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>> Home > Boat Building Blogs > Model Smoker Build
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Model Smoker Build Print Booklet
Author: Joe727   Posts: 9   Photos: 58   Subscribers: 3   Views: 768   Responses: 20   |   Most recent posts shown first   (Show oldest first)
Test - Posted: 28th Jan 2019
Today I did a full test of current smoker build, it went very well, nice consistent smoke, very visible. I used just straight a mineral Oil, type sold in Pharmacies. I chose not to use the baby oil again because it had too much of an odor. See video attached.

I ran it for one hour, it stays consistent and there was no build up of heat, tin stayed cool. Check of the heating element and wick showed no damage, no build up of any kind, very clean.

When I get a chance, I will put a multimeter on it and test the draw so I can fuse it properly. Thanks for you interest.

Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by Joe727 on the 28th Jan 2019
Additional photos
Response by jacko on the 28th Jan 2019
Fan Surround - Posted: 25th Jan 2019
Third update today, make sure you see the two prior to this one.

Mounted fan and built a styrene plastic enclosure around it. Sealed the edge with some silicone.

Shown now with stopper inserted. It's ready for a test but I need to add some support legs to keep it vertical as it just rolls over right now.

Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by mturpin013 on the 25th Jan 2019
Joe I admire your persistence with this and it seems to have paid off. Each of your attempts has improved well done.

I have a question - 1 - Is there a chance that the rubber stopper being so close to the heating element could be damaged or melt the rubber?
Have you considered a metal screw top, you can sometimes get a metal can with a screw cap, glue tins come to mind you could cut the end off and use the screw cap and just solder the end up.
2 - have you considered adjustable fan speed /element voltage to vary the amount of smoke according to engine speed.
3 - finally what about a smaller version, can you get smaller fans?
just a thought, keep up the good work
Response by Joe727 on the 25th Jan 2019
Thank you for your interest and the questions, I appreciate it.

1. With regard to the rubber stopper, good question. I have not done a lengthy test as yet, but will do. My thinking was that it would not effect the rubber as heat generated seems to be concentrated on the oil. I like the idea of a a metal cap, you have given me an idea, I have some small plumbing pieces that may work. It would be good to eliminate all flammable materials!

2. Varying the smoker with the engine speed has not been one of my goals, here is my thinking. I plan to use this unit on a steam tug, steam boilers seem to put out a constant smoke as the burning does not vary on a steam engine, the steam is just regulated. Hence, I have not done this, many commercial units offer this.

I recently purchased a commercial unit for over $100 USD and was not happy with the output, that is why I started this build.

From my video you can see how the smoke shoots out. I wanted to slow it down so it just puffs. I have experimented with lowering the fan voltage, but it cuts out below 3 volts. The attached sketch shows my experimenting with allowing some of the air from the fan to npbe redirected out. The tin that I soldered up is shown, took a lot of effort, did not work as planned. I did like the fact that it looked like a whiskey still.

3. Yes, there are smaller fans available on line. I was just using some salvage ones I had - 28mm square. I may experiment with some small fans if budget allows. I am now retired and counting pennies...

More on the puffing aspect to come...
Tin Work - Posted: 25th Jan 2019
The tin can that I used is from a small tomato paste sauce from the market. Use whatever tin that you would like or can find. Look at my sketch to see how it needs to function and adjust your design to what enclosure is available to you. Lots of ways to do it, just make sure you have these points covered:
1. Method of attaching a fan to push air into the unit.
2. Place for output stack / tube.
3. Method of mounting a wick with heating element attached that can sit above the fluid level. See sketch in previous post.

First photo, I cut three holes, each sized to fit the brass tubes and fan opening. This tin is thin and easy to poke holes in. I start by marking the opening locations with a marker, them I use a small sharp awl or pin to stare a hole. With hand tools ( power drill will easy shred the can, be careful) I enlarge the holes with small hand drills or reamer, found files, etc, I rotate the tools slowly in the opening and gradually enlarge it to size needed. Then I cut brass tubing to length with a small hand held hobby razor saw. Our in place, apply flux and solder. Once heated properly the solder flows easily.for the larger fan opening, I then used a dremel tool with sanding drum to make a nice round opening.

The fan has corner openings for screw mount. Secure with some tiny sheet metal screws. Next I will build an enclosure around the fabpn edge to fit the round can. Might just use silicone caulk.

Note, I did not open the can with a can opener, left the ends in place and poured the content out thru the holes made, Yes, it's a bit messy and wasted the sauce, but it's a cheap way to get an tin enclosure.

