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View Full Version : Help Me Build an Old School BBQ Pit!


Boshizzle
01-04-2013, 10:47 PM
I was in such awe when I visited Lockhart, TX and Lexington, TX, I didn't really take a good look at how the great, old school pits at those places are constructed. So, brethren, I am asking you all to help me build an old school pit in my backyard. Here are some pics of what I have in mind. The 1st one is of Scott's BBQ in South Carolina. The 2nd one is one of the pits at Smitty's in Lockhart, TX.

http://img4-2.southernliving.timeinc.net/i/2012/06/2012-barbecue-awards/rodney-scott-pitmaster-l.jpg

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=543&pictureid=4598

I can't promise you a timeline, but I will update the post as the build progresses. This has been a dream of mine for a while and I think one of these pits will be the closest I can ever come to a real, old school Southern BBQ pit short of digging a hole in the ground. But, the hole in the ground thing is not exactly the most healthy thing nowadays plus I will have to deal with it filling up with water. So, building a pit like the ones at Scott's and Smitty's is a great compromise.

I want a pit that I can cook BBQ on directly over coals just like in the pics I posted. That, to me, is the essence of real, American, old school BBQ.

Any brethren have any blueprints or suggestions?

gtr
01-04-2013, 10:59 PM
No help or suggestions here, but I'm right there with ya on that - having a pit like that is definitely on the bucket list. I'll be watching this thread with a great deal of interest. :thumb: And as for the hole in the ground thing - that's something I really wanna do too. I think I'm evolving backwards. :twitch:

T-Man
01-04-2013, 11:25 PM
Bo , Check out The Book "Holy smoke the big book of NC BBQ " It does not really give plans to build a traditional pit . It has good info on Old school BBQ . Especially the chapter on Ed Mitchell out of Wilson NC...

Boshizzle
01-04-2013, 11:41 PM
I have a copy of that book and will check it out. Thanks!

gtr
01-04-2013, 11:42 PM
I have a great photo book called "Texas BBQ" that has some of those pits in it. Great pix in that book. :thumb:

Militant83
01-04-2013, 11:44 PM
I too have thought this idea over and my thoughts were to build the structure from congrete block then line with fire brick. Leaving a hole in the front big enough to shovel coals into it and using corrugated metal sheets to cover the top and the opening in the side. And have a grate made or make a grate for it.

CUT/CHOP/COOK on Vimeo

This is a real good watch if you havent seen it.

HeSmellsLikeSmoke
01-04-2013, 11:46 PM
I have had the same thought. I didn't measure the pit at Smitty's, but it looked to be about 4' wide and 4 foot high. The key to it working is the 4' square smoke stack at the intersection of the two pits, which protrudes through the roof. This creates a good draft.

Kreuz's has a metal top protruding over the end of the firebox which seems to diminish the amount of smoke that escapes.

I noticed that the section nearest the fire is too hot to use, but is necessary to the length calculation. Kreuz's pits are much longer than those at Smitty's so there is more cooking area.

Bbq Bubba
01-05-2013, 08:11 AM
The pit at Scotts is fueled by burnt down logs or pure embers.

The pit at Smittys is actually cooking with heat and smoke from burning logs.

2 different styles of cooking.

Boshizzle
01-05-2013, 08:50 AM
The pit at Scotts is fueled by burnt down logs or pure embers.

The pit at Smittys is actually cooking with heat and smoke from burning logs.

2 different styles of cooking.

Yep, the one I want to build will have capability for both styles.

Bludawg
01-05-2013, 09:40 AM
Carolina style pits are normally shovel fed the ones in CenTex are more like an off set design it is pretty easy think of a Fireplace and chimney laying on the ground instead of brick/block on the upper face of the chimney it is a Metal cap.

