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New trailer pit build... Welder & Tank size questions

 
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BBQ Freak
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Joined: 29 Sep 2010
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Location: Central Illinois

PostPosted: Wed Sep 29 10 12:48 pm    Post subject: New trailer pit build... Welder & Tank size questions Reply with quote

Ok, this is my first post to the ring. Been reading for awhile and finally decided to jump in because I need advice. I've been cooking on backyard smokers for several years and after one too many "volunteer" BBQ missions to various picnics, parties or whatever, I got sick and tired of having to load my cooker into that back of my truck. Recently I decided it was time for a project and started planning my trailer rig.

I managed to pick up a 150 gallon propane tank (already vented) for free which at first look I thought was a good size, but after looking at some other builds it seems most people are going with larger tanks. This one is about 24" in diameter and about 5' long overall (end to end). I also have access to (I think) a 350 gallon that is supposedly 30" diameter and 5' long for very cheap. For a first build what is recommended? I like the idea of the larger cooking space of the larger tank, but because of the "venues" I cook I was thinking of building in a gas grill, cooler, side burner/turkey fryer and tool box for storage. Any pros/cons of 150 vs. 350???

Second question is related to welding. I have some basic experience welding but have a few guys I know that are decent welders that are willing to help (I'm sure for special use privileges). I own a small 115v, 110A stick welder & have ready access to a much larger one at the farm I work at. As for wire welders I have two to choose from, a 3 or 4 year old Hobart Handler 125 (w/gas) that has only 4-5 uses on it or a 4-6 year old Lincoln Weld Pak 100 (w/gas). Which of the wire welders would be a better bet if at all. Also, I know the big Arc welder I can use has more than enough power but how thick of metal can I weld w/ the smaller "household" one and for how long? I'd rather use MIG as much as I can. I've tried to ask a few times on welding forums but the only answers I get are obviously coming from people who are very biased towards very expensive equipment that i cannot afford. I've been told by some that the two MIG's I have access to will do up to 1/4" if I take my time, I've had others tell me no way in hell.

Any and all input would be much appreciated! I'm planning on getting going this weekend being that harvest is over and I have some time!
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ggarner
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29 10 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As for size, if it were me i would say you might as well go bigger assuming the cost is not prohibitive. But then again this really depends on how many people you are cooking for. Sine the bigger tank gives you an extra 6" of depth but is the same length, I would say you should go for that one.

As for the welder, the advice that you got on the mig's sounds spot on to me. Either of those "can" weld up to 1/4" but you need to do proper weld prep if you are going to weld something that thick. You need to have proper fit-up and should bevel the 2 pieces being welded together. Make multiple passes and you should be good to go. What exactly are you needing to weld on the smoker that will be that thick?

Are you planning on building your own trailer or purchasing one/reconditioning an existing one? If you are making your own trailer I think I would have someone with a lot of experience do that welding for you. But if you choose to do it yourself (which i highly recommend against), depending on the thickness of the material I personally would want to do it with a 220V 50A stick welder. Welding BBQ's in one thing because if the weld fails the door falls off or a leg cracks, but making a trailer that could go on the freeway and possible have a weld failure leading to an accident or death is a whole nother thing all together.
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k.a.m.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29 10 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the ring BBQ Freak, looking forward to seeing some pics of your cooks and following your cooker build. Smile
I would use the 30'' tank solely on the reason that your project cooks seem to be growing. The diameter will allow for upper racks a lot more easily than the 24''. As for the welders go I would stay with the larger wire feed if that is what I had but if the larger machine is available I would definitely use it on my firebox and all the heavy metal work. It is a long ways around a 1/4'' thick firebox and trying to weld it out will be frustrating with a small machine.
Also as ggarner mentioned if you plan on using a home built trailer have someone with trailer and welding experience work that task for you.
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Hell Fire Grill
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29 10 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Go big and use part of the small tank for your firbox.
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BBQ Freak
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30 10 3:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the input guys, being new to fabricating I need all the help I can get. Yes, if I do decide to build a trailer from scratch inwill have help. I guess after reading other threads and listening to you all I will go with the bigger of the two... Might even decide to use the smaller one for charcoal only for doing burgers, brats, steaks and such.

I did however find out today I also have access to a used diesel storage tank that is in excellent condition. It's dimensions are about 41" x 101". Any idea if this is too big or not???
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Hell Fire Grill
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30 10 4:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only way it could ever be to big is if you had to pull it with a locomotive. Even then.........
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BBQ Freak
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30 10 6:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seriously... How much wood to feed a cooker that size and keep it at temp? I almost always use apple wood and it isn't easy to come by in my area.
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Hell Fire Grill
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30 10 6:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not much really, if it was a steam locomotive.
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Jarhead
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30 10 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BBQ Freak, stay with the fuel that you can get your hands on easily. If that means charcoal, then go with that.
That size tank will cost you an arm an a leg to cook on.
What do you plan on cooking? Smaller items? Build yourself a few UDS's and buy a Harbor Freight trailer. Git 'er all done for less than 5 C notes.
Won't be fancy or pretty, but functional. (Sounds like my Ex- GF....... Embarassed Laughing )
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BBQ Freak
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30 10 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jarhead,
I do in fact use charcoal as well, if I'm running short on wood I'll use a mix and it still turns out pretty good. Mostly what I cook is brisket, pork shoulders & butts and ribs. I do other stuff also, but those are my favorites and most requested.

