Smoker fix...

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Areid
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Smoker fix...

Post by Areid » December 30th, 2019, 3:02 pm

I have been lurking on this forum for a few years, but I am to a point that I need some help with a project.

I purchased a smoker several years ago and it is in need of some repairs. The smoker was made by Black Warrior Smokers in Alabama and is the Cherokee model, but this same model is made by several manufacturers. Custom Pits comes to mind. I am the second owner of his smoker and picked the smoker up pretty cheap. Yes, I got what I paid for. Click here : http://blackwarriorsmokers.com/models_cherokee.html

Any one who is familiar with this smoker knows the problems. The firebox is too small, in the wrong position, made out of thin metal, baffle plate is just plane ole jacked up and the exhaust is not tall enough. Despite all of these issues I have cooked some good meat and even won a few competitions with it.

Because of all of the design issues the firebox is beginning to rust as well as the baffle plate. Also, I'd like to be able to cook without using the door as the intake. The tank itself seems good. It is 1/4" steel and is 30" X 62". The trailer is also good so I would like to fix what I have. My plan is to cut the firebox and grill off and move the firebox to the rear of the trailer, install a a new baffle plate and move the exhaust.

I've used the calculator (several times) and I have a question. I'm sure there will be more later. The calculator calls for a throat size of 125 square inches. I plan to make my firebox 30" wide and the calculator is calling for a 7” height cut out for the throat. If I place my baffle plate at the top of the cut out, the baffle plate will be about 8” below the lowest grate. It seems most cookers have a baffle plate that is a little closer and I was hoping for about 4".

Questions:
Will placing the baffle 8” away from the grate be ok? Has anyone done this and it works well?
If I move the baffle plate up 2" above the top of the throat opening putting it about 4" below the grate; will the increase in volume under the plate cause an issue when the baffle plate opening necks back down to 125 square inches?

Sorry for he long post but I'm trying to do this right the first time.

Edited to put in the appropriate numbers. Maybe adding a dam or using a trapezoid shape will help?

Thanks,

Andre



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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by Big T » December 30th, 2019, 8:35 pm

Welcome aboard!! You can raise the BP up 2'' above the throat and you won't have any issues as long as the throat and BP gap are the recommended size. A lot of guys raise the BP 2'' above the throat and install a shadow plate below the BP. It's basically a short BP that is mounted at the throat with a 1'' air gap between the BP and SP, it usually runs about the first 20%-25% of the BP. It helps to avoid a hot spot right at the throat, it's not a must have but it really is worth the extra work.


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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by Areid » December 30th, 2019, 9:19 pm

That is good news. Thanks
I see you’re in LA. I live in Spanish Fort.



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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by Big T » December 30th, 2019, 10:20 pm

I live right outside of Saraland so you're the closest person to me that I've ever seen on the forum. Let me know if there's ever anything that I can help you out with.


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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by Areid » December 31st, 2019, 4:31 pm

SmokerBuilder® Pit Calculator.pdf
I've been doing some figuring and measuring and more figuring for a while and this is what I have come up with. Any suggestions or corrections are welcome. The cooking chamber and grates are fixed as is the dimensions of the trailer. I'm trying to work around what is good.


Part Measurements Actual Size Recommended Size Size Differential
Cook Chamber 29.5 X 61.5 42034.8 in³
Firebox 24 X 30 X 20 14400 in³ 14011.6 in³ 102.77 %
Chimney 6 X 25.48 720 in³ 720 in³ 100 %
Firebox Air Intake 2 inlets 60 in² 43.2 in² 128.21 %
Throat 115.2 in² 129 in²

My numbers from the calculator are listed above, but they may be hard to read. Hopefully my attachment worked. My cook chamber is 30" wide X 62" long and the 1/4" thick. I entered the interior dimensions into the calculator.

Firebox: It is a little oversize, but probably not worth mentioning. It is only 20" tall so that I have some ground clearance and not scrape the ground when driving over uneven terrain. I plan to make a 4" tall wood grate. Let me know if 20" is tall enough.

