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Barbecue Follies - Dos

Vela Von really wishes I would get that damned microwave box off her couch!

I reckon there might be some folks with the ill-conceived notion that livin’ in an RV is a free and easy lifestyle.   I mean, how hard can it be, right?

That might be the case if you pull your recreational vehicle out of the storage lot a few times a year for a weekend at the State Park.   From where I am sittin’ in the puckerbrush right now, I just gotta shake my head and say Noooooooo!   Coming up on my third year now in the 2010 model NO Princess Palace and so far these items have been replaced:

  • Converter/charger
  • Hot water heater
  • Rooftop AC
  • Water heater
  • Propane tanks (30’s to 40’s by choice)
  • Tires
  • House battery

Since the first of December I got this going on……….

  • RV fridge blew ammonia out everywhere.  Pending repair and not critical since I have a residential fridge and chest freezer.
  • Furnace went out during a test run-up before the coldest week of the year.  Blower motor?  Maybe so and it is on the repair list.
  • Wednesday……… the microwave popped and tripped a breaker.  DOA.  Amazon saves the day and I have a new microwave two days later.

I sit here and look around and honestly think what is there left to break or blow up???  Ah well, it is what it is.  N0 snivelin’ in the oil patch.

******************

Church Smoker home at the Secret Hideout

Before we start cookin’ anything on the Church Smoker there might be some folks curious about the smoker itself.  I know I would be.

The smoker is an offset stick burner made out of 20″ steel pipe 80″ long.  It sets on steel runners with a tow eye at each end and a lifting chain that drapes across the backside.   I have never seen a smoker on wheels that was worth a damn because the wheels are always some sissy configuration.  I wanted a smoker I could slam and bang around with a forklift or frontloader and not worry about.

Firebox with swing away door

Firebox detail. Once up to cooking temp, this is about all the fire you need.

The firebox is insulated using a pipe inside a pipe.  I hoped this configuration would produce more even heat and use less wood. I was right on both accounts.  A bigger percentage of the heat is directed into the cooking chamber with this setup.  Temperature swings are nominal and you can let the fire burn down low and then add wood and there is no appreciable temperature spike.   The part of the cooking chamber closest to the firebox only runs about 5 degrees hotter than the far end.

Heat baffle coming out of the firebox

2 3″ thermometers to monitor cooking temps

A big contributor to even heating is a baffle constructed between the fire box and the cooking chamber. It directs the heat down and out and baffles the smoke.  It is imperative to monitor the cooking temps in the chamber correctly and I did not scrimp on two 3″ thermometers.  I mounted them where it counts about 2″ above the cooking grates.  Why do some smokers have the temp gauges mounted way up high on the doors?  I just don’t get it!

Loaded up! Notice the water pan in the back corner.

 

Swing away grate swings out and lifts off when not needed

 

One of two grease drains

The cooking chamber has a 3 piece removable cooking grate that makes clean up with a wire brush easy.   I also added a second elevated grate at the cooler end of the box.  It worked well for sausage, chickens, turkey breasts and the like.  It will clear a brisket underneath but a pork shoulder is a skoosh too high.   When not in use it can be removed.  There is a grease drain at each end of the cooking chamber and I remove the cap and hang a coffee can under whichever of the two is lowest.  Cooking, especially pork shoulders, produces a considerable amount of grease.  I would much rather dump that coffee can as try to swab the grease out of the belly of the smoker.

 

6″ stack 4′ tall with top damper

 

Collector detail

Since a barbecue smoker is all about the smoke, special attention was paid to the smokestack end of the cooking chamber.  A collector was built at grate height that funnels the smoke into a 6″ pipe.  You see many smokers that have a stack at the top of the chamber and I have seen smokers with two stacks.  Ideally, the smoke needs to move across the meat and then out of the smoker at a good rate.  The collector and large diameter stack accomplish this in fine fashion.

