Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

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Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Sleeman » June 12th, 2019, 1:36 am

This is my first post on this site. It seems like if you look back through all the posts in this forum you can find answers to most of your questions but it does take time to look so If this has already been discussed, please send me to the right thread.

This will be my second build. Although my first smoker was good in concept and I was able to produce some good product with it, I eventually learned from sites like this that it was not well designed. I built it before there were online calculators (even before Feldon's) to help with sizing and one of the biggest mistakes I made was making the FB too small. It worked but took a lot of effort. What I am hoping to achieve with my new design is a hybrid smoker. As someone said in another post, most of us are trying to design a smoker that can do all the things we need it to so we only have to build one good one. So here is my idea:

I want to build a horizontal reverse flow (rectangular chamber) with offset FB (square) and a VC (rectangular) above the FB. I would like to be able to isolate the horizontal RF from the VC and use the VC as a WB if needed (top of FB will be bottom of VC). I would also like to isolate the VC from the RF and use just the VC for smaller cooks OR use it as one large smoker - an RF with a VC at the end.

I have been doing as much research as I can into getting the sizing right to design my new build but I am not sure exactly what or how to input the data into the calculators or if this is even possible. If I input all the numbers based on using the smoker as one large unit then the FB is way too big if I just use the RF or VC by themselves.

Do I treat it as one large RF and use the VC as part of the chimney when in that configuration and have a chimney on each CC for when the are isolated OR do I treat them as two separate CC and not let the air flow through the RF into the VC but open dampers that allow the FB to feed both the RF and VC at the same time and another set of dampers to isolate them?

Can this be done and achieve consistent temperature throughout both CC's?

Lots more questions about this but maybe we just start with letting me know if this is possible.

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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by ajfoxy » June 12th, 2019, 1:38 am

Very nice build that... hate to have to move it though... :D


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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by mp4 » June 12th, 2019, 3:55 am

Only use the horizontal cook chamber in the calculations and you'll be good to go.



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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Frank_Cox » June 12th, 2019, 7:38 am

When you say Hybrid are you wanting one long cook chamber with half RF and half traditional offset?
When we design our style of hybrid we make the entire cook chamber able to cook as a reverseflow smoker or a traditional offset. We use our calculator (found at bbqpitcalculator.com) which works for both styles. then we cut the baffle plate into short pieces we call tuning plates ranging from 12" to 6" and install them on a rail in the cook chamber where the baffle plate would normally got. we place a smoke stack at both ends of the cook chamber. both are the size the pit calc recommends. when running the pit you move the tuning plates all to the firebox side and leave your gap at the opposite end. when running as a traditional offset remove one tuning plate and put gaps between the tuning plates to control your temp zones. the gaps are typically wider where you want the hot temp zones and shorter where you want the lower temp zones. As for the vertical cabinet, you do not need to factor that into your numbers like mp4 said. only the horizontal cook chamber.
Hope that helps!


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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Sleeman » June 12th, 2019, 8:34 pm

Hi Frank

Based on your explanation I think I have used the term "hybrid" incorrectly I just didn't know what else to call it.

Just like in a lot of your Smokerbuilder plans I have seen, I want to build a standard horizontal reverse flow smoker (rectangular chamber) with FB on the left (square) and a WB (rectangular) above the FB.

When used in this configuration what is the WB used for?

What I am wondering is if it is possible to do the following, using dampers or sliding doors to change the configuration of the smoker:

1. I would like to be able to isolate the horizontal RF from the WB and use the RF only.
2. I would also like to isolate the WB from the RF and use the WB as a VC for smaller cooks
3. Use it as one large smoker - an RF with a VC at the end.



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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Pete Mazz » June 13th, 2019, 3:31 am



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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Sleeman » June 14th, 2019, 10:10 pm

Peter

Thank you for sending me to that link, It is exactly what I am trying to do.

Frank

I am not a welder but I am a General Contractor so I can appreciate quality craftsmanship when I see it. I have followed a few of your builds on this site and I am impressed by your quality and attention to detail. I wish you guys were closer or I knew how to weld because there is no one near where I live that is building smokers like you guys do.

For calculating a smoker like this:

To calculate the FB, as mp4 said above, I should only use the horizontal cooker dimensions and not include WC but, do I include the size of the gap between the bottom of the smoker and the BP as part of the CC? I already have the outer dimensions of my horizontal smoker and WC so if the height of my horizontal smoker is 24" including the 8" space for that gap (arbitrary number, not sure how to calculate the actual size), I use 24" NOT 16"?

If I insulate my smoker and FB as you did in the Mack build, do I use the inner dimensions to calculate sizes?

