Monday, January 25, 2010

Link to my cooking website "SQWIB COOKS"

I wanted to thank everyone for their help in this Project, Bruce, Jim, Eric and Eric's contacts.

Also the guys at SMF , BBQ Brethren, The Q Joint,
The Smoke Ring and Smoked

The Philadelphia Experiment aka "Frankensmoker"

Here are my pit calculations.
Click Here for The Pit Calculator
Thanks to Tom C and
Based on smoker ratios developed by Alien BBQ and posted at The Smoke Ring
The firebox to cooking chamber was the hardest thing to figure out, since I was working with a circular shape with parallel lines the formula I had was inaccurate, this is explained later on in the blog.

The tank was from a 80 gallon Speedaire compressor from work, the pump was leaking oil badly and since it was the 2nd pump we decided to replace it, its a bit small for a smoker its 20" diameter by 64" length

We Started with removing the motor and pump mount, Jim did some of the initial cutting. The mount will be used later on for various things.

Here we are laying out where the door will go.

We decided to make a jig to guide the angle grinder for a straighter cut we used a piece of wood secured with ratchet straps.

Here Jim is making the cut for the hinges.

Bruce welding on the barrel hinges before the final cuts. We decide not to weld the pins, that way we can remove the door if need be. The barrel hinges were 3/4" black pipe and 1/2" steel rod.
The black pipe was cut to 4" lengths and the sides were ground flat.
Then we removed the seams and cleaned up the inside with a rotary grinder. I also put a slight bevel on the inside of the pipe and a taper on the rods.

The Final cuts are made and the tank is opened, the tank is in better shape than I thought. The door is cut at the 11:00 and 2:00 position.

We then welded the flat bar on the door.

The firebox arrived 18" x 20" 1/4" steel Thanks to Eric and his contacts, I'm gonna owe a lot of "Q" to these guys.

I had a little time this weekend so I did a burn out.

The paint started coming off after about an hour or so. I burnt about 4 pallets.

Here is a pic of the handle glowing red in the coal bed.

Ok, here's where the problems start, I knew things would distort and warp a bit, but the problem was the hinges, they expanded so badly they would not budge.
We had to beat the pins out and replace 1 of the hinge pipes.
Then we ground the pins down so there was a bit of slop in the hinges to prevent binding. We also ground out the pipe a bit more

The lid was a bit warped as well, but it was warped before the burnout.

After the burnout the tank was sanded with a foam sanding block.

Anyhow the one side was pretty bad so we put the lid under my truck and used a screw-jack to flatten the lid a bit.
We temporarily tacked in the handle.
Well this pretty much took up our time for Saturday.

Here is a shot after the burn out with the handle and fixed hinges. The pins were removed and ground down even more.

Now onto the fun stuff,
Sunday we finished the welds on the hinges, put on the other flat bar and started messing with the counterweight and as usual we were working against time.

We messed around with placement of the pipe for optimal results.
What a difference this counterweight makes, the door comes down slowly and if your hand is under the door when it closes, it will not hurt your hand. When lifting the door, the counterweight starts doing its job immediately.

Today 2 - 10" swivel pneumatic tires on from Harbor Freight were added, the location is temporary. The actual wheel location will be mounted on 3" pipe (legs). I will be picking up the other tires (fixed) in a few weeks, Everyone suggests using solid tires but I felt the pneumatic tires wold absorb shock a little better going over bumps and stuff.

Picked up a set of these vertical clamps, you guessed it, from Harbor Freight.
Hopefully they will not be needed but they will be installed regardless.
Vertical Clamps

The cut on the 4" pipe was cleaned up and notched out for the 1-1/2" bar

The Barrel hinge pins were pretty tough to get out, so I ground them even more and will clean out the pipe with a rotary tool.

Took off the door so it could flipped over to do the cut out for the firebox.
Started the cut with an angle grinder then decided to use the Reciprocating saw, wow, what a difference, this thing cut like wood, well that is until I hit the overlap weld.

Here is where I started double guessing myself, I put the fire box in place and cut some wood to get an idea of what size thermal plate will be needed and checking height to make sure there is enough clearance from the thermal plates to the cooking grid and at the same time making sure there is enough opening from the firebox to the smoke chamber.

The firebox is right at 5.25" from the top of the firebox to the bottom of the smoke chamber I want it exactly where it is.
The top of the firebox and the thermal plate to the bottom of the cooking grid will be 6" and from the top of the cooking grid to the top of the smoker chamber lid will be a little over 8".

