Author Topic: New here and starting a smoker project  (Read 6828 times)

Offline beardude

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New here and starting a smoker project
« on: May 26, 2010, 10:32:55 am »
I've read most of the forums here (more than once  ;D) and now that I'm in the "preparation" phase of my smoker project I have a few questions lingering around. As for heaters...... I saw that someone mentioned strip heaters from grainger. I'm wondering if anyone has put them to use yet and how well they worked. I'm looking at 2 1800w finned heaters (old commercial fridge, single wide) BTU calc says 2500 is enough but I'm wondering if the finned strips will need a fan because the stainless does not radiate heat well. If not can someone list a few sources for heaters. I'm trying to stay 120V for ease of use and I'm partial to long thin heaters similar to the ones in that beauty of a homebuilt (I think he used 500w bradleys)

I've got the PID and SSR etc.. the electronics are no problem for me but I was wondering if anyone has gone PLC yet and made "recipe" cycles for different smoking situations? I've even contemplated a cold water washdown via solenoid control for the sausage/salami cycle. couple of those brass sprinkler heads, catch trough in the bottom, cools the sausage down and cleans the house out in one shot while I sleep away  ;D (I've had too many sleepless nights watching my sausage smoke afraid of over cooking, over temp, not enough smoke etc... )

Just thought I could help bounce ideas around, Machinist/fabricator by trade with a brother who's a logic programmer  ;)

Offline classicrockgriller

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Re: New here and starting a smoker project
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2010, 11:23:27 am »
beardude, welcome to the forum and I sure there is somone who will be around to help you.

Project sounds interesting.

Hope you keep us informed as to how it is going.

You and your brother make a good combo to build a smoker.

Offline Sailor

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Re: New here and starting a smoker project
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2010, 12:36:00 pm »
Welcome to the forum Beardude.  Interesting concept of cooling down the sausage while in the smoker.  I would be very concerned about applying any water to the inside of the smoker.  You will have probes in the meat and temp probes for cabinet temps and I don't think they like a bath.  Also I would be concerned about getting the heating elements wet after being hot as it may damage them.  Then there is the electronics in the cabinets that may be damaged by the water mist.  Then there is the problem of where to drain the water that has been injected into the cabinet and what happens if the drain plugs and backs up inside.  What will the water do to the insulation is another concern.  What happens if the the water shut off fails to close and you continue to pump water inside while you sleep.  I really like the concept of the cool down but I personally would pass on making something of this nature because of all of the risks for things to go wrong.  If you do decide to go this route I would like to hear of your success and don't forget the photos  :)


Enough ain't enough and too much is just about right.

Offline beardude

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Re: New here and starting a smoker project
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2010, 01:06:30 pm »
The solenoid control would also open a drain valve, duration of the water spray would be controlled by internal meat temp via sensor, heat elements (possibly sealed finned strips) would be under drip Shields that would also help channel water to the "drain. I would have to weld/seal the inner box to keep insulation dry.....
time delay to allow elements to cool before washdown.....
good point on the overflow.... maybe a float switch alarm to kill the water...
needing a blower for the finned strips would definintly put a kink in the plan.....

so as an example a typical recipe would be programmed like

preheat (time)elements on
smoke (time/temp)smoke generator on
smoke off (time)generator off
cure (raise temp)
elements off  (internal meat temp +)
Time delay  (elements cool off)
wash down (internal meat temp-)

This is all concept right now, I've got the parts (except heaters) and I'm just kicking the ideas around. If I can work out "most" of the kinks on paper/forum I may attempt it. I work all day during the week and play (hunt-fish) during the weekends so that leaves my meat smoking for nighttime....and I like my sleep ;D

Offline Sailor

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Re: New here and starting a smoker project
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2010, 01:18:28 pm »
you have put some thought into this.  I hope it works for you as you may be on to something new and exciting.  I know that Tenpoint5 said he left a probe in a sausage when he gave them the cool down bath and the probe did not like it one bit.  Perhaps placing the cabinet temp probe under a shield would protect it.  I don't know about the meat probe as to how you would protect it.  As for the fan blower it would be mounted outside the cabinet and should not be exposed to the water as only the blades would be inside the cabinet.


Enough ain't enough and too much is just about right.

Offline beardude

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Re: New here and starting a smoker project
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2010, 04:42:38 pm »
hmmmmm maybe a shorter straight probe for the meat that could "bury" up to the insulated cord.