Do chimneys need to be square or round? Can they be rectangle, or any shape as long as they have the same volume as the calculations say? Is there any benefit to dropping the chimney into the chamber?



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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Pete Mazz » June 15th, 2019, 3:16 am

I should only use the horizontal cooker dimensions and not include WC but, do I include the size of the gap between the bottom of the smoker and the BP as part of the CC?
Yes. Use the entire volume .
If I insulate my smoker and FB as you did in the Mack build, do I use the inner dimensions to calculate sizes?
Yes.
Do chimneys need to be square or round? Can they be rectangle, or any shape as long as they have the same volume as the calculations say? Is there any benefit to dropping the chimney into the chamber?
Round has the least friction loss. Use my Square Stack Calculator (see my sig) to get equivalent volume of a square or rectangular stack.

Some folks think it helps, others don't . Only figure the height of the stack above the CC


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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Sleeman » June 17th, 2019, 12:04 am

Looking through the posts on that build, Frank says that he only insulates his FB and not the CC or WB, I assume this is partly due to the entire smoker being built of 1/4" steel? If my CC and WB will be made of lighter gauge steel would it be a good idea for me to insulate?

How do you calculate the size of the openings from the

CC to WB - same size as the opening from the FB to the CC?

FB to WB - can this opening be small since it is direct from the FB?

How do you calculate the height from the bottom of the smoker to the BP? Is short and wide (4" H x 20" W) better that tall and narrow (8" x 10")?



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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Big T » June 17th, 2019, 7:50 pm

I made the opening on my CC to WC the same size as the throat (FB to CC) but I don't think that it needs to be that large. I believe that 60%- 75% would be plenty big enough to achieve any temp that I wanted in the WC or CC especially with the opening from the FB to WC. My current smoker is 24 X 48(round)with a 24 X 21 X 30(insulated floor) WC over the FB and I went with a 5 X 5 square opening from the FB to WC. I can run the CC and WC at the same temperature of completely different temps with no problem. I put a 6'' tall chimney on the WC and it takes a few minutes to get a good draft going if I'm cooking through the CC to WC and out the chimney. I plan on cutting the stack off and making it the same overall height as the one on the CC. I have a damper on the stack so I can choke it down if it drafts too hard but I think it'll help with establishing a good draft.


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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Sleeman » June 18th, 2019, 9:37 pm

Thanks Big T. That all makes sense.

Throat size is calculated in sq inches, and I read in others posts that the shape of the throat doesn't really matter as long as you have enough sq inches. So I can choose to make it square, rectangle, half-moon, round?

Is there a term for the area between the bottom of the smoker and the BP? The flow chamber?

Let's say the throat should be 100 sq inches and I decide to make it a rectangle - 5" x 20" - Do I make the "flow chamber" 5" x 20" all the way from the FB to the other end of my smoker? OR Do I make the "flow chamber" 5" from the bottom of the smoker to the BP and as wide as my smoker?

The online calculators are most focused on tank (round) smokers. Pete's Calculators include some that help with square (or rectangle) chimneys but I can't find info about how to calculate the Baffle gap in a rectangular smoker. Is it the same as the round?



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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Pete Mazz » June 19th, 2019, 4:07 am

how to calculate the Baffle gap in a rectangular smoker. Is it the same as the round?

The BP gap should be the same as 75-100% of Throat size. There is a calc if you need it.

The area under the BP doesn't need to match the Throat. Just make it rectangular and the top of the BP is the top of the FB. That leaves maximum amount of room for grates, starting at 4-5" above BP.


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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Sleeman » June 22nd, 2019, 9:56 pm

I have been running my numbers through the Pit calculator. My CC will be 24D x 30H x 96L and the calculator tells me I need a throat size of 188.16 sq in.

If my smoker is 24" deep then the height of my throat will need to be 7 13/16". That seems very tall and will take up a lot of space in my smoker if the "flow chamber" (area between the bottom and the BP) is almost 8 inches. Can I use a flow chamber that tapers from the specified opening size down to 6 inches of height or less? Then I can cut open the bottom of my smoker and make the first 36" to 48" of the "flow chamber" tapered. This way the top of my FB and BP will only use 6 inches of my CC?



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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by towtruck » June 22nd, 2019, 11:16 pm

Sleeman wrote:
June 22nd, 2019, 9:56 pm
I have been running my numbers through the Pit calculator. My CC will be 24D x 30H x 96L and the calculator tells me I need a throat size of 188.16 sq in.

