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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, equipment and outdoor cookin' . ** Other cooking techniques are welcomed for when your cookin' in the kitchen. Post your hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures, but stay on topic and watch for that hijacking.


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Old 11-15-2016, 03:44 PM   #1
diggles
On the road to being a farker
 
Join Date: 07-15-13
Location: Rochester, MN
Default New project

A friend of mine is doing some construction work on. Place that was getting rid of a few old food warmers. He knows I've been looking for a smoker and thought this might work. It is insulated, but I'm not sure what the insulation is rated for. It looks a little rough in spots, but nothing too bad.

IMG_4939.jpg

One option would be to build a side firebox, but that would throw the weight off to the side, so I'd have to figure out how to deal with that. My first bought was to make something like the Old Country smokehouse. Definitely want to make it a stick-burner, but if I could make it flexible enough to burn charcoal for less-attended cooks, that would be perfect.

Please leave a comment if you have any tips or other suggested designs. I'll post more pics once I take them.
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Old 11-27-2016, 09:08 PM   #2
diggles
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Got it all gutted out and ran a couple of burns. There was an electric heating element in the bottom with several pieces of aluminum. The great news was that once all that was removed, the bottom portion slid out and now makes a great ash tray.

First attempt at a burn was almost a disaster. I had a half-full load of charcoal in the basket from my UDS (this was the crucial error) sitting on the bottom tray and added a dozen or so lit briquettes. The temp climbed steadily to 300* and I closed off the one air intake in the back down to 1/4 open. Temp continued to climb, so I closed it all the way. Temp continued to climb and I got worried. Now that the temp was north of 550*, I taped off the obvious air leaks that I could and capped the exhaust, but it didn't show any signs of slowing down. As a last resort, I rolled my empty UDS over next to it, slid out the fire basket, and moved it into the barrel. It wasn't quite as hot to move as I thought it would be. Sitting in the closed off barrel, the fire went out pretty easily.

With as leaky as this thing is, I'm not sure it will ever be a charcoal smoker, so I decided I'd try burning wood. Started with an empty fire basket (same one from the UDS), I dumped in a mini-chimney of lit charcoal, followed by a few small oak chunks. Again, the temp climbed steadily, but stopped at about 375* and stayed there for quite a while. The smoke was pretty dirty, so I punched out a couple of clogged vent screens for more air intake. After that, it burned much cleaner. After seeing that I wasn't in for a repeat of last time, I threw on a fatty for the first official cook.

IMG_4965.jpg

Man, this thing holds the heat. It is all aluminum, but has an inch of insulation, so even when it was up to 500* during the first burn, the sides were cool to the touch. The top was pretty warm, but still not too bad. I was able to maintain about 300* with a very small fire. Just had to add a small chunk every now and then. The fire was a lot easier to manager compared to my COS too. I'm guessing that is the big benefit to an insulated fire box.

My next steps are to add a defector plate above the fire. I'm not sure if the Smokehouse style will work as well since it is more of a rectangular shape. A second exhaust towards the back may help even out the temps as well. Eventually, I'd like to seal it up better and put a sliding vent on the bottom, but since it worked so well this time, that might be later one. Oh, and I really need to put better casters on this thing. Pushing it through over the soft ground to my back yard was a huge pain.

This is probably my longest post ever, but I'm looking forward to playing around with this cooker and packing with as much meat as I can. Please let me know if you have design/improvement suggestions.

Thanks for all the inspiration!
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Old 11-28-2016, 07:03 AM   #3
Ayvatr
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Hey looks good so far. Did you line the bottom with fire brick or perhaps a steel plate? It might get a little hot in the bottom for aluminum.
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Old 11-28-2016, 09:19 AM   #4
diggles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayvatr View Post
Hey looks good so far. Did you line the bottom with fire brick or perhaps a steel plate? It might get a little hot in the bottom for aluminum.
I haven't yet. I've got some I could use, but I will be building a new fire basket out of over-lapping expanded steel, so only small ashes should be hitting the bottom, not large coals. Plus, with as small of a fire I need for this thing, it shouldn't be all that hot. I'll see how the bottom of the slide-out tray holds up though.
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Old 11-28-2016, 01:05 PM   #5
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Lookin' good!
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