Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Smoker Clones are your own version of a commercially available Smoker. Examples are Stumps, Jambo, Backwoods, or any other you want to try to copy.
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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by SmokinDTown » August 25th, 2015, 9:29 am

Cal Smoke, nice looking ribs! Great looking ribs! Are you willing to divulge your molasses/mustard slather?



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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » August 25th, 2015, 1:50 pm

SmokinDTown wrote:Cal Smoke, nice looking ribs! Great looking ribs! Are you willing to divulge your molasses/mustard slather?
Easy-peasy: 1/4 cup yellow mustard, 1 tablespoon each of Worcestershire and Blackstrap Molasses. Makes just enough for two racks of beef ribs.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Puff » August 25th, 2015, 5:15 pm

That's what makes yours even better! My first vine inlay took me 2 months. Now after years of practice I can do it in 59 days..


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by forty_creek » August 25th, 2015, 5:16 pm

Strong Work on the beef ribs!


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » August 26th, 2015, 11:32 am

I'm curious about a couple of things, appreciate any input:

1. How are others planning to attach the outer skin? I've been thinking that I'd weld it, but it's a lot of linear seam (even with a couple of bends) to weld and dress neatly before painting.

2. Changes to the size of the cook chamber. I'd like to stretch mine vertically at least 3", maybe as much as 5", but I'm worried about throwing off the ratio of cook chamber to firebox. FWIW, I checked the CC to FB ratio on the pit calculator, and the size of the FB is way too small according to the calculator. I expect this is OK as the calculator seems to be geared to an offset stick burner, not this style of cooker. But that still leaves me the same question about how much I can stretch my CC.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by forty_creek » August 26th, 2015, 2:02 pm

Correct, the calculator will not help you with your build. It's for offset and RFs. Sorry that's my extent on a gravity feed build.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by NM_Wanderer » August 26th, 2015, 3:07 pm

CaliforniaSmoke wrote:I'm curious about a couple of things, appreciate any input:

1. How are others planning to attach the outer skin? I've been thinking that I'd weld it, but it's a lot of linear seam (even with a couple of bends) to weld and dress neatly before painting.

2. Changes to the size of the cook chamber. I'd like to stretch mine vertically at least 3", maybe as much as 5", but I'm worried about throwing off the ratio of cook chamber to firebox. FWIW, I checked the CC to FB ratio on the pit calculator, and the size of the FB is way too small according to the calculator. I expect this is OK as the calculator seems to be geared to an offset stick burner, not this style of cooker. But that still leaves me the same question about how much I can stretch my CC.
Well I suppose you could calculate the volume of the cook chamber and divide by the firebox size and then adjust the size of the firebox for the larger cook chamber volume to match the ratio. I don't know how much you would need to adjust the firebox opening though. Maybe I am putting too much thought into this as well but I would like to stretch mine vertically as well.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » August 26th, 2015, 5:44 pm

Yeah, up-sizing the cook chamber, smoke port and firebox proportionately to each other seems like it would be safe. Unfortunately I've already started building some of those parts, I sent Frank a PM, but haven't heard back yet. I'll have to call him on the phone before the weekend...I'm hoping to start cutting tubing then.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » August 28th, 2015, 8:51 am

I talk to Frank on the phone yesterday, he thought I should be OK stretching my CC by 6" vertically without having to change the firebox or smoke port. I may give up some high temperature ability, but I don't planning on high heat cooking on this anyway.

I hope to finalize the firebox and ash box this weekend and start on the tubing framework. I think I'll plan on shelf supports every 3.5", which should be enough to get extra shelves of ribs, sausages or chicken pieces in, or 3 shelves of taller meats like butts, whole chickens or brisket.

And, yes, that means I'll be having to go get more angle iron for the shelf supports. I think I have enough angle and expanded metal to make 4 shelves already.

The insulation should arrive today, so the planets are aligning. Just need to figure out what I'm going to be cooking this weekend. I think I'll keep dinners simple so I have more time to build. Time to try out some new side dishes maybe...


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by WyomingLawDog » August 28th, 2015, 4:25 pm

California Smoke, I am not adjusting the smoker dimensions itself but I to bought double the angle iron to build 5 cooking shelves and looking at putting in more shelf guides about every 3 to 3.5 inches and was looking at putting the lowest shelf lower then what the drawing shows. Hoping to be able to cook up to 5 shelves of ribs and chicken, you know smaller pieces of meat but can still take out shelves like an oven to smoke briskets, pork butts or even a large turkey.



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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by NM_Wanderer » August 28th, 2015, 5:40 pm

CaliforniaSmoke wrote:I talk to Frank on the phone yesterday, he thought I should be OK stretching my CC by 6" vertically without having to change the firebox or smoke port. I may give up some high temperature ability, but I don't planning on high heat cooking on this anyway.

I hope to finalize the firebox and ash box this weekend and start on the tubing framework. I think I'll plan on shelf supports every 3.5", which should be enough to get extra shelves of ribs, sausages or chicken pieces in, or 3 shelves of taller meats like butts, whole chickens or brisket.

And, yes, that means I'll be having to go get more angle iron for the shelf supports. I think I have enough angle and expanded metal to make 4 shelves already.

