Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Now This is My Idea of Christmas Shopping

No pictures for this blog, but here is what has transpired this week. 

I took a drawing to Markle Farm Equipment in State College.  They have the capability to do some bending and fabrication that we need for the fire box and hot box that will get mounted on top of the firebox. I talked to Brett who is really into the smoking thing, and a pleasure to talk to. 

The firebox will be made out of 1/4" plate and will be 38" wide, 30" deep and 28"high.  The warming box will be made out of 3/16" plate and will be the same width and depth and 38" high.  We will cut the doors and dampers into it once in place.

I also  have them making the drip tray which will catch all the nasties.  It will be angled and have a drip pipe at the end so we can get all the gunck out of the smoker.  The tray will be made out of 3/16" plate and have a finished dimensions of 36" w and 84" long.


So before we get all of this weight on the tank, we need to get it on a trailer.  I needed to go to Lancaster to get a pallet of jars for my sauces, so I thought it would take that opprotunity to go trailer shopping.

I could have gone on the cheap and found a used one or built one.  By choosing a used one would have me question the integrity of the brakes or the real strength of the trailer.  Building one would involve getting a special trailer inspection and getting everything through the State, and who knows how long that would take.

What I was looking for was a 14' tandem axle with an expandable metal floor (which I found out is not standard - wooden is) and low sides.

I had a feeling that All Pro West Trailers in Mechanicsburg would deal with me the best, since I shopped around for my enclosed trailer and chose them.  However, I needed to see what the others would charge. In the end, All Pro was the best choice.  Not only could I get exactly what I wanted, but they were willing to deal when I showed them the Benjamin's. They special ordered the trailer for me and said it will be available in two weeks.

 Even with the special order and all, I still saved about $700 over the others and purchased it for $2,600 out the door.  May sound like a lot, but I got a brand new heavy built Big Tex trailer with a warranty and the expandable metal floor.  This is the foundation of the smoker and I feel real good about it..

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Someone's Knocking at My Door

Made some good progress today.  First Scott cut the bottom part of each door and welded temporary stops on place.

The he cut the sides.

And now we have doors

Oh yeah, before I forget.  These are the hinges we are using.  They are 6" long and have brass pins and bushing. They are super heavy duty and I got them from BBQ Bonanza at  They shipped very quickly and gave me great customer service and pricing.  I ordered 12 sets of hinges, three thermometers and a remote thermometer from them.

After the doors, we cut (well Scott did) the end off making it easier to mount the firebox and oven

Short Videos of the money cut

This was a good place to stop for the day.  The next stage is the purchase of the trailer and the construction of the firebox and oven.  We want to get this thing mounted on the trailer while it is at it's lightest point, before we start adding anything to it. 

This may take some time, but I will post updates to let you know how things are progressing.

Here are the stats to date:

Total cost:  $543.00
Man Hours: 12

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grind Baby Grind

The first thing we did was to grind off all of the fittings. 
Sorry for burning through so many grinding discs Scott.

Then we marked the locations of the doors

Now for the skill set.  Scott making the all important door cut with a plasma cutter.
Through it like butta.  Maybe I will carve my turkey with it today.

Then we welded the hinges on before making any other cuts

That was a good stopping point for the night.  Planned for the next time over a nice cold one

Getting the Vessel

So when I say that I want to build a smoker, some may think something the size of a large 3 burner grill, or maybe the size of one of those coverted 55 gallon things you see at a pig roast.  Oh no!  When I do something It has to be over the top. 

After talking to Scott, we decided to go with a 500 gallon LP tank!  about ten times bigger than the 55 gallon drum smokers.  That's right, a whopping 120" long and 38" diameter.

I found a place to buy a used one, with some help from two of my friends.  I was told when it was ready and that they would load it on for us, but I was responsible for unloading it.  Which prompted me to ask, "How heavy is this thing.  I need to know weather I needed 5 smart stong guys to help, or if I needed maybe one dumb guy".  She told me that it weighs in around 900 pounds.  I don't know anyone that dumb!
So Scott and I went over to pick it up and loaded it into his shop

The Tank cost me $125. Not a bad deal

Getting Started

So after using my friend Scott's awesome smoker that he built.  I said "I gotta have one". 

I knew nothing about them - how they work or how to build one, but I just had to have one. 

In my mind I could justify it.  And if you know me, once I make up my mind that I want or "need" something...well stand back.

Scott agreed to be the skill guy on the build with one catch.  I had to help and learn how to do it.  Basically I'm the lackey and floor sweeper.  But, I figured this would be a great and fun project and Lord knows I don't have enough to do already (right). 

I thought it would be cool to do a blog on the creation of my smoker, showing the progress and maybe even getting some advice if we get stuck.

We are building a reverse flow smoker.  Which means the smoke from the firebox travels below and isolated from the lowest cooking grid.  When the smoke get to the other side, the smoke comes up through the opening and flows back towards the firebox end and out the chimney.  As it is making this travel some of the smoke gets deposited onto the meat to give it the smokey flavor. 

I'm not sure how long it will take, so please be patient and lets have some fun with this