My concern is, "will it be enough of an opening to the smoke chamber from the firebox?"
The pit calculator has no way to accept odd shapes, but the Firebox to smoke chamber inlet will be exactly 1/4 of the tank diameter
The board in the picture is a tad lower than the cooking grates will actually be, the cooking grate will be 6" from bottom of the grate to top of thermal plate.
Hopefully this formula is correct

20" DIAMETER TANK 10" X 10" X 3.1358024 divided by 4 = 78.395, actually that does not apply to sectioning the tank in this matter, but thanks to a fellow builder and his CAD program he came up with my numbers actually being, 61.418, so I am good to go.
Below is an explanation of this from JIRodriguez at SMF.

Figured out where the difference was coming from the formula 3.14xRxR gives you the area of a wedge shaped opening exactly 1/4 of a 20" dia. pipe (like a pizza cut top to bottom & side to side).

But the shape profile is different when you split the pipe with parallel lines every 5". The two areas closest to the center point have a larger area than the two areas on the outside. So you end up with the two middle sections measuring 95.661 in. sq., and the two outside sections measuring 61.418 in. sq.

This weekend, the holes in the firebox were cut using a 1/2' drill and a bimetal 2-1/4" hole saw and plenty of cutting fluid. 3 holes in the back and 4 on the side. I tried not dogging the holes so I would cut 2 holes and let the drill cool, but the last hole was pushed a little more and ceased up the drill.

One note on drilling the firebox holes, if you use a lot of cutting oil make sure to wipe your feet when walking on your white carpets.

Hooray the first hole is done.

Cleaned up the cuts with an air grinder.

And finished the holes with a Sander. The bimetal bit stayed sharp after 7 holes

And here is what happens when you push the drill. Thank goodness I got up early this morning and picked up some new batteries for my cordless drill.

Here is whats left of the drive gear.

What upset me the most was I was not pushing the drill until the last cut ... oh well, it gives me an excuse to buy another toy.
Milwaukee 0234-6

Cut a piece of 3" pipe and inserted in the 4" pipe to add weight for the counterweight. The counterweight works great between the closed to halfway opened position, but is a little heavy pulling closed from the completely open position, Springs may be incorporated in the door design.

Had an old piece of Mahogany from my fathers work bench, this wood is pretty old, I remember it as the old work bench in the shed when I was growing up. I never throw wood out and try to reuse it anyway I can.

I ran it through the planer a few times and hit a few nails thankfully I was taking off a tiny bit at a time and hopefully I didn't ruin the blade. The nails were under the surface of the wood and didn't show up until a few passes on the planer.

I put 3 coats of polyurethane on 1 side, flipped and put 1 coat on the bottom, flipped, put on another coat let dry a few days and then sanded with a 220 grit paper, wiped down and put another coat on, sanded with a wet 600 grit, put on another few coats sanding wet at 600, I lost count at 7 coats, then waxed the top.

Received my Porcelain coated Cast Iron cooking grates Monday and did a dry fit.

These were a bit pricier at and I found them cheaper at but they never have any thing in stock and they always bill you before they check stock. I even emailed them to check for availability and they said yes these are in stock, this is the second attempt in ordering from these guys I would stay away from them if you can.

I was a bit worried they would be too tight but they are perfect. They will be mounted 6 inches above the thermal plate. I leveled everything and cut some wood to hold the angle iron in place the angle will be tack welded in case I need to make adjustments down the road.

After looking at some other builds the decision was made to go with a wooden handle, so I cut two plates from some scrap that came off the compressor motor and pump mount, shaped them a bit then drilled and countersunk 2 holes each side to screw into the handle.

The handle was made from some oak my brother had gotten from some shipping pallets, ran them through the planer and routed the edges over, I didn't stain them, put on a few coats of polyurethane and went with the natural look.

Here is a pic of the wood beforehand,

... cut and planed,

... routered, polyurethaned and the plates,

... and the finished product.

If you remember earlier in the blog I said that a few nails went through the planer and hopefully I didn't ruin the blade...I was wrong, the blade is fried.

The counterweight was driving me crazy, It opened nicely till the halfway open point then wanted to take off, and pulling closed was a bit heavy until the halfway closed position.
To eliminate this problem a spring was added. I used a spring from an old pneumatic door closer.

Making the hole for the spring rod.

Lid completely closed,

... spring just starting to compress at halfway open position,

...spring fully compressed at completely open position. A little bit of the opening of the door is lost with the "slinky" but is worth the effortless opening and closing of the door.