The insulation should arrive today, so the planets are aligning. Just need to figure out what I'm going to be cooking this weekend. I think I'll keep dinners simple so I have more time to build. Time to try out some new side dishes maybe...
That's good news!! Can't wait to start mine.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Puff » August 28th, 2015, 7:31 pm

I'm pleased as punch (as they say) with the size just as it is... Most of the time, cooking 4 slabs of ribs is more than enough for us with left overs. This size will cook around 10-12 depending on size of the ribs but that alone is good for 10 people especially coupled with sides.

I don't think I would consider expanding the size of the unit. Volumetric efficiency is a complex science. Despite my superior intellect and remarkably high IQ :D , I know I could never come up with the calculations required to maximize heat, burn time and temperature. It's just not my specialty. if this litte GF burns as well as my large GF....Wow! I t would be fantastic! I Don't know that I'd work so hard to build it without knowing what it's ready to do in its stock configuration and compare those numbers in actual use.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » August 29th, 2015, 11:04 am

Puff, I certainly wouldn't do it arbitrarily. That's why I asked Frank. Even then I feel uncomfortable deviating from the plans, I'm just a little anal that way I guess. If the plans say 32" it's going to be hard for me to cut a different length when it comes down to is.

And yeah, it's probably enough capacity already. Out of curiosity, do you cook bigger hunks of heat often (like pork butts or whole shoulders)? I do butts pretty often, which is why I'm a little fixated on the shelf spacing, because I need 6"-7" for those. I guess you have your monster cabinet if you ever need to cook for a small army too.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Puff » August 29th, 2015, 3:33 pm

Well just for comparison... My 275 RF did 31-32 full thick slabs of ribs and when they first went in, there was not a space between any of them. As they cooked and shrunk ...I could have but 3 more on each of the two cook racks. The big GF has about 20% more capacity!

It's still only my wife and I though


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » August 29th, 2015, 7:44 pm

I got a couple of hours in the shop today after my errands.

First off, I cut the tack welds on the firebox and re-oriented the parts correctly. Glad I hadn't welded that solid at the time!

I welded the rails for the charcoal grate to the inside of the ash box
Image

Then I tacked the parts of the ash box together, and tack welded that to the firebox. It's a little hard to see how this is supposed to go together on the plans, but given the dimensions of the parts, there is only one orientation where everything fits together properly.

Image

Image

I'm not going to weld this solid until I have it fit into the tubing frame. Which I think I'll start tomorrow.

I also made the grate for the bottom of the firebox, I deviated slightly from the plans to incorporate a simple grab handle to make it easier to remove. Especially if there is a runaway fire in the chute and I need to dump it. This all fits together really nicely, it's satisfying to see it start to take shape.

Image

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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Puff » August 29th, 2015, 9:33 pm

I now have a small chain hanging into the ashes and tacked to the grate as a quick grab option in the event of a problem. Those discussions over the phone with Frank yield some cool ideas

What did you use to cut that beautiful circle


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » August 30th, 2015, 12:29 am

Puff wrote: What did you use to cut that beautiful circle
Hole saw in a drill press. Just have to go slowly and use cutting fluid to keep it cool.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Puff » August 30th, 2015, 9:17 am

I may have to send mine to you ;)


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » August 30th, 2015, 6:11 pm

I started on the tubing frame today, got the front and back tacked together. I got a weird twist in on on the assemblies, had to cut the tacks and tweak it. Both are flat now.

I did stuff the tubes with insulation. I'm using Roxul. It takes a bit of effort to get the insulation into the tubes. Not a huge deal though. It packs down about 50%, so the tubes should be well insulated. I'm only going to fill the tubes that are adjacent to the cook chamber, I don't see any point in packing the other tubes.

Packing the tubes with insulation
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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Puff » August 30th, 2015, 7:41 pm

Also used the Roxul, it cuts nicely with a Sheetrock knife and packs well with a wooden dowel. I did pack every tube and cover everywhere, I had plenty of material. You are doing a very nice clean job. I guess it's inevitable that some twist occurs with the welding process. My CC door was perfect until I laid it on the smoker frame. Fortunately cutting and tweeking does correct a few sins. Flat as can be now and I'm betting the inner and outer skins help keep it that way.
Last edited by Puff on September 9th, 2015, 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » August 30th, 2015, 9:02 pm

I think the twist I had was just some slight misalignment as I was tacking up the tubes. But it's dealt with now. I'll do the front-to-back tubes next weekend, and maybe start fitting the sheetmetal inside. I want as much structure in place before I weld up all of the tubing joints to try to hold the alignment. A cooler day would be nice too. When it's hot I need a fan on and the shop doors open to be comfortable, but it's not a good environment for TIG welding.

A couple more weekends and it will start looking like something. I seem to only get 2 or three hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays...so it's going to take me a while to get this built.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Rodcrafter » August 31st, 2015, 2:50 pm

It will get there, keep it up.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » September 4th, 2015, 7:40 pm

I got an hour in the shop this afternoon, cut the eight front-to-back tubes and packed the five of them that are adjacent to the cook chamber with mineral wool. Started tacking up the assembly. Also welded and ground the face joints on the front and back.

Slowly but surely.

Tomorrow I'll finish up fitting and welding the frame, and start fitting the firebox and building the charcoal chute.

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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by NM_Wanderer » September 4th, 2015, 7:57 pm

Did you extend it vertically? How much?


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Puff » September 4th, 2015, 8:34 pm

From my guesstimate...it looks stock length


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