If my smoker is 24" deep then the height of my throat will need to be 7 13/16". That seems very tall and will take up a lot of space in my smoker if the "flow chamber" (area between the bottom and the BP) is almost 8 inches. Can I use a flow chamber that tapers from the specified opening size down to 6 inches of height or less? Then I can cut open the bottom of my smoker and make the first 36" to 48" of the "flow chamber" tapered. This way the top of my FB and BP will only use 6 inches of my CC?
I would trust the calculator and live with the 22" of space above the BP. You will then have 18" of space from the first shelf to the top of the CC if you put that first rack 4" above the BP. I would split the difference and make two shelves. You could put four positions for shelves so you could squeeze three shelves in for thinner meat with a choice of where to put the bigger gap. Having 16' for the air to travel to get out of that smoker it will need room to flow.

On my smoker I have 7" of space from the grate to the top of the CC and I can get most any hunk of meat into the 7" of space just fine. Two grates 7" apart and another with 4" of room will cook thin meats just fine. I would still split the difference so two grates have 9" of space and then add rails for adding a third grate.



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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Pete Mazz » June 23rd, 2019, 4:03 am

:yth:


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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Dirtytires » June 23rd, 2019, 10:32 am

Triple that....a taper is a bad idea.

A smoker chamber that is 8 feet long is doing to result is a total legnth of almost 11 feet with the firebox. That seems pretty long for such a small chamber. It sounds like you are going square with it so why only 24x30? If you increased to 32x32 you could decrease the legnth to 68 inches and keep the same volume. You could also decrease the height of your throat to 5.75 inches to gain more verticle space as you wanted.

Just my opinion but a shorter smoker will not only be easier to build and move but will heat much more even and be easier to cook on. Fewer doors, fewer racks less walking to adjust meat.....it’s a win-win.

It’s your build.....I’m just throwing out an idea.



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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by towtruck » June 23rd, 2019, 12:21 pm

If your starting from scratch I would adjust my sizes to shorten that CC as DT says if you want more rack room. If you are working with materials that are set to the dimensions you listed you have to make sure you stick to the calculators and adjust your cooking area to fit.

Air flow will bite you if you don't color within the lines. I built a very strange smoker from materials given to me. I was limited in what I could do with them. I stuck to the calculators. I went an unknown direction and put two reverse flows back to back, mirror like, with the freedom of air to move across the fire and cook chamber in any direction it wanted. Thick meat on one side and thin on the other proved my bad design right away. The fire and smoke all went the path of least resistance. I ended up splitting the FB and CC right down the middle and since I stuck with the calculators I now have a double smoker that works perfectly now that I isolated each half.

With your warming chamber and the length of your original design you are still going to have a ton of rack space and places to cook.



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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Sleeman » June 25th, 2019, 1:47 am

Dirtytires - I am not a welder or metal fab guy. If I was I would be taking your advice and going bigger but shorter. With all the variables involved in trying to get what I have to work with designed properly, it might be easier to learn to weld.

Like my first build, I am trying to build this with materials that are available to me. My first smoker, shown in my first post, is made from 2 apple juice drums and a wood burning stove as my FB. Not one weld in that smoker other than the pre-made stove. I am slightly embarrassed to say given the incredible smoker builds I have seen on this site but I am trying to make my new smoker out of construction job boxes. This is mostly why I called this a Hybrid build.

I am assuming I will need to insulate the outside of my CC because of the thickness of the steel on the job boxes. This means that my CC (two job boxes end to end) has a set I.D. of 22"D (24 with insulated doors ) x 24"H (allowing 20" of cooking space) x 98"L (2" spacer between the two boxes). I will be adding the "flow chamber" to the bottom of the CC based on the calculations and insulating the outside of it. I will be getting someone to build me a FB based on the dimensions from the calculators, probably insulated like in the Mack build but with thinner gauge steel on the outside. Then I will add a warming chamber on top of the FB using what I have (smaller job box - insulated outside) that is as close to some of the dimensions I have read in other posts

Because I am adding the "flow chamber" to the bottom of a CC I can't change, I have a set width of the throat which will be 22". I do have some control over the height, but if I need to increase the height of the throat, I am also increasing the overall height of the smoker making it difficult to make the numbers work. When I run the numbers using 22D x 98L and 32 as my height (8" for the flow chamber) the calculator tells me I need a throat size of 184.32sq inch. If I divide that by 22" that gives me a height of 8 3/8". I only have 8" of height which means my throat opening will be 95.4% of what the calculator suggests. Is that close enough? If not then I am caught in a cycle of increasing the overall size every time I increase the height of my throat.



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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Dirtytires » June 25th, 2019, 10:04 am

Wow....I must say attempting a weld-free smoker is an ambitious undertaking. I’m interested to see what you come up with.

