52 Replies Latest reply on Sep 21, 2018 10:15 AM by Paul Salvador

    Trailer BBQ design

    Chad Huleatt

      At my work place, we love BBQ. Any excuse will do. However at the moment we're limping along with a couple homeowner size units.

       

      Some of the guys want to make a trailer style BBQ large enough to cater for 100 people, and asked me for help with the design. I don't need help with modelling, but I do need some background on BBQ design. Trawling the net I see a lot of this type of design (see pic below), firebox at one end, chimney at the other, fully enclosed smoke/ cook chamber.

       

      Anyone a pro at BBQ design? Can you give me any tips re ensuring adequate heat, smoke flow, any other design tips? My boss said "If we do it, it has to be state of the art" so the stakes (steaks?) are high.

       

      Here are some design criteria:

       

      1. We need to cater to 100+ people
      2. We want to be able to BBQ a large range of meat, from quartered pigs to chicken pieces
      3. It will be wood fired, we're in Australia so we typically use gum/ eucalypts which burn slow & hot

       

        • Re: Trailer BBQ design
          David Matula

          start with a kitchen sink. 

          you need room to clean while your cooking so there is the counter there to keep the dirty dishes and it can also be used for prep.

          then there is the grilling station.

          the smoking station.

          the rotisserie

          deep fry station

           

          then beans.  you need at least 4 propane burners to warm water and make beans.

           

          So now your looking at a trailer as wide as legal.  and at least 2 axle.

           

          need them tool hanger also for the fire tools to move the coals around where you need them.

          cabinet spaces.

          batteries to run the water pumps.

           

          take it from there and make it where it is a cooking oasis with a bar and rollout roof.

          • Re: Trailer BBQ design
            Duncan Gillis

            There's a couple of designs on Grabcad Chad Huleatt but that's all i can offer!! sounds like a bbq to drop into though! best of luck

            • Re: Trailer BBQ design
              Dave Bear

              Hi Chad,

               

              Great project idea and I actually helped to build a BBQ trailer that some mates use to take it to 'Steep Point' for two weeks at a time. It was built for the bush though. Tandem axle, main part of the body was one big insulated esky with a capacity of 60 cartons + ice that had by-fold lids on top. The rear of the trailer was a massive BBQ, but this was gas (LPG) fired. It was a beast and worked well.

               

              My immediate concern would be this, depending on design of course, being wood fired could cause you many drama's. Essentially the heat from a gas configuration would be mainly from the burners upwards, whereas with a wood-fired scenario you have a steel container holding the wood (fuel) which is burning and therefore you also generate heat through the steel in many other directions. This can and will affect your design as far as things that can be affected by extreme heat such as wiring, tyres, plastics, seals, grease (bearings) etc. Once again, dependant on design. The other downside is how will you quickly cool the thing down for transport after use? We know how long embers can hold heat.

               

              Not being negative here Chad, just asking the questions that others may not.

               

              Weight will also be your enemy in one regard. When you factor in all the steel to make a vessel as the fire pit plus firewood vs. gas burners, hot plate and gas there's a massive difference. You could still do a gas version and make it look classy. Having said all of this, a steak always tastes better somehow when it comes from a wood-fired BBQ.

               

              Dave.

                • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                  Chad Huleatt

                  Thanks Dave Bear, when you get as far as Inverell NSW on your journey, drop in and we'll throw a couple shrimps on the barbie. Also I want to check out your new gear....

                  • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                    Richard Doyle

                    A well thought out bit of advice Dave Bear, but you can't use gas for real BBQ.

                     

                    Ask any Texan

                     

                    Richard

                      • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                        Danny Edwards

                        Just do not ask Hank From King of the Hill. LOL

                        • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                          Rubén Rodolfo Balderrama

                          Yes with wood or vegetal carbon will be better......On US use briquette don't ya?

                            • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                              Glenn Schroeder

                              Rubén Rodolfo Balderrama wrote:

                               

                              Yes with wood or vegetal carbon will be better......On US use briquette don't ya?

                               

                              Maybe for hamburgers or hot dogs.  For barbecue this is the only acceptable alternative to making your own coals.

                               

                                • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                  David Matula

                                  what do you like the best... mesquite, pecan, oak, peach?

                                  ya got to be picky about the wood that you use some of it can make a nice slab of beef taste like you picked it up off the ground.

                                    • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                      Glenn Schroeder

                                      David Matula wrote:

                                       

                                      what do you like the best... mesquite, pecan, oak, peach?

                                      ya got to be picky about the wood that you use some of it can make a nice slab of beef taste like you picked it up off the ground.

                                       

                                      I usually use oak or pecan.  Hickory is good too, but not as readily available.  I can get pecan wood anywhere.