More to come. Please give me feedback, am I being clear enough? Thanks, Cheers, Joe

Attached Photos - Click To View Large
Sketches finally.... - Posted: 24th Jan 2019
The horizontal tin can design worked well, so I decided to do another and describe the build. First photo shows the original smoker, it uses a vertical mount squirrel cage type CPU fan. The majority of CPU fans are horizontal so I will build a new smoker with the more common horizontal fan.

See sketches attached which are a cut section thru the tin can to show the interior. This explains my design with a stopper that holds the wires and wick.

Shows the heating element so that it is above the fluid level. The stopper design makes it easy to remove and allow for any maintenance necessary.

Fill fluid can be through the stack tube or through the stopper opening. I have been using the stack tube on my first smoker so as to disturb the wick and element wiring less.

Please review the drawing and let me know what questions you have. Next I will take photos as I punch opening in the cans and solder the brass tubes.
Cheers Joe

Attached Photos - Click To View Large
Rubber stopper wick & element - Posted: 23rd Jan 2019
In the previous post in the video, note that a black rubber stopper is inserted into a brass tube soldered to the tin container. Starting with the element again, select proper length of heater wire by applying voltage to lengths as show previous. Crimped wire to one end.

Next photo shows a rubber stopper, I use my drill press to drill to straight holes to allow the voltage supply wire to pass through it. Then I put together a wick with a brass rod (1/16") to provide support and to secure it to the stopper. Brass rod with wick is pushed thru the stopper, drill a pilot hole for the brass rod centered in the stopper. See photos, the supply wires will come thru the stopper at each side of the wick.

Put one wire through the stopper, then I wrapped the heating element around the wick. This is tricky and took several attempts to get it done cleanly. The supply wire for the end is then fed back through the stopper. This is a weak part of the design as it must run back to the stopper without touching the heater element. It does work, but I will try to improve on this.

This entire assembly fits into the tin can and is the correct length to just submerge the bottom portion of the wick and not the wires. I forgot to do a sketch showing a section through this, but will try tomorrow.

Attached Photos - Click To View Large
Holy SMOKE !! Video, Tin Can Madness - Posted: 19th Jan 2019
Experiment with a tin can smoker works great, see video!

I will have to sketch this one up so it's clear on what the pieces are. Uses a little cpu squirrel type fan, two brass tubes, a rubber stopper and a wick. Could not wait to test, will add detail.

Had to shoot this video under a bathroom exhaust fan to avoid potentially setting off smoke alarms. It works!

Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by Joe727 on the 21st Jan 2019
Doug, That's a very impressive list of ships!

I was just thinking yesterday about how to build a smoker without a fan, your chimney effect caught my attention. My experimental builds so far push the smoke out quickly, I would prefer it puffing out. Deleting the fan and adding the proper length of stack could work, I will try.

Your electronics are impressive, nice skills you have. I'm still working with vacuum tubes, valves.
Regards, Joe
Response by RNinMunich on the 21st Jan 2019
Hi Joe 👍
In the full size ships I worked on we used Co2 injectors to smother fires in our equipment racks! Guess you could try the Co2 capsules for soda siphons. I have a box of those I 'm considering using for torpedo power!
Carry on innovating Man👍 Cheers, Doug 😎
Response by RNinMunich on the 21st Jan 2019
BTW: I grew up with valves (or bottles as we Brits also call 'em) as well.
I still have a box of several vintage 'bottles' in the cellar, many of them new still in the original boxes. If you ever run out of triodes, pentodes or tetrodes give me a buzz! Think I still have some pristine EL80s - collectors items these days - lots of Oomph 😁
My next non-model boat electronic project is a pair of digital clocks in 'Art Deco' cases, using bottle decade counters. The forerunners of the fluorescent tubes and then the LED clocks, but much more fun😉.
About forty years ago I spent a year or so servicing and calibrating the radiation monitors around UK nuke power plants using these decade counters. One cosmic radiation click = one jump in the base counter and so on. Never ever saw anything above the basic cosmic radiation background count which is always there. A remnant of the 'Big Bang'. 😲
Funny where an interest in electronics and radio can getcha 😁
Look forward to your chimney experiment report👍
My destroyer has two funnels but I found that the little railway smokers were not man enough to feed two funnels via a branched tube. But two working in parallel off the one RC channel did the trick.
Regarding the chimney effect; Works well at rest or at low speeds, but I also found that instead of a fan some traditional air vent scoops mounted forward of the smoker augmented the effect well at higher speeds. And my long thin destroyer with 2 x 540s on 12V made a lot of 'speed boats' look silly 😁 Have fun, ciao, Doug 😎
Tin Can Madness - Posted: 18th Jan 2019
Could not resist starting an experiment with an all metal container. This is a small tomato sauce tin can out of the pantry. First time I tried soldering tin to brass and it is very easy, with flux, to do. Will run test on both smokers and publish photos.

