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Build My Pit 101
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dwilliams35
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10 16 11:10 pm    Post subject: Build My Pit 101 Reply with quote

I'm in the planning stages of putting together a small trailer pit with a 20" smoker. I'm looking to build something about like this:




In that ballpark, anyway. I'm still undecided on the vertical smoker on the end, I've never had one before and thus don't really know if it'll be worth the effort, the additional height on the trailer, etc..


Of course, without it, we'd be down to this:




I'm also considering the possibility of squeezing in various combinations of the following into the back side, cutting down that storage area:

1. Grill, either flat or another cylindrical unit, just standard hot dogs/hamburger kinda thing.. I was considering just using that compressor tank for that. I think I've also got a slightly smaller compressor tank around here somewhere if it looks like it'd get too big for what I'm after.

2. Warming cabinet, either heated with a pipe off the main cooking chamber or propane burners underneath. Nothing huge, just maybe 20 x 24 x 24 high or so..

3. Propane burner, being in crawfish and gulf shrimp and crab country..

4. whatever's left, wood storage, and maybe a drop-down or pull-out prep table: I've got a piece of HDPE that's 20" x 48" or so that is just begging to be thrown into this project somewhere..


To work with on the smoker: I've currently got:

1 pc. 20" x 72" x 5/16" pipe
1 pc. 20" x 46" x 3/8" pipe
1 pc. 20" x 24" x 3/8" pipe.
1 pc. 20" x 16" x 3/8" pipe.
Various pieces of plate, I know I've got enough 3/8" to build a firebox for whatever pit I want to build, assuming I don't use one of those pieces of pipe for it..

This:



36" between welds, 18" diameter, probably 48" with heads..

I'm figuring on trying to squeeze this onto a 3500 lb. axle, 46" spring centers, just to keep me from making something that's hard to just stick in a corner of a barn somewhere when it's not being used.. Also, any disadvantage to using the 3500 lb. axle as opposed to a 2K one? The price difference is negligible, and some quick calculating is saying I'm going to be somewhere in the 12-1500 lb. range on the pit. I'm just not sure if the increased spring rate on the 3.5K is going to beat everything up by comparison.. I'm anticipating some 3" x 4.1# channel on the rails with square tubing on the crossbars to build the trailer.

I am leaning toward just whacking off 54" or so of that 5/16" pipe for a main cooking chamber, then either using the 24" piece of 3/8 pipe or a 3/8" plate firebox: as I remember Feldon would put me about a 20" section of that pipe, or a 20 x 18 x 18 plate box for around 110%...

I've got plenty of 4" and 6" pipe for stacks..

1/4" plate for warming boxes or vertical smokers would require me to buy some more, I think: I'd really have to piece together some chunks to get it out from behind the barn.

Main thing I cook is primarily briskets, plus chicken, and the aforementioned burgers and dogs, crawfish, and some occasional redfish and trout in various manners.. Mass quantities of venison sausage as well. Fuel is normally Mesquite, Pecan, or a combination thereof, with some lump charcoal on occasion as well..

A couple of early questions:

A) what effect, if any, does adding the warming chamber and/or vertical smoker have on the Feldon numbers? I could see that you're just using "waste" smoke and heat from the main cooking chamber, but I'm not sure just how it would effect it otherwise.

B) Tuning plates/ reverse flow: I can see that being a challenge to get everything you need there stuffed into a 20" pipe and not have it too close to the grates? Early on in this I was all over the reverse flow, but I'm leaning more toward some movable tuning plates now if I can sneak it all in there. On the other hand, unless I start doing a LOT more meat at one time, I've grown to where I kind of use the hotter spot near the firebox to my advantage: just moving the meat back and forth closer and farther to get what I want for that particular chunk of meat. I know that becomes a challenge if I filled this thing up with briskets.

Current pit I've been using for 20 years or so is a standard offset in the yard, 18" pipe x 40", with an 18" pipe firebox. It's about had it, and I'm bumping the size up a hair for this one.. I know my pile of available steel is a little heavier than a lot of folks use, but that's just the way I roll... and that's I've got.


Any thoughts so far? Anybody just want to come right out and say "you're nuts" or "you're an idiot"?

I'm out in the country on the West side of Houston: I've considered just driving about an hour and a half east, kidnap k.a.m., bring him back and chain him to the post in the shop until this is done..