These two videos will give you some Ideas

Hot to Build a Pit BBQ for $250 - YouTube

Kentucky Open Pit Barbecue: Tim Russell Style - YouTube

Boshizzle
01-05-2013, 12:11 PM
I'm thinking something along the lines of the pit that inspired the artist that drew this political cartoon from around 1830. I think it should be pretty easy to have access in the center for spreading coals and an opening on the end for a fire to cook Texas style.


http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=651&pictureid=6878

I want it to have a brick veneer but I'm not sure how to build the floor or the sides. I figure a metal lid and doors could be made for the side and end fire access so they can be closed while cooking or when not being used.

LT72884
01-05-2013, 12:13 PM
here is what i have drawn up for mine..

Build a wood fired pizza oven bbq grill - YouTube

cheap and it works great.. make it a we bit bigger and put fire to the side. or even a side box that looks like tha main box but smaller

Bludawg
01-05-2013, 12:38 PM
You need to dig the base out 12" deep pack the bottom with sand to 4" lay down some wire mesh( old cattle panels work good ) fill with concrete to a deph of 6", let it set for a week. Lay down fireplace mortar and top the slab with fire brick then start up the walls two bricks wide. frame the openings with 3" angle iron an put "T" channel in around the perimeter at grate height, go up 2 more rows and add a top cap. The lid can be made from 11ga. with a counter weight system.

Pitmaster T
01-05-2013, 01:21 PM
Smittys does not cook over coals so that one is out.

Look at this....

Firing the Cookers Myron Mixon BBQ School Memories Class - YouTube

I was in such awe when I visited Lockhart, TX and Lexington, TX, I didn't really take a good look at how the great, old school pits at those places are constructed. So, brethren, I am asking you all to help me build an old school pit in my backyard. Here are some pics of what I have in mind. The 1st one is of Scott's BBQ in South Carolina. The 2nd one is one of the pits at Smitty's in Lockhart, TX.

http://img4-2.southernliving.timeinc.net/i/2012/06/2012-barbecue-awards/rodney-scott-pitmaster-l.jpg

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=543&pictureid=4598

I can't promise you a timeline, but I will update the post as the build progresses. This has been a dream of mine for a while and I think one of these pits will be the closest I can ever come to a real, old school Southern BBQ pit short of digging a hole in the ground. But, the hole in the ground thing is not exactly the most healthy thing nowadays plus I will have to deal with it filling up with water. So, building a pit like the ones at Scott's and Smitty's is a great compromise.

I want a pit that I can cook BBQ on directly over coals just like in the pics I posted. That, to me, is the essence of real, American, old school BBQ.

Any brethren have any blueprints or suggestions?

Pitmaster T
01-05-2013, 01:25 PM
IF YOU DO WHAT TO BUILD THE SUPERIOR AND BETTER RUNNING OLD KREUZ PIT (Joke) then contact againstthegrain. He runs a pit similar to them in Galveston and either he or I could take plenty of pictures for you.

Willie G
01-05-2013, 01:34 PM
You need to dig the base out 12" deep pack the bottom with sand to 4" lay down some wire mesh( old cattle panels work good ) fill with concrete to a deph of 6", let it set for a week. Lay down fireplace mortar and top the slab with fire brick then start up the walls two bricks wide. frame the openings with 3" angle iron an put "T" channel in around the perimeter at grate height, go up 2 more rows and add a top cap. The lid can be made from 11ga. with a counter weight system.

^^^^What he said^^^^^

These type of pits are common where I'm from (Western KY). In fact we have two mobile pits that we use in competition based on this idea. Our pits are actually metal with insulation. I'm planning on starting a permanent pit behind my house this spring as well.

Boshizzle
01-05-2013, 07:21 PM
You need to dig the base out 12" deep pack the bottom with sand to 4" lay down some wire mesh( old cattle panels work good ) fill with concrete to a deph of 6", let it set for a week. Lay down fireplace mortar and top the slab with fire brick then start up the walls two bricks wide. frame the openings with 3" angle iron an put "T" channel in around the perimeter at grate height, go up 2 more rows and add a top cap. The lid can be made from 11ga. with a counter weight system.