                                        • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                          Paul Salvador

                                          ..currently, Cherry is my fav! 

                                            • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                              Glenn Schroeder

                                              Paul Salvador wrote:

                                               

                                              ..currently, Cherry is my fav!

                                               

                                              We don't have much of that down here, but I don't doubt that it's good.

                                                • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                  Danny Edwards

                                                  Right now I am using Apple for mine with a mix of Hickory.

                                                  • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                    John Stoltzfus

                                                    I've used more Cherry then any other wood when grilling..  My favorite way to grill is with the Meadow Creek Chicken Flipper with a lid, this grill holds close to 40 pounds of chicken legs, or thighs.

                                                    About 2-3 days prior to an event I've taken a split pc of Cherry and chopped it down to about an inch or so in diameter, approx 10 to 15 pcs, then put the sticks in a 5 gallon bucket of water and I've already added a cup of Liquid Hickory to the water, then weight the sticks with a large stone etc..

                                                    Then on the day of the event I start my Charcoal about 2 1/4 hours or so before the meal, pour in about 30 pounds of charcoal and light it and wait to rake out the coals till the top is almost all over white, this takes about 15 minutes depending on the day, wind and outside temperature.

                                                    Then I set my pre-filled grill in the housing and leave the lid open, what you want is a really hot fire, it doesn't need to be flaming to high though, just lightly brown both sides of the chicken and then close the lid and all the dampers, except maybe leave a few of them open about a 1/2" or so, once in a while I'll check the chicken and flip it, and add garlic salt.  I'll let it grill slowly for about an hour, then, here comes the wood, lay the wet wood right on the coals and close the lid, then for the next hour I'll add some of Miriams awesome sauce.  The scene at the grill is this ...  I will open the lid, add the sauce and wait till the wood starts to flame, let it flame a little bit then close up everything, the lid and all the dampers, let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, repeat, repeat till the rest of the dinner is ready, when you do this and each time you open the lid it should take about 5 seconds till you see the whole grill, the smoke is normally so thick and white you can't see the chicken.  With this type of grill you have total control, if the misses isn't quite ready, then I can slow it down accordingly, or speed it up.  Final verdict is the chicken is on the grill for two hours, slow cooked and just a tinny winny bit of pressured smoke, the meat is normally discolored right to the bone and the flavor is pretty special...

                                                     

                                                    So let's plan a summer cookout in Lebanon PA, I'll grill..

                                                      • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                        Glenn Schroeder

                                                        How many of you "mop" your barbecue while cooking?  And I'm talking about large chunks of meat, like a pork shoulder or beef brisket, not steaks, burgers, etc.  That's how I was taught.  The mop is a mixture of water, vinegar, lemons, onions, Worchestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and probably some other stuff that I can't think of right now.  Some people add wine.  Cook it on the stove until the onions and lemons are done, then take it out to the pit.  It's mopped onto the meat about every 1/2 hour.  It adds a lot of flavor, and helps keep the meat from drying out.

                                                • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                  Matt Peneguy

                                                  David Matula wrote:

                                                   

                                                  what do you like the best... mesquite, pecan, oak, peach?

                                                  ya got to be picky about the wood that you use some of it can make a nice slab of beef taste like you picked it up off the ground.

                                                  I did some research on this and it really depends on what you are smoking.  Hardwoods like apple are much better for smoking delicate things...If you get into cold smoking, it really makes a huge difference.  Cold smoke some gouda with hickory and you'll ruin it because it makes it bitter.

                                                  But, for beef, chicken or pork it is personal preference I guess.

                                                • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                  Rubén Rodolfo Balderrama

                                                  Good selection...

                                              • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                Dave Bear

                                                Richard Doyle wrote:

                                                 

                                                A well thought out bit of advice Dave Bear, but you can't use gas for real BBQ.

                                                 

                                                Ask any Texan

                                                 

                                                Richard

                                                 

                                                Lol Richard

                                                I hear Ya!

                                                 

                                                Dave.

                                            • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                              Dave Bear

                                              Haha,

                                              gun.jpg

                                               

                                              Dave.

                                              • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                Paul Salvador

                                                Hello Chad,.. I personally have not made one,.. but I do admire some of the work out there.. there are some really good ideas out there... here is a link to a guy who sells them.. (and others there showing their stuff)

                                                IMJ 250 gal Smoker. Shop www.ironmanjackalbany.com (229)296-6837 - YouTube 

                                                  • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                    Chad Huleatt

                                                    TX Paul Salvador, looked into that design and it lead me to "Reverse flow smokers" which seems to be a very popular design, esp. in America.