 

Prep shelf

Just about every smoker I have ever seen has a shelf that runs the length of the smoke chamber.  Boy,  do I hate that!  You have to lean in and lift everything over that shelf.  Plus, I knew it would suffer and get bent all to hell with rough treatment.  Instead I had Clay the Smokerman build me a fold away shelf at the end of the smoker.  It is quite sturdy and out of the way when I am not cooking.

 

Prepping the smoker. Lard is good!

 

First step was to coat the interior of the smoker and the grates with a good smear of lard.   Then I stoked up a post oak fire to about 400 degrees and seasoned it up the right way.

Next week I will get around to actually cooking something.

End Note: Everything’s Gonna Be Alright Live by Paul Thorn from The Best of Paul Thorn

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12 comments to Barbecue Follies – Dos

  • Rob

    Bitching about what others might think of living in a travel trailer? Not your usual start to a blog… I thought we were going to read bout bbq.
    As to your luck with the machinery breaking down… if it was a new rig I’d feel for you but it’s not. When is the last time you resealed the roof?
    N0 snivelin’ in the oil patch.

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    • Andy

      Pretty judgemental today Rob. My blog content is what I/me/myself choose to write. You got what you paid for, OK? What takes you 5 minutes to read took me5 hours to write.

      Let me tell you how far off base you are with that comment about equipment vs. age. The motorhome I had was a 1993 and 12 years old when I bought it. I kept it 8 years and would have it now were it not for the Easter hail storm. As far as I could tell, all components were original when I bought it. I replaced the converter, water pump and batteries (an expected wear item). That is all.

      My Bro has 2 Heartland fifth wheels bought new. A 2008 and a 2014. He has replaced batteries and the converter on the 08 model.

      So you think my environment has anything to do with failures of every single component in my RV? I didn’t even put on the list the stove exhaust fan and the propane regulator. You think maybe it is because I live fulltime in the RV? Maybe this is why I tell RVers with really nice top of the line equipment to stay away from gate guarding. The dust, UV, wild weather and constant dirty power from a generator brutalizes equipment.

      As to the roof, the paint on resealers for a roof are snake oil. Any remedy greater in scope than that are beyond my capabilities. A roof membrane has a projected life of 25 yrs and will out last most RVs so I put eternabond tape on every roof seam and I caulk all the roof intrusions yearly and call it good.

      I wasn’t bitching about anything. Just stating facts. I also wonder if the average RVer could replace all those components themselves in a remote environment with limited access to tools, parts and facilities.

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      • Rob

        I guess I was a little judgmental, you are correct. Blogging is done (in my mind) because it’s fun, it’s your blog & you are free to write what ever you want, no argument from me on that.

        But “ill-conceived notion that living in an RV is free & easy” struck me as something that had to be mentioned. In MY world all houses wear out & if you’re living in an RV it’s a house. Furnaces go bad only when you need them, the same with AC units, roofs only leak in the rain and electrical things only crap out when they want to (usually as far from payday as I can get). That’s life.
        if you do change (or repair) that propane/elect fridge it ought to last a good long time just like that converter & house battery will.

        You’re living in a harsh environment, no doubts about that but that’s where you’re living….

        If I was out of line my apologies, no disrespect was intended. I just saw (what looked to me) as a change & thought I’d mention it.

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  • Rob

    Nice smoker!

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  • I’ve been noticing a Cessna in a couple of your pictures lately. Who’s bird is that. Curious pilots want to know.

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    • Andy

      My Bro’s. He has that 182 and a 206. The Secret Hideout has a 2500′ grass strip.

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      • Jealous. I’m a repeat offender aircraft builder and pilot type. Used to fly into Johnson Creek and the like. Now I just fly my lil’ parachute around. I need me a secret hideout.

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        • Andy

          A Secret Hideout is good. 🙂

          He flies several times a week for business.

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          • 😀 I do business several times a week just so I can fly! Looks like I need me a better brother too!

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  • Dang, Andy! Looking at that BBQ smoker makes me wonder if you weren’t an Army tank builder in a previous life… ;c)

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    • Andy

      Good to hear from you Paul.

      That smoker was built to last two generations.

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