Intake: I will install an intake below the wood grate and on the two sides and the door so that I will always have an opening away from the wind. 3"X X 10" slide dampers or a 12" pinwheel.

Throat: I increased the size of the throat from 115 in² to 129 in². This was simply a matter of finding an height dimension that was simple. Using the larger throat size allows me to make the throat 7.1/4" tall and 25 3/8th's wide.

Baffle Plate: I'd like to install the baffle plate 2" above the top of the throat/ firebox. It would be 9.25" above the bottom of the cook chamber and 27 3/8th's wide. This should put my baffle plate 5.75" below my lowest grate. The bottom of that grate is 15" from the bottom of the cook chamber.

Shadow plate: If having the baffle plate 2" above the throat opening will still result in a hot spot, I will use a shadow plate. If you guys think I need it, I will make one that is 12" long and 25 3/8th's in . wide welded to the top of the throat.

All metal will be 1/4"

Let me know what y'all think and thanks for all of the help so far.
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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by McBroom » December 31st, 2019, 7:51 pm

Sounds bout accurate to me.

Claud




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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by Areid » February 12th, 2020, 2:21 pm

I'm finally getting some time to mess with this smoker, but I've spent the last couple of weeks looking at other builds and mulling over things. I plan to pick up a sheet of 1/4" steel in the morning and my welder has already cut off the old firebox and direct grill that was attached.
My tank is 29.5" wide and 61.5" long internally. The calculator gave me a 115.2 square inch throat dimension.

My firebox is wide and short. This may end up looking odd, but I do not want it to drag on uneven terrain and I am not about to change up how the tank mounts to the trailer. I will likely add a warming chamber above the firebox in the future and I want it to hold full sheet pans hence keeping it wide.

I used the trapezoid calculator and I have come up with this:
Top Length = 26.481, Bottom Length= 17.833, Height of cut-out = 5.25 For a total throat area of cut-out.116.32
These measurements have already been drawn onto cardboard and cut out so that my welder can just use a sharpie to draw out the area to cut out the piece of plate that would make up the rear of my fire box.

I was a little worried that raising the throat opening would create too much air space under the baffle plate, but after doing a little searching; this area doesn't seem to matter or at least not as much as the appropriate firebox, throat, baffle plate gap and chimney size.

With that being said, I am using a 3" dam height, 5.25" cut out height and then placing the baffle plate 2" above the top of the firebox. This will place my baffle plate 4.75" lower than my lowest grate. Shadow plates come recommended so I will do that unless you guys think the 2" gap between the top of the firebox/throat and baffle plate will prevent a hot spot.

Thanks for the help so far and and thanks to anyone who reads this, can actually make sense of what I wrote and review my plans.


Part Measurements Actual Size Size Differential
Cook Chamber 29.5 X 61.5 42034.8 in³ N/A
Firebox 24 X 30 X 20 14400 in³ 102.77 %
Chimney 6 X 25.48 720 in³ 100 %
Throat 115.2 in²



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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by McBroom » February 12th, 2020, 4:35 pm

I dont think shadow plates are needed you've got plenty of space and shouldn't have a problem with a hot spot.

Claud McBroom




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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by Areid » February 12th, 2020, 4:53 pm

Thanks for your input. We have a competition next month and I'm cooking for a wedding the last weekend of march.
Trying not to mess things up.



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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by McBroom » February 12th, 2020, 8:07 pm

You'll do just fine. Gotta have faith. I've catered many events and will venture into competition later this year. I got a rub recipe that'll blow your mind. It works on beef pork chicken whole hog and the list goes on. I dont do lamb so I can't say if its good on that. I make my own bbq sauce from scratch too.

Claud McBroom




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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by Areid » February 17th, 2020, 5:25 pm

President’s Day is the only holiday I get off and the kids are in school. Went to my buddy’s house to get some work done on the smoker.

He did a good job and knocked out several tasks in short order. Exhaust has been moved and old location filled with the cut out for its new location.
The firebox is fully welded and welded to the other side of the tank.
Baffle plate has also been installed.

We will work on repairing the area where the old firebox was located this coming weekend.

Where do you guys get 8” pipe from? The place I got my sheet of steel from only had schedule 80.

