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Conversion Smoker


refrigerator box smoker bbq

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1. Damper control
2. Shelves or racks
3. Smoke inlet hole
4. Metal baffle supported at 3” to 4” above smoking inlet perforated with many holes
5. Sheet-metal screws
6. Heat source:
Electric hot plate
Butane gas burner
7. Old frozen food compartment, or refrigeration unit space
8. 2 or 3 — 2” or 4” holes for draft
9. Alternate draft control
10. If refrigerator has no lower compartment, heat source may be placed right in the refrigerator, but preferably raise the refrigerator and build a lower compartment for the heat source.

A good smoke oven can be made from an old refrigerator. It is well insulated and so will hold heat, save fuel, and finish off food more quickly, for example, than the shed-type smoke house. The refrigerator already has a number of removable metal racks. It has a full-length door that is convenient for loading and unloading. Here are some hints for conversion.

It is best to keep the smoke-making equipment outside the storage compartment. This permits maximum use of the inside ca­pacity for the meat or fish being smoked. Cut a hole about 8” di­ameter in the floor; one inch above it, mount a horizontal metal plate as a baffle, to dissipate the smoke.

If the refrigerator is of the type that has the machinery under­neath the storage compartment, remove the motor and compressor. Utilize this space for making smoke with a hotplate and a pan of hardwood chips. If the bottom section is a removable vegetable bin, do the same. Or, for maximum capacity, raise the refrigerator on four concrete blocks, cut a hole in the bottom, and set the smoke apparatus outside. Build an enclosure of plywood, metal or concrete blocks around the smoke source, so that the smoke cannot drift aside, but is forced into the refrigerator.

In the top of the refrigerator cut one 3” or two 2” holes. Arrange something—pivoted metal flaps, bricks, etc.—to control the aper­ture of these vents. Alternatively, fit a two-foot length of stovepipe with a butterfly damper 

Operating Notes:

To avoid cutting large holes, removing compressors, or making other major alterations, the hotplate and pan of chips may be placed in the main storage compartment.

It is well to bear in mind that a refrigerator is not designed to withstand heat! The author once converted a ‘fridge by cutting a hole in the bottom, then lit a fire of charcoal briquettes underneath, using green boughs to make smoke. Around the edge of the hole, the insulation was exposed. All at once, the refrigerator caught fire and the insulation burned up! Several similar incidents have been reported. So, for safety’s sake, use no other heat source than a hot plate inside a ‘fridge. With an outside heat source, do not let flames come near the insulation. Whatever smoke generating system is used, beware of excessive heat.

To use the cold-smoke process, dig a fire pit as described for the box-smoker, and lead the smoke into the refrigerator from a distance.

 From - Home book of Smoke-Cooking  Meat, Fish & Game
By Jack Sleight & Raymond Hull

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