Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Smoker Clones are your own version of a commercially available Smoker. Examples are Stumps, Jambo, Backwoods, or any other you want to try to copy.
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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » September 4th, 2015, 9:51 pm

NM_Wanderer wrote:Did you extend it vertically? How much?
No.

I went back and forth, and finally superstition and rationalization won out over my desire to make it taller.

I didn't want to risk it being quirky after putting all this time into it (yes, even though Frank said it would be OK).

And I realized that that I could get an (almost) extra inch between any two shelves by flipping the upper shelf over, and almost two inches by putting it on top of the guide rails. So I can get three shelves of meat with one shelf full of pork butts if I want/need.

If I out grow the capacity I'l deal with it.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » September 5th, 2015, 9:01 pm

A little progress today. I finished tacking the front-to-back tubes and getting everything squared up. I test fit the fire box, and cut out all of the parts for the charcoal chute. Should be a simple affair to assemble the charcoal chute to the firebox assembly tomorrow. Once that's done and everything fits well I'll finish weld the entire plate assembly, and weld it and the rest of the tubes into the frame. Then I can start thinking about the sheetmetal.

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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » September 6th, 2015, 8:19 pm

A bit more progress, although it doesn't look like much. I cleaned up the parts I cut yesterday, tacked the charcoal chute together, and welded up the entire firebox, ash box and charcoal chute. Not my best job welding, but it's been a while. Good practice.

I think I can start screwing with the sheetmetal tomorrow. I don't want to weld the plate assembly to the tubing until I figure out how the inner sheet metal is going to work.

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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Pete Mazz » September 7th, 2015, 5:30 am

It looks like "much" to me!


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by BBQTEAMWESTCOAST.DK » September 7th, 2015, 12:09 pm

Where can I get the plans with metric measures?
I'm from Denmark.



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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Puff » September 9th, 2015, 10:39 am



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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » September 10th, 2015, 6:36 pm

It's been unreasonably hot here this week, and I'm waiting for a replacement switch for my hand shear, so no progress on the tin work for the smoker. But I've been thinking about it...

Originally I was going to cut and bend one piece for the left and right sides and back -- a giant "U". This would save welding two long seams. I might still do that. But bigger pieces have challenges too. Getting the bends in the right spots and getting the fit along the top and bottom just right could be a little tricky.

The plans call four individual pieces of metal cut and welded at the corners. The left and right sides are different sizes as the bottom doubles as a angled drip pan. I was thinking of slightly modifying that as follows:

1. cut identical top and bottom pieces, about 1.5" wider and deeper than the inside of the cook chamber. Then notch the four corners 3/4" x 3/4" to fit around the tubes, which would put the edges in the middle of the face of each tube, overlapping. Just tack this to the tube faces.

2. Cut the back to fit exactly between the top and bottom, but wider by 1.5" to overlap 3/4" onto the rear tubes on each side. Tack this to the face of the vertical tubes. Now instead of a butt corner joint between the back and the top it's a "T". A little easier to fit

3. Now the left and right sides can slide in and we have a "T" joint at the top, bottom and back, and a half lap onto the tube at the front.

4. Finally, build a removable drip pan

Thoughts? It may be hard to picture from my description, but it seems like it would make fitting the interior sheetmetal easier.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Puff » September 10th, 2015, 8:21 pm

That was my kind of thinking on my original build but as I got more excited about seeing it finished, I became totally engulfed in the fantasy and lost my direct guidance. I like the removable drip pan. Currently, I have the double bent floor and it gets covered with drips and ash dust and if I don't spend the time to clean it.... It looks terrible. I don't clean it after the cooking while still warm because I'm too full to bend down like that. A lift out type of tray could mean building in a FLAT floor and build the slope into the lift out pan?

I may have mentioned I am considering making the top just like the cover on my heating system....bent over 1/2" edges. The "U" bend concept for the back and sides I plan on still doing but I know I cannot get the measurements right on the first try. Things like that just happen to me. Bending it and getting it right would be a bit of a shocker. If I could get away with 18 gauge, I might have half a chance... But I like the heavier gauge material.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » September 10th, 2015, 9:14 pm

Puff - yeah, a double-bent drip pan that was removable. Probably with that front edge built in. It would also make it easier to cover in aluminum foil, so cleanup would just be replacing the foil. I'd keep the drain tube of course, just match up the hole in the drip pan, ideally with a little lip in the drain pan to help funnel runoff into the tube.