Thanks, bro! That's exactly what I have been looking for.

Now, I need to figure out the chimney system. Is the chimney on the end opposite the fire, spread across the top, or both?

I want to cover all the bases, if possible. To me, Scott's in SC and Smitty's in TX have nailed the old school pits. That doesn't mean that Lexington, NC hasn't, because there are some great pits there too. But, I want to build a pit that can do both styles.

So, does the Smitty's style pits have the chimney above the grate or below? Also, does the NC/SC style pits have the chimney at the end or just in the lid?

MilitantSquatter
01-05-2013, 08:20 PM
I have had the same thought. I didn't measure the pit at Smitty's, but it looked to be about 4' wide and 4 foot high. The key to it working is the 4' square smoke stack at the intersection of the two pits, which protrudes through the roof. This creates a good draft.

Kreuz's has a metal top protruding over the end of the firebox which seems to diminish the amount of smoke that escapes.

I noticed that the section nearest the fire is too hot to use, but is necessary to the length calculation. Kreuz's pits are much longer than those at Smitty's so there is more cooking area.


This pic I took at Smitty's had fairly new briskets loaded at the hot end

HeSmellsLikeSmoke
01-05-2013, 08:45 PM
This pic I took at Smitty's had fairly new briskets loaded at the hot end

That picture is very helpful. They must have already moved the newer briskets toward the center when I was looking at Smitty's. There was much less meat on at the time.

Boshizzle
01-05-2013, 08:47 PM
Kreuz's uses high tech fans in their pits nowadays that helps even out the heat. I won't have that luxury in my backyard pit.

MilitantSquatter
01-05-2013, 08:56 PM
Kreuz's uses high tech fans in their pits nowadays that helps even out the heat. I won't have that luxury in my backyard pit.


DId not know that.. did you see it or they told you ?

Unrelated, I was surprised to real that City Market in Luling, who used brick pits, also has a Southern Pride in the back that they have when things get real busy...

Boshizzle
01-05-2013, 09:00 PM
DId not know that.. did you see it or they told you ?

Unrelated, I was surprised to real that City Market in Luling, who used brick pits, also has a Southern Pride in the back that they have when things get real busy...

The owner mentioned the fans in a TV show. I think it was in a TV show named BBQ Paradise. They have fans that spread the heat unlike what they left behind at Smitty's.

Boshizzle
01-05-2013, 09:08 PM
Pitmaster T can offer some insight, if He feels funky enough to add to the conversation.

Boshizzle
01-05-2013, 09:10 PM
DId not know that.. did you see it or they told you ?

Unrelated, I was surprised to real that City Market in Luling, who used brick pits, also has a Southern Pride in the back that they have when things get real busy...

A Southern Pride would indicate a great surrender, IMO. SP cookers may be great cookers but they pale in comparison to true wood smoked BBQ.

SC_Dave
01-05-2013, 10:04 PM
I too have thought this idea over and my thoughts were to build the structure from congrete block then line with fire brick. Leaving a hole in the front big enough to shovel coals into it and using corrugated metal sheets to cover the top and the opening in the side. And have a grate made or make a grate for it.

CUT/CHOP/COOK on Vimeo (http://vimeo.com/9923940)

This is a real good watch if you havent seen it.

Scott's is about 30 mins from my house!
David

MilitantSquatter
01-05-2013, 10:44 PM
A Southern Pride would indicate a great surrender, IMO. SP cookers may be great cookers but they pale in comparison to true wood smoked BBQ.


