Looking for ideas/feedback

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jabostick
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Looking for ideas/feedback

Post by jabostick » January 30th, 2020, 5:26 pm

Hey folks, I’m curious to get some opinions / ideas. My wife is a member of our local Rotary club and I’ve done a few cooks for them at events (the largest being ~35-40 people). It’s all gone very well and, after me talking about my dreams of having a trailer smoker, one of the members suggested that the club should pursue getting one. They’d hold an event to raise funds for it and then use it at their events, make it available to rent, etc. Apparently lots of Rotary clubs invest in these as well.

Anyway, I’ve suggested a few different options, including building one. I have zero welding skills / equipment / space but the guy I spoke with figured he’d be able to source volunteers and retired welders if I could come up with the ideas/plans. So, I’ve been brainstorming and keep going back and forth on what would make the most sense so I can give these guys a better idea of what they’re getting into. Budget is likely $3-4k but that's a guess on my part.

Here are a few questions/considerations:
  • I’d want something that is big enough to cook for the odd large’ish groups(say up to 100 people, not anything wild) but small enough that a member could store it indoors during the winter (I live in Canada).
  • If the plan is to rent it out to others, I think it would make sense to have a multi-functional trailer – smoker on one side, firebox and warming cabinet one the back, ‘propane stuff’ on the other side (griddle / fryer / grill), etc.
  • I assume I want a fixed trailer unit (as opposed to something that could roll on and off a trailer), but am open to other ideas if they made sense.
  • Sourcing smoking wood locally where I am might be a challenge. I haven’t had to worry about this yet (I don’t have my own stick burner) and there may be options but I’ve heard from others in my area that it’s a challenge. Would primarily running a charcoal basket make sense for a stick burner, or should I be looking at something else (like a gravity feed, for example)?
My options so far seem to be:
  • There’s a local builder but they wouldn’t be able to meet our budget. There are some builders in the States who I think could meet the needs/budget, though it’d require a road trip (and customs hassles maybe??)
  • The Mack has been my starting point (we’d then be adding the extras grills/griddles, etc and putting it on a trailer). I’m thinking the Mack because it comes with cut files and everything. Since I’m not able to do the actual work, I want to keep it as straight forward as possible for whoever is building it.
  • I’ve thought about trying to find an old tank locally and making plans around that but, again, given my lack of welding knowledge and the fact that I wouldn’t be doing the actual building, it feels like that has the potential to go off the rails.
  • Some sort of Frankenstein trailer that just consists of various cookers (a gravity feed, a grill, a propane griddle, etc) bolted/welded onto a trailer
Sorry for the long/rambling message. Any thoughts?



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towtruck
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Re: Looking for ideas/feedback

Post by towtruck » January 30th, 2020, 6:03 pm

I have one comment to make. A car club I belonged to had a cook trailer. We built it for making breakfast...pancakes, sausage, eggs...that kind of stuff. It had a griddle, burners, and a bbq. All you would need were on the trailer and it worked great. Early on they loaned/ rented it out and it came back a mess. BBQ was melted, griddle got warped and small things got broken.

Build it for your club and your club only. If it goes on loan an operator goes with it. Pits take time to learn and nobody will be able to cook well on one without practice.

Good luck!



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Re: Looking for ideas/feedback

Post by jabostick » January 30th, 2020, 9:06 pm

towtruck wrote:
January 30th, 2020, 6:03 pm

Build it for your club and your club only. If it goes on loan an operator goes with it. Pits take time to learn and nobody will be able to cook well on one without practice.

Good luck!
Good point!



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Re: Looking for ideas/feedback

Post by Big T » January 30th, 2020, 9:39 pm

Have you saw the DIY Gravity Feed smoker kit that you can buy from SBM ? It does require a small amount of welding but the majority of it can be screwed together and it's tab and slot so it's really simple to assembly. If you're limited to using charcoal then that would be the best bang for the buck, not to mention that you can feed an army with the thing.


Measure Twice.....Cut Three Times.

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Re: Looking for ideas/feedback

Post by Dirtytires » February 3rd, 2020, 12:10 pm

Your budget is unrealistic in my opinion.

My smoker (24x36 RF with warmer) cost me over $2500 to build several years ago. I did all the work, used new material only and put it on a rolling cart. You want to add a trailer, burners, propane and a grill and do it for under $4000 and with volunteer help? Money spends fast on these things and it is a lot of hours of labor. You would really need to find someone who wants to lead it and has the equipment and experience to complete it.

You could definitely put a Mack on a trailer and then add the rest of the stuff as funds become available.

Agree that renting a pit is a bad idea. You need to rent a pit AND a pit master to run it. They will have a better food due to the experience and your pit won’t get destroyed. With that said, your club would need to be willing to give up weekends to run it. In the end, most people won’t (in my experience) as weekends are too valuable for family time.

You start out saying you cook for 35-40 people but want something to cook for 100. Are you planing to grow that much or are you thinking rental appeal? I would build for what you and your club need.


Charcoal only in a stick burner can be done but why? If you want to burn charcoal, build a charcoal burner.

Just my thoughts....but they are only thoughts.



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Re: Looking for ideas/feedback

Post by jabostick » February 3rd, 2020, 1:25 pm

Thanks dirtytires, that all makes sense. I probably undershot the budget a bit but I know these things can always balloon pretty easily.
Dirtytires wrote:
February 3rd, 2020, 12:10 pm
You start out saying you cook for 35-40 people but want something to cook for 100. Are you planing to grow that much or are you thinking rental appeal? I would build for what you and your club need.
We've just started doing some bbq-specific trial events but it's been me trying to juggle my little pellet smoker, my 18" WSM, and a homemade drum smoker. If we had something bigger, we'd be able to target some of their larger events.
Dirtytires wrote:
February 3rd, 2020, 12:10 pm
Charcoal only in a stick burner can be done but why?
Just because cooking wood is hard to source in my area. The 'stick burner' part was more about a cooker with bigger capacity than being a stick burner per se. A vertical/gravity feed would probably make more sense than, I'm guessing?



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Re: Looking for ideas/feedback

Post by Dirtytires » February 3rd, 2020, 6:50 pm

Yes....if you can’t get wood, I would look at a gravity feed. Those things work pretty efficiently and can hold a ton of food....even the smaller half-pan would fit your description. I don’t have one but a ton of guys have built them here and are super happy. As mentioned, Frank just designed a really nice gravity feed smoker that he sells in a kit. He cuts, bends and welds all the steel parts then puts it on a pallet with every gasket, bolt, hinge and screw needed to complete it. Claims it can be put together without welding in a weekend. Don’t know what international shipping on a pallet would cost you but a call to Frank would answer a lot of questions.

Growing into something is a good expectation/plan. There are just so many options out there that it really helps to have a realistic set of criteria. I was just trying to make sure you do.

We are here to help.....



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