Input wanted on warming cabinet smoker project

Discussion in 'Other Builds' started by lancer, Nov 5, 2015.

  1. lancer

    lancer Smoking Fanatic

    After messing around modifying and building several smokers over the years I wanted to find an insulated food warming cabinet as a starting point for a combination hot and cold smoker with electric and propane options (and maybe an offset firebox if the geometry could be worked out?).  This showed up in an online auction from a school district 25 miles from home so I went and looked at it.  After bidding on it I bought it for a whopping $68.33 including the buyer's premium and tax and I got it back to our farm shop this week.

    It's a Wilder 115 volt 1,700 watt unit in working condition.  It is stainless steel inside and out and has an inch of bonded fiberglass insulation in the sides, door and top.  Like other warmers I've seen the power cord unplugs from the back and the heating and fan unit slides right out the front.  The overall dimensions are 65"H x 25"W x 33"D.  The base has a lip about 3 inches wide that I suspect is to maintain clearance from other equipment and walls.  The shelves are adjustable in 2" increments and they and the uprights lift out leaving smooth interior walls for cleaning.

    The inside is 54"H x 23"W x 31"D (38,502 CI) with the heat/fan unit in place and 59"H with it out.  On 115 volt power it heats quickly.  The dial goes to 200 degrees but I haven't mapped how accurate that is or how evenly it heats.  I expect the 115 V unit to be fine for cold smoking, jerky, cured poultry etc.

    The shelves are sized for full sized sheet pans and we've got about 50 of them in both solid and perforated styles. I figure to cut the bottom out of some pans leaving a lip to install flattened expanded metal on for racks.  I think the warmer shelf lips are so wide so it will hold line pans and will check that theory out tomorrow.  If so I will cut down most of the shelf lips to increase the rack area exposed to smoke and keep a couple wide for line pans.

    So here's the stuff I'd appreciate some input on.  In addition to the 115 volt unit I want both 220 volt electric and propane options.  I suspect there's room for both with no problem and want to use PID controllers for them. 

    My initial thinking for the propane parts is to use a small electronic ignition oven burner but I'm wondering if the temperature swings will be larger than I want.  For the electric side I'm open to sizing suggestions. 

    I need to size and install intake and exhaust vents, maybe a floor drain and drip pan under it, a heat baffle above the burner/electric element(s) etc.

    I've got a pair of A-maze-n Pellet Smokers.  Maybe a bigger version of the MES mailbox mod?

    Any advice or input would be appreciated.  We can cut, bend, weld, machine or fabricate any of the metal, electrical and gas stuff so none of that's an issue. 

    Does anyone know what the upper temperature rating for magnetic door seals is?

    Thanks for looking and I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

    Happy smoking and best regards,

  2. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I have looked at a few warming cabinets with a smoker build in mind. I have not pulled the trigger yet but am interested to see what you come up with. Good luck. 
  3. doctord1955

    doctord1955 Smoking Fanatic

    I changed mine over to 220 because when loaded would take over 20 min to back up to temp!! turned a buffet pan upside down to cut a hole for electric stove burner pan so i didn't have to cut holes in warmer cabinet!  for propane u will want pilot safety in case pilot goes out to shut hole unit down!
  4. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    think you might have a problem with the magnetic door seals.. you said it's stainless inside and out... mags. won't stick to the stainless... I also agree to go with the fail safe method on the gas ...
  5. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sweet deal Lance.
  6. lancer

    lancer Smoking Fanatic

    That make two of us! [​IMG]
  7. lancer

    lancer Smoking Fanatic

    It already has magnetic door seals.  In checking it from the outside with a magnet it seems to be a tubular steel frame under the sheathing the magnetic strip is attracted to.

    The cabinet was designed for 200 degree heat but we'll have to see how the seals hold up at higher heat.

  8. lancer

    lancer Smoking Fanatic

    After scratching my head some and figuring on the fact that it can darn cold here I am kind of leaning towards something in the 5,000 Watt range for fast recovery and a cushion for really cold weather.  Still need to scratch the old melon some more on that sizing though.

    We have 220 Volt 30 Amp receptacles in the garages and they'll handle 5 kW with no problem.  We're just wiring the new shop now and it is getting a slew of 220 Volt receptacles up to 70 Amps so no problem there.

  9. doctord1955

    doctord1955 Smoking Fanatic

    I have filled mine with 60# SS on a zero degree day! Took 10-15 min to get back up to 140 degrees and has had no trouble running in cold wind or snow! My element is a 2000 watt stop top element! 5000 is a pretty big element!!
  10. trippy

    trippy Smoke Blower

    Lance did you look at my food warmer smoker build?  I went with the pellet pro hopper assembly. It works fantastic for easy to use and temp control. I have done several cooks now with it from briskets to beef jerkey. Its been spot on for temp on every cook.  I had to change out the upper seal to a felt seal that would work better on higher heats. The rubber seals were only good for under 300 deg. I have plans for thanksgiving to do a turkey at 325 ish in the smoker.

    I could have done some things cheaper in the build. There was some things I was really cutting cost on too. 

    I have little doubts it could cook in -10 weather with it only using 120 standard plug in.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
  11. lancer

    lancer Smoking Fanatic

    Well, the heat element questions just took care of themselves.  I remembered that the #4 son, who had a powder paint business painting motorcycle frames and parts while in college, had a box of new elements around here somewhere.  He has no plans for them so two (of five) are going in the smoker.  They're 208/240 Volt 1950/2600 Watt elements.  I'll switch one so the second one is only used if/when I really need it.  How much can I expect switching between one and two elements to confuse the PID?

    So, I guess the next step is to call Auber tomorrow and figure out what hardware is best going to control these.

    I'm thinking of using a dampered 4 or 5" exhaust out the back wall just below the ceiling and a wall register for the air intake.  Unfortunately, I'm not finding stainless steel stove pipe under 6" yet. 

    Thanks for the help,

    Last edited: Nov 8, 2015
  12. doctord1955

    doctord1955 Smoking Fanatic

    I'm really betting u don't need to complicate things with 2 elements! My food warmer is 48 wide by 54 tall by 22 deep! I have a circulation fan and have had nope problems with on burner!

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