                                                      • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                        Doug Seibel

                                                        I would think that since you will be using a wood that burns hot & slow, the reverse flow would be the ideal design since the design does a better job of isolating the meat from the heat and thus is a closer approximation of a true "pit" bbq.  Add a flipper grill & wood storage box behind the smoker, an oven/smoker box on top of the smokers firebox, and a few propane burners on the front of the trailer (for making beans, frying fish or turkeys, making huge pots of cowboy coffee, simmering sauces, etc.) & the propane tanks to run them.  Trays that will roll/slide out of the smoker & oven box, fully supporting the weight of all the meat on them when they are in the extended position, will be greatly appreciated by the people using it.  If possible, have space for securing down as many Yeti style coolers as possible.  Make the lid of the wood storage box usable as a prep/serve counter.

                                                         

                                                        Something a lot like this, but reverse-flow with roll-out trays like some of the Ironman Jake units have...

                                                        The COOLEST Smoker I Have EVER SEEN! - YouTube

                                                         

                                                        BBQ can be a HUGE and very hotly debated topic in the US, with very firmly entrenched camps of thought.  Myself, I favor Memphis style...dry rubbed, smoky, juicy.  Meat so good it doesn't need any sauce, but accepts being drowned in any sauce of your choosing.

                                                         

                                                        To me...the best very best bbq is true pit bbq.  Dig a big, deep trench (at least 6 feet deep X 6 feet wide X 14 feet long).  Fill it with wood & start a bonfire.  Keep the bonfire burning for 10 hours and have a huge bed of hot coals down in the bottom of the trench.  Cover the coals with a foot of dirt and drop in the pigs (wrapped in SS sheet-metal).  Fill the trench up with dirt and start another bonfire on top.  10 hours later, dig up the pigs and eat.

                                                        • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                          Paul Salvador

                                                          ..yeah, I have been cooking everything indirect (sometimes with smoke) for >10yrs now.. and love the results.. so,l the reverse flow is something I'd side with!...

                                                          ..this guy (and others) has some good images on the design..  anyhoo.. good luck with the project.. sounds really fun!

                                                          My First Smoker Build - YouTube

                                                      • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                        John Stoltzfus

                                                        Chad Huleatt - the big manufacturer in our area is meadowcreekbbq.com   - I have what the call the Chicken Flipper.  This grill is amazing, because you can, smoke or grill hot and with dampers you can control the heat pretty well.

                                                         

                                                        Most manufacturers go for one or the other so what I would keep in mind is the versatility to incorporate a smoker and a hot grill that has an adjustable flipping grills. That way there is nothing you can't grill or smoke.  Another thing I would do is have the availability to hot or cold smoke, this would take two chambers and I would also make two chambers for the hot grill as well, that way you can slow cook chicken and at the same time use the other chamber to quick grill steaks, etc...                                  

                                                          • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                            Chad Huleatt

                                                            Hi John Stoltzfus, tx for that link. Looks like a very good company. The model below caught my eye....I'll continue browsing their site when I have more time.

                                                             

                                                            Meadow Creek BBQ144 Commercial Chicken Cooker Trailer(4 pit)

                                                              • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                                John Stoltzfus

                                                                Chad Huleatt - Those trailers are used a lot here, but what comes off of the grill isn't in my mind the best.  In this area (60 mile radius) we have a lot of what they call Mud Sales and most of these sales are to raise money either for private schools or volunteer fire companies, so they need to feed hundreds, if not thousands of people, so it's nothing new to see at least two of these trailers at an event and every half hour to 3/4 hour they put on another 80 pounds of chicken.  Meadow Creek has their own dry seasoning powder that most people use as well, they just roll the chicken pcs right in the powder and on the grill, this stuff is ok but when you pull the skin off the chicken, it tastes like baked chicken.   A lot of people will spray a mixture of water, vinegar, salt and pepper and keep spraying the chicken as they cook.  In reality that is about the only things those grills are good for, tons of chicken to feed a large crowd quick. 

                                                                 

                                                                My opinion if you use an open pit type of grill then you can feed the masses quickly, then your final cooked meat is mediocre, and the taste quality goes up with a grill that has a lid and you can control the temperature....

                                                                 

                                                                Open pit grills are for

                                                                 

                                                                Some Cuts of Beef (thin steak, seared & made quickly)

                                                                Chicken

                                                                Hot Dogs

                                                                Hamburgers 

                                                                Fish

                                                                & Vegetables

                                                                 

                                                                If your after Taste then a closed grill works best for

                                                                 

                                                                Brisket

                                                                Ribs

                                                                Better Chicken

                                                                Better Hamburgers

                                                                Pork

                                                                and in your area Kangaroo

                                                            • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                              Glenn Schroeder

                                                              Here in southeast Texas some of us have very definite ideas about what is and isn't barbecue.  When I see a firebox on one end it makes me cringe a little bit.  Traditional barbecue (to me at least) has the heat directly under the meat, not way off to one end.  Of course you want the meat to have flavor from the smoke, but to me it gets too smokey with the firebox.  And it gives me bad indigestion (that's true, actual indigestion; I wasn't using a euphemism).

