Planning my fridge Smoker... Input needed.

Discussion in 'Fridge/Freezer Builds' started by arcticcanoe, Jun 3, 2014.

  1. Okay this is where I need some input. 

    My goal is build a well rounded smoker "of coarse" that will be easy to maintain for long smokes.

     So goal number one, is to be able to cold smoke Hungarian sausage that will be cured so it can be dried.

    Goal number two, to smoke everything in site. lol.

    From the homework I've done it seems most fridge conversation are built with an electric burner of some sort.

    It seems to me it wouldn't be any more difficult to use a gutted propane camp stove.

    It also looks like there is no perfect design so, a smoke generator is required,

    What are the advantages to go electric over propane?

    The fridge I'm planning to use is a 1940's Westinghouse. Whatever I use for a heat source I want to mount it in the bottom where the compressor used to be and convert the lower cover into a door. The inner box is porcelain so it's will take the heat. The door panel is fibreboard and will get the stainless treatment. I will gut the insulation for Roxsol.

    The areas I need help is the best burner type gas or electric. Pellet would also be cool but from my understanding lots of heat not so much smoke. So what is the point? (correct me if I'm wrong)  ScooterMagoo  build is one of the coolest fridge smoker I've seen, I love the dual entry chimney even if I don't understand it completely. 

    Okay it's late and I'm rambling, back on track.

    I plan on cutting out the bottom of the upper compartment. This is would be a good place for a heat sink/diffuser plate,drip pan or water pan if needed.

    What am I missing?

    Thanks Mike.

    The incoherent rambling of a madman.

    The twins. The big girl will be the smoker the petite girl will stay as a fridge.

    Not huge but a start.

    From what I think there should be enough room down under for the business end. 
  2. Hello.  Last summer I bought my fridge but things got in the way so it is still waiting conversion, should be done this summer.  Your plan seems to be sound.  I plan to use the controls and burners from a propane double oven.  The ovens here are smaller than back home in Texas.  I will have 2 burners, one for heat and one for heat recovery after opening the door.  2 separate controls etc..  I plan to also install a fan in the fridge, 1: because I MIGHT need it help cool down the unit for cold smoking and to help "draw" smoke from the external smoke generator just to get the smoke flowing during a cold smoke  2:  I have 2 in the old stove so I feel better to put in in and not need it than wish I had.  I know many floks use electric and build/buy PID controllers to help make it more "set it and forget it".  I plan to use propane because I don't have access to install an external socket for electric AND I am toying with the idea of mounting the unit on a small trailer so that it COULD be taken anywhere. Scooter's fridge build IS a very nice one.  Been a while since I read that thread but I believe the thought for the double exhaust was an attempt to insure the smoker didn't have any "hot spots".  As for an external smoke generator, use the search bar and check out mailbox mod.  Doesn't have to be a mailbox but this mod seems to work well for many folks.  That is what I plan to do with mine.  Also there is no need to open the smoker door to add more chips/pellets.  Just food for thought.  I am sure you will get many more suggestions.  Good luck.  Don't forget the pictures.  Keep Smokin!

  3. Good Morning Danny.

    I was pondering the idea of a mailbox mod. I read a little about them in a couple of MES threads. My thinking on going propane was the infinite and stable heat. Electric elements are constantly on and off up and down making them hard to control. Making the second door is my way of not loosing heat, if I have to go into the fire box.

    The Hungarian Sausage I want to do would be smoked as low as 130 degrees.

    Using a gutted 2 burner camp stove I should be able to set the flame extremely low on one burner or use both burners for high heat.

    Here's a good question how much heat is produced by the AMNPS? Is it necessary to locate it outside the smoker?
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    For cold smoking, below 70 ish degrees, you want the AMNPS outside the smoke chamber... they make a few BTU'S but not bad.... Using propane for a heat source, the flame consumes smoke and oxygen.... you have to add the smoke above the flame and not in the reduced oxygen atmosphere like through a mailbox mod thing.... Electric is easier to install and control with a PID or some other type controller... and will run 24/7 without having to worry about a flame out .....
    Propane will run higher temps easier and add moisture to the smoker......
  5. goliath

    goliath Smoking Fanatic

    WHAT DAVE SAID ......
    the electric is super easy, i lined the bottom of my smoker with fire bricks so when i must open the door there is alot of heat retained in those bricks so it comes back up to temp very quickly. i used a plug and play Auberins PID with dual probes. it keeps the temps spot on, and with the Maverick thermometer i can stay in the house and check temps... SO EASY !!

    i have found when doing sausage and bacon temp control is very important for good results.
    i believe strongly in the AMNPS mod, i used a turkey roaster, no mail boxes up here ...  ha ha ha

    i actually experimented with a few different types of smoke gens but ya cannot beat the mailbox mod for price and dependability !


