Height of racks above fire pit

Discussion in 'Brick Smokers' started by leoric, Jun 26, 2015.

  1. leoric

    leoric Newbie

    Dear all,

    First off I'd like to introduce myself - I'm UK based and currently in the early stages of planning a brick smoker for my back garden.  I'd like to thank everyone who has posted photos and information, this site has been a gold mine of useful information.

    As I mentioned im still planning but had a couple of questions that I was hoping some of your experts could help with.

    Due to space constraints Im planning a a vertical smoker with the firebox directly below the racks and shelves with the items to be smoked.  Is there a minimum distance between the fire source and the bottom rack?  I'm aware you don't want to get the food too hot and wondered if there was a rule of thumb for this distance.  On the subject or vertical or offset, is one better than the other?

    I'm planning on lining the fire box with fire bricks - on the base, do you need to mortar the joints between the bricks or can they be loose laid?  If they do need mortar will standard stuff do or does a special mortar need to be used?

    Thats it for now, thanks in anticipation.
  2. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I built brick ovens not smokers ,they run hotter. But for my 2 cents,use the refractory cement,mix with fire clay & sharp sand. I used a French brand called La Farge,almost black in colour.
    You want thin joints. If you use the refractory stuff your joints won't crack or tear due to unequal heat properties of combined materials.
    If you are laying a hearth you can lay them like pavers on a notched bed of fire clay & cement with nothing between the joints. But you need them
    tight together $ a border of some sort to hold them in.
    Don't know about the rack stuff but Wes will be along shortly I am sure.
    Regards Mick
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have built a few "fireplace" type fire / smoking pits.... usually 36" wide, 24" deep and the food grate at least 32" above the fire.... The primary problem with that type of BBQ smoker is the incoming air forces the heat to the back of the smoker... Some sort of closure for the front of the smoker is needed... I always used a sheet of thin steel to close the front.... removed for adding fuel... a bed of coals worked best for heat... and the double layer of firebrick, in the bottom, kept a good supply of stored heat for a consistent heat supply... a row or 2 of block above the meat keeps the wind from affecting the cooking process....
  4. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Good evening Leoric

    Micks got you covered on the brick.   Although I laid my smoker firebrick  with regular Type S mortar mixed 2-1.  Thats just me though.

    Dave probably knows more about the heat space to the first shelf then I do, I just went with what I thought looked right,  but I set mine at 2 ft.  My first shelf being my water pan/baffle.   Higher would always be better.   Your not going to lose any heat, but it will get everything away from the flame more.

    Looking forward to seeing your smoker go up.   Tons of guys here willing to help.
  5. leoric

    leoric Newbie

    Mick, Wes, Dave thanks for your help.

    Wes, could I quickly ask what you use as a 'baffle'?  Is this just a device to spread the heat to the sides and prevent it from rising directly up?

    Presume a sheet of metal would do the trick.

    Thanks again.
  6. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You are correct Leoric,

    These steal plated are 1/8 in. thick.  The way my oven smokes best is with about 1/2in gap in front and back and about 1in.  on the sides.  That where I get the most even heat going up.  Your oven may be different so its something you have to work out once you start using it.  I put a full sized foil pan in the middle for a water pan.   It catches all the grease too.
  7. leoric

    leoric Newbie

    Thanks Wes,

    Can galvanised mild steel be used in smokers?
  8. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've been told you shouldn't use anything galvanized  around heat and food.    Steel or aluminum.  
  9. jim williams

    jim williams Meat Mopper

    Hey Mick, Jim Here

    Is it ok to use refractory cement alone? I already did my build and ....to late now. will it have a lasting life? thanks, jim
  10. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Just saw this now. I would think you need something to bind it all lime fire clay.
    So many pizza ovens going in here they sell premix by 20litre tub.

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