Commercial Fridge Build

Discussions about turning that old refrigerator into a Smoker
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Militant83
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Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Militant83 » August 31st, 2020, 7:00 pm

So my buddy who owns a deli is throwing out an Entree CR2 commercial refrigerator. I was already planning to build a smoke house to cold smoke and smoke sausages, snack sticks and such. The inner door is plastic which I will replace and replace the rubber door seal with a smoker door gasket. The main question is the inner lining is a powder coated aluminum with a stainless floor. Will the powder coated interior be fine or does it need to be skinned with stainless or another metal?



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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Dirtytires » September 1st, 2020, 10:18 am

For a cold smoke I would say it’s not a problem. My understanding is that coatings are more prone to do funny things when exposed to higher temps. Cold smoking is typically under 175 degrees and shouldn’t alter the paint but not sure I would put it much over 250.

Check the heat rating on the original seals, they may be just fine. Probably rubber but you never know.

You running a smoke generator or have an external firebox?

Let us know how it turns out.



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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Militant83 » September 1st, 2020, 1:40 pm

Dirtytires,
my intention is to only run it between the 160-180 temp range, maybe 200 max. just hot enough to finish out some sausages, snack sticks etc. I have other cookers if I need to cook at hotter temps. Seeing how my primary use for this is cold smoking and sausage my thought was a small propane burner to add constant heat and a smoke generator to add the flavor. To me I believe this will give me the most consistent outcome and more of a set it and forget it setup.

I could do an external firebox and pipe it in but it may be more difficult to keep an consistent temp and require more baby sitting than I would like for this cooker. But would probably add a better smoke flavor, not sure. I have never really played with a smoke generator so I cant really compare one vs. the other?

Or maybe electric oven heating elements?


If I was going to do a smoke generator should I do a DIY or buy an existing product?



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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Dirtytires » September 2nd, 2020, 10:08 am

If using a generator, just buy one.

Sounds like a fun project...I’d say go for it.



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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Militant83 » September 2nd, 2020, 12:33 pm

I guess it will all really come down to how much of a budget I want to set for this project. If I was to just pipe in an external firebox like an old style smokehouse it would be more budget friendly. After looking in to electrical setups it gets a little on the expensive side. And propane seems to be a lot of calculations on figuring out burner size and such for the size of interior space, unless I'm just overthinking it.



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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Dirtytires » September 3rd, 2020, 10:33 am

It’s a ‘cold’ smoker. In theory, you would not want a heat source. If you put an external firebox on it and piped in a little smoke it would provide more than enough heat, in my opinion.



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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Militant83 » September 3rd, 2020, 2:51 pm

You think something like a small camp stove piped into it would give enough heat and smoke to keep it around 160?



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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Militant83 » September 3rd, 2020, 6:54 pm

Got the free commercial fridge picked up. Now to start stripping out the refrigeration parts and figure out how to go about this build.
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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Militant83 » September 4th, 2020, 5:48 pm

What metal would be the most affordable that could be used to skin the inside of the doors and possibly the inner walls?



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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Dirtytires » September 4th, 2020, 8:43 pm

Any super thin guage of steel would work fine. It doesn’t need any strength and won’t have much heat so as thin as you can get it. Heck, even a roll of tin-foil would work but would be just a bit too fragile.



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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Militant83 » September 4th, 2020, 8:57 pm

with the temps being so low would galvanized sheet metal be an issue? I know at high temps such as welding temps they say to to weld galvanized due to it off gassing fumes when the galvanized coating is being burnt off. I would assume that heat level is well beyond when I will be doing. Around here galvanized sheet metal is pretty cheap and common to find.



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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Dirtytires » September 4th, 2020, 9:01 pm

Galvanized is ‘possibly’ safe. Carbon steel is ‘definitely’ safe.

You have to decide but I would steer clear of it.



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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by tinspark » September 5th, 2020, 4:38 pm

20 gauge cold roll may be an option, but will rust
20 gauge hot roll is about the same price but wont rust as fast as cold roll
Not sure about aluminum in a smoker, maybe someone could chime in..
24 gauge stainless steel is thin, and a 2b finish is a little cheaper than a #4 finish (#4 has the pretty grain on it which is an added step/$)
A 2bfinish is like a mill finish and can be had in type 304 which is a common stainless steel used in kitchen work.
You could use ss pop rivets and high heat silicone at seam edges, and the center of the rivets which'd seal things nicely....
my 2 cents..
Last edited by tinspark on September 5th, 2020, 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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tinspark's the name buildin' "n" smokin's the game
Current build-GF:https://smokerbuilder.com/forums/viewto ... 30#p114730
last build- Santa Maria Smoker:
https://smokerbuilder.com/forums/viewto ... 04#p113904

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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Big T » September 5th, 2020, 8:11 pm

I remember a thread from years ago where a guy was having some issues with his aluminum skins inside his smoker. I believe it was something to do with his rubs and the grease from his cooks was causing some type of reaction with the aluminum. That was probably 7-8 years ago so I don't remember the specifics. I have an older gas grill that is made from cast aluminum and I've never had any problems with it.


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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by tinspark » September 5th, 2020, 9:08 pm

Big T wrote:
September 5th, 2020, 8:11 pm
I remember a thread from years ago where a guy was having some issues with his aluminum skins inside his smoker. I believe it was something to do with his rubs and the grease from his cooks was causing some type of reaction with the aluminum. That was probably 7-8 years ago so I don't remember the specifics. I have an older gas grill that is made from cast aluminum and I've never had any problems with it.
That's true Big T on the aluminum gas grilles. I forgot about that.. I had a small cast aluminum one when I was a Bachler many moons ago living in my 1 bedroom apartment, and still have it to this day. It has a few white spots on it (aluminum rust- AKA oxidation). Mine took the small 6" tall propane bottle. The burners wore out and I stripped the burners out of it and have thrown briquettes in it a few times when we have ran to the beach for the day... Its probably 30 yrs. old and is still sitting on my patio, and is in relatively decent condition..
Cant seem to throw it away since it was my first cooker when I was a young buck!!
I'd likely opt for a mild steel skin, which could be bought for under $50 per sht in my parts.
common sizes are 60x120" , 48" x 120" and 38" x 96" in my neck of the woods.


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tinspark's the name buildin' "n" smokin's the game
Current build-GF:https://smokerbuilder.com/forums/viewto ... 30#p114730
last build- Santa Maria Smoker:
https://smokerbuilder.com/forums/viewto ... 04#p113904

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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Militant83 » September 6th, 2020, 11:03 am

Thanks guys for the info, Ill just have t call the metal supplier and see what they have available. Id prefer stainless if I could afford it. With mild steel couldn't you just season it with oil every so often to protect it from rusting as bad? or will the low tempts not be hot enough to properly season it in?



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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Dirtytires » September 6th, 2020, 11:04 am

Don’t worry about the rust. Common practice is to give the inside of a smoker a light coat of vegetable oil and a heavy smoke cure. This process puts a really nice black, rust resistant finish on the inside.



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Re: Commercial Fridge Build

Post by Militant83 » September 7th, 2020, 1:21 pm

That is what I thought. I got all of the refrigeration pieces gutted out. Now to work on getting the plastic off the doors and prepare to skin it all out.



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