New build, never smoked before, looking for input.

Discussion in 'Smoker Builds' started by rodgedaddy, May 11, 2011.

  1. I live in Santa Maria CA, where everything is grilled over an open red oak flame, with an adjustable rack, but I want some flexibility.

    I have a buddy helping me build a Santa Maria style grill only with a cover,  We are starting with a heavy gauge steel 20" pipe, and plan on using at a minimum 1/8" steel for the construction. 

    Anyways, on to my question.  The interior dimensions of this thing will be approx. 30"L x 20"W x 30"H, and I want to be able to smoke ribs, briskit, and pork butt/shoulder.  My first thoughts were to just weld a side box onto the side, and try my hand at charcoal/wood fire smoking, but I seems like a little too much babysitting for I'm thinking propane.

    I have two options here:

    1. I can buy a propane burner like the King Kooker 25", and have my buddy weld it onto a side firebox.  This would be the easiest and cheapest way to go, but the 54K BTU's seems like a little overkill, and having never smoked before, I'm afraid I might really screw it up, or be completely missing something.

    2. I can buy a vertical propane smoker, weld it to side of the new pit, and cut a hole in the side to allow for the smoke/heat to enter the pit from the side, under the meat rack.  I saw the Masterbuilt propane smoker at Sears, and it looks like it is pretty well put together, although a little thin.  The idea here is that I could close the hole between the smoker and the pit, and use the smoker as designed...or I could open the hole, slide a steel plate into one of the rack locations to direct the smoke/heat into the pit, and use it as a side smoker.  Basically the best of both worlds...or am I kidding myself.  Having done a lot of grilling and BBQ in my day, but no real smoking, I'm looking for some advise.

  2. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    This site has tons of info.

    I would suggest you spend some time reading all the different forums and the WIKIs.

    Then use the handy dandy search tool for specific interests!!

    Have a great day!!!

  3. mgnorcal

    mgnorcal Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    I've had 2 of those vertical propane smokers.  I don't think they would work as a heat source for another horizontal cooking chamber.

    They do fine work on their own though.

    Some ideas for what they're worth

    You can get a side-fire box for around $70 that goes with a char-griller or other similar SFB cookers and you could use wood or charcoal in it.

    You can also rig the firebox for use with a turkey-fryer or similar propane burner giving you a 3rd fuel option.

    You could maybe build a pipe-burner to heat your 20" diam. cooking chamber, put a heat deflector above it on which you put your wood chips etc. or buy a replacement gas grill part and do the same.
  4. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ok I'll take a poke at this.

    Do you want to make a grill or smoker, 2 different animals here.

    If you are trying your luck at a smoker I would say go with a side firebox design with your propane burner.

    Just make sure to size the firebox correctly, add adjustable intakes below a fire grate about 4" clearance, this way you can use Propane, Wood, Lump or charcoal as a fuel source.

    Look at my Frankensmoker Build for some input, I have used all the above mentioned fuel sources with pretty good results.

    Frank has 2 pipe burners that can be made pretty cheaply

    To incorporate #2 into the design you could weld a vertical on top of the firebox with a damper for a warmer.

    I'm not sure if I'm reading your dimensions correctly but 30" width is a tad small and are you gonna split the pipe?

    Whatever you do, read as much as you can, check out the firebox calculator in my signature, and for the love of Pete... TAKE PICTURES !
    Last edited: May 16, 2011
  5. Thanks for the reply.

    Took a look at the link.  Very nice build.

    Since reading up a little more on the different types of smokers, I have decided to build a RF smoker, with the ability to be a Santa Maria style grill as well.

    I am going to split the pipe, build 10" high walls around the bottom half, then set the top half on top as a lid. The 10" high walls will allow me some room for adjustment of the grate, and give me some room for adding a second smoker grate.

    I have a line on a 28" steel pipe 60" long that I plan to use.  The idea is to make the chamber 40" long, and the side box about 20"..I've checked the calculators and that should work.

    I will be able to use the top of the RF plate to set oak wood on and use the pit as a grill.  The grate will be adjustable by using a standard SM grill cable system.  Then when I want to smoke, I will clean out the ash on top of the RF plate, set the grate down on a couple of angle irons welded at the right setting, disconnect the cables, close it up and go.

    I'm still researching it a bit.  Things I need to find out is what find of output from a propane burner would be needed to keep something of this size at temp.  My concern is that if I get a burner that is too big, and have to set it on a really low setting, it has a better chance of flaming out.  Secondly, in order to make this work I intend to put a 3" to 4" high lip on the RF plate at the far end where the heat and smoke would rise up.  This is to keep ash from falling into the bottom when I am using it as a grill.  However, I don't want to divert the heat and smoke away from the meat too much.

    I'm working on an autoCadd design of it, which I will try to post on this site to get some opinions.  Plus I will be taking lots of pict's along the way.

    This has become a bit of an obsession of mine now, so it is definitely going to happen.

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