On the outside it's a little easier...not getting the second bend just right, but getting the lengths all correct. Just fit it to the tubing and scribe lines off the tubing edges onto the u-bend for the final trim. Bent tabs on the top (and bottom I'd guess) sounds reasonable. I'm still on the fence about welding or screwing the outside on. I'll probably weld it. And grind it. And block sand it... Maybe I'll be cooking on it by Christmas. :)


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Puff » September 10th, 2015, 10:07 pm

I gotta say that maybe....JUST MAYBE.. The size of the mini makes that monumental grinding effort manageable. My big GF is like standing next to a full extended sized refrigerator/freezer. Grinding that was my intention but... Never happened.

After about 6 uses on the big one, I decided to open the ball valve drain and never realized that it may be full of grease and when I'd opened it ..the floor had a 8" puddle of 90wt. I did just this however on my fill chute door cover. That nicely radiused top took two hours to do. Looks GREAT but takes time. I have decided to build the flat floor and lift out pan now that you've brought it up..

What's a U-bend? Aside from what it sounds like


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Pete Mazz » September 11th, 2015, 4:37 am

CaliforniaSmoke wrote:
1. cut identical top and bottom pieces, about 1.5" wider and deeper than the inside of the cook chamber. Then notch the four corners 3/4" x 3/4" to fit around the tubes, which would put the edges in the middle of the face of each tube, overlapping. Just tack this to the tube faces.

2. Cut the back to fit exactly between the top and bottom, but wider by 1.5" to overlap 3/4" onto the rear tubes on each side. Tack this to the face of the vertical tubes. Now instead of a butt corner joint between the back and the top it's a "T". A little easier to fit

3. Now the left and right sides can slide in and we have a "T" joint at the top, bottom and back, and a half lap onto the tube at the front.

Thoughts? It may be hard to picture from my description, but it seems like it would make fitting the interior sheetmetal easier.
That's exactly how I had my metal cut. The only problem I had was too light of a gauge (.045) and burning thru and warping when trying to weld the seams. I'm not a great welder and the next one will be 14 gauge material and bent to fit with a top and bottom that gets welded.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Puff » September 11th, 2015, 7:06 am

Pretty, according to the charts. You saying that 17 gauge was too thin...was this in the cook chamber or outer skins ?


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Pete Mazz » September 11th, 2015, 5:52 pm

It was 19 gauge.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » September 12th, 2015, 10:38 pm

It was cooler today, got a couple of hours in the shop between errands. Also making country ribs and smoked mac-n-cheese for dinner.

The plans call for a 9" channel for the smoke transfer tube. Since I had 1.4" plate I decided to just make this instead of using channel -- I think s worked out better because I could make it the exact width and height of the firebox opening.

Image

I ended up about 3/32" too long on this part. So I mocked it up, and scribed a trim line and ground down to the line. I thought it was boing to be a bigger deal than it was to get this dialed in, but it went pretty smoothly. I think I've just about run out of things to do before I tackle the sheetmetal inside. Maybe I can find enough nits to pick tomorrow so I can put the sheetmetal off another week.

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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » September 13th, 2015, 12:39 am

Dinner...

Country style ribs, smoked a couple of hours to 150* then panned them with pineapple juice and bbq sauce until 180-185*, then back on the grate with bbq sauce to glaze. Smoked mac-n-cheese with panko-bacon crust. And ya gotta have a veggie (or so I'm told).

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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Pete Mazz » September 13th, 2015, 3:55 am

Looks tasty!

What's that veggie thing of which you speak? :)


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Puff » September 13th, 2015, 7:30 am

String beans? My wife makes me eat vegetables on occasion or no tv :-o

This is coming out very nicely. Not only did my channel come in 3/8 " too long but I've read a few posts about the same thing. Wonder in we are not constructing or placing the firebox correctly?


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » September 13th, 2015, 12:41 pm

Puff wrote: This is coming out very nicely. Not only did my channel come in 3/8 " too long but I've read a few posts about the same thing. Wonder in we are not constructing or placing the firebox correctly?
Thanks Puff.

On the length of the smoke channel -- mine was a tiny bit long because after building it I realized I had some bits of weld on the firebox that were keeping it from fully seating against the tubing (which I then ground down). BUT, I didn't check the plans for the length, I measured it for length from my actual assembly at 20.5". The plans call for a 9" channel 21 7/16" long, which would have been way too long.