BTW, what is a UDS? I see them talked about but what is it and what does it stand for? And as for building one of those, got my heart set on doing an RF smoker. Already have most of the materials, just need to get going!
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k.a.m.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30 10 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BBQ Freak, A UDS is an ugly drum smoker. They are made from 55 gall.drums.
Here is a link to one I just built for my son-in-law.
http://thesmokering.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=42258
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Stacked smoker
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30 10 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to the ring. I would use the wire feed for the lighter stuff and you can go up to around 1/4" with a 110 wire feed. Make sure to clean up the metal very well to get the best weld quality and strength. Clean all rust mill scale and dirt off where you will be welding the pieces together. Also on the heavyer stuff run multiple passes for extra strength. When in doubt get some scrap of the same size and practice welding them together. Also use this to set up your amps and wire speed before you weld your project together.

As far as the trailer if you are not comefortable welding yet buy one or have some one weld it up for you. I would agree with the others safty needs to be a concern as well when it comes to the trailer.

I have cooked on a lange 84 and a smoker of that size uses about 3-5 fire place logs per hour to maintain a temp of 250-375. If you have a limited wood supply use charcoal and a log here and there for smoke flavor. Put the log off to the side just touching the charcoal and let it smoulder instead of just letting it burn up.
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k.a.m.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30 10 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BBQ Freak, the R/F I built in my signature is 30'' x 87''. Once the cooker is up to temp and leveled out she burns 1 to 2 splits per hour. She has gone up to 3 splits per hr. on occasion when the weather was not cooperating.
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seattlepitboss
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30 10 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm. I have a 120 gallon (says so on the nameplate) horizontal tank that measures 24x70". I also recently had a 288 gallon (also from the nameplate). It measured 30x96". You have a 350 gallon tank and it measures 30" and it's only 60" long? Something wrong there .. check that tank length before you commit to it. If it's a true 350 it's probably closer to nine feet long.

It's nearly October. I don't know where you live, but where I live we start getting windy and colder weather pretty soon now. That makes it real tough to MIG weld outside. Also, it is all too easy to lay down a pretty MIG bead that has almost no strength at all. A buddy of mine built a spare tire carrier for his jeep and on its initial voyage was horrified to see his spare tire bouncing off into a field - it had broken apart at the welds. If you are going to build a motor vehicle, something towed on the public roads, you had better trust your welds. Many pro welders won't weld on vehicles at all because of the liability. I would stick weld, because a stick weld that looks OK probably is OK. Small buzzbox welders are cheap. But when you have to weld that 24" long seam, it's hard to stop welding after two minutes and wait for 8 minutes. The temptation to exceed the welder's duty cycle is overwhelming. But if you do, you cook the thing.

My best suggestion is to look for an old Lincoln Idealarc 250/250, an AC/DC tombstone that is much larger than the current tombstone, and is wound in copper. I bought one a few months ago for $75 (Seattle) but if you buy one prudently you should be able to resell it for the same amount of money when you're done. Those welders last for decade after decade.

I wish you good luck on your build! I'm working on my first trailer build too, only I got sidetracked about six weeks ago when a good friend unexpectedly died and his family asked me to sell off his machine shop. It's a pretty big job and time consuming, and I haven't had time to work on my smoker build.

seattlepitboss
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BBQ Freak
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Joined: 29 Sep 2010
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Location: Central Illinois

PostPosted: Thu Sep 30 10 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seattlepitboss, sorry to hear about your friend. It's always hard when you lose someone close. The larger tank I mentioned I have not laid eyes on personally, I've only seen pics. A friend has it on his farm. I hear from someone else it might be a 300 gallon but I intend to go measure it this weekend. As for the weather, yes it will start getting cold here in central Illinois soon also. Not only will it be built inside the shop at the farm but we do have a 250 AC/DC Lincoln stick welder there also. As previously mentioned, if indecide to build a trailer and not buy one (and I have found several that I can buy), I have an experienced welder to assist me or more likely do that part for me.

BTW, any opinions on how long I should let my smaller (125 gallon?) tank sit before cutting? It was empty and vented w/ 3 one inch holes at the top for a number of months and I have had it filled with water mixed with a gallon of simple green for a few days now. I've seen posts that have said everything from a few days to a month and don't know what to think.
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