Standing out in the backyard, patiently waiting for their chance to jump on this pit:
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Jim38344
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10 16 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I started out with a 20" x 32" offset cooker with a 16" x 20" pipe firebox about 20 years ago. If I was to do it over, I'd go with a 24" x 42" cooker with a 22" x 22" square firebox, which is what I have now. I found the 20" cooker size to be very limiting, and the 16" firebox almost impossible to deal with. Of course, depending on what kind of pipe you might be able to find..... I think it's usually better to go a little bigger than you think you need.

YMMV
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dwilliams35
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11 16 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not that worried about the 20": it's bigger than what I've got now, and barring some real change in my cooking habits, I won't be cooking enough at one time for it to be that much of an issue. Of course, the biggest factor at this point is a stack of 20" pipe staring me in the face every time I walk behind the shop, saying "use me, use me".... I've used an 18" firebox for quite a while now, which was acceptable given the wood I'm putting in it: no way I'm going smaller.
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DownHomeQue



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11 16 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My advice is to go slightly oversized on firebox.. so you can adequately heat the vertical chamber. You want to combat the smoke cooling before exiting the chamber.. also you are going to want to make sure you have enough intake and exhaust to adequately move the air in and out of the tank

Me and my father built a 250 gallon offset with Vertical smoker on exhaust end.. works well.. We used 2 6 inch intakes and 2 6 inch exhaust both much more than calculator stated we needed but it drafts so well as it is
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BurnBern
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11 16 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now I don't own a smoker or let alone smoked anything yet. But when I wanted to build a smoker I was also going to use a 20" x 43"'pipe. However members talked me into using a 24"x43" pipe with a 19"x19" FB which is slightly oversize.

On starting to build it and cutting the door opening I came to appreciate the extra 4" in diameter. It sounds big but when you see it its just comfortably wide enough.

I'm like you in that I don't have many people to cook for probably only about 4-8 regularly. But I definitely don't want to be caught short on cooking area when the need arises. So I have in the pipe line a few gatherings planned this year where there should be upwards of 50-60 people attending.

Now you have all that 20" pipe at hand and it won't cost you much to use them. Maybe you can use it for a warming chamber and for your firebox then you only have to source the 24"x 42" pipe.

You could also use the 20" pipe to make a charcoal grill setup and add that to your trailer.
Just thinking aloud and looking forward to following your build. Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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dwilliams35
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11 16 2:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BurnBern wrote:
Now I don't own a smoker or let alone smoked anything yet. But when I wanted to build a smoker I was also going to use a 20" x 43"'pipe. However members talked me into using a 24"x43" pipe with a 19"x19" FB which is slightly oversize.

On starting to build it and cutting the door opening I came to appreciate the extra 4" in diameter. It sounds big but when you see it its just comfortably wide enough.

I'm like you in that I don't have many people to cook for probably only about 4-8 regularly. But I definitely don't want to be caught short on cooking area when the need arises. So I have in the pipe line a few gatherings planned this year where there should be upwards of 50-60 people attending.

Now you have all that 20" pipe at hand and it won't cost you much to use them. Maybe you can use it for a warming chamber and for your firebox then you only have to source the 24"x 42" pipe.

You could also use the 20" pipe to make a charcoal grill setup and add that to your trailer.
Just thinking aloud and looking forward to following your build. Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
I had considered using one of those extra pieces of the 20 x 3/8" for a grill, and that's still a possibility. Beyond that, unless I just fall into a piece of 24" between now and then, I'm anticipating I'll just go with the 20": I'm almost approaching this as if I get too big of a pit going on this, at some point it's going to become work instead of fun.. I'm just doing this to cook for a handful of friends and family at the house, at some dove hunts, etc.: I've really got no interest in filling even that 20 x 54" up with meat at any given time.. I'm doing this on a small scale for pure fun, and just don't want to deal with the stress of going any bigger: I'm cut from a different cloth, I guess. Doing an event as big as what you're talking about just really doesn't interest me in the slightest.
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castrovillecowboy
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11 16 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dwilliams35,
Looking forward to your build pics
FWIW, I have an 18" diam X 60" offset I built as my own first build pit (i Had helped others before, my first for me). My last build is a 24" diam. X 66" - this one I put a vertical smoker on the end (15" diam X 48" tall).