                                                               

                                                              I have a pit on a trailer, but it doesn't have a firebox.  Instead it has a door on each end that allows access with a shovel for adding coals.  The pit is parallel with the axle instead of perpendicular, and the smokestack is in the center.  If I'm cooking a small amount I put it all on one end, with coals only in that area.  For large amounts of meat the coals are spread over the entire length of the cooking chamber.

                                                               

                                                              You mentioned wood-fired.  My practice is to have a fire off to the side, and add coals from it to the pit.  I never add just wood to the pit.

                                                               

                                                              So to sum it up, in my opinion the picture you posted isn't a barbecue pit.  It's a smoker.

                                                               

                                                              ***end of rant***

                                                                • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                                  Chad Huleatt

                                                                  We had a really simple "pit" on a trailer, I think it rusted out, haven't seen it for a while. It was just a large rectangular box (maybe 1m x 3m x 500 deep), with adjustable height grill on top. We would make a big fire of gum, let it burn down for a couple hours, then put the grill on and go to it. It worked, but not ideal.

                                                                   

                                                                  With your pit, was it possible to make the fire directly in the pit, then let it burn down?

                                                                    • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                                      Matt Peneguy

                                                                      Chad Huleatt wrote:

                                                                       

                                                                      We had a really simple "pit" on a trailer, I think it rusted out, haven't seen it for a while. It was just a large rectangular box (maybe 1m x 3m x 500 deep), with adjustable height grill on top. We would make a big fire of gum, let it burn down for a couple hours, then put the grill on and go to it. It worked, but not ideal.

                                                                       

                                                                      With your pit, was it possible to make the fire directly in the pit, then let it burn down?

                                                                      In my limited experience having the bottom cylindrical or spherical is ideal.  Don't ask me why, I haven't thought it through, just seems to work better.  And I am not saying it scales up to a trailer size.

                                                                      • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                                        Glenn Schroeder

                                                                        I never tried starting the fire directly in the pit, but I don't see why it wouldn't work.

                                                                    • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                                      Steve Calvert

                                                                      Can't find the pic I'm after of a real Texas size BBQ trailer.  I've seen it at every one of the F1 races here in Austin, it's the size of an 18 wheeler and man can it do chicken on large numbers

                                                                       

                                                                      Steve C

                                                                      • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                                        John Stoltzfus

                                                                        Chad Huleatt - Grilling steak, now we're talking about something entirely different - that is when I throw all my grills out except one, and that one is mounted on a 5/8" diameter rod and swings over my fire pit, a really hot fire, load the pit with wood and let it burn down to red coals, then before I actually grill I'll add a few pcs of wood for an open flame, I want the flame go through the grill about 6 to 12" throw the steak on and let the flames sear, flip to the second side in about a minute, then cook according, but mine comes off medium rare..  If you stick the knife in the meat and it goes Moooo then it's not quite ready.....

                                                                        • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                                          Nadia Shea

                                                                          Maybe not entirely on point but SOLIDWORKS did a fun 'Born To Design' series related to bbq and keeping your beer cold. It's fun to watch!

                                                                           

                                                                          Born To Design | Analysis Factor | Beer Can Conundrum | SolidWorks

                                                                          • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                                            Chris Saller

                                                                            I like having options. Make it large. Separate areas for different type of grilling and firing.

                                                                            Have the option for hooking up propane, or adding a box for coals. The option to add rotisserie.

                                                                            Ideas: Grill Attachments | Gas & Charcoal Grill Add-ons : BBQ Guys

                                                                            • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                                              Chris Saller

                                                                              I once drove past an old gas station that had a propane tank on the side of the parking lot not in use. They cut the lines, cut the tank in half, and turned it into a large grill.

                                                                              Just a run-down gas station with a grill on the side for whoever wanted whatever was grill'n.

                                                                              Not me! Probably whatever was hit on the highway nearby.

                                                                              • Re: Trailer BBQ design
                                                                                Kevin Chandler

                                                                                FYI: BBQ With Franklin | Web Show | PBS Food

                                                                                Franklin is really good and into to it.

                                                                                He's had episodes of him making his own cooker. He's gets into the proper designs and he fabs, too.

                                                                                Don't watch PBS much, but this was great.