I read it here

http://fcg-bbq.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2012-01-01T00:00:00-06:00&updated-max=2013-01-01T00:00:00-06:00&max-results=50

After that meal I strolled back to the alley behind the building and walked to the open door of the pit room. Pitmaster Joe Capello was there and greeted us warmly. He showed us the smallish steel pit and the wood pile that was just disorderly enough to know that somebody was actually using it. Joe didn't explain much about their smoking process, but did fill us in on some history of the Bar-E Ranch that was owned by the family that started City Market (the sign above City Market reads "Bar-E Barbeque & Sausage"). The ranch still exists north of town, but the briskets aren't from the cattle at the ranch any longer. As I turned to leave I noticed a stainless steel Southern Pride rotisserie smoker in the corner. I tried to hide my disdain when asking Joe why it was there hoping that it was just a joke, but Joe said they had to crank it up during busy weekends to keep up with demand. The smoker felt cold and hadn't been fired up recently enough to cook the meat I ate on this day, but the fact that a recognized pillar of Texas barbecue tradition uses it at all is alarming.

LT72884
01-06-2013, 12:39 AM
I too have thought this idea over and my thoughts were to build the structure from congrete block then line with fire brick. Leaving a hole in the front big enough to shovel coals into it and using corrugated metal sheets to cover the top and the opening in the side. And have a grate made or make a grate for it.

CUT/CHOP/COOK on Vimeo (http://vimeo.com/9923940)

This is a real good watch if you havent seen it.

OMG OMG OMG... i have been LOOOOKING for this video for the last year. thank you thank you thank you for posting it.

Carolina gamecock
01-06-2013, 07:33 AM
Scott's is about 30 mins from my house!
David

Me too! I'm in Lake City!!:thumb:

LT72884
01-06-2013, 10:51 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f34eGi2HQto

here is a fun pit to try and build. i imagine you could add your own touches to it

lastmajordude
01-07-2013, 07:58 AM
I agree.....started with Gas and electric...now down to charcoal and stick burner....next evolvement is a cinder blk pit......GREAT POST!!!

Brizz
01-07-2013, 08:44 PM
Do these old pits have smoke stacks that I can't see? I have plans for an old school style pit without a stack.

NrthCntrySmkr
01-09-2013, 03:54 PM
Here is what I built.

neuyawk
01-09-2013, 04:46 PM
To me, Scott's in SC and Smitty's in TX have nailed the old school pits. That doesn't mean that Lexington, NC hasn't, because there are some great pits there too. ... Also, does the NC/SC style pits have the chimney at the end or just in the lid?

Seems like Lexington style joints are the only ones with a dedicated chimney system. If you look at the stacks for places like Stamey's, each stack is dedicated to one cooker.

Open pit Whole hog joints like Scott's don't really have chimneys.

The purpose of the chimney is different for Texas BBQ vs Carolina BBQ. For us the chimney is more as a pathway to release pork grease which would otherwise drip down on to the hog causing that nasty "zebra" effect.

In Texas, that chimney has a real use in that it's drawing the heat from one end of the cooker to the other. Since the heat source is directly below, there's real no issue for Carolina styles in getting the heat to the meat. In fact most "lids" these open pits are simply cardboard.

Boshizzle
01-09-2013, 05:20 PM
Thanks, brethren. I want to build a dual purpose pit. One with sliding doors on the sides and vents on top so that I can cook old school directly over coals and also with a firebox end and a chimney that I can close off when cooking direct but open when cooking TX style.

I believe a baffle system at the firebox end is essential. The sliding doors, and vents should be pretty easy. After some suggestions from the brethren, I'm still thinking through the firebox entrance into the smoker and the height of the chimney exit in relation to the grates.

The old school pits that cook meat directly over the coals should be pretty easy.

landarc
01-09-2013, 05:25 PM
nueyawk, that is one of the simpler and more accurate descriptions of the difference that I have seen. I have dreams of building an oak pit similar to the ones that were prevalent in California in the 1950's and 1960's which all seemed to be owned by Oklahoma folks. These use a bottom fire box, and really were just a large chimney, with racks build like shelves inside the flue. There was a big opening that allowed the cook to move meat up and down, from shelf to shelf, for cooking or holding.

