Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

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Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by forty_creek » January 12th, 2015, 5:09 pm

Newbie to the site. My name is Reed. I am happily married for 17.5 years. Have son almost 2 years old. I love the smell of smoke with an adult beverage with some music in the background (normally Hank Jr, Willie, Waylon, Cash, Jamey Johnson, Frank Foster,... I have been cooking since I was in my mid teens...I am 40 now. I have cooked on offset smokers, pit trailers, UDS, Backwoods, several customs pits, personally own BGE-L for 11 years and counting. I love to cook (gumbo, chili, jambalaya...), grill and smoke (meat)! I have wanted my own pit on a trailer for years. I finally have what all "I think" I need to make the dream a reality. Major plus I have 3 welders that work for me. This is the best time of the year to make this dream happen!

First time building one. I have a friend who built one from a propane tank 30" by 9' w/ offset FB. It works good but I want a vertical CC off the end (NOT a RF)...changed my mind about not wanting a RF
IMG_1635.JPG
FB>Horizontal CC>Vertical CC


Starting with a 36" by 9' propane tank after cutting ends off. Using the pit calc's with a 36"x36"X36" FB I am at 127%. However this doesn't include the vertical on the opposite end. I have had my friends loaded down and needed additional warming area (reason for vertical) plus plan to do some low,low slow cooks also.

So my questions is am I asking for too much sugar for a nickel by having a 9' horizontal CC plus a 48"x36" vertical? I would never want temps above 250 in the vertical CC. I have considered removable BP's in the horizontal CC.

I am open to suggestions
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Last edited by forty_creek on February 7th, 2015, 3:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by Clover Ridge Smokers » January 12th, 2015, 7:06 pm

First off welcome to the site. You have several options with the cooker you are building. At FB that is 127% is too big. Most of us builders shoot for 105%-110%. This allows for the best efficiency. You may want to consider purchasing a set of plan from smokerplans.net. There are hundreds of plans and I'm sure Frank has one that matches your build. There are several documented builds on this site that show how to build the baffles for the warming cabinet. Here is a link to one I just finished. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=4235


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by Rodcrafter » January 12th, 2015, 7:11 pm

I think you have some good plans, I have a similar cooker. I'm going to be modifying the one I have buy putting a warming cabinet over the FB. I will have one on both ends then. But I would like to say if you go forward with your plan, do include the vertical in the CC dims as far as the Pit Calc goes. But if you put it over the FB you don't have to. And if you put 1" air gap or even better 1" insulation, then put a opening between the FB and the WC you can be as adjustable as you want.

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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by The Czar » January 12th, 2015, 7:26 pm

Welcome aboard....^^^ yeah that...


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by Rodcrafter » January 12th, 2015, 7:29 pm

Oh yeah welcome


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Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by Tom_Heath » January 12th, 2015, 7:48 pm

Well Said crs........welcome to the site.
I personally perfere the type of build crs posted. Warming cabinet over the firebox. I've just seen to many guys fall over with joy at how great they run.

Each to there own tho. Any build that cooks good and the owner is happy with its a great build.

I too would suggest buying plans. The support is priceless.


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by Big T » January 12th, 2015, 9:53 pm

:welcome: that should be a nice one.


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by forty_creek » January 12th, 2015, 10:27 pm

CRS- thanks for the input. I had read where 105 was optimum. I didn't realize 127 was too much. I will play with the numbers and get it in the 105-110 range. I read thru your attachment on your latest cooker. Look great!

Rodcrafter- thanks for the advise.

I am leaning hard to have the Vertical CC on the opposite from the FB. I hope to get this one built then build a very similar cooker to CRS's attached above for smaller gatherings w/ WC and definitely add the direct heat option! Plus I want to do some comps.

But First I wanna build this cooker with the least amount of mistakes as possible.

The FB opening to the CC...I'm struggling with the opening as far as how high to raise it to the cooking grate.


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by Puff » January 12th, 2015, 10:32 pm

Welcome.... Looks like your setup is over 14' long... I like this part " but first I wanna build this cooker with the least amount of mistakes as possible"

I said that 4 times already....hope you're better at it than I am :D good luck and looking forward to seeing a bunch of pictures !