18"X60 = great pit, loved it and worked great for family and a few friends over, plus a company bbq; I fit a brisket, boston butt and 4 chickens on it at once (granted I had to move the meats about a bit); wish it was longer though

Frankenpit, lot of fun - used the vertical for jerky, salmon and even a turkey. I connected the VCC to the CC with a 10" diam. pipe; I have a 5" exhaust out the top of the VCC, and a 2" exhaust on the main CC ( I need to bump it to a 5" though) Cooks great, feed a split every 45 min. to hour 15min.

Extra 6" is great, and is awesome that ribs fit front to back easier versus side to side. But if I had 20" laying around I wouldn't hesitate to use it. For what you said you are using it for, I think it would be OK (IMHO).

Things I wish I had done different on Frankenpit: Larger firebox (used a 16" diam. X 32" long) bigger diam would have been better; larger exhaust on the main CC; smaller connector between to VCC and CC (8" would have been plenty - I leave my damper down to 2" gap most of the time); add a warmer over the FB. oh and built it sooner

Best idea: Kidnap KAM!!! LOL
Good luck and looking forward to your pics
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Maniac
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 11 16 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dwilliams35
Looking forward to following your build Cool
I am very happy with my 20 inch build, cooks just right for family and friends. I put on a burner for a discada for eating while your waiting for the longer stuff to get done Wink
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TxRaider



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Location: West Texas

PostPosted: Fri Feb 12 16 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with castrovillecowboy the best idea is kidnap KAM he does some great work! Good luck with your build and i look forward to seeing some pictures
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dwilliams35
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16 16 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I'm ignoring all sane and wise advice to find some 24" pipe and am moving forward with the 20" x 54"(ish). My current decision centers on the firebox: the wood I generally get is in the 20" long range, and my current pit has an 18" pipe x 24" long firebox ( and I've never had a problem with it really being too small to get sufficient fuel loaded...). Current options are,
1. use the 20" x 24" x 3/8" wall pipe as is for a firebox; Feldon would give me 133.4% with that as a firebox.
2. Build a plate box, maybe 18"high x 16" wide x 24" long? 122.3%

Worries: that 16" dimension on the plate box; I could go to 18" and go to 137%, is that getting out of the comfort zone? The 18" pit I've been running for decades, and have learned on, is at 200%, with few apparent ill effects.. Which, possibly, may be translated into "dumb idiot doesn't know any better, and he's been poisoning his guests with that shoe leather brisket for years"

The pipe firebox; a lot less welding. And grinding. And rewelding. And regrinding. Plus, in theory, less weight hanging off the back end of the trailer.

Downside; well, I just went into this thinking of a square box, and I have to break that to go to the pipe... I've never had a square box, so I really don't know what I am or am not missing..

Alternative option; flat-top that 20" pipe with a piece of plate, and put a warming cabinet on top of said plate: as in cut out 12"-20" ( after I do the math) or so of the circumference and replace it with plate; cuts the volume down, and while it puts that weight back on the back end of the trailer, it saves space elsewhere...
What say you, oh esteemed sages of the ring?
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Jim38344
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16 16 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I prefer a square box my own self. I fnd it much easier to deal with overall. In my case, when I got the fire grate in my 16" pipe firebox, it had used up almost half of the room in there. I'd go with your #2 dimensions.

YMMV
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k.a.m.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16 16 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I prefer square over round because I can manipulate my dimensions to fit my needs.
I am not sure where all the grinding you are talking comes into play with a square box. Weld the ends up corner to corner then just roll off the weld if you want to. Very Happy
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dwilliams35
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16 16 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

k.a.m. wrote:
I prefer square over round because I can manipulate my dimensions to fit my needs.
I am not sure where all the grinding you are talking comes into play with a square box. Weld the ends up corner to corner then just roll off the weld if you want to. Very Happy
Apparently you've never seen my welding...
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dwilliams35
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17 16 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jim38344 wrote:
I prefer a square box my own self. I fnd it much easier to deal with overall. In my case, when I got the fire grate in my 16" pipe firebox, it had used up almost half of the room in there. I'd go with your #2 dimensions.