The Pigman
01-09-2013, 05:29 PM
Meat smoking and Smokehouse Design by Stanley, Adam and Robert marianski is a great book detailing all kinds of smoke houses and how to...www.book-magic.com

Boshizzle
01-09-2013, 05:41 PM
Meat smoking and Smokehouse Design by Stanley, Adam and Robert marianski is a great book detailing all kinds of smoke houses and how to...www.book-magic.com (http://www.book-magic.com)

Thanks, I just bought the Kindle version!

The Pigman
01-10-2013, 01:48 AM
Very informative.............



Thanks, I just bought the Kindle version!

swinn
01-10-2013, 12:05 PM
Carolina style pits are normally shovel fed the ones in CenTex are more like an off set design it is pretty easy think of a Fireplace and chimney laying on the ground instead of brick/block on the upper face of the chimney it is a Metal cap.

These two videos will give you some Ideas

Hot to Build a Pit BBQ for $250 - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FcTamq3OAE)

Kentucky Open Pit Barbecue: Tim Russell Style - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPSAQLIUCmo)



These were the two examples that popped into my mind when I read ythis. May do something like the first sometime if the wife don't bark too much.

LT72884
01-10-2013, 01:57 PM
ok boshizzle. here is one i drew up for you in google sketch up. i also have some dimensions for you. 32 inches all the way around and 48 high. its a total of 37-40 bricks which is 80$ and then the expanded metal for the grate. each brick is 8x8x16. the cooking surface will be 16x16

it has a wood lid and a exhaust port. it is made of cinder blocks. So ignor the texture that looks like regular brick. haha. thats all sketchup had.

anyway, i drew it up for you and the rest of the brethren. enjoy

LT72884
01-10-2013, 02:04 PM
im sure you could make it not so high. 48 inches(6 bricks high) might take longer to heat than 32 inches high(4 bricks high)

EDIT..

looks like im a we bit late reading your post boshizzle. sorry. didnt see the one where you posted what you wanted. anyway. this is still a fun pit to look at..

RevZiLLa
01-11-2013, 01:43 PM
How about a shovel, a section of chain link fence, and some big rocks to hold the fence on the edges around the hole...

Wampus
01-11-2013, 06:24 PM
BO...this is so awesome.

This thread is gonna be a classic when it's done.


I've also always had a dream of building a permanent masonry pit at my place. I never thought of doing a direct, coal fired pit like the ones you mention. I really like the idea of having a versatile pit that can also be indirect.

So, for the firebox, are you thinking out of steel? Couldn't you make a firebox out of masonry as well or is that what you're thinking? I wonder how "airtight" the big top doors should need to be if used as an offset, strictly for draw I mean?

You gots masonry skillz? I agree that the foundation is UBER important to any masonry structure. The weight of any masonry structure is heavy. And frost/heave is the arch enemy of any structure, but especially masonry ones since any movement at all will cause cracking. So either you need to get below your local frost line or you need to make the base/foundation sturdy enough to move as one big piece in the case of frost/heavy and not "flex".




This is gonna be good. Watching intently.....

:pop2:

Boshizzle
01-20-2013, 10:25 PM
As I work through the details, what should I be thinking about as far as drains are concerned? This thing will be a permanent fixture in my backyard. I don't want it to be a place where water pools in the bottom from rain and snow.

Bludawg
01-20-2013, 11:39 PM
Put Sand bed a couple of inches deep in the bottom change it out once or twice a year. If your cooking direct there shouldn't be much to worry about.

captndan
01-21-2013, 07:40 AM
Don't over think this one. From where you are take a weekend trip down the east coast of NC. Small towns, Mom and Pop places and recommendations from the guy at the gas station. Look for a smoke house out back with a roof and screened sides. If you want a true down east pit it will be brick or block, no solid floor, no chimney, and chain link fence gates and rebar. Over the meat will be burlap bags and old metal roofing. Also look for a picnic table outside and a big stack of split oak. Most of these folks are more than glad to show you around.

