Use what I got...

Discussion in 'Brick Smokers' started by devilsmoker, Feb 26, 2016.

  1. devilsmoker

    devilsmoker Newbie

    Hi all. I used this forum to build my first UDS years ago. Its been good to me but i might need another project. Stumbled upon the brick smoker section and a light bulb went off. I bought the house I'm in 6 years ago and have been struggling with what to do with the built in grill area. I have been using it as a charcoal griller but without a lid, my grills haven't been ideal. Here is a pic of the spot. The hose was built in the 60's with slump block. The cove is lined with firebrick. It vents up to the top of the roof. All looks in good condition..

    The existing width is 28 inches and can't really get any wider. Its 21 inches deep tapered to 17 inches at the top. Again, not much I can do. Its 41 inches tall right now. I could remove 1 course of block and make it 45 inches or 2 would make it 49.5. I have read the other build threads and think I could get a frame and door(s) fabricated.

    Do you think I have enough to work with? I'm a little unsure about how tall I should make it. My UDS is smaller than what I have right now so I think it can be done..

    Here is a pic looking up at the top vent. I know it has a proper name, but since I live in Arizona, we are not all to familiar with fireplace anatomy...I am thinking of just keeping this always open and fabricating another top vent that has better, ie easier adjustment.

    Any thoughts?
  2. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Good morning DS!!

    You sir have hit a gold mine!    For a personal smoker this is perfect.   

    Couple questions.   Can you go down a run of block without hurting the face brick? If you could get the block out to the floor,  you would have most all of your opening for meat.  If so,  line the bottom and sides with firebrick, to protect the block and keep the heat contained.   Drill about 3 holes as low in a outside mortar joint as you can for fresh air to burn the fire.  Drilling through the new firebrick.   

    If it were me, I would have a free standing rack system built for the water pan, and racks.   All built together.   You wouldn't need a large fire to run this smoker.  One, its indoors.  You won't have to worry about warming the brick up such as in the winter.   I would make the water pan shelf at least 16in. from the final floor, or at opening level if you can get the brick out to the floor.  You could, drill and install bolts or rebar for you selves, but heat will expand steal.  Over time, the pins would more the likely work loose.  Thats why I would just do a freestanding rack system.  

    Your damper up top is perfect!   Unless you just want something different, it would work perfect.  They make hooks, or you can have one made to reach up to operate the damper.  Its just a simple fireplace damper.  You would probably never open it more then the first notch anyway.

    Of course your doors.   You could have one big door made or  double doors.  The only problem I see is getting the doors to seal with the rough texture of the brick.   Not a major problem, but it would require some work.   You could bed the door frame into cement and hold it in place until it sets, then drill and tap it into the brick at several points.

    I am very interested in seeing you work this project.   Simply awesome!   Please keep us posted.

    If you need input,   there are plenty of folks here to help with advice

    Good luck!!
  3. jim williams

    jim williams Meat Mopper

    Gold Mine INDEED! If you need ideas Wes is the man and I will share what I have fabricated through Wes' vision.

    This is a grill/smoker for an idea..? Just insert the steel and a top?

    Soo many ideas/options and you are lucky to run into this as I could not imagine the price someone paid to have this in the original house plan!  Talk about convenience. WOW!

    I am sure there are many options out there Sir, keep Wes in mind!
  4. devilsmoker

    devilsmoker Newbie

    Thanks guys. I have read both of you builds. Very nice indeed..
    I like the idea of getting the floor of the fire chamber lower. It looks like they filled from the face block back to the back wall with concrete. The hammer feels solid but maybe it's only filled one run with block under. I will get my concrete blade out and try to remove some as see what I can find.
  5. devilsmoker

    devilsmoker Newbie

    I got out the sledge and mason chisel. Turned out the top 4 inches was mortar with block scraps down another 5 inches.

    It went quick once i got a hole started. Felt like an archaeologist when I found an old shirt button in the rubble..

    I was able to get it down 9 inches to where it felt like I hit a metal top. Once I got the shop vac out I was able to tell it was concrete. Solid concrete. On the other side of the back wall is my living room, where there is a 16 foot long cast concrete cantilevered sitting hearth. Looks like they continued it out exterior 16 inches for stability. Creates a nice base for my fire pit. Thank you very much...

    Interior shot looking at the spot where the smoker back wall is. The area where the picture is is the back wall. The hearth is 9 inches thick where it enters the block wall.

    So now i have a16 inches deep, 24 wide and 9 high block enclosed chamber. My local masonry supply house has full and split fire bricks. Funny thing is that all colors except for yellow is on 4 week back order from their California manufacture. Yellow it is..

    Do you guys feel the 1 1/4 inch thick split firebrick would be ok in my situation? I would hate to make the fire chamber even smaller by using full thickness fire brick.

    On the subject of firebrick, I am thinking I should lay firebrick horizontally on top of the existing face of slump block. Then build my door frame on top of that. Effectively making all the chamber faced with firebrick..