  6. Hello.  The advice you are receiving is VERY sound.  As stated above the electric has many advantages such as PID control "set it and forget it"; IF you have the access to electric.  As Dave pointed out propane has it's down side, but an upside of adding moisture.  I figured this would be the response.  Knowledgeable folks offering pros and cons. About the only thing I can add is:  Do lots of reading before you make that first cut.  There is TONS of ideas in the fridge/freezer build forum.  Pull ideas from them all and then when you make your decision, draw it out on paper and see what you think.  Then start thinking long term.  "But what if I want to do??"  Then start to rethink.  Once you have your plan, GO FOR IT!  Good luck

  7. goliath

    goliath Smoking Fanatic

    also think dollars and cents ..... what you want or can spend.

    i dont remember who said it but "BUY LAST" sticks in my mind. spend the money now so you will never need to upgrade, or feel the need to upgrade. made alot of sense to me and i wish i had heard that before. not always as much need as want, can always get by but it is sometimes a bigger chore to "just get by".....

    just a thought!

  8. I hear what you all are saying and I love the discussion. I'm going into to this a little blind. That said as the topic grows I will have enough info to finalize my plans. The only set back is stuff is expensive in Canada and sometimes harder to get. So I want to do it right the first time. I will go with a AMNPS mod of some sort but I have never seen saw dust for smoking here, pellets like crazy or bagged wood chips that are mostly dust but contain some chips. Whatever I use I will have to be able to source locally.
    Now is the moisture from propane a pro or con?
    The sausage I want to be able to do is a cold smoked dried type. Maybe electric is the way to go.
    Well the more input the better.
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You keep talking "cold smoke".... that is done below 70 deg. F usually.... why do you want heat for cold smoking....
  10. goliath

    goliath Smoking Fanatic

    i also live in Canada. i got everything and it wasnt crazy expensive. you get what you pay for, and build it for what you MAY want down the road. plug and play and walk away is a very nice benefit to have !!!!!

    heres a link to my build, did it last fall..

    i have made some other mods to it since this was done. 1 especially important one is rack size. the wife got tired of me soaking bbq sauce and cooked rub off the grates in the bath tub. GOT OLD REAL FAST ...  ha ha ha. i now have 2 small grates as 1 rack in each shelf and they stack and soak nicely in the laundry tub. i used $6 cake cooling racks. and any mod depends on what you are working on. just like a house ..RENOS SUCK so build it right the 1st go round.

    im here to help ya source anything you may need up here in the north country.

    Good luck

  11. Yes Dave. I do understand I need less heat for cold smoking. I want to build a well rounded smoker, something that will do everything from Brisket to cheese. My sausage guy, ( yes I have a sausage guy) is like 85 years old and has all but stopped making sausage and won't except any help or share the recipe. So my goal is to learn how to do it myself. The sausage is smoked 2-3 days at around 130 degrees. So yes some heat is important.
  12. Hello.  The moisture from propane is USUALLY a good thing.  Most folks using electric use a water pan to introduce moisture.  As for sourcing stuff, you can have anything delivered to your door from around the world.  Do some searching on the internet.  I finally found a place here in England where I can get mesquite they get from back home in Texas, orange wood they get from California, olive wood which is imported, etc..  And the delivered charges are not too bad when you figure you don't use a kilo of chips or sawdust per smoke.  As for your sausage idea.  2-3 days at 130?  Are you certain about that?  I'm no sausage expert by any means but that sounds like you will end up with a really well dried sausage.  Keep Smokin!

  13. Hi guys.

    Okay I got another couple of questions.

    In the bottom compartment where I plan on placing the cooking element. It sounds like firebrick would be a good idea. As much as firebrick is great source for recovery heat retention, it is also a huge heat sink. How much firebrick is to much? I'm thinking of using it on the bottom and the three sides. Will I have a hard time heating up to cooking temp? Or is it just a matter of taking way way longer to reach temp. Also has anyone tried substituting Granite for fire brick? I can probably get offcuts for cheep/free and do each section in full pieces. Also What would be the best material and design for the heat deflector between the upper and lower chambers? I will be going with the numerous recommendation of going with an electric element of some sort.

    Thanks again for all your help. Mike

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