...testing door for smooth operation.

My wife took this shot when I wasn't looking, If I had known she was going to take a picture, I would have sucked in my gut. Fatboy!!

Bruce stopped over and we tacked up a few items.
We welded the handle in place,

...welded the 3" pipe inside and added sides to the counterweight,

we also tacked in the angle iron for the grates.

More weight will need to be added to the counterweight, after I removed the clamps and stuff holding the pipe in place it was about 5 lbs lighter.

Started on the pipe burner and did a test run

I wont go into the full build but for complete instructions on this build visit Boykjo's post at Weld Talk Forum the only thing I did differently was to start my first slot at 10" and used 5/16" air holes instead of 1/4". The pipe burner will be under the Thermal Plate (Baffle) and hopefully be used for grilling.
It will also be used to preheat the smoker. There will be a second pipeburner in the firebox to ignite splits. I don't know how any of this will work until it is all put together and I can test it with digital thermometers.

This build took about 45 minutes.

Air Mixer 1/8" npt, drilled out the orifice from a 55 to a 57, 5/16" air mixing holes.

Test burn on low, no yellow flame all blue, that means it's burning clean.

Full blast and just a tad of yellow on the end, may be due to some crap in the pipe, I am very pleased with the burner, it heated my hole garage up in the few minutes I was playing with it.

... right down the center,

... high pressure regulator,

... connected to smoke chamber,

... test burn inside the tank, I used tiles as an insulator in the bottom of the tank.

A vent will be added underneath the pipe burner for air, once the thermal plate is installed it may reduce air volume.

The firebox to smoke chamber may have an adjustable vent, because I believe the draft from the firebox under the plate and over to the exhaust stack may be too much, unless I can limit the draft with the firebox vents, tests will need to be done to confirm this.

So in essence, when grilling, the vent going into the smoke chamber or the vents from the firebox will be closed slightly and the exhaust stack may need to be choked off halfway or so to reduce draft and the trap door will be opened to draw air in from underneath, although this is all theory and testing will need to be done.

... locking knob to be welded onto tank under air mixer

... pipe burner support and lock, the plate support will have an alignment plate for easy install of pipe.

Started working on the 4" exhaust stack, cut the pipe 2-1/2" longer than needed, the pipe will not extend to the meat rack, it will only extend 2 " past the top of the smoke chamber, I did this because I can always add a piece of duct work to adjust from there. here is a dry fit

... cut a damper for the stack from some scrap,

... bent a piece of rod saved from an old crib

... cut 2 pieces of 1/2" steel and drilled out to fit the steel rod

... made a handle from the same piece of wood that was from the smoker handle, burnt up the handle to add a bit of character.

Drilled out the air vent/drain in the bottom of the tank, for now I will put on a 3" long 2" nipple and cap it.

Eric stopped over with the thermal plate and the firebox door, I was so excited that I stayed up and cut out the firebox to smoke chamber inlet and did a dry fit I was very happy with the fit but will have to do some grinding to get a pitch away from the firebox.

I bought a new toy at Harbor Freight to open up some of the holes, I usually don't like to buy power tools or air tools from Harbor Freight, but the cheapest one of these grinders I could find was about $150.00, this one was listed at $37.00 and better yet when I went to pick it up at the store it had a sale price of $29.99.
Die Grinder

Last night was pretty productive, I built the second pipe burner , cut out the hole for the burner in the fire box and made some other hardware. I am a little unhappy with this burner, especially on high, I am going to have to experiment a little more and try to get that blue flame. It should be fine as a log starter, but unless I can clean that yellow flame up a bit, I may not be able to use it for smoking.

Eric stopped by with a little surprise Friday night...

I spent the better part of Saturday, cutting, grinding and prepping. Bruce came over after dinner and we were ready for some mad welding, well after about an hour or 2 we ran out of gas in the welder, oh well looks like we get to watch a movie and hang out at the beer meister! (I highly recommend "The Hangover"...great movie)

We did get to tack a few things in place.

... flat steel under hinges,

... mounted stack and damper

... removed the side pieces and ground them to fit inside the pipe for a cleaner look and added weight inside pipe,

... did a dry fit of the valves.

Well I picked up some argon during the week, $40.00 for one of those small cylinders.

I tried bending the thermal plate with my truck, I let the truck sit on the plate overnight...nothing it didn't bend a hair.
I took it into work and we rolled the fork lift over it, yep that did I would hate to have that thing roll over my toes!