    This is the air intake system I used for my drum smoker. Works well , lasts a long time. I am thinking about using something similar on the brick smoker. Maybe drill a few holes the the mortar joint 2 rows down, so it enters at the bottom of the fire chamber. Hopefully get a steel pipe through it. Maybe even weld a washer on the exterior  to help hold the magnet. I could do this on 2 spots on the front and maybe one on the side.


    I am thinking about a 2 door setup. A small door just under the water pan/baffle height for adding wood and coals. If I plan on the water pan being 18 inches from the floor, that leaves me about 30 inches for the smoking area. WAY bigger than what I have now.

    My post is long because I am getting a bit excited about this. 

    Thanks again about dropping the floor idea. I don't think I would have thought about that.
  6. jim williams

    jim williams Meat Mopper

    So it Begins...

    I am torn on the brick thickness. I went full in the grill and feel its not used enough or "overkill" and took my grill space away but I am covered for life...I never will have to replace it.

    You also can rent a mason bit and drill your intake openings for say, 2'' diameter put a sleeve in with a swing door such as weber offset smokers with dampers on the stack.

    What is the outcome of use and look you are wanting when you are completed? This will give me a better direction of your finished vision anyway. -similar to Wes and I ?
  7. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    DS, this looks awesome!   

    If you have 9in. of  masonry on the back wall I feel a half fire brick is enough.   I'm no expert, I'm not a mason, but firebrick are made to retard heat.  With that much masonry behind it, I feel you are safe.   

    If you can get the fresh air to the bottom, you'll be in business.   Love this indoor idea.   You have indeed hit a gold mine.   

    You bring up an interesting thought.  How to feed your fire.    A water pan can be heavy and hot.

    Now, what if....  you could get a masonry saw and cut the front on down to the floor and have a door just for the fire box?   You could put your vent in the door.   Just a thought.    

    Keep us posted!

  8. devilsmoker

    devilsmoker Newbie

    I finished up a few weeks ago.

    .25 steel door. I had to use some angle iron on the back side to get it flat. When the metal supply house sheared it, it put some warp in it..

    Handle detail. My welder used an oversized tube to create a bushing.

    Inside handle stop

    Found some perfectly sized stainless racks for the grill on amazon. Two parts so they can go in the dishwasher. Delivered same day for around $30 per set. Had the welder create a frame out of angle.

    I used my Harbor freight welder to create a frame to hold the racks and water pan. Free standing so no drilling into the firebricks. I sealed up the inside lip of the door frame with high heat fireplace silicone. Worked great.

    I did a small test fire with some briquettes to check for leaks. Dumped in a half full chimney and closed the door. Came back in 5 minutes. Not a wisp of smoke from the door or frame. Opened the door and the chamber was full of thick smoke.

    I will be trying some ribs tomorrow .
  9. tweaked

    tweaked Fire Starter

    Oh wow! I am indeed jealous
  10. tweaked

    tweaked Fire Starter

    Should there be a fresh air inlet on the door?
  11. devilsmoker

    devilsmoker Newbie

    My firebox is below my door. I drilled a 1 inch hole through the block into the fire box. I did this 2 times on the front and one on the side.

    I welded a washer onto some 3/4 steel pipe that goes into the interior of the box. I will use a magnet that can slide across the washer to limit the amount of air , to help control the temp.

    I may have an issue with ash blocking the air inlet on long smokes, but I have an idea if it becomes a problem..

  12. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    This is simply awesome!   Beautiful work sir!   Looking forward to seeing some awesome food come out of it.

    The vents may be a bit small starting a smoke.  Once you get the smoker up to temp,  it won't be a problem

    You shouldn't have any problems with them getting clogged.  The ashes will fall straight down.   Not as much ash as you would think, even on a 12 hrs smoke.   

    Great job on a awesome project!!

    Just a note.  Its best to let it cure out for at least 30-45 days before you get it hot.  Small fires like had and work it a little hotter each day over a week or so.   You don't want to crack a masterpiece.
  13. krabby patties

    krabby patties Smoke Blower

    Just saw this thread. That's pretty sweet.
    If you still think ash might be a problem you could build a frame with corner legs and a center support 2" off the ground. This should get your fire grate just above the intakes. This would allow air from below the fire and a place for ash to go. On a long smoke you might get smothered in ash if it piles up around the coals.
    Last edited: May 25, 2016
  14. wes w

    wes w Master of the Pit OTBS Member

     Good idea
  15. krabby patties

    krabby patties Smoke Blower

    Since it's protected from the weather too I might pull the door frame back out and run the lead for the thermometer probe along a mortar joint behind the frame and just leave it there.
    Another option is an 1/8" cutoff wheel to cut a line in the door mid cabinet just deep enough to clear the frame to run the wire through with the door closed.

Share This Page