Dishwasher Mailbox AMNPS Mini-Smokehouse

Discussion in 'Smoker Builds' started by boatmaninc, Sep 8, 2016.

  1. boatmaninc

    boatmaninc Newbie

    Hey folks,

    I almost took my dishwasher to the dump a couple weeks ago. I stared at it wondering how I may reuse it. It's all stainless inside and so I decided on turning it into a smoker. I google image searched "dishwasher smokers" and found out about the mailbox trick. After taking some old florescent bulbs to the dump minus my new project, I drove past someone's discarded old mailbox. It was meant to be I thought. I grabbed it as well as a thermometer out of an old grill.

    Below are some pictures of the build.

    My question for anyone is suggestions for heat. I was thinking electric with a thermostat, but curious what ideas you may all have.


  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Pretty cool idea!

  3. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would install a 1200 watt element and use an Auber PID to control it.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  4. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yep that or a 1500 watt element. The PID plug n play units by auber would be perfect.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2016
  5. sonofasmoker

    sonofasmoker Smoke Blower

    Oh man this is cool! Cant wait to see more pics and some cooks!
  6. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I agree with all of the above, 1500w element and an Auber controller!

    This promises to end well!
  7. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    How much of the dishwasher heating assembly is still intact? I still have a dishwasher from the 1980s, so I don't know about modern designs. On my old unit, there are two heaters: one to heat the water, and one to dry the dishes. The one for drying is basically a hair dryer and won't be of any use. However, the one for heating the water is a standard heating element like you'd find in an oven. It probably gets way too hot and will burn itself out if you simply apply 120V to it. However, if you use a lamp dimmer to reduce the energy going to it (permanently set the dimmer to something like 1/4 power) it might work.
  8. boatmaninc

    boatmaninc Newbie

    Thanks Folks,

    I took the heating element out of the dishwasher and unfortunately, I disposed of it.  I like the idea shared about how to utilize the dishwasher element with a permanent dimmer switch.

    Yesterday, I damaged the handle and noticed that the frame holding the unneeded keypad was also damaged in my less-than-patient disassembly.  My hope is to connect with the appliance company and look through their old stuff in back.  Then, I might even grab an element as well.

    Could someone give me a little more detail as to which Auber unit to set this up with, that'd be great.  Or, to even clarify the differences.  I'm a little lost.

    From what I gathered, we are looking for a 1200 or 1500 watt element if I don't use an old dishwasher element.

    Finally, I have a Johnson controls A419 unit that I thought about hooking up to an old handheld charcoal starting element.  Anyone have a clue what I am talking about.  I use the A419 to convert my freezer into a beer fridge in the summer.  I guess it can do the opposite with heat as well.

    Here's the latest pic.

    Thanks again everybody!

  9. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  10. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I use the Auber 1500 GPH and love it. The element I use is a 1500 watt from Brinkman. They pair well together.
  11. redheelerdog

    redheelerdog Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I have an Auber controlling a 1500w element in my MES, it maintains steady temps just right.
  12. boatmaninc

    boatmaninc Newbie

    Well, I had a setback after I broke the plastic dishwasher handle.  I was able to salvage a different one from behind the appliance store.  Along with that, I grabbed the heating element as well since I had tossed the original one.  I haven't look to see what sort of wattage and restrictions it may have.  Anyone have a clue?  I'll have to start saving my pennies for an Auber unit.  So far I bought the chimney, stack and damper for about $14.  The 3 4" dryer elbows were about $12 and a short piece of 4" straight for um, $1-2?  The dishwasher was once expensive to buy.  The new dishwasher was even more.  The barn wood siding came off a barn....surprise, suprise......extreme patience and a long wood bladed sawzall proved most effective.  The mailbox came from the dump.  The framing is redwood salvaged from the side of the road after someone replaced their deck.  The trim was 1x4 leftover from some other projects.  It also matches the chicken coop and rabbit hutch I built last summer.  

  13. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    I was the one who suggested using the water heating element. However, just to emphasize what I said before, this element is designed to be immersed in water. This keeps it from getting really hot. However, without water, it will get red hot. There will be two issues with this, depending on where it is located. First, it could melt nearby objects, if there are any remaining plastic parts exposed inside the dishwasher. Second, it could get hot enough to self-destruct. There will be no way to know whether this is going to happen until it happens.

    The only way to know the wattage is to measure it with a power meter, like a Kill-A-Watt power meter. I have one, and they only cost about $30, if you get the one with the fewest features.
  14. boatmaninc

    boatmaninc Newbie

    I suspected that the dishwasher element would need to be submersed.  I then wondered if it would be good to utilize the water during smoking.  In other words, what if I actually fill the smoker with 4-5" of water with the element submersed.  Then, while heating the water, I'd be steam/smoking the product.  Does that make any sense?

    Also, thanks for the kill-a-watt idea.  I can check one out from my library.
  15. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you submerge your element, about the best temp you'll get is 212 degrees F.  Probably lower.
  16. boatmaninc

    boatmaninc Newbie

    So, I checked out a Kill-A-Watt meter from the library and plugged in the salvaged dishwasher element.  I started at 800 watts and after a few minutes was down to around 400.  I then hooked it into the appropriate spot in the old dishwasher and plugged in the meter and found the same thing (earth shattering I know).  After about 1 hour we had reached 170 degrees in the smoke house with mailbox slightly open.  I then closed the damper 75% and found that she reached 180.  It's about 70 degrees out with humidity.  

    1.  I curious what it would hold at in say 50 degrees and/or 32 degrees.  Also, I'm curious how much wind would also affect it.

    2.  I've been thinking about blowing a bunch of yellow great stuff foam all around between the dishwasher exterior and barn wood frame.  Any thoughts?  Risks?  I still need to seal up the bottom side more too.

    3.  If it holds at 170/180, is that enough after a meat is placed inside to smoke?  I'm a beginner remember.

    4.  I've robbed a fan off an old computer and found I can run it with a 12v battery I use for my depth finder.  Not sure how I am going to install that and wondering if it is too big.  I did figure out that on a 4 wire fan, if black and blue are together and red is left for positive, the fan runs in low speed.  What would happen if I only gave the fan 4.5 volts?  Would that screw it up?

    Thanks everyone!

  17. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

    Based on what I've read in these forums, you need a minimum of 800 watts for a box of that size. This is about what I have in my MES 30. Some people who also own the MES 30 found that it took too long to get up to temperature and substituted higher-wattage elements.

    I don't think you'll be able to get proper results unless you can easily get the internal temperature to at least 225 degrees. There is nothing magic about that number, but having said that, it seems to appear in about half the recipes posted on this site. Even better if you can get your smoker to 250-300 degrees.

    Surrounding the element with water won't work because, as already noted, it can't get anything hotter than 212 until the water boils off and, while the water is boiling off, you'll create giant steam bath, which is not what you want for smoking. A little humidity, yes; steam bath, no.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2016
  18. boatmaninc

    boatmaninc Newbie

    Again, thanks for the insight.

    Water good, steam not so much.  And, 212 degrees is as hot as it would get anyway.  

    225-300 for temperature variance is ideal.

    For all you Auber recommenders, I agree.  However, I've got $30 into this unit thus far.  

    What I do like about the Auber is the ability to use it in varying chambers as it is not built in.  

    Anybody out there simply buy someone's "broken" MES or Bradley simply to install an Auber and element on it to fix it?

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