Could I please pick your minds

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Butterbean
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Could I please pick your minds

Post by Butterbean » Fri Feb 22, 2013 03:12

For some time I've been wanting to build a larger smoker that can cold and hot smoke. I have an abundance of oak and pecan so most of my smokers are wood fired so I wanted to continue taking advantage of this wood supply. However, where I live its flat so my build had to work around flat topography but I found a design in Marianski's book that looked like it would do the trick so I built one based on these concepts.

Here it is.
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As you can see, the firebox sits to the side and the smoke is piped downward then up through the floor of the smokehouse.

Here is the first wisp of smoke coming through the floor.

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I was a bit miffed when first starting the fire because it didn't want to draw properly. Then I came to the conclusion that the house itself was too cold inside so I set a propane burner inside for about 10 minutes and it began drawing well. I turned the flame off and like a ciphon the smoke is rolling pretty good now. Here is what it looks like inside.

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As for smoke this looks like its doing the job and will definitely lay some smoke on something but what concerns me is the temperature - even if I bump up the fire - will only get to 71F in the lowest part of the smoker and 92F in the upper reaches of the smoker near the vents. I suspect the area where the meat is about 80F.

I guess all this is fine but I really want to be able to turn up the heat to around 140 - 170F so I can also cook smoked sausages in the house. This is what I was truly hoping for cause I need the ability to smoke a fair amount of sausages. I now have the room but just not the heat.

Now that I've bored you with the details, I'd like to pick your brains if you don't mind and toss some ideas out.

First idea I had was to take a length of tubing or pipe and run it directly out from where the tubing first elbows near the fire box and run this directly into the smokehouse. I could install a baffle in this so if I was cold smoking I could open this long enough for the house to come to heat to make it draw then turn it off and only allow cold smoke in the house from the floor system. Also, in hot smoking the baffle should allow me to control the temperature inside the house and once set it should coast along at the desired temperature.

Second idea is to put either a gas or an electric heater inside the house and use this to bring the house up to a higher temperature.

Third idea, is not something I care to do but it would involve shortening the tubing and not going so far down into the ground. I don't know the physics of all this but I'm amazed at how cool the smoke gets in only 8 feet of distance so if shortened it should rise exponentially I would think. But this would be an aweful lot of work and I still may come up short on the temp.

Any ideas or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I'm scratching my head on this one and maybe that's what mamma meant when she said I can't have my cake and eat it too but I still think I can.

Thanks in advance.
Last edited by Butterbean on Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:35, edited 1 time in total.
ssorllih
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Post by ssorllih » Fri Feb 22, 2013 03:55

Bean, What would happen if you put a sand box on the floor and laid brick on the sand and built a small fire on the bricks? You have enough experience with small wood fires to control the burn. Lacking that just build another steel stove like the one outside and put it inside but don't put a chimney on it. A small fire inside would heat that little cabin very nice and warm.
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Post by Butterbean » Fri Feb 22, 2013 04:20

I'm not finished with the inside yet but when its finished I'll have concrete on the floor so this could be an option. I've never hotsmoked with an open fire. I like the fireboxes cause it gives me more control. My other box will hold a fair amount of meat and its very easy to maintain a constant temp and with very little babysitting. I really expected this to do about the same but I misjudged how quickly the heat is lost.

In the old tobacco houses they used a flue system to adjust the heat. Sometimes you only cold smoked the tobacco but then to yellow it good you would heat it to 140 - 170F. This is what I'm hoping to do.
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Post by ssorllih » Fri Feb 22, 2013 04:59

When I lived/was stationed in the Philippines some of the beach houses had cooking fire places that were just dry sand on bamboo tables and the women built the fires on that. Small fires with lots of ventilation. Have to be careful of carbon monoxide poisoning.
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Post by Butterbean » Fri Feb 22, 2013 05:52

The only thing I don't like about the open fire is it requires babysitting. I have another smoker called Wilbur and its a charm. All Wilbur needs is a couple of sticks of wood every hour for the higher heats but for the 150'ish cooks every 1.5 hours will suffice. For a cold smoke two stokings per day is all it needs. I was hoping this would work on the same principle but I had no idea I'd lose this much heat by using this configuration.
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Post by NorthFork » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:57

Butterbean-

You could cut a small access door alongside the walk door and setup a propane burner so you could get to it without opening the main door and losing temp/smoke. I would use some cement board around it to protect the structure from the flame (including the inside of the access door). If you covered it with a perforated plate (either metal or cement board) it would disperse the heat better. You could also add smoke from the burner if you wanted to (cast iron pot with wet chunks of wood). I have a smaller wood smoker with a couple of small 3 stage burners and I can control the temp from just above ambient up to any temp I want, I actually ran it up to 375° F once just to see if I could (stood by with the garden hose!), I wouldn't advise running a wood smoker at that temp but I just had to know.