Another weekend gone, well we got some welding done Sunday night. We ran out of .035 wire and had some .030 but no tips so we used the .035 tips with the .030 wire, Bruce done a pretty good job considering we were using the wrong tip.

We welded on the firebox, welded up the plate for the wheels then welded that plate under the firebox and bolted the wheels in place.

... Cut the legs for the other side and welded the wheel directly onto the legs.
We were starting to get a bit tired so we hung it up after a few superficial burns and me shoving a "jagged cut" leg in my face.

This week I picked up some .030 tips and another spool of .030 wire.
The paint came in "VHT SP100 Flat Grey Primer", 5 cans.
I still have to order the Black "SP102" the red "SP109" and some clear satin "SP115".

TheRutland Hi-Temp Stove &
Gasket Cement came in as well.
The Rutland is rated at 2,000 degrees... we'll see about that!
I am going to use the Rutland to secure the tiles underneath the Pipe burner in the smoke chamber and also weld in 2 racks of 1/2" angle hopefully this will keep everything in place.

Last night I cut out and ground the holes for the handle/grill support.
Cut off one leg to straighten it out and ground the 2" exhaust/damper in the bottom of the smoke chamber.

I did a dry fit of the thermal plate to check pitch, I think I may have to do a little more grinding, but it does looks good. Well that's enough for tonight.

Got home from work and headed straight for the workshop, I am starting to panic with this build, it needs to be ready for the real welders in a couple weeks, so I tried a little welding myself... ha ha ha I suck, but just wanted to get everything positioned so when Bruce comes over he can secure it a bit better.
Anyhow I removed the one leg and straightened it out then re tacked it.

... welded the lower shelf supports from the fire box to the front legs, damn the bed frames are hard to cut, they must be hardened steel. I went through 3 blades cutting them things before I switched to the angle grinder.

... welded in the pipe burner support/guide,
sorry no pics here

... tacked up the pipe burner locking bolt,

... welded one of the vertical toggle clamps, the one on the other side will need a mounting plate made.

... Welded the black pipe handle/Grill support and installed the propane grill,

... Installed the Thermal Plate, cut out the holes for the 2" pipe and welded in place, used a piece of the bed rail for the drain end, attached 2" ball valves and cut some wood for the lower shelf and welded the other Vertical toggle in place, I had to make a flat plate because the clamp was on the rounded part of the smoke chamber.

I decided not to install the ceramic tile, a little voice in my head was telling me not to install them, uh oh I'm starting to hear voices,

... Dry fit a piece of angle iron for the firebox end, this will be left loose so the true "Professional" welders can secure it after all the firebox and thermal plate welds are finished,

We ran out of Argon again so Bruce broke out the stick welder, boy is that a lot of fun (insert sarcasm here)!

... welded on the firebox hinges,

... welded on the shelf supports and installed the table,

... Started work on the Firebox Door Latch.

On Sunday, Jim, Bill and myself loaded up the smoker on the trailer,(they thought they were coming over for my sons birthday party lol),, wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, started raining that night and rained steady for 2 days, what a shame, it never seen a drop of rain till it was on the trailer. Oh and thanks for helping move the fridge guys.

Tuesday Eric and myself took it down the union hall for some serious welding, the rain was so bad that the traffic was doing about 35mph most of the way down I-95

I was a nervous wreck and praying the welds held up, I would of hated to see that monster end up on I-95 at 4pm on a weekday during a freak'n tsunami.

Anyhow the guys at the Union hall got a good chuckle out of our welding skills.
Bruce's looked good but mine looked like throw-up, but I did get a compliment on the woodwork.

Eric got to play a bit,

Picked up the pit from the union hall in April and they did a pretty good job welding everything.

Jim, Eric and myself managed to get it into the yard.

Haven't really done much work on it, still need a sliding plate for the back of the firebox, a fire rack, propane lines, wood shelf and some more welding before it gets painted.

Starting to rust up a bit so I gotta get moving.

This past week I got the sliding plate for the rear holes, now I need to make a handle, I don't think there's any need for these rear intakes, but like the option of being able to use them.

Installed the "Log Starter", this is removable as well as the Pipe burner in the cooking chamber.

I installed the propane lines and regulators, had a bit of a problem with some leaks so Jim came over and gave me a hand.

