air compressor tank and I nixed that idea just because of the thinner shell. I want something with a little beef to it to stand up to the elements a little better. I was thinking around a 24 x 24 x 24 firebox for roughly that size. I should add I familiarized myself with Feldon's BBQ Pit/Smoker Build Calculator and that size puts me close to 100%. I also do plan to insulate at least the firebox.

I have no idea the weight on the trailer axle. Its a homemade trailer, and the axle appears to be an old cast iron truck, or tractor axle. Im not too worried about loading it. Im sure whatever load it carried in its former life was twice what I plan to put on it.



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Re: New build, seeking input

Post by Rodcrafter » March 30th, 2018, 12:24 pm

Welcome to the crew!

:welcome:

I think you may want to be grateful for the size. Because this allows you to build a deeper 140 gallon, which is awesome. If you are going to do the FB and WC above it, this will prove to be an great size for the numbers you will have. If you do it right you can cook those ribs just in the WC as a vertical and shut off the extra CC. I must tell you we just got a new Pit Calculator released. Not to say anything about Feldon's but here's a link to the one we now have.

http://bbqpitcalculator.com/

Have fun you can just set the other half behind the shed until you unveil your completed rig and have a bidding war for who wants you to make them one too.

Don't for get the pictures.

:rulz:

:hissy: :hissy: :hissy:


Current Smokers: Backyard RF Offset and Hybrid RF Offset trailer rig with Cowboy cooker and fish fryer, always room for more........

Finster
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Re: New build, seeking input

Post by Finster » March 30th, 2018, 1:50 pm

I will check out the new calculator, thanks for the link.

I have no experience with warmers, Ive never had a rig with one but I like the idea and would like to incorporate one in. I figured I'd put dampers between the CC and warmer, and I also wanted to add one between the FB and warmer also. I think I read on another post that with a damper directly into the FB, you can get the warmer upwards of 500º? Im not sure how often Id use that other than maybe searing a steak, but if you can get a warmer that hot, whats to stop you from putting in a pizza stone and baking pizza in it? Cooked on wood coals, it would be the same as having a brick oven. That I might use. My kids enjoy pizza now and again, and I don't make a half bad pie. Ive never cooked one on anything other than a pizza stone in the oven so the idea intrigues me. It would also allow me to cook cornbread right there in the warmer. The wife wont let me make bbq without cornbread to go with it. Her rules. Maybe it wont work the way I envision it, but Im all about making things as versatile as possible.

I will be sure to include lots of pics when we actually start the building process, unfortunately that may not be until late spring or summer. I have other chores that need done first before the wife will let me start another project. Im hoping not to make it too long though. We just bought a Berkshire hog and sent it to the locker. Id like to have some of that yummy pork left for the first cook.



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Big T
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Re: New build, seeking input

Post by Big T » March 30th, 2018, 7:20 pm

Welcome aboard!! All good advice above and I would also recommend the baffles from the FB to WC , FB to CC and CC to WC. If you have all three baffles the cooking options are endless. You'll also be surprised just how efficient these things are when built to spec, once up to temp they'll burn a couple of splits an hour on average. We all understand about keeping the Misses happy, just makes life easier.


Measure Twice.....Cut Three Times.

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Pete Mazz
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Re: New build, seeking input

Post by Pete Mazz » March 31st, 2018, 4:22 am

Welcome


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Re: New build, seeking input

Post by ajfoxy » April 2nd, 2018, 6:11 pm

Welcome to the crew


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