offset smoker tuning plates vs reverse flow

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by cornbread, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Dave, I too have always read that builders like Lang, Jambo and such go above and beyond to design their equipment to have even temps across the length of the smoker. But then I came across this Video about the point of Peoria Cookers three multi-level smoke stacks and how having different temps in various areas of the smoker makes sense. But I would think the Learning Curve is a long one!...JJ

    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  2. I wonder if this ones from Peoria too?

  3. So for building this cooker I am taking it from you guys that a reverse flow is going to get more even temps across the board. I do big cooks with 2 and 3 hundred pounds of meat literally and need as even as possible. This kind of building  and cooking is different than what I am used too that's why I keep asking so much. So I guess now I would like to ask for any volunteers to help with a design on this thing before I start cutting anymore  The Main chamber is 3-0 diameter and 6-0 long. I have some good Ideas for more cook space but need help with making everything flow properly. Thanks
  4. So... This is what your talking about.?   Its kind of hard to see what you already have going on inside there.   What are the handles sticking out the front for?   There plenty of us here to help with a design, but we need to know a little more about what you got going on there.

  5. no that is just a small grill I am building to go on the side I put a picture of the big cylinder I rolled maybe it did not load up I will try again

    Right now it can be anything
  6. That other pic is just a charcoal grill the handles are to raise the charcoal grates up and down for hotter or cooler grilling hamburgers and such
  7. I am thinking about changing the lid to a squared off front with 2 doors I measured today and can gain a lot more space for multiple racks and sausage hangers but I guess I would have to rethink everything because the internal mass of the cooker would grow 
  8. Just remember, with multiple racks, you get a lot of drippings from the top racks hitting the bottom racks, so even if the heat and cooking time is the same, the appearance will be different unless you rotate the food.  That's where the rotisserie comes into play. But thats a lot of work.

    How fancy do you want to get with this thing?   300lb at a time will take a decent size smoker. especially if its chicken or ribs. Both being items that need to have the right plate appeal.  300 lb of butts or brisket is much easier to do, but still a big order.

    So, are you talking 300lb of one thing, or a variety that will all add up to about 300lb?   And will that be the norm, or at the high end. Because trust me, you don't want to be firing up a 300lb capacity smoker every time you just want to do 20 lbs or so.

    Im a big believer in not having all your eggs in one basket, and back during the boom when we were having party's with 300 to 400 people, we would cook on several small smokers and use the big one for "keep warm's". It made it easier to handle all that food with out tripping over each other.
  9. yeah I know about the drippings I usually just do one rack but this time I would like to have some higher up when we are pulling meat off we can only cut and chop so much at a time and I would like to be able to move it up higher and keep it warm and sometimes some meat gets done before others but yes this one would be for large pieces of meat butts picnics and briskets mainly and I never do less than 100 lbs it is not worth firing it up I have a small one for family time
  10. For keeping the food warm, I would recommend the warming box above the firebox.  The reverse flow cooking chamber is designed to have even heat through out. And moving the food up will not really slow down the cooking.  But you will have better temperature control, so when the food is done, it will be easy to turn down the heat in the cooking chamber if you want to.( almost as good as an electric oven if the build quality is there and you have had time to learn the pit)

    This is the meadow creek 500 gallon model, ...what do you think about this design?

    gringodave likes this.
  11. buttburner

    buttburner Meat Mopper

    ." In any event covering the gaps in the Tuning Plates with a Drip pan defeats the Purpose of the plates, that is from Experience not just conjecture."

    Im not going to argue with you.

    Just staing what works for me

    the gaps are not completley covered. And the thin drip pan still allows heat through. My plates are 1/4" thick, once they heat up a thin drip pan is not going to block much heat radiating off them

    a pic says a thousand words, so here are some that are of the result of my setup

    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013
  12. ButtBurner,    do you feel that you would be able to accomplish the same results with trying to do , say......five roasts that size at the same time, with drip pans under each?

    Anyway, I think you bring up a good point.  For a back yard smoker, for someone only doing small batches of food, the advantage's of a reverse flow probably wont justify the cost difference between them and a typical off set smoker, and with playing around with some tuning plates , the off set will cook as good as it would ever need to in that situation. Where a reverse flow is going to shine is when you have a bunch off food that all needs to be ready at the same time, and you can fill the smoker to capacity with out having to worry about upsetting the air flow or cooking characteristics very much.

    Would everyone agree with that?
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yep.....  You are right on..... RW
  14. I like the design of the cooker and I did have a warming box in mind as well. I guess I am just trying to put ideas out for feedback like the multiple rack idea. Like I said before I have fabricated quite a few trailer cookers over the years but it has been a long time and I can see that the technology has progressed a lot over the years. The main reason I am doing this build is number one they are fun I like to build things. Second the meat is always awesome if you build right and cook right. The last reason I am trying to come up with different ideas for cook space and warming space is for my kids. They have cooked with me a lot and are getting pretty decent. They want to start catering events from time to time and I want to create something that is nice for the public and that it user friendly designed. Doing big cooks is a lot of work all around and I want the smoker to be sensible to use. I have built a lot of smokers with a down draft design that cook pretty even all the way across but they are gas assisted. They work great but they are not true wood fired BBQ cookers. I would definitely appreciate any help and suggestion for design and usability I can get. I have  a lot of Ideas but sometimes I can go overboard with trying to do too many things. Has anyone built or used a hybrid cooker I was reading about those yesterday and supposedly you can get the best of both designs in on package. I have absolutely no experience with reverse flow or tuning plates That's why I keep asking so many questions. I have read and read about both, however I trust facts from people that have built and or used things more than just what an article is going to tell me. I am anxious to get going on this and again thank you guys for any help I can get. The only thing I have seen on reverse flow cookers is a video from M&R Trailer in Florida they have a video on their website that shows how it works but they put removable plates like tuning plates but it was reverse flow. They had one video that actually showed it in action and by the cook times they were putting out it seemed to me it was cooking too fast. The times did not agree with the temperature they were cooking at. This has been my worry about reverse flow. How far away should the reverse flow plate be from the cook grate and is it better to just do a half moon cut out for the FB or cut the corner out like the Meadow Creek cooker has in the Photo you posted. Thank you
  15. Well, your using rolled steel, not a tank.....correct?
  16. Its not like the reverse flow is that much different than an off set smoker, cooking temps and techniques should be about the same. Its just that the reverse flow fixes many of the problems associated with the traditional off set smoker and wraps it up in a very nice package.