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by forty_creek » January 12th, 2015, 11:15 pm

Puff- atleast cutting the ends was easy and safe all though my welder kept saying he didn't see why we needed to put water in it prior to cutting...

I've been on the sidelines. I jumped in the game today. My head was spinning at work with all the info I've read and from cooker pics I've seen for years and cookers I've actually used.

I just want minimize the number of mistakes


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by Puff » January 12th, 2015, 11:41 pm

Oh geez... I couldn't agree more. It has only been my ADHD focusing inabilities that has truly prevented my builds from going as we'd like. I had welded on and cut off parts as many as 3 times trying to get it right. Eventually, it comes together but I have had a few of the DUH! Moments.

But I do not disagree with you...I aplaud your ambitious desire. Even the most expert of experts has been known to mess up. Hey, it's metal...you can always cut it off or add it back on. My best friend became the grinder! My newest best friend will be the plasma cutter

Ps....don't forget the pictures I


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by Big T » January 13th, 2015, 12:03 am

On an offset I like to keep the throat as low as possible on the CC.


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by forty_creek » January 13th, 2015, 12:28 am

Big T- what would you suggest w/ a 36" CC diameter, 12"?


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by Pennywise » January 13th, 2015, 7:51 am

Welcome and good luck!



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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by Rodcrafter » January 13th, 2015, 10:59 am

What I do is cut the opening as BigT stated. It begins at the bottom of the CC holds the edge then goes as high as is required to get the square inches of opening required by the calculator. The BP/tuning plates goes in just above the top of that opening and is the top of the FB.
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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by forty_creek » January 13th, 2015, 11:16 am

That's where me and pit calculator aren't getting along.


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by Rodcrafter » January 13th, 2015, 11:19 am

What is the disagreement?


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by forty_creek » January 13th, 2015, 11:35 am

I'm not finding that calculation or I'm misinterpreting it. I will relook at the pit calc. And post it when I get a chance.

I understand the placement of the tuning plates. Thanks for the clarification.

Yawl have abt convinced me to RF w/ CRS's design to allow for direct heat option the WC. I'm working finalizing the design so I can order the steel.

I did call Smokerplans and leave a vm.

I'm also thinking abt 3/8's instead of 1/4 or is this over kill in yawls expert opinion?


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by forty_creek » January 13th, 2015, 3:25 pm

Rod- I think I figured it. I need a 311 sq in throat. So a little larger than 30x10"s. I had not played with the calculator enough.

Link to BBQ Pit Calculator


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by Rodcrafter » January 13th, 2015, 3:53 pm

First if you allow Frank Cox AKA "OB1" at smokerplans.net

You don't have to do all the calculations yourself. But if you do them yourself we have a link on the home page about 2/3 down the list.

I'm glad to see you are getting the plan down. About 3/8" that's all I have used 1/4" will work. But I believe in heavy as long as you make it useable. Like some people using square doors so you don't have to lift them and it increases the CC size. Otherwise I would use an counterweight to help opening the CC.


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by forty_creek » January 13th, 2015, 4:12 pm

Question on FB intake vents. Is it better to have one or would one on each side work as long as I get the recommended sg in's?

I called the smokerplans phone number as it requested this AM and left a voice mail with my phone number.

I am not trying to sound like a know-it-all. But "I think" I have the calculations and understand them...


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by Rodcrafter » January 13th, 2015, 6:08 pm

I recommend to put one on 2 sides of the FB, my reason for this is if the wind is blowing this gives you an option of which one you want to use. Or you can use both and get a more even burn on the fire.


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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by forty_creek » January 13th, 2015, 7:36 pm

Rod- Thanks for your response. That was part of my thinking. Am I interpreting the FB intake calc's correctly, if 300 sq in's are recommended you can get that volume from 1 or more?

On the chimney calc's they do not account for multiple chimenys so you just use the size chimney you plan on and add as you like. Since you will be adjusting them anyway?

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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by forty_creek » January 13th, 2015, 7:41 pm

I promised the ends to two of my guys. I know I am going to suffer a little on looks...but hey their doing the welding. I am just guiding them.
IMG_1632.JPG
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Re: Building a Cooker from a Propane Tank

Post by forty_creek » January 13th, 2015, 8:18 pm

Better pic of the design of the pit...
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