As noted, it is a good idea to add a fuse between the batteries and the powers switch as these heaters tend to draw 2 amps or more, be careful with wire gauge as well. Danger of fire....

Attached Photos - Click To View Large
Build - Posted: 17th Jan 2019
The heating elements in the hairdryer had two different wire gauges as elements. I removed the lighter gauge thinking they would probably draw less current. I am attempting to use 6 volts as that is what my boat is.

1. First Photo: Took a length of element and stretched it out as shown, started with a longer piece about 8". If you are at 12v probably longer. Use some alligator clip jumpers and attached to one end, ran it to negative terminal of my 6v SLA. Took another jumper and attached to a point on the wire, say about 7". JUST TOUCH the other end to the battery positive to see if it glowed, it did not. So just moved about 3/8" at a time till it glowed - See Photo. CAUTION, make certain you have a nonflammable surface to work on, I used a tile scrap. IT GETS HOT FAST AND WILL BURN, DON'T ASK ME HOW I KNOW. That's why I just touch the terminal till it glows then stop, let it cool for a while.

2. Cut element to length, than take your 16 gauge wire and the crimp tube shown in earlier post. Insert both into the tube and crimp it. I used a side cutter and carefully just squeezed enough. Make sure that the element will not pull out. Do the other end. Because I am using only 6 volts, I had flattened out the wire to give me more wraps on the wick. See photo and note.

3. In the lid of the box, I located the fan at one end, the exhaust stack at the other. Drilled a hole matching the fan opening and secured with two screws, drill small pilot holes so as not to crack the plastic. Drill hole to match brass tube OD, tube is about 1" long or so. Super glued brass tube in place. Excuse the sloppy copper sheet work on the inside of the lid, it was an experiment at the time. I added this a a bit of a heat sheild as the wick and element would sit below this.

4. Next photos show the interior of the box, not the best photos of the process as this was already built.... The mint tin set inside the plastic box was an idea to do two things; first isolate the heating element from the plastic,and two, provide a smaller vessel for the fluid. You may want to just use a metal container instead of the plastic box, again I was just using what I had on hand.

The wick is laying in the tin with the element propped up at on end to keep it out of the fluid. Photo shown does not show much fluid in place. This needs some work, but worked for this test. Experiment, just be sure that the lower portion of the wick is in the fluid and the element wire wrap is above the fluid level.

For the test, I used some mineral oil and a bit of glycerin, smoked very well. It's late so I will run it and photograph tomorrow.
Cheers, Joe

(Excuse the Imperial rather than metric)

Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by mturpin013 on the 17th Jan 2019
Thanks for the pics Joe and explanation about the tin, I'm going to have a go at this, I have all the bits now except the wick, Ill report back when I've made some progress.
Model Smoker Build - Posted: 15th Jan 2019

Yesterday, I showed a Model Smoker that I built, I have had requests to share details. This blog will walk you through what I did. Please note that this was built from ideas gathered from the web, I did not invent this. Also, anything that has voltage and anything that creates heat can be a hazard, I am not responsible for any damage caused. Again, just sharing information.

First, I researched the web and saw how others made a smoker, then I just wanted to cobble together one mainly from parts I have. You can see this on a variety of searches and videos.

First, Collected parts required.
1. Thrift store hair dryer
2. Wick lamp or Tiki torch, or similar wick
3. Wire crimps
4. 18 GA wire
5. Box, enclosure, container
6. 5v -12v fan, direction pushes air into box.
7. Foil, had copper sheet of aluminum foil
8. Adhesive, used CA
9. Mint tin or other

Since I did not photograph the original, I will put together some build steps and sketches. More to come, see photos for parts used.


Attached Photos - Click To View Large

Response by mturpin013 on the 16th Jan 2019
Keep the pictures coming Joe, I've just ordered the wicks and I have a dead hair dryer. What was the tin for? was it instead of the plastic box?
Response by Joe727 on the 17th Jan 2019
Yes, I will continue with a detailed narrative and more photos. Sorry for the delay, had some home maintenance that required immediate attention.....

To answer the tin question, I had the plastic electronics case, but don't really like the idea of heat close to plastic. So I found a tin that would fit inside the plastic case.

A metal box would work but I did not have one. If you can find the right sized container, try it. Online I have seen many different boxes used.

Will try to get back to it later tonight... Cheers Joe