Monday, March 26, 2007

One weekend closer on the BBQ pit

So I've found new energy to finish my BBQ pit. Mainly because our annual BBQ is coming up, in June it'll be 1 year in the making, it's getting warmer, and my recent experience at the Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo has fueled my fire to cook for larger groups of people.

This past weekend I really put in some time on the pit. First thing to do was get a counterweight on the lid for the barrel pit. At 109lbs that hunk of steel was a real challenge to mount up there. It's amazing that it's as straight as it was. Prior to mounting the weight I had the lib propped up on a piece of round bar. Yep, you guess it I knocked the round bar out and the lid fell on my left arm. OUCH!!!! I have a nice bruise but fortunately I didn't break it.

Work continued for the rest of the day without further issue. At the end of the day I had an exhaust stack mounted and the shelf guides were going in.

Sunday started out good. By 8:30 I was actually working. By 9:30 I was stuck. The tip on my plasma torch needed to be replaced. I decided to also replace the electrode since it looked worn out too. Big mistake. The electrode has gotten stuck in there and when I tried loosening it with a pair of pliers the soft copper just crumbled. OK, I thought, I'll just drill it out a little. 3 hours later I managed to get the electrode out. In the process I think I damaged the seat just slightly because I have to "whack it" on the metal cutting surface to get started. None the less, I was able to keep going once I replaced the electrode. This little set back cost me valuable time for the day and by the end of the day I had just finished the 3 removable shelves. I still have to complete the little side shelves before I can fire the barrel pit up for it's first smoke test. I know it's going to leak, the question how bad and in how many places.

The good news is that I'll have 4,500sq inches of cooking space. The rotisserie will have between 7,900 and 11,880 sq inches of cooking space depending on whether I go with 2 or 3 shelves per spindle. Yes I said 3 shelves. After building the shelves for the barrel pit which ended up having 6 inches of useable space between the shelves I'm now considering 3 shelves per spindle with 5" of space between them. That would give the top shelf at least 18 " inches of cooking so I could easily put beans, briskets, pulled pork, beer can chicken and more on the top shelves. But when the need arose I'd be able to cook between 105 and 150 baby back ribs at once. Now that's capacity!

The real question is whether I want to go back to the steel store for another sheet of expanded metal and more 1" angle iron. Since I'm planning to build the shelves in a jig it's just as easy to cut up 15 shelves as it is 10.

Another way to think about this is that I could cook 100 racks of ribs AND briskets all at the same time. If you then consider the fact that ribs take me about 5 hours now and only 3 of them are on smoke, the cooking capacity in a full day is enough for a small army. I could easily serve 200 racks of ribs and 30 briskets between lunch and dinner. Now who's going to clean this mess up?

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