Thoughts about a smoker build - help?

Discussion in 'Smoker Builds' started by tryscer, May 20, 2015.

  1. tryscer

    tryscer Newbie

    Hey guys,

    Long time reader, first time commenter (always wanted to say that). I've been drooling over you guys' builds and planning my own for quite a while and now it's summer and it's go time! Right now I have one of those crappy Brinkmann verticals, which I heavily modded, but I've taken it as far as I think it will go. My favorite design is the Backwoods -- cabinet style, super-insulated, reverse-flow. I do have two very specific goals, and like the best goals, they completely contradict each other:

    1. I want to burn logs.

    2. I want to smoke at super-low temperatures -- as low as 130F -- while still maintaining the ability to smoke at as high at 300F.

    The reason is not very important -- I want to hit a specific flavor profile.

    I know I can maintain a steady temp with an insulated smoker and a temp control unit (right now I'm using BBQ Guru's old version PartyQ and I'm thinking of building me a HeaterMeter ). But I also know that in order to burn logs, they need to burn hot.

    How do you think I go about that? My current thinking is to treat it almost like a cold smoker -- put some distance between the born box and the cooking chamber, connect them with a pipe. If that's the way to go, how far apart do I need to put them? Do I insulate the burn box as well?

    What do you say? Lots of thanks in advance, you guys rock.

  2. smokejumper

    smokejumper Smoking Fanatic

    Hello tryscer, welcome to the forums.

    First off let me just start off by saying that between 40°F and 140°F is the "danger zone" for food safety where bacteria can grow when processing uncured meats.

    You can find lots of information on the subject, so I will leave it at that.

    You can get low temps by either controlling the size of the fire or cooling the smoke as you have suggested. A small hot fire is normally used in smokers.

    A smaller hot fire will give lower cook chamber (CC) temps.

    A larger hot fire will give higher CC temps.

    Putting some distance and/or ducting between the firebox (FB) and CC will also allow for lower CC temps, but may hamper your ability to get up to higher temps without building a bigger fire and using more wood as a result. The distance of the ducting will depend on the size of the CC, FB, and ducting and the ducting material thickness.

    Insulating the FB will make it more efficient and tend to help reach higher temps.

    Hope this helps
  3. tryscer

    tryscer Newbie

    Thanks, SmokeJumper!

    Is there any calculator / list of ratios that will help me calibrate the various widths and lengths of my smoker -- firebox, cooking chamber, smokestacks and inlets, and so on? Is Feldon's applicable to a vertical reverse-flow like this one? And, if so -- is there any way to calculate what will be the effect of the size and length of a pipe between the firebox and the cooking chamber?
  4. smokejumper

    smokejumper Smoking Fanatic

    Feldon's is not applicable to vertical cabinet style smokers.

    I know of no calculator that would apply to your build. With enough information you can calculate anything. Problem is there are too many unknowns. I would suggest looking at several other cabinet builds to get an idea of the ratio of FB size to cabinet size. Design your smoker accordingly then devise a method to redirect the smoke through cooling ducts before it enters the cook chamber.

    For your cooling ducts, the thinner the material, the more heat it will lose. Beyond that, use our imagination.

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