Thanks
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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by Big T » February 17th, 2020, 10:53 pm

A lot of guys find theirs at scrapyards but the ones that I have asked in Mobile don't sale anything, they just buy scrap. I've bought most of my pipe from B and B pipe supply in Mobile, they are pretty high on their prices but they've always had what I wanted on hand.


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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by Dirtytires » February 18th, 2020, 8:49 pm

Try a few different steelyards as not all of them sell all sizes for whatever reason. I’ve got one yard that has pretty reasonable prices on flats, small square tube and sheet goods but doesn’t handle all the sizes or any pipe or round bar. My point is call around and ask specific questions. Some will sell by the foot and some only sell by the 20/21 foot length.....and some don’t carry what you want at all.

Good luck!



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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by Weldun » February 19th, 2020, 8:48 pm

Sometimes mechanical contractor shops have chunks left over from jobs, it’s amazing what you can sometimes get for a dozen donuts!


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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by Areid » February 22nd, 2020, 9:06 am

She is back home and I made a short practice run. The good news is this thing actually works. Not that I ever doubted you guys and or the calculator...

The better news is it actually works well and by having a full baffle plate I have substantially increased how much I can cook.

Before I made the modifications my firebox was on the tongue side of the trailer and mounted above the frame rails. Because of this it was mounted too high and the throat was not at the top of the fire box. Flames were constantly hitting the top of the firebox with no where to go. It quickly burned the top of the very thin metal that the box was made out of. Also, because of this design flaw, my baffle plate was touching the bottom grate near the firebox. That made this area useless for low and slow cooking. There were several other issues also.

Now my firebox is the correct size, air intake is the correct size, thirst is in the correct position, etc. The only thing we screwed up was cutting the baffle plate about an inch too short. I decided to leave it be until I made a practice run. I’d rather add metal once. I may temporarily clamp some angle on the end to see how small I can make the baffle plate gap before it affects performance.

If you look at the temps that are attached the #4 probe was near the baffle plate gap at the top of the tank. It gets hot there. I put the probe there on purpose. I wanted to know just how hot it got in that area. Aside from that spot the top rack runs about 30-40 degrees hotter than the bottom. I was able to set a low temp alert for my top rack at 265 and bottom rack at 225. When it beeped I added a split and it cooked for a while in the 250(bottom) 280 (top) range.

I need to build a box to contain coals. My buddy quickly formed a log grate and I laid a piece of expanded metal over it for my test.

I needed some tongue weight. We had a perfect piece of 1/4” laying on the ground that was left over. Made a spot for my cooler. I will work on a design for my Cajun fryer, burner for a pot, wood storage and cooler later. Once it’s all done he is going to sandblast it and paint it in his booth for me.



Anyway all is well. Very well. Attached should be some before (stock photos) and after pics.

Thanks for everyone’s help. I will run some storage designs by y’all to see what you think and I will update you on closing the baffle plate gap down. I’m really just trying it for my own curiosity/knowledge.
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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by Dirtytires » February 22nd, 2020, 2:02 pm

Great job. Looks like you are in for one heck of a fun summer.

Pretty common for the temp right above the gap to be hot. Saw a guy put a small deflector above the gap at about first shelf height. I’ve never tried it but he claimed it helped even out temps in the upper half of the pit.



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Re: Smoker fix...

Post by Areid » February 23rd, 2020, 2:03 pm

I’ve had all sorts of ideas on how to level things out. I’m not going to worry about it for now. I’ve doubled my usable area compared to what I had. I’m running some chickens right now in my hot zone. It’s not killing them so I’d imagine what I see from the thermometers with an empty chamber isn’t exactly what happens when it’s loaded. I know to avoid the area near the baffle plate gap on the top rack for anything low and slow. If I need to rush something I have a spot for it. I’ll just have to watch it. Either way my lower rack is dead on even and I can fit 30 or butts there. The top rack is about 20 degrees hotter than the bottom staring about a foot from the baffle plate gap side. Everything is good.

PS. Beer helps. It’s meat and heat and there ain’t nothing to worry about except eating.
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