Mine also came in at 9.5" wide so that the inside of the sides lined up exactly with the opening in the fire box, and about 2.75" tall so the bottom of the horizontal part lined up with the top of the firebox opening. The firebox opening is 9" wide (dictated by plate "I") and 2.25" tall (FB is 5" tall, minus the height of Plate "I", minus the thickness of Plate "M"). So I made my "channel" with a 9" inside space and a 2.5" inside height to allow the sides to overlap Plate "M".

That all reads like gibberish unless you're looking at your plans or your assembly.

Anyway, I'm very glad I built the smoke transfer piece instead of using a length of channel.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » September 14th, 2015, 9:55 am

So I finished welding the smoke transfer tube yesterday. That assembly is now officially H E A V Y. I haven't put the grate into the smoke transfer tube yet (to keep the coals from spilling into the cook chamber), and I'm a little concerned about that part of the assembly. Since it's right against the hot coals I'd expect it to be something that will wear out much more quickly. So I didn't want to just weld it in. I'm thinking about bending tabs on a piece of the expanded metal so it's a snub fit into the smoke transfer tube and stuffing it in from that side. Then if necessary I can pull it out and replace it in the future.

Image

I had to spend some time cleaning up the shop a little to make room for the next phase of work, and I spent a lot of time weighing the options on the sheetmetal interior for the cook chamber. I decided I like the idea of building a sheetmetal box that I can fully weld and tune up before welding it into the tubing frame. I'm going to try to bend the two long corners too. So I started by rough cutting the pieces for the u-bend (three vertical sides) and the top and bottom pieces. The long piece is about 1" too long and 1/4" too wide. I'll need to make some test bends to see how much material I lose in the bend so I can get the size right. I expect that making the sheetmetal is going to be a bit fussy and time consuming, but I want to get it done neatly as it will be visible -- and good practice for the outside skin.

I'm still planning on making a removable drip pan too.

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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » September 19th, 2015, 9:05 am

Yesterday I fixed my old Black & Decker electric shear. It died several years ago (after not all that much use), I diagnosed that it had a bad switch and ordered a replacement. Apparently the don't make the switch anymore so what I actually got was a different switch, and a new outside case (in DeWalt yellow) and switch paddle. The tool works perfectly again, but it looks weird, half bright yellow, half black and silver.

I started trimming up my rough cut sheets yesterday with it. I'm going to try to make some progress on the inner sheetmetal today.

I had to run some errands yesterday afternoon, and decided to stop in for a snack at a local BBQ place, Mission Street BBQ in Santa Cruz. The sides there are a waste (tasteless), but the meat in nicely smoked and his a nice flavor. They use a pair of Yoder stick burners. It looked like they were burning Oak. The ribs didn't have much meat on them. They do Brisket but don't seem to understand lean vs. fatty (or point vs flat). I asked for sliced from the fatty end, but these look like they are from the flat to me. Last time I got something that looked like pulled beef. Maybe they are only cooking flats. I like that they serve the meat without sauce, and while I'd like a little more moisture and a lot more "pop" it's very enjoyable Q.

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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Rodcrafter » September 19th, 2015, 3:37 pm

It does look good.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » September 19th, 2015, 5:39 pm

I got the sheetmetal for the cook chamber bent and tack welded today. I decided to try bending one piece for the back and sides, and welding in a top and bottom. I got the bend in the right place, and made sure the top and bottom were dead square, so I should be OK on the final fit. I'm going to TIG weld it from the outside, so it should look nice inside.

Bent sides/back, needed a little trimming to slide into the tubing but the bend was right
Image

Bent piece trimmed on the bottom (this is upside down). I still need to trim the sides along the vertical edge as they are too long.
Image

Top and bottom fit and tack welded. I got a pretty good fit along the seam, no gaps. This should make it a lot easier to weld.
Image

Here is one of the ends tacked into place.
Image

Tomorrow I'll do another test fit, weld it up and cut the slot for the smoke transfer tube. Then I need to start on the drip pan.


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Pete Mazz » September 19th, 2015, 6:24 pm

:LG:


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by Rodcrafter » September 19th, 2015, 9:21 pm

Oh yea!


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Re: Cal Smoke's Mini Gravity Fed Build

Post by CaliforniaSmoke » September 20th, 2015, 4:33 pm

I welded up the cook chamber and test fit it to the tubing frame. I'm really close on the fit, a little more tweaking and it should slide the rest of the way in. I'm not sure how much I gained by bending and welding it outside of the tubing as I'm spending a lot of time fiddling to get a good fit with the tubing. But I'm getting there.

It's 95+ degrees in the shop, I'm done for the day!
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