YMMV
Well, I'm really not worried about the space in the 20" pipe, I'm just wondering what that 16" dimension would do in a square box: plus, which way should I run that if I go that way? vertical or horizontal? I could really go either direction, just by how high I put it on the side of the cooking chamber, just wondering if everybody thinks that higher or wider is a better option for a firebox?
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missionsusmc
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17 16 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've never built a cooker myself, so you can take my comment with a grain of salt....Why not 20 wide, to match the diameter of your pipe? A 20" cube would only be at 141%, which some may argue is an acceptable overage. An 18X20X18, where the 20 is your width (I'm saying "width" as in to match your pipe diameter), is at 114%, still okay. Like KAM said, you can manipulate a fb built out of plate. Not so much on a pipe fb. If you'll look at the threads of KAM's builds (how many are there now? Shocked ), he uses the top plate of his fb as the beginning/starting point of his rf plate/tuning plate system.
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dwilliams35
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17 16 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

missionsusmc wrote:
I've never built a cooker myself, so you can take my comment with a grain of salt....Why not 20 wide, to match the diameter of your pipe? A 20" cube would only be at 141%, which some may argue is an acceptable overage. An 18X20X18, where the 20 is your width (I'm saying "width" as in to match your pipe diameter), is at 114%, still okay. Like KAM said, you can manipulate a fb built out of plate. Not so much on a pipe fb. If you'll look at the threads of KAM's builds (how many are there now? Shocked ), he uses the top plate of his fb as the beginning/starting point of his rf plate/tuning plate system.
Wood length. Pretty much all the wood around here is in the neighborhood of 19-20": a 20" length would have me picking and choosing the wood to stick in it.. thus the 24" length. All of a sudden we're north of 150%... That length is probably the only critical dimension here, I settled on that 18" x 16" just to chase the numbers.

The main and only reason to use the pipe is just to save the cutting, fitting, welding, etc.: the piece I've got in mind for that is already cut to that length, beveled, etc.: just a very tempting option, although other things being equal, I'd rather have the square one. That piece WILL be a firebox, if not on this pit, the next.. Putting it on this one would have the added bonus of saving a little weight at the far tail end of the trailer: not an issue on a stationary pit, as the next one will probably be.

Also, the 20" is only "matching" the pipe diameter at dead center of its diameter: the 16-18" I mentioned would be "matching" the diameter if it was dropped below the centerline at whatever point, as it probably will be. 18" intersects it at about 6" from the edge, and the 16" hits somewhere just above 4" or so as I remember.. Either would allow me to meet the recommended minimum on firebox-to-cook chamber opening.
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TrailerBuilder
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17 16 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My X2 build is 20" pipe for both the chamber and the firebox, it works great for me. I personally like the looks of a round firebox when the chamber is round, but that is just my personal preference, that and the fact I have a large stash of round pipe laying around Wink
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dwilliams35
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23 16 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I got my axle. springs, hangers, and some other parts in, so I'm probably going to start on this in the next day or two: Here's the agenda for the next few days: please tell me if I've lost my senses on any of it, or if I should just simply do it differently:

Just for the record, I do have a front end loader that ought to be capable of picking this thing up whole when I'm done, if that makes any difference. No problem moving whatever I need into place, in other words.

1. Trailer frame: I was originally thinking 3" c-channel with some square tubing stringers, with C-channel added where load bearing points would be. Now I'm thinking 2x3x 11ga or thicker rectangular tubing all around: lots easier fitting in my book...

2. tack on spring hangers, flip frame and mount axle. Leave full weld on hangers until much later, in case I need to move it for weight distribution. I want to basically get that trailer built and rolling so I can move it around in my shops as this build goes on..

3. Throw on 20" x 5/16" x 60" pipe cook chamber(upped the length a bit from what I was going to do: I've got the room on the trailer, and the firebox size I'm looking at will handle it as per Feldon.) Just judge height and placement with that in place, and make "legs" accordingly, probably out of rectangular tubing as well..

4. Cap "cold" end of pipe.

5. Mount pipe flush with back end of trailer, tack onto mounts. (I've seen plenty of pits with the firebox attached to the trailer like this; any real issues with heat there in anybody's experience? (assuming wiring is located accordingly))


6. Get 20" x 3/8" x 24" pipe section I've already got, cap it with 3/8 plate (one end) and tack it in place, tacking it on back "stringer" of trailer and back end of pit. I'll probably leave the upper section of the end of the cooking chamber open for now for access. (I keep going back and forth, but for now I'm going with the pipe firebox: the numbers work, and it'll cut down a good bit of welding)

7. plasma cut correctly sized firebox-cooking chamber hole through 3/8 plate on end of firebox.

