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4xAggie 138 gal Pit Construction (4-17-16)
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4xAggie
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Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 53
Location: Katy, TX

PostPosted: Fri Jan 03 14 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, time for a few updates from Christmas.

I got a good bit accomplished (most of my list) over a nice 4 day stretch. Still slower than I'd have liked (Christmas time), but fun nonetheless.

First a few items of Christmas loot:

Since the mother board is probably shot on our Hobart Champion welder/generator, we delayed the repair a bit. I wish it had a longer duty cycle, but the cost was just right. Now I don't have to worry about burning up gasoline.

She worked very nicely over the weekend.

My Trailer also came--some assembly required Laughing Cool :



I also picked up a couple of sheets of expanded, and some 11 ga diamond plate for fenders and decking.

I'll try to break up the other main things from the weekend. I got the warming box built, did some welding inside the cooker, got the tuning plate rails and deflector baffle installed, and got to test the door fits.

She sure looked pretty by the end of the weekend:

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4xAggie
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Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 53
Location: Katy, TX

PostPosted: Fri Jan 03 14 11:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The biggest/most obvious change was the warming box.

I got my brother in law to help a little with the metal prep (grinding) and setup.



A few of the pieces were bent a bit, so I got creative with the engine hoist. I used a couple of C Channels under over the plates but under the hoist legs.


For setup, I started at the cooking chamber and then just built around the vertical pieces. All square and level as I went. Then, I used my C Clamp and bottlejack method to put the top on with minimal headaches:




On to welding it out. This is after the base pass.


And finished out. It takes a lot of grinding to get the edges to look nice like this.





The only thing I'm not really happen with is the appearance of the welding from the cooking chamber to the warming box--just had some issues with 7018 slag building up and making it hard to get penetration on both pieces of metal on the first pass. I had wanted a pretty fillet weld (like above), but I may have to look for other solutions to that.
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4xAggie
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Joined: 16 May 2013
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Location: Katy, TX

PostPosted: Sat Jan 04 14 12:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The other main accomplishment was inside the cooking chamber. I got in the tuning plate rails and 3 of the 8 slide rails for the cooking grates.

I started off filling up the groove I had left between the firebox and end cap (I actually did this before the warming box), and putting ina filet weld at the grease bridge and where I hadn't gotten full penetration when I installed the end caps.



For setting the tuning plate rails, I had calculated that the plates needed to be 22" long to get my distance from top of tuning plate to the top of the grate to be 6". So, I cut out 2 plates, leveled them up, and used them as a guide to put in the rails. I used 1" x 1/4" strap for the rails, and welded them with 2" stitch welds every foot. I think this avoided any problems with excess heat.

Here's the setup--I think it worked perfectly:


Then I went to work on the deflector baffle. We had some 12" x 1/4" strap leftover from the old barn project, so I used that to make the baffle (and will use it for tuning plates). I got dad to help me by making a template for the baffle.

In the end, it wasn't necessary because a trapezoidal/straight line edges actually worked best.

I ended with just tacking the baffle in place (ran out of time). I'm using some leftover 1" strap as a horizontal bar to start. This will let me use the 1.5" x 1/8" strap to cover the gap in the first tuning plate (for use if I do RF mode).


Finally, I got the slide rails set. I used a strap clamped to the inside edge of cooking chamber 1/4" down to set the front edge of the rail angles. For the back, I used the tuning plates and 4" channel (with spacers). The rails are 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" x 1/4" to fit perfectly with 1" angle for the grates.


I'll eventually want to do a little finishing around the rails and welds (including the Anti-tipper plates). Any tips for grinding in tight areas? It's hard to clean slag and smooth welds around those angles![/img]
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4xAggie
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Joined: 16 May 2013
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Location: Katy, TX

PostPosted: Sat Jan 04 14 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Final update: I checked the door fits. I used 1/8" spacers on the bottoms were the grate rails were (made for a very stable surface) and welded tabs to the doors to keep them from falling in. Yes, I'd read about that on here somewhere.



Most everything set back nicely, but 1 edge seemed to give me troubles on one or the other. Other than the pictures below, everything was smooth and flush.

Left Door (bottom right corner):


Right door (left edge is just slightly raised; top right corner):



I'll save the fixes for later. Hopefully, it will only take a little pressure/jack treatment, some creative balancing of the excess, and some grinding to get everything flush. The steel thickness is 5/16" (0.3125"), so I've got pretty good stiffness to work with.

Thanks for looking everyone!