Northern Tool sells a decent little burner for under $50.00 that works well and can generate a lot of heat if you need it.

Great looking smoker-can't wait to see some of the results!

Pat
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Post by Butterbean » Fri Feb 22, 2013 15:42

Thanks Pat, I think that would work great but if at all possible, I'd like to stay away from propane or electric. It just seems like a waste when I have the heat source already in place its just not putting enough heat in the house. I just can't get my head around the physics of what's going on. Sortof above my pay grade.

While its obvious I've got some bugs to work out I'm sortof impressed with it this morning. Just checked it was surprised to find it still smoking after over 10 hours from the last stoking. Temp in the house hasn't changed since I first got it up to its coasting temp.

Smoke coming out the vent is very cool and is laying on the floor but the house was filled with a light smoke.

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The bacon has been in for over 12 hours and they look like this.

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Looks like they have picked up some color. Not sure about the flavor. I may take one side down and test it.
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Post by Butterbean » Fri Feb 22, 2013 16:34

Pat, I stuck a burner in it a few minutes ago and in no time I had 140F with the flame only set half way. The house is very well insulated so it really didn't take much extra heat to get it up to where I hope it will run. I think I'll use the burner for the time being till I can figure out how to get more heat from the firebox.
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Post by NorthFork » Fri Feb 22, 2013 16:35

Looking good! I think your idea of an additional and more direct (with adjustable damper) pipe might do the job. You do have a lot of space to try to maintain temperature in that will take a predictable amount of heat to accomplish your temperature goals. You may find that a small controlled burn just for the smoking process may come up short of your goal. You may have to do something such as Ross (ssorllih) suggested and use an additional wood burner to pick up on the heat gain to the smoke chamber.

That bacon sure looks nice, I'll bet it will taste better than it looks.

Pat
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Post by Butterbean » Fri Feb 22, 2013 16:59

Thanks. Its nice to be able to knock around ideas with like minded people.
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Post by ssorllih » Fri Feb 22, 2013 17:14

Many years ago I had a greenhouse that I heated with wood that I burned in a massive masonary heaterI would build a fire it that thing and heat a half ton of bricks to about 150 degrees F abd it would stay hot most of the night. If you could put a little wood stove in a brick dog house beside the smoke house and duct the heat to the smoke house then you could connect a thermostat to a blower and control the smokehouse temperature that way. Advantage no loss of space in the smokehouse, no fire risk, better control of the burn rate of the fuel.
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Post by Butterbean » Fri Feb 22, 2013 17:40

A thermostat would be great. I've been known to fall asleep before things were finished and its amazing what can happen when I close my eyes for a second or so. :oops:
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Post by ssorllih » Fri Feb 22, 2013 18:02

It occured to me that you already have the wood burner all you need is to enclose the smoker fire with an oversize plenum and add some duct work. That little stove you use for making smoke is bound to get pretty hot.
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Post by Butterbean » Fri Feb 22, 2013 19:10

It does get very hot. The problem seems to be I'm losing all the heat through the radiant heat transfer through the metal itself. I can't get my head around the plenum. This is new to me. I assume its like a box over the existing firebox and you suck air out of that and into the smokehouse itself. If I envision this correctly what I could do is build a smaller box on top of the existing and have an intake then an outake into the smokehouse. By adding a thermostat controlled fan I could regulate its flow since the smoke itelf is cold and has little to no effect on the heating of the house.

One thing I like about the idea of just running a dampered pipe over to the house is the fact that the fireboxes I make have a coasting temperature that they will maintain very well once the dampers are set. A lot of people complain about wood fires because they are difficult to control the heat and are highly variable. These boxes are the complete opposite. IF I could run the pipe and IF it would allow me to adjust the smokehouse temp to say 175F max then I'd be tickled pink cause controlling the heat I don't believe would be problem. But I do like the idea of setting a thermostat and being able to just forget about it. But then that is also one more thing that could break. (just thinking out loud) I need to do some homework on this plenum thing.
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Post by crustyo44 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 19:16

Butterbean,
Those bellies need a bit more colour on them, it's all trial and error to get the taste YOU like, especially with a new smokehouse that big.
You have a wonderful set up with virtually no problems at all.
Good Luck,
Jan.
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