RangerJ
01-21-2013, 09:42 AM
Anyone know what happens to the grease in the Texas style ones? Is that concrete under there like where they sit or sand like Bludawg is talking about?

kpq
10-08-2013, 10:24 AM
did anybody ever get around to building one of these pits?If so would like to here how they made out. I would like to build one in my back yard!

gaspipe1
10-08-2013, 11:55 AM
^^^^ Glad someone brought this back to life

pitbossJB
10-08-2013, 12:16 PM
Definitely need one of those!!!

J-Rod
10-08-2013, 01:21 PM
I'd like to see some pics of those old backyard pits that were popular in the 50's and 60's. Remember those brick pits with heavy grate on top and the tall chimney in back? I always thought those were cool as hell.

dwfisk
10-08-2013, 02:40 PM
I'd like to see some pics of those old backyard pits that were popular in the 50's and 60's. Remember those brick pits with heavy grate on top and the tall chimney in back? I always thought those were cool as hell.

Well, somebody could start a thread asking for pictures/designs of brick and mortar pits like the fabulous shots we get to see of backyard BBQ areas, etc.

rick51
10-08-2013, 06:36 PM
Check out this one, should have some useable ideas... Good luck! http://www.ibiblio.org/lineback/bbq/wdh.htm

HookedOnQ
10-08-2013, 06:55 PM
I wonder where boshizzle has been? Havent seen him here in a while. Guess he hasn't completed this project

charrederhead
10-08-2013, 07:14 PM
Love that video of Scotts'....another bucket destination for sure.






Hmmmm. I wonder what color HIS thermapen is. :twisted:

jeffturnerjr
10-08-2013, 07:32 PM
I wasn't around on this forum when this thread was going around. Oh my gosh this is awesome. Stirring in me some thoughts to do something similar......:)

rookiedad
10-08-2013, 09:22 PM
here you go! i want one of these in my back yard!
ttp://www.bing.com/images/search?q=salt+lick+bbq+pit&FORM=HDRSC2#view=detail&id=78656F8F60CE64DA9F2873CD252460191CFC7F09&selectedIndex=0

bizznessman
10-08-2013, 11:25 PM
I found this link a while back and archived it for future reference/use. I thought others may want see the options they give on pit BBQ's.

http://www.free-diy-plans.com/plans-brick-barbeque.htm#.UlTYbhCEapo

Here is a particularly interesting design/plan from the above link

http://bioengr.ag.utk.edu/extension/ExtPubs/Plans/6020.pdf

creekwalker
10-09-2013, 02:36 AM
This thread has a perfect description of a simple small pit:

http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=137372

Interestingly, this pit is only 3 cinder blocks high. In another thread, stepandfetch responded to a question from me about grate height this way:

"creekwalker- Originally the coals were 3 cinder blocks (24 inches) from the grate. [with a 4-block high pit] I discovered very quickly that it took far too many shoveled coals to bring the temps at the grate level to 200 F. My stack of split hickory wood dwindled far too quickly. I removed one level of blocks, so now there is only a distance of 16 inches from the bed of coals to the grate. This has worked perfectly for me- I only have to shovel coals every 45 minutes or so to keep temps up. I keep my temps at around 200 F. At this level, it takes about 9 hours to finish a 7 lbs butt... more time over the coals, more smoke in the meat."
http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=166514

Fishin4bass723
10-09-2013, 04:08 AM
http://www.instructables.com/id/Brick-Barbeque/#intro

This is what I would like to build one of these days.

kpq
10-09-2013, 09:36 AM
fishen4bass that's what i'm looking to do.Thanks

oifmarine2003
10-09-2013, 01:57 PM
http://www.instructables.com/id/Brick-Barbeque/#intro

This is what I would like to build one of these days.

I like that one. It doesn't look that hard to do. Once we move in 2 years, I may just have to think about trying this!