Building a BIG BBQ/Smoker

So we have this 500 gallon air tank at school. I found it at Bloch steel a while ago, and grabbed it on impulse. My bosses are freaking out about cleaning the campus for our 40th anniversary of the founding of the school. The reunion and party are next Saturday.

If I don't figure out a plan for the air tank soon it will have to be chopped up for underwater burning practice.

Seems a waste. I am fascinated with the idea of building a BIG smoker/BBQ trailer for sale or rent. I don't think I could justify keeping one unless I was renting it out for $.

I can buy the tank from the school for the price of the steel, around $150

Since the discussion has come up about Smoker BBQs I was wondering if anybody else in the Seattle area was interested in building such a beast.

Kind of a profit sharing venture based on participation.

I have found dozens of design variations looking at various smoker/BBQ trailers on the web, but I would appreciate any input from others.

I already have enough steel grating for the grill surfaces.

I am thinking a propane/charcoal hybrid. One of the challenges is to find/build the trailer.

I did a search on eBay motors for BBQ trailers and was amazed at the number and variety of designs out there.

Many choices to make.

Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler
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There is a DirectTV / others - show called BIG - they go for records.

They built a BIG BBQ - it was a monster. 400 pound hot dogs.....

They walked the center isle with fire on both sides. The cooker was a monster.

But since you only have a 500 - it might be reasonable.

Think Horse Trailer - without the top. Or a Tractor/options trailer...

Might be able to find a junker 12 horse and just cut the top off...

They used IIRC, 1" rod for the grill.

Might be an interesting project for the classes to assemble and learn. Give some practical experience. And safety in cutting tanks. Then sell to BBQ place in town that does company feed fests.


Mart> So we have this 500 gallon air tank at school.

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Reply to
Martin H. Eastburn


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Ernie. You're thinking small, man! Down here in Texas we think big big BIG!

You should blast it into outer space! From there "launch" an intergalactic BBQ catering business!


Reply to

Go for it. Probably want a real axle with real wheels, figure $150 for it at most if you buy used. 500 gallons is not that much, it is a manageable size, should weigh under 1,500 lbs, so you can get away with a 2,500 lbs axle.

Reply to

There is a BBQ unit out there built on a 45' semi trailer, so he isn't in the running for world's largest with a 500 gal tank.

Reply to
Pete C.

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Reply to
Tom Kendrick

Spindletop Oilman's Charities (Houston, TX) has/had one built into a 53' fifth-wheel.

The pit itself had a 4' square cross-section 30' long + a 4'cubic firebox at the end.

The section over the hitch was the storeroom/pantry.

In adition to the worktables lining the side opposite the pit, there was a [Navy surplus?] propane-fired Bean Pot that stood 5' high and was about 4' diameter. It would cook a LOT of beans.

Oyea - the rig was fully airconditioned.

Reply to

Is it a vertical tank or a horizontal one?

If it's a vertical tank, check out the Brinkman and other vertical column smokers: all you'd need to add would be a heat source (turkey-frier), some grating shelves, a "smoke" stack, a thermometer, and a handle or two once you get the door(s) spotted.

Use a plasma cutter for the narrowest kerf - that'll save grief when sealing the door edges.

Plan on a tandem-axle trailer: they're more stable when parked.

You might wish to consider a hinged mounting to reduce frontal area during transit [by laying the thing down] and maximizing work space when in use [by raising it to the vertical].

A vertical smoker has 1 advantage over a horizontal one: you won't need counterweights for the doors.

A horizontal smoker has an advantage over the vertical one: more even temperature.

Reply to

It's a horizontal tank.


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Reply to
Grant Erwin

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select the "unique pits" link, then the "world's record..." link.

Reply to
Pete C.

Traditional rigs have a good sized firebox to burn wood. A lot have the same cross section as the main section offset 1/2 dia. lower for the firebox. The overlap is open. Separate hinged doors, etc. One of the best setups I saw that size had a firebox about 3'square x 3' tall firebox on the end. the top of the firebox was all cook surface, in this case inconel clad steel from the employee salvage yard. You could grill directly on top for breakfast or set your saucepot and beans on there. The rig also had storage for firewood (pecan or oak in Texas) and a 100 gal. water tank for cooking and cleanup.

Sounds like fun, but barbequeing 2-3 times a year is all I want. Renting it out as you intend might work.

Pete Keillor

Reply to
Pete Keillor

Then it's even easier.

The "secret" is to have a baffled fire box on one end and a smokestack on the other.

A Propane/LPG/NG heat source won't work too well on a horizontal tank but a good fire will.

The firebox needs to feed the heated smoke from the bottom so that it will rise through the meat.

While some people have used reinforcing ribs, a full baffle will defeat the purpose of heating things relatively uniformly.

Just remember to set the pit on one side of the trailer so that people can be standing on the other side to put things in and take them out again.

Reply to

Racks that rotate on spiders (chain driven , usually) - keeps the meat moving for uniform heat and exposure to the smoke . We get to see a lot of interesting smokers here every year - Memphis in May International BBQ Cooking Contest draws 'em like flies . The best cookers all have one thing in common - a separate burner box .

Reply to
Terry Coombs

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