Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

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COQue
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Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

Postby COQue » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:36 pm

Hi Folks,

I'm new to TX BBQ Forum and I'm writing you from the Centennial State of Colorado. I've been in touch with Craig Bell (super nice fellow) of Bell Fabrications in Tulsa, OK.

My dream rig is still in my imagination but I'm sensing that Craig Bell has everybody beat on quality and price. I've been scouring the internet for 6 months. I'm using a Texas Original Pits Pearsall 16" single door smoker. It's 1/4" thick and it's been decent but I've been having to babysit it more than I like since I have to look after the kids. The Texas Original Pearsall has temp swings and iffy drafting in our thin mountain air here at 5400 feet above sea level. I've cooked on it for a while and I'm wondering about taking it to the next level. I talked to Craig 3 times this week and here's what I'm envisioning for a dream patio cooker:

1) 3/8" inch thick 24" x 72" cook chamber
2) Reverse Flow Baffle Plate 54" inches long (18 inch gap from the end)
3) Super Insulated Firebox with 1/2" inch thick inner wall, 2.0" inch thick insulation in middle, and then another 1/2" inch thick outer wall (3.0 inches total wall thickness) !!
4) 8" OD x 24" tall smokestack on firebox side since it's reverse flow
5) 4 Custom made reinforced steel wheels with 2 axles and "T" arm to give leverage when moving

He says the rig will weigh over 1500 pounds and I'll probably need the help of 3 of my buddies to move it. Here's a battery of 3 questions for the TX BBQ Forum:

1) Is a 3 inches total wall thickness Super Firebox overkill ? My goal is to put a stick or 2 into the firebox and not have to worry for 2+ hours so I can watch the kids while still using my Maverick to alert me as needed. With the 3/8" cook chamber wall thickness, I'm also hoping it'll stay in the 225-275 range for 2-3 hours on minimal fuel.
2) I've read so much about smoke stack flow dynamics. Is 8" OD x 24" also too much? Craig Bell said it was about as big as he would recommend. He added that 8" will dissipate a lot of heat and that any wider would cool the rig down too much. He also said any longer than 24" would lead to a buildup of smoke.
3) Most important question: how do I "sell" this to my wife? Even with maximum customization, Craig Bell's prices are LESS THAN HALF the cost of the big name competitors like Klose, Lang, and Gator. I can see BBQ smoking being my life's hobby and handing this rig down to my son. I also like to reward an honest entrepreneur like Craig Bell with my business.

In any case, thanks for reading. I anxiously await some great input from the people in the know!!

COQue
Lang 36 Hybrid Deluxe Patio (current)
Texas Original Pits Pearsall 16", 1/4" inch thick, single door, patio (sold)
Chargriller 5050 with OFB (sold)
Maverick ET-735 Bluetooth, 4 Probes
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Re: Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

Postby k.a.m. » Fri Mar 10, 2017 3:50 pm

Personally I have never heard of Bell cookers but there are a lot out there. Have you looked at Shirley Fabrication out of Tuscaloosa Alabama? Paul and Tyler are reasonably priced and their work is second to none.
To answer some of your questions:
1) Is a 3 inches total wall thickness Super Firebox overkill ? My goal is to put a stick or 2 into the firebox and not have to worry for 2+ hours so I can watch the kids while still using my Maverick to alert me as needed. With the 3/8" cook chamber wall thickness, I'm also hoping it'll stay in the 225-275 range for 2-3 hours on minimal fuel.
It is overkill and even at that I doubt you will get over 2 hours burn time before you lose your coal base.
The shear size of what you want is not really what we call a Backyard cooker.

2) I've read so much about smoke stack flow dynamics. Is 8" OD x 24" also too much? Craig Bell said it was about as big as he would recommend. He added that 8" will dissipate a lot of heat and that any wider would cool the rig down too much. He also said any longer than 24" would lead to a buildup of smoke.
On a 24" x 72" chamber with a 24" square firebox I would use a 6" ID x 24" long exhaust.

3) Most important question: how do I "sell" this to my wife? Even with maximum customization, Craig Bell's prices are LESS THAN HALF the cost of the big name competitors like Klose, Lang, and Gator. I can see BBQ smoking being my life's hobby and handing this rig down to my son. I also like to reward an honest entrepreneur like Craig Bell with my business.
Depends on if she likes BBQ. :lol: Between my wife and I we have two trailer mounted smokers two WSM's, various UDS's and a half dozen grills. It helps if your wife likes to cook. :D
Always remember slow and steady wins the race.