    Think of the of the reverse flow plate as one large tuning plate, except that the plate does not need to be adjusted when doing different size or quantities of meat, nor is it going to bounce around when transporting the smoker and have to be reset upon arrival at cook site. Being fixed, it will always be consistent, making it easier to produce consistent product. When the reverse flow plate is fabricated as a drain pan as well, with plumbed in drain pipe, it eliminated the need to place aluminum drain pans inside the smoker to catch the grease, also eliminating the need to empty those drain pans. This keep the smoker and the cook place cleaner and more organized. The reverse flow is basically self cleaning, with all dripping flowing into a conveniently placed bucket that can be emptied with no effect on whats going on in the cooking chamber. And the reverse flow smoker by design is more efficient, due to the heated air stays inside the chamber longer, allowing more heat transfer. Temperature control is usually better in a reverse flow as well.

    But other than that, its still an off set smoker, and all the talk about how food taste different or one cooks faster or slower , really is silly.

    So my answer to the question about a "hybrid"  is Why?   Why would you want to build something that only had some of the improvements listed above and not all?
    Honestly, it really does not need that much room, its not like you need to get smoke up under the meat.  And as long as its built right and does not have any hot spots, a few inches is all that's necessary. On a pit the size your talking about, I'd probably go 5 or 6 inches from the highest point of the plate ( if it will still give you proper air flow under the plate)
    When doing a tank build that has rounded ends, I like to notch it out. But with flat ends just but it up with a half moon. If you notch it, it will take away from your cooking area and give you a hot spot on that end.
  17. That's correct I am using rolled steel not a tank. So reverse flow will be the decision. That was my gut instinct to start with but you know how it goes the more opinions you read the more you second guess your initial decision. I thought the same thing about the FB cut out half moon more cook space. I was doing some rough measuring by the cut out that I have to put in the CC it looks like it is going to work out to be about 7 inches below the grate giving me a 13.5 tall space for the heat to travel I can raise it up higher if you think I should like I said it was just a rough guess. The pit cal said if I use a 6" flue it would have to around 42 0r 44" tall I don't have my notes in front of me. Would it be better to use 2 flues that were shorter or would that change the pull on the draft. It seems like if 2 were located properly it would pull the heat more evenly back across the meat instead of straight down the center of the length. Also earlier in this thread I asked about reverse flow and a flat end CC you sent a photo where you fabricated a domed end I don't have any way to do that for a 36" dia end but I was thinking I could remove the flat end that I welded on and make another one that was mitered in all directions it would still have flat spots but the angles would help the heat and smoke draft back around more smoothly than a flat end I think
  18. On the smoker pic you mentioned, I was experimenting with capturing more heat under the reverse flow plate by choking it down at the end of the reverse flow plate, so the design I used of a diver-tor placed over my flat end cap worked well.  Now, that particular smoker is way off from the pit calculators recommendations, and until I build a couple more and play around with those ideals , it would be wrong for me to influence someone to spend their time and hard earned cash following that design.  But, far I'm really liking it and its cooking right now.

    But back to your smoker build......If you haven't already invested in the firebox, then I would recommend a square firebox for this size smoker. The only time I use round is on the patio sized smokers and it never allows me to do all the cool stuff I like to do with fireboxes, but looks better on those small ones.. The round firebox is more difficult to locate as well due to the 'v" shape of my reverse flow plate is working opposite of the round top of the firebox. A square firebox can be mounted lower, allowing your reverse flow plate to be mounted lower and still have proper opening size into the cook chamber. But to answer your question, a round firebox will be near halfway up the same diameter cook chamber, a square will be closer to a third the height ( if the width is the same).  Surf around some of the name brand smoker sites and check the photos,  and you will see that they are all close to what I just wrote. Best way to check yourself is to stand back and see if it "just has the right look" to it.

    As far as fabricating a end cap, just mock some up with cardboard until you get a look you like, and as long as its got enough air flow, you should be good. Whats nice about it is how you can extend the reverse flow plate all the way to the end of the cooking grate and no drippings will escape under the plate.

    Anyway, as soon as you get started and start posting pics, there will be plenty of members ready to monitor your progress and throw their two cents in as well.  Good luck and have fun!!
  19. I am definitely going to use a square firebox I already built one but according to that pit calculator it is a little undersized so I will probably have to make another one anyway. But as far as the end cap are you in agreement that the flat end cap would need to be changed for better flow on a reverse smoker design.
  20. Yes, by adding a rounded cap or something like I did in that pic I posted, It just makes everything work out better.

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