Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Horizontal smokers with a side firebox and tuning plates.
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DoTheEyeThing
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Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by DoTheEyeThing » July 30th, 2021, 12:27 pm

I’ve started work on a fairly close copy of Aaron Franklin’s backyard smoker. I came to appreciate Franklin’s emphasis on clean smoke through good airflow and fire management after my own frustration trying to smoke on a weber kettle and not getting the results I’ve come to know growing up with BBQ in Texas. I would have loved to order one of his pits, but since there’s what seems to be a multi-year wait list I started planning out my own build.

I work a day job as a 3D modeler / artist and love building things, so even though parts of this big project are a bit out of my comfort zone, I think it’ll be really fun and rewarding if I pull it off.

I joined my local makerspace for access to their metal shop and have been sourcing everything for a couple months. Here’s some info on what I’ve picked up so far :
  • Drove a few hours from Utah to Wyoming to get some rusty 20” x ¼” pipes in a field for $250 (way cheaper than the $1700+ cost to roll some steel locally! Steel prices are nuts right now). More than enough for my 40” cook chamber and 22” fire box. I cut and had a local shop roll one of the fire box pipes down to 18” ID for the inner fire box sleeve as semi-insulation.
  • Had a 20” elliptical head with a 2" straight flange made in Fort Worth, TX - $300 shipped. Cook chamber total length will be 47"
  • Got some 5” steel and cast iron casters from casterconnection that look identical to what I see on Franklin’s prototypes - $100
  • Four 2’x 2’ x ⅜” surplus steel plates for end caps and hinge plates - $240
  • 4.5” smoke stack pipe from scrap for - $8
  • 10ft of 2 3/8” pipe for legs. I think about - $90
  • A couple ¾” #9 flattened expanded steel grates - $30?
  • A Tel-true 4" stem thermometer - $50
I still need a little bit of ¼” plate, some angle iron, some ½” round bar, some square bar etc. Not much left really. Looks like it’ll be just a bit over $1000 in material. I’ve seen Franklin’s costs about $4k after shipping so if I can make mine of remotely comparable quality, I’ll make out pretty good!

Here's a random build clip where I strapped a grinder with a brush wheel to a dowel to get the chunkier rust out of the inside of the pipes. Let the oscillation do most of the work for me.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/Hgtf3WhfBQ458xgc9

I've almost finished a 3D model of the smoker after many hours of grabbing screenshots and matching them to my 3D model as well as using known measurements to measure other parts. Really tedious! I still need to finish up the hinges some and triple check a few things but I think I'm close.

I've got a few questions I'll post soon and I'll keep ya'll up to date on the build!
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Last edited by DoTheEyeThing on July 30th, 2021, 12:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoke Clone

Post by DoTheEyeThing » July 30th, 2021, 12:31 pm

So after seeing some reviews on this pit, some modifications I'm thinking of doing include :
  • Adding an outer flange to the cook door to help prevent smoke leaking
  • Adding a hat to the smoke stack to help with shutting down if I ever need to. Undecided how I want to handle the firebox door air intake. I like the holes there as I imagine they could be a decent wind break. I've seen some people add a plate that slides over them.. I might just cut out a thin plate with magnets I can throw over them to shut down
  • Thinking I'd like to make the firebox bolt on instead of welded so I can make the 600+lbs more manageable. I'm going to need to move this a few times in the future. The firebox alone weighs about 250lbs
Here's a pic of what I'm thinking for making the firebox bolt on. Basically leave an extra 1"-1.5" flange on the round disc cap at the throat side of the firebox. Add bolts there and several more inside the box around the throat. I think that should work?
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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by DoTheEyeThing » July 30th, 2021, 12:41 pm

I'm also considering the best way to handle door spring once I cut it. I had a lot of spring when I cut open one of my firebox pipes to roll smaller so it's definitely going to happen. I think welding in some cross supports before I cut the door won't interfere with the food too much and seems easier than dealing with a sprung door... Alternatively I could see if a local shop can roll it back down, but when I had my firebox rolled down, the seem was flattened and from what I gather, that might have been a consequence of how rollers work? I don't know enough to be sure. Any thoughts?
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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by Dirtytires » July 30th, 2021, 12:51 pm

Don't fret on the door spring. It can be easily bent back with a bottle jack and a heavy chain. The braces could work but will eat up valuable interior space.



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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by DoTheEyeThing » July 30th, 2021, 1:49 pm

Dirtytires wrote:
July 30th, 2021, 12:51 pm
Don't fret on the door spring. It can be easily bent back with a bottle jack and a heavy chain. The braces could work but will eat up valuable interior space.
Thanks Dirtytires I'll try not to :) I suppose I could even do a small test with extra pipe to see how close I can get it back in shape with a jack and chain.



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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by Big T » July 30th, 2021, 8:09 pm

Welcome aboard! You should check out the recent builds from dacolson and hogaboomer. They built pits like your design with a modified throat baffle similar to what jambo uses and they both said that their pits perform great.


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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by Pete Mazz » July 31st, 2021, 2:09 am

Welcome


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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by DoTheEyeThing » July 31st, 2021, 4:13 am

Big T wrote:
July 30th, 2021, 8:09 pm
Welcome aboard! You should check out the recent builds from dacolson and hogaboomer. They built pits like your design with a modified throat baffle similar to what jambo uses and they both said that their pits perform great.
Thanks I'll be sure to check those!



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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by dacolson » August 1st, 2021, 9:13 am

Welcome. Going to be a cool looking rig.


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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by DoTheEyeThing » August 17th, 2021, 8:50 pm

Hey all! I've been making progress - will get more photos soon. I've hit the point where I needed to nail down my plan for making the firebox bolt on and wanted to run it by ya'll.

Right now there's a flange coming up from the firebox with 7x 1/2" Grade 5 bolts through.. and then 7x more 3/8" Grade 5 bolts on the inside.
The plates are 3/8" thick steel and the firebox should weight about 250lbs.

I think the 7 bolts bolts up top should be enough but there's room to add more...do ya'll think 7 is good enough? I'm a noob at how hot heavy metal behaves and want to avoid anything warping / gaps forming / etc.
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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by hogaboomer » August 17th, 2021, 9:06 pm

I'm no engineer, but I would not be at all nervous about 7 half inch bolts holding up 250 pounds.


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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by DoTheEyeThing » August 17th, 2021, 10:53 pm

Yeah I think you're right : )



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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by Dirtytires » August 18th, 2021, 10:19 am

I would just weld it....but the bolts are fine as far as holding capacity. The shear strength of a standard 0.5 inch bolt is 2345 pounds so you would be fine with just one and still have proper safety margin.

You might consider a gasket if your plates are not flat enough to fully seal.



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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by dacolson » August 18th, 2021, 11:23 am

Agree on the gasket. Was having the same thought. Could be a thin one just to make sure you have no air leakage in or out.


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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by Brewmaster » August 21st, 2021, 9:22 am

This is all sorts of awesome!! Subscribed!



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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by EverydayDiesel » August 22nd, 2021, 12:46 am

Id like to know more about this bi-metal design of franklins which is, from what I understand, what makes that pit preform so well.



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Re: Franklin Backyard Smoker Clone

Post by Brewmaster » August 22nd, 2021, 11:05 am

EverydayDiesel wrote:
August 22nd, 2021, 12:46 am
Id like to know more about this bi-metal design of franklins which is, from what I understand, what makes that pit perform so well.
I don't think it's solely responsible, but there's some sort of special something going on with it. I can't imagine it bends so much it'd have a huge impact but who knows. The few posting videos haven't mentioned or shown it as far as I've found. I'd like to know more. :beer:



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