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Re: Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

Postby COQue » Fri Mar 10, 2017 6:13 pm

Thanks K.A.M!

This is precious input. Indeed, she likes BBQ, but I don't think she taps into what I call the "Caveman Thrill" of smoke hitting the nostrils and tasting that caramelized meat right as it comes off the cooker. She thinks it's a novelty but doesn't look at it as a way of life like I do.

We live in an HOA-controlled community and that's why I can't have a trailer. Otherwise, I would have gone much bigger. HOA is quite intense and any sort of trailer would lead to hundreds of dollars in fines. We will see. I've got to wait for the constellations to line up just right before I ask her about getting a Bell Fab.

Shirley has been outstanding, but it's the 12+ month wait time and the prices. I know Shirley's work is worth every penny, but the total dollars going out the door would be even harder to "sell" to the wife. My thinking is that Bell is my best shot at getting a dream cooker while not breaking our admittedly small bank.

COQue
Lang 36 Hybrid Deluxe Patio (current)
Texas Original Pits Pearsall 16", 1/4" inch thick, single door, patio (sold)
Chargriller 5050 with OFB (sold)
Maverick ET-735 Bluetooth, 4 Probes
Famili OT008 Digital thermometer, 2 probes
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Re: Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

Postby dwilliams35 » Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:40 am

I get the gut feeling that this thing has overkill written all over it, including just the size for a backyard pit; what would your HOA think about routinely having over a hundred or two of your closest friends for a shindig that would justify the thing? I think I'd just find places to scale back the overkill, and sit back and watch the shrinkage of the price tag that you have to present for approval..
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Re: Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

Postby COQue » Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:57 pm

Thanks dwilliams35,

Sure enough, I floated the initial idea and overkill flashed across the boss's (wife's) face :( It was still worth a shot. If I pull it back with a shorter cook chamber, i.e. 60 inches, and make the firebox just a conventional non insulated 1/2"inch thick, then I could still have me a cooker in the $1500-ish range.

I've also been eyeing Glenn's smokers in Farmington, Arkansas. I've been e-mailing him back and forth. He's slightly pricier than Bell, but he's dedicated to reverse flow. Bell says he can do reverse flow, but that it's not his forte. I'm torn as to simply loving the Texas Original Pits that I already have (churning out good Que already) or trying to have a second cooker. My Chargriller will be off my hands soon. I've also found some used Langs for the $1500 range on Craigslist.

Any thoughts anybody can share would be appreciated. I get the feeling that $1500 will be my ceiling. I got a killer deal on the Texas Original Pits Pearsall for just $1000, and that's why I jumped at it, but it was never my dream rig. It's traditional flow and it's served me well as recently as yesterday. Here's the question to bounce off the collective wisdom of TX BBQ Forum:

Does the supposed quality enhancement of a reverse flow rig justify the $1500 greenbacks?!? I'm back and forth in my head depending on which hour you ask me. BBQ smoking has become my hobby and escape. It gets me out of bed in the morning cause I have so much fun doing it. I just can't figure out if reverse flow truly is the next level higher or if some good ol' fashioned tuning plates on a traditional flow cooker with side fire box would keep me $1500 richer and my wife that much happier. Please let me know your guys' thoughts!
Lang 36 Hybrid Deluxe Patio (current)
Texas Original Pits Pearsall 16", 1/4" inch thick, single door, patio (sold)
Chargriller 5050 with OFB (sold)
Maverick ET-735 Bluetooth, 4 Probes
Famili OT008 Digital thermometer, 2 probes
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Re: Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

Postby dwilliams35 » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:33 pm

COQue wrote:,



Does the supposed quality enhancement of a reverse flow rig justify the $1500 greenbacks?!? I'm back and forth in my head depending on which hour you ask me. BBQ smoking has become my hobby and escape. It gets me out of bed in the morning cause I have so much fun doing it. I just can't figure out if reverse flow truly is the next level higher or if some good ol' fashioned tuning plates on a traditional flow cooker with side fire box would keep me $1500 richer and my wife that much happier. Please let me know your guys' thoughts!
. I've never as of yet used one, but if all the different people who are trying to make a decision as to whether go RF or not are an indication, I'd probably go with "no".. if the "quality enhancement" was that big of a slam-dunk, nobody would be building traditional-flow pits anymore. I debated the RF on my current build, but just couldn't really make the math work the way I wanted it..
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Re: Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

Postby COQue » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:05 am

Great