If the blower is on the outside wouldn't it draw too much air into the cabinet or does it get an intake also?
If so then I would need to louver the opening to keep the water out.

Offline Mr Walleye

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Re: New here and starting a smoker project
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2010, 04:56:41 pm »
Beardude

Hey... Anything is possible!  ;)

Adding a wash down cycle would be very interesting if you can get around those few obstacles.

Here's a link to the smoker I built using a blower and the 110v strip heaters. This link is to the pictures but you can read through the whole thread and find more information. I have since switched to a 220v 3000 watt element, you can find that information toward the end of the thread.
http://forum.bradleysmoker.com/index.php?topic=7616.msg82164#msg82164

I do have a programmable PID in mine now. It has 30 steps and I have programed it for smoking various items. I know someone was playing with a PLC and I will see if I can find the thread and post it here.

Mike

Click On The Smoker For Our Time Tested And Proven Recipes


Offline Mr Walleye

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Re: New here and starting a smoker project
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2010, 05:11:23 pm »
Here's the PLC thread link...

http://forum.bradleysmoker.com/index.php?topic=7969.0

I was sure there was one more thread but I can't sem to find it.

Mike

Click On The Smoker For Our Time Tested And Proven Recipes


Offline beardude

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Re: New here and starting a smoker project
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2010, 06:39:38 pm »
OK, I think I'll try this ;D It's going to be a combination of the 2 links mike. Thanks for the excellent help. BTW how did you like the strip heater and why did you change?

Eric

Offline Mr Walleye

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Re: New here and starting a smoker project
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2010, 07:16:11 pm »
OK, I think I'll try this ;D It's going to be a combination of the 2 links mike. Thanks for the excellent help. BTW how did you like the strip heater and why did you change?

Eric

More power!  ;D

I did want more heat but it did work fine before with the strip heaters. I also wanted the additional controller to function as a high limit on the unit and I decided to do it all at once. Ya gotta play.  ::)

Make sure you keep us posted on your build.

Mike

Click On The Smoker For Our Time Tested And Proven Recipes


Offline beardude

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Re: New here and starting a smoker project
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2010, 08:42:55 am »
I've got all the parts ordered (hid invoices from the wife!) I may switch to the PID with ramp/soak functions with the rs-485 comm port. I do have a PLC but the trouble with that is the dang thermocouple input cards are EXPENSIVE. I'm looking at $120 for PLC and $200 just for the input. Apparently the regular analogs supplied with the PLC wont support the T/C. [But the PID with comm can communicate directly with that PID. I'll take the other PID I have (basic one) and use that either as a high limit or another input for meat temp.

I've noticed most people go with the 4" vent with butterfly damper, what is normal for intake? (is it needed)

Offline Mr Walleye

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Re: New here and starting a smoker project
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2010, 09:10:45 pm »
Sorry Beardude, I've been away for a week.

The only intake I have ever used is the Bradley generator itself. It seems to provide more than enough intake for the smokers that I have built.

Mike

Click On The Smoker For Our Time Tested And Proven Recipes


Offline beardude

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Re: New here and starting a smoker project
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2010, 10:54:41 am »
I picked up the cabinet (older commercial fridge) today ummmmm the insulation is the hard closed cell foam...... is that going to work for say temp up to 225 deg? Or am I going to have to pull the whole thing apart and rebuild it with ceramic wool or equivalent? I haven't seen any mention of foam for insulation good or bad.

Eric

Offline Mr Walleye

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Re: New here and starting a smoker project
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2010, 12:43:59 pm »
Eric

To my knowledge the foam has to go. For myself, I wouldn't want the potential of the foam giving off any type of toxic gas. That's interesting, the commercial fridge I just did for a friend had fiberglass insulation in it. As far as the type of insulation to replace it with I would use Roxul mineral wool insulation.

Mike

Click On The Smoker For Our Time Tested And Proven Recipes


Offline beardude

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Re: New here and starting a smoker project
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2010, 06:50:12 am »
I started the dismantling yesterday. I pulled the box apart and removed ALL of the foam insulation. I do not reccomend that process to anyone. It took most of the day to get it all out. Now today will be the rebuilding of the cabinet. I'll have to build some standoffs to center the inner chamber because the foam is what held it before. I've got 1" 6lb ceramic wool coming from High Temp Inc. in portland Or today and they recomended to wrap the inner box with that and then a layer of unfaced r-13 house insulation to fill the cabinet space. I've got pics on my phone I'll get downloaded one of these days and show a more detailed build.

Eric