8. cut additional 3/8" x 20" round plate, cut square hole in it for firebox door, then level and weld it to firebox.

9. Cut and fit 1/4" plate to fill in gap above firebox on end of cook chamber, tack on enough to keep pipe from walking when I cut the door.

10. cut top edge of 2 doors on cook chamber

11. fit hinges, tack on (I've done this in that manner/order of operations before, it made it very easy to fit hinges and keep door centered in hole). Cut rest of doors out.

.......to be continued with the rest of stuff on the trailer once this gets in place...


Any thoughts?
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dwilliams35
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01 16 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been spending too much time playing with cows, spraying Grazon, cutting grass, etc. over the last month or so, and this project finally drifted back to the top of the pile: after much consternation, procrastination, and self-doubt, so it begins:




I've been doing a bunch of cutting for the last few days, just getting a bunch of parts ready: cut all the frame members with a bandsaw, sliced up a big plate of 3/8 with the plasma cutter, (yes, I finally talked myself into a plate box rather than the pipe: figured it'd be easier if I decide when I get to the end of this that I've still not made this complicated enough, and want to put a warming box over the firebox), and finally broke out the welder and started assembling the frame last night.. Using 2x3x11ga. on this frame, and still haven't decided on whether to go get some 2x3 x 3/16" rectangular or just use some 3" x 5.0# channel on the tongue. I'd rather have the tubing, but I've got the channel sitting here: I'll have to go buy a stick of the tubing for this..

Frame is 80" x 50" outside, the axle has 48" spring centers, and that'll give me 24" forward of the cook chamber for whatever I want to put there, be it storage, wood box, or even leaving room for an upright smoker if I ever want to do that in the future..

I'm sticking with the 20" pipe, am going to do it 56" long cook chamber, with an 18" x 18" x 24" firebox: that'll put me at 132% on the feldon calculator, and still be able to get any wood I want to into the box..

Secondly: anybody have any experience with square tubing on vent pipes? I've got 4" square tubing coming out of every pore around here, due to me not being able to make up my mind on an earlier project, and thought it may present some advantages as far as fitting, etc. when I go to putting it onto the end of the cooking chamber.. Any disadvantages there?


And before somebody complains, yes, I know it's dark in there: I'm waiting on my light bulb to get here. that end of the shop was a 400w metal halide low-bay, I'm going to a bypass-the-ballast and screw it in LED retrofit. Bulb should get here today, I'll let you know how it works.
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dwilliams35
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22 16 12:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, finally making a bit of progress:
Got the frame finished and taken outside (where I can leave it to work on it: original frame build was where I park my UTV). I got the axle put together, measured and clamped, and then tacked: I will probably put some more weld on them before I flip the trailer, but not enough that I can't grind it off if I have to move the axle a bit.



Put the tongue on, clamped the coupler on then just basically wore out a tape measure fitting the beams in where everything was squared up.. Small square tubing clamped on the left side was to have a measuring reference off the frame rail: I originally had one on both sides, took one off when it got in the way: at that point, I knew that 25.25" off that square tubing was centered.



Added a couple of "tails" to the tongue beams, parallel to the main frame beams: figured they'd beef it up a bit (like it really needs it), structurally tie the tongue members farther back near the axle hanger/frame connection, and provide some protection to the front axle hanger from brush, etc.. I'm planning on capping the end of that mitered rectangular tubing with some 1/8" x 2 flat bar...


Frame is 2 x 3 x 11 ga, tongue members are 2 x 3 x 3/16".





Got some tires/wheels in: aluminum ones were actually cheaper than the standard chrome steel I was looking for originally... Ebay special. I know, the tires suck. I'll live with it for now. At least the dog pee won't rust it out..


The reason I can do some stuff over the last couple of days: everything else is too wet to work on. The top number on this is the amount of rain I got in a 12-hour period on Monday...


A little toy I got myself last week: Metal-cutting 18v circular saw. Yes, I cut that miter in one pass, just like if I was cutting a wood 2x4.. Probably took 15-20 seconds. I've cut 2x2x1/4" square tubing with it as well. Leaves an edge that almost looks milled. you GOTTA get you one of these...

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