Will post some pics when I can

Pipe burner tests were awesome, the burner under the thermal plate was burning very clean.
I got the temp near 500 degrees at grate level in about 20 minutes.
I may be able to grill on this as well

Tried the "Log Starter" burner, placed 5 large logs in the firebox and set the burner on high for 5 minutes, all the logs caught up nicely... another success, only thing with this burner is that it doesn't burn as clean as the other one, so I am reluctant to use it for cooking in place of wood if needed.
With it loaded with wood and all the vents opened after about an hour it was topping off at about 450 degrees.

This is my 3rd test burn, but the only one I gauged temps,.
The temps maintained pretty well between 225 degrees and 275 degrees, with a couple of spikes to 300 degrees when the new wood ignited, but I was using full pieces of firewood, not the splits, ran this test for 4 hours.

I am pretty confident of maintaining temps.

Ok... its August and still not ready to paint, anyway after work today I installed a temporary thermometer, its 10 degrees off on the cooler side.

Drilled 5 holes for the temp probes countersunk both sides so they don't get torn up.

And finally got around to making the fire grate.

Had to test out the NEW fire grate this weekend so fired it up, starting with the preheat burner.

I know I am getting ahead of myself but was aching to get some "Q" going, it has been over eight months since this project was started.

Anyhow after the logs burnt down, I seasoned my fourth time but used bit of bacon grease that I have been saving, I believe the hardwood smoke season is more than enough but hey I wanted that shiny look.... makes it look used.

Butts, Beef Brisket Chili and No Boil Mac n' Cheese.
'Q" came out awesome and TBS no problem. Frank performed better than expected.

Now that I got that out of my system, there were some mistakes and things that needed to be fixed,

First mistake I made was leaving my probes in when I had the RF up well over 500°, I fried all 5 probes. I am told by Taylor Products, that these probes are not recommended above 390°.

Next mistake I made was leaving the new utility tubs under the smoker… hey live and learn right.

3rd mistake was having the firebox handle too close to the firebox, had to remove and rebend the handle till it was further away.

RF tweaks,

• Added another 4-1/2” to the table width.
• Put a cast iron grate next to the firebox.
• Fixed the handle angle.
• Installed shelving a slide out buss boy tray and chaffing pans for storage.
• Reinstalled the stop for the lid (slinky), it’s too far to reach with the table being extended 4-1/2”, its not pretty but it really works well the spring absorbs the shock when you flip open the lid.
• Added a removable turkey fryer burner for all propane cooks.
• Installed a propane lantern.

• Installed several hooks for hanging cooking utensils
• Installed a cutting board.

I decided to finish this monster up this weekend, I figured it's the end of August and needs to be completed.
Removed the table, propane lines, storage compartments and RVQ Grill.

I stripped it down best I could and wiped it down.
Started with a Primer then Black then Red and a clear satin, I used VHT Flameproof paint, it is supposed to be able to withstand heat up to 2,000 degrees.

Cured it up to about 250 degrees, let cool, next day brought it up top about 400 degrees then 600 degrees, although I didn't let it cool between the 400 degrees and 600 degrees.
The color scheme is the same as my Weber gas grill

Damn!.... it is finally finished, I never thought this day would ever come, anyhow here are some finished pics and some of the features.

There are a few things that will be added or aren't in the photo.
I ordered 3 tru temp thermometers that will be on the lid, I am adding a GFI box to bring electric to "Frank" and there is an LED desk lamp that goes on the table that is not in the pictures.

Update 9/01/10.
I was a bit unhappy with the most recent cook, I was getting an average of 70 degree difference from left to right. I did not realize the difference was so great until my cook last weekend.
I tried Fire management and that had no effect.
The top of the firebox is getting hammered with heat and 6" of the firebox is inside the smoke chamber.
There is definitely a lot of convection going on.
Here is how I fixed the problem.

The Green represents the top of the firebox that is inside the smoke chamber, the Blue represents the reverse flow plate and the Red represents the baffle plates installed to reduce the heat from hammering the top of the firebox, causing excessive radiant heat.

Now I am getting an average 23 degree difference.

I did another temperature test on my most recent cook, the temps were even better, averaging about a 15 degree temperature variance, click chart below.

Temp Test 2, 15 degree variance.

At this point my testing is done, I am pretty comfortable with the even temps of the smoker.
The smoker is maintaining 15 degrees or less variance at the 225-275 range and with that said, I will focus on making some awesome "Q".


I added three new Tru Temp thermometers. With the addition of the three new Tru Temp thermometers, my smokes are much more enjoyable.

Hey, I know it don't look pretty, that's why it's called the "Frankensmoker"