This weekend is trailer building weekend. Cool
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BigPhil32
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Joined: 05 Dec 2009
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04 14 2:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks awesome....would love to have your talent and have a smoker like that one day....looking forward to future posts.
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bullypitbbq



Joined: 03 Jan 2014
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Sat Jan 04 14 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks good so far 4xaggie. I noticed u ordered a single axle kit and was curious if tht was gna be enough due to all the heavy gage steal on your build? Idk maybe I missed some detail somewhere.
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bullypitbbq



Joined: 03 Jan 2014
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 04 14 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks good so far 4xaggie. I noticed u ordered a single axle kit and was curious if tht was gna be enough due to all the heavy gage steal on your build? Idk maybe I missed some detail somewhere.
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k.a.m.
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Joined: 12 Dec 2007
Posts: 26012
Location: Southeast Texas.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 04 14 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice work 4xaggie. Very Happy The door should pull back in easy enough that is not to bad. Your cooker is looking great I look forward to seeing some more pics and updates. Very Happy
Congrats on the Stickmate that is a nice machine. Very Happy
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Wreckless
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Joined: 15 May 2009
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Location: New Braunfels, TX

PostPosted: Sat Jan 04 14 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking fine! Very Happy Nice creative thinking on the bottle jack / c-clamp. First sign of a decent backyard builder with limited resources, done a few McGuyver moves myself. Laughing
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4xAggie
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Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 53
Location: Katy, TX

PostPosted: Tue Jan 07 14 3:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phil - Thanks! I don't necessarily know about talent--just time and being picky...

BullyPitBBQ - If you look back to the last page, you'll see details about the weight/single axle. Yes, I'm running it closer than I'd really like on the single axle, but I'm just at the point that 2 axles would be a bit too much. I think I've done my due diligence and am accurate/precise enough in my weight estimates that I'm not going to overtax this thing.

kam - That's what I was thinking on the doors. Do you think I'll need to do the bottlejack/chain on the main 2 offending corners? Or would balance and grinding suffice? Or a sledge?

I'm pretty happy with the Stickmate so far. Someday I'm going to forget to turn it off though Shocked

Wreckless - Thanks!

Pics will come from this past weekend--I got started on the trailer frame Very Happy Cool
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k.a.m.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 07 14 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

4xAggie, I would try the chain and jack. You will have to over bend to get a balance. If it does not want to stay then use the chain and jack, once you have her in a bind hit it with a hammer. Check the chain to see if it loosens up this will let you know the door pulled in.
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TrailerBuilder
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Joined: 08 Feb 2010
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Location: Springfield MO

PostPosted: Tue Jan 07 14 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking good Aggie. A man can become real close friends with his grinder on a build like this. My dad always used to say...and still does, "if you want to become a better welder...grind your own welds" Very Happy
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4xAggie
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Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 53
Location: Katy, TX

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08 14 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks kam. I'll plan on it when the time comes. At this rate, it'll be March or April before I get to put the door on Rolling Eyes

Thanks Trailer Builder. Hadn't thought about the grinder specifically making my welds better, but I certainly think that's the case. THis project in general has certainly advanced my welding skills--I've looked up a lot of information when it comes to specific items that I develop questions with. That said, I don't know if "friends" is the right word for grinders Rolling Eyes Wink

I'm hoping to burn up the harbor freight grinders I've been using at some point. Ugly orange things. Laughing Cool
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4xAggie
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Joined: 16 May 2013
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Location: Katy, TX

PostPosted: Sat Jan 11 14 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Last weekend I got started on the trailer, and made pretty good progress. I had hoped to get a LOT farther, but that's how this project goes I guess.

First, I cut out the trailer frame steel and coped the ends. As I was setting up, I realized that my C Channel had a longer and shorter flange. Interesting discovery, and something that ultimately meant a little more attention as I put it together. See below:



I cut 2 small segments of channel and matched them up so I could use a speed square to set up the cuts.


Once everything was cut out and ready, I set up the frame as square as I could get it, and then got it tacked, and then lifted up to weld out. I wound up using some angle to back each of my welds at the corner. Probably unnecessary, but I'll feel very safe having them in place.



A finished bottom-side corner. I tried to square it out as much as possible for pulling dimensions later in the project.


For the back rail (which will see most of the weight of the cooker), and the rails under the axle, I decided to double-up the C Channel. For the axle, this let me get a full 5' width (the outside to outside edge of the axle springs was 58 3/4").

In some places, I put in what I'm calling "shear plates" to provide extra strength between the sides and help with the install. Again, probably overkill, but nice to have anyway. I put them in the middle of the back support and near the hangers for the axle.



Here is the setup of the double C Channel on the back:




The fitted front of the intermediate support:


The joint set up, welded, and finished:



Here's the upside down frame with the axle sitting on top of it, and in front of the pit. I'm excited about the room.



Next time (which won't be for 2 more weekends), I'll weld out the underside, add the remaining supports, and hopefully add the axle and tongue. With the bulldog a-frame, I'm tentatively planning to extend the tongue out 48 inches from the front rail of the pit, and certainly planning to mount the tongue to the bottom of the trailer frame (as is typical).

That said, if you guys have any tips about installing the axle/tongue square, I'd love to hear it. I understand how to set up everything, but I also see the axle/tongue as being critical, so any tips to help get it done right the first time would be very helpful.

For example, you can see from this spring picture some off-kilter tendencies. All 3 of the other springs are flush to the trailer frame. This was just my first attempt at bolting the 5 leaf springs to the axle. The shackle links would take care of this when I actually put the axle on, but, if this should be corrected and there's an easy way to do it, I'd love the help.



Thanks for taking a look!
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TrailerBuilder
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Joined: 08 Feb 2010
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Location: Springfield MO

PostPosted: Sun Jan 12 14 9:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice, you got quite a bit done. These projects never go as fast as one wants them to.

You have no issues on your spring not touching...spring steel Wink Tweaked just a little bit more or less that the others is not an uncommon issue. As long as your center to center eyelet holes are the same, once you get everything set and it place, the spring will seat up fine with no problems.

Any particular reason why you are going 48" on your tongue? That's pretty long for a 10 to 12 foot trailer. I have a current project in the garage now that is 10' and the tip of the coupler is at 40" and that will allow plenty of space for turning and backing. Not sure if you have other plans for the extra space or not. The only issue Im reading on your trailer build so far is the "as square as I could get it" part. A square trailer frame is needed to get a true square tongue and also needed in getting the axle centered and squared properly. Just my thoughts of course.

Your Bulldog coupler is probably a 50degree A-frame coupler, I always attach my tongue rails to the underside of the frame with C-clamps and work them accordingly until I have the coupler where I want it and square with the trailer. The main thing you want to do in this process is measure, measure, and then measure again from different points and areas of the frame to make sure the tongue is dead nut square. On smaller trailers, I always do all the work of the underside of the trailer face up and then flip the trailer over. Its a lot easier than working underneath the trailer while trying to move tubing without dropping and also to get and keep the tongue rails square.

This is how I do my Bulldog couplers.

I always figure where the center of my axle will go and then place the spring hangers accordingly. Again, square is key. Measure, measure, and measure more to make sure the hangers are square with the tongue and coupler as well as the trailer frame. Tack everything in place, measure some more and make sure all is good before burning everything in place.
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Cheech
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Location: Beautiful Grand Rapids Michigan

PostPosted: Sun Jan 12 14 7:53 pm    Post subject: Wow Reply with quote

I am impressed with your ability to be so patient and do it correctly. It shows that you have some great engineering skills. I appreciate you taking us along on your journey.
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4xAggie
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Joined: 16 May 2013
Posts: 53
Location: Katy, TX

PostPosted: Mon Jan 13 14 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kam - Thanks for the phone call. I may call you back if I forget what we talked about--It'll be another weekend and 2 weeks of work before I can make it to the project again.

Cheech - Thanks! The patience is a by-product of only getting to work on this thing every so often, since I have to drive about 2 hours before I even start work. Then, since I'm borderline obsessed, I've spent a lot of time thinking about it between trips to the ranch. I'm thinking there may be others that have the same questions I have, so I'm wanting to write about it so they can find it someday. Before I started building, I went through about page 80 of the thread archive pulling out various information.

TrailerBuilder - Thanks for the insights.
-Good news on the springs. I knew the shackles would redistribute, but wanted to verify first.
-48" is arbitrary on the tongue. I mentioned it in the hopes of getting opinions about the length. I've been considering something on the order of 38" to the 48".
-The trailer frame is square, both by a square and the corner to corner measurements. I put in the qualifier just from lack of experience, and because there's always going to be a variance (even if it's really, really small). I set up the 2 10' sides to diagonal measurements that weren't even 1/32" off, and nailed the calculated diagonal length.
I'll double check everything next time just to be sure..
-Yes, it is a 50 degree bulldog A frame. I've been planning to set it up similar to kam's and how you described (upside down--in fact, it's upside down in the last couple of pictures). The biggest thing with measuring everything is just finding the points to measure to, especially if you're trying to hit things to a 1/32" or less (which is what I'll be trying for).
-Love the tongue/jack design. I will probably do something similar (I've got the same jack).

In talking with kam, I'm going to get the tongue set first, and then get the axle on.

Thanks all!
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Justapod
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Joined: 12 Dec 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13 14 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

4x Aggie with your engineering and some of the most experienced builders around to share their expertise, I reckon you are going to have one fine rig. I am enjoying your build.
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bullypitbbq



Joined: 03 Jan 2014
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 21 14 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice looking trailer. I wish I had a shop tht big to work on my projects. Awesome!!!
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4xAggie
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Joined: 16 May 2013
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Location: Katy, TX

PostPosted: Tue Jan 21 14 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Justapod - Thanks! I'm hoping so. This place has been tremendously helpful to give me the confidence that I can get this thing done.

bullypitbbq - Thanks as well! I will pass the compliment on the barn over to my dad. He's the vision behind and designer of that thing. He turns 80 in March, and I'm just glad he's got a place like that to spend his time. And I hope to benefit from it for a while as well...
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