Truth be told, hobby welding is not really that hard of a concept to master with today’s wire feed welding machines. We all learn how to make our welds prettier and stronger as we progress but can join 2 pieces of metal with a pretty short learning curve. If you have the time, space and resources, I would really recommend you try it. In the end, being able to fabricate and weld your own parts will make a huge difference and you will be surprised how much you use it for projects around the house.



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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Big T » June 25th, 2019, 5:36 pm

:yth: Plenty of guys have learned to weld while building their first smoker so it's definitely doable.


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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by McBroom » June 25th, 2019, 6:56 pm

I couldn’t agree more with @Big T and @dirtytires
It’s not that difficult and they make inexpensive welders that run on 120V.


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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by towtruck » June 25th, 2019, 8:24 pm

Building a smoker without a welder is very doable. It all matters on what materials you are using. My smoker (see Center feed tube build thread) has less than 20" of weld on the whole thing not counting the mounting brackets to the trailer. My door hinges and latches are the only thing welded on and those could have been bolted if I wanted to do it that way. Sealing mating surfaces must be done properly and with proper materials. Nothing toxic should ever be used. Now, my cooking grates were welded together, and there is a couple small welds here and there for tabs to bolt things on but those items could have been made a different way so no welding was needed.

Anyone can follow directions and make a pit. All the guess work is removed for you. When making a pit from material you have on hand you only need to follow the basic rule of air flow. Follow the calculations listed on this site and use your noodle to determine if those numbers need to be tweaked for your application. A longer than standard pit will have more friction loss in the air flow so bigger holes might be needed. My advice is to get your numbers from the calculator and then build your pit with some flexibility in it. Make the throat size adjustable, make the bypass opening into the cook chamber adjustable, make your air intakes to the FB bigger than what is needed so you can just choke it down. Try and size the stack a little big in case you need the air flow as you can always close it a tad as well. The fire box size needs to be made correctly so it will burn correctly.

Once you get it built then it's all about learning how it will work. In my build thread, I built a fire in it many times throughout it's build stages to make sure it was going to work. I could have abandoned ship at a very early stage if things were not working out. I built smokey fires to track air flow and check heat readings. It just might amaze you how good of a pit you can put together. Hell, I never envisioned my pit cooking brisket and yet a full packer fits perfectly into a 7" tall by 11" wide cook chamber and smokes to perfection.

I made a baby smoker from a 3" pipe and some scraps. It holds two brats and takes two hours to smoke them to perfection. The fire box holds seven briquettes. I could not use the calculator as a fire box the correct size could not produce enough heat to cook anything so I had to improvise that step in the process. I figured out I had an issue early on in testing and it was a quick fire box swap away from making it work.

Plan out your build, use the calculator, make sure the material is strong enough for the application and build it. Trouble areas with what you want to do are going to be making sure your design does not let any grease get into the fire box and making connections with the different parts that won't leak too much smoke and heat.

Build it and it will smoke!!!!!!!



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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by McBroom » June 25th, 2019, 9:37 pm

^^^THIS^^^


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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Sleeman » June 25th, 2019, 11:09 pm

Thanks guys. I have every intention of learning to weld some day so it is good to know it is affordable and not that hard. I am a contractor and have free access to new job boxes. I took one look at them and thought they looked like ready to go cook chambers and here we are.

Towtruck - thanks for all the tips on using the numbers. It makes perfect sense to go a little bigger and make things adjustable. As you said its all about learning how to get the best out of the cooker you have. The first one I built has a FB that is about 1/2 the size it should be, the chimney is too small and short and because they a drums, they loose heat quickly. I learned how to build a good fire, get the best airflow I could and to keep the CC temperature consistent I actually laid furniture moving blankets over top while I'm cooking. As I said earlier, it was a lot of effort to get through a cook but I managed to produce some pretty good product with my Frankensmoker.
IMAG0538.jpg
I will get the FB built and welded according to the calculator and I will also need to get grates and other parts built but as for the assembly and other details I am attempting to do this without a welder.

I appreciate all the advice.

Not sure how forums work. Do I keep this thread going asking questions until I start to build then start a new thread or ?
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Re: Hybrid Smoker. Can it be done? How to calculate?

Post by Sleeman » June 25th, 2019, 11:28 pm

To move forward with my design I want to clarify what Towtruck has said above to be sure I understand.

Because of the design limitation I have, the best I can get my throat size is only 95% of what the calculator says. If I make my BG larger will that help compensate for the smaller throat? Maybe also a larger chimney, 8" instead of 6" with a damper for control?

What if I oversize the FB slightly and air intakes? Will that help with heat and airflow?



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