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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Old 02-09-2014, 01:38 PM   #1
Sid Post
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Join Date: 05-31-13
Location: East Texas, USA
Default Help me spec my Shirley Fabrication smoker!

I'm pretty much decided on a Shirley Fabrication 'brand' smoker. I live in Arizona but, plan to eventually move to Texas and have family in Oklahoma. I want a smoker that is not so large it is impractical for small cooks (~4 people) with enough capacity for family gatherings (30~50 people). I am also interested in cold smoking so the thought of using the vertical box for that has crossed my mind a few times though, a WSM with smoke source in the bottom is probably a better option unless I go Salmon fishing

Thinking this smoker will travel long distances at highway speeds (80MPH speed limit in West Texas) I am concerned about trailer bounce and having meth heads steel parts of it for scrap while I spend the night in a hotel. I know the Langs come with 13" wheels which are definitely too small for my use so, what experience should I expect with a 24x50 SF trailer model? Any thoughts on upsizing the wheel/tire combination? What loose parts do I need to secure? I'm thinking I will want padlock tabs on all the doors and access points to ensure:
  • they are secure so trays aren't stolen and
  • no worries about something coming open on a rough Interstate with the chaos and damage that would ensure.

    What are your thoughts on the round versus cabinet SF smokers? How much capacity difference is there between the two. Is the cabinet model better at anything like whole hogs?

    What options should I consider for my smoker? I want this to be a buy once, cry once, lifetime enjoyment purchase. I know, I know ... if I go to competitions or cater large events I'll need to buy something else so I go back to my original question: What isn't too big but big enough?
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Old 02-09-2014, 01:50 PM   #2
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Ummmm........meth heads?......
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Old 02-09-2014, 01:54 PM   #3
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I have no experience with trailer smokers and security, but have definitely heard of many nice trailer rigs getting stolen by meth heads for drug money. They scrap the steel and go fry their brain some more with the money.

It is a valid concern. I'm sure some others will come along and give OP some good info.
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Old 02-09-2014, 01:59 PM   #4
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I can't speak to the options for a Shirley Fab smoker, heck, I would just talk with TQ and let him guide you, seems like every smoker he has built is great. I think he is guided by strong principles of doing the right thing. I would get one of those fancy "Made in the USA" signs like Jed got. Sooo shiny.

Now, to trailer security, I would definitely look into a wheel lock system, the kind that immobilizes the wheels. Nothing better for trailer security. I would also look into a full coverage trailer hitch cover, one that fully covered the hit receiver, so that it cannot be removed.
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Old 02-09-2014, 02:21 PM   #5
Sid Post
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Meth heads are a real issue out here. A few each year get electrocuted removing copper from live streetlights.

I'm not a total novice to trailering having used and pulled interstate runs with a 7x12 dump trailer and an 8.5x24 enclosed cargo trailer. The good thing with those trailers was that they were so heavy, most 1/2 ton pickups couldn't pull them anywhere. I use good locks and hitches so I'm more concerned with pilfering versus a total loss. With a trailer smoker attached to my pickup, they can't unbolt a universal hitch since it is fully welded and solid.

That does bring up the thought of using a substantial hitch that is over-heavy for the trailer so it will take more "drug abuse".

Last edited by Sid Post; 02-09-2014 at 04:33 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 02-09-2014, 02:28 PM   #6
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Some follow on thoughts:

What are peoples thoughts on an insulated firebox versus 1/2" firebox?

Also, 3/8" versus 1/2" for the smoker body? Is 1/2" overkill or a fuel hog?

I want to make sure I have a smoker that works in the rain and snow (5 Fahrenheit in Oklahoma).
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Old 02-09-2014, 03:27 PM   #7
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Give Tq a call and dicuss your concerns with him. Im sure he can come up with somthing to fit your needs
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Old 02-09-2014, 03:39 PM   #8
CharredApron
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Share your concerns with Paul and between the 2 of you, you will arrive at a solution that is right for you! You have already made the right decision for fabrication, now put your faith in your builder. Trust me, you won't be sorry!

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Old 02-09-2014, 03:53 PM   #9
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I have bought 2 trailer models from TQ. They pull great. I have never had any of the doors come open (I drove 3 hours on the interstate with it yesterday).

As far as size and locking the doors you and Paul can figure that out. I can tell you that you made the right decision in getting a Shirley Smoker.
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Old 02-09-2014, 03:53 PM   #10
Sid Post
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Paul and I have emailed each other. Based on the exchange so far, I'm sure I'm making the right choice in builder. I just want to make sure I know my options before I start bugging him with the details.
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Old 02-09-2014, 03:58 PM   #11
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I placed an order with Paul a week or so ago. He is very flexible and I think your limitation is only in your imagination. He seems to be able and willing to do about anything.
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Old 02-10-2014, 05:26 AM   #12
Sid Post
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2001Heel View Post
He is very flexible and I think your limitation is only in your imagination. He seems to be able and willing to do about anything.
That's part of my problem, I'm not that imaginative which is why I'm soliciting the wisdom of the BBQ Brethren.
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Old 02-10-2014, 06:49 AM   #13
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Well the things I can add is 1/2" over all is overkill to me.
I have a Lang and cook in sub zero temps so the 3/8" will be fine for you. No point in getting that much steel to heat up "just to have it".
As to your question about size, if your worried about comps the size you're looking at, enough to cook for 40-50 people, would be more than enough room for comp cooking. With a warmer box, you can extend the amount of food prepared for more people if needed. Paul has hooked up a couple of the cookers with warming boxes so you can actually cook in them as well. So look at the square footage you're adding with that option.
I would trust Paul and Ty with their decisions concerning the trailer travel and tire size, as well as anything else you have questions about.

Good luck with your decisions and enjoy your cooker
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Old 02-10-2014, 07:08 AM   #14
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As many have said, talk with Paul and Tyler, they can steer you right. They are masters of incorporating custom features into their pits; i.e., pad lock loops on the cooker doors are easy adds if you feel the need. For what it is worth I've upgraded the safety chains on my heavy equipment and boat trailers to a heavy grade of 11 mm steel chain that can't be cut with bolt cutters (can't remember the spec but got them at a truck & trailer supply) and lock them to the truck instead of using simple S hooks. I tried cutting them to length with a die grinder and the cutoff wheel just shattered, hat to cut them with a torch. Add locking wheel studs and you should be pretty darn secure when hooked to your truck. When you are leaving the pit at a location, a removable tongue/hitch coupler will improve security and maybe save a shin or two when you are walking around the pit. Best of luck - you are making the right choice!
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Old 02-10-2014, 07:16 AM   #15
mr big
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Default Upgrades are great decision

If your pulling anything on the highway its worth the extra $ to get 15" wheels. I upgraded my axles to 3500lb instead of 2000lb to help with the bounce. Your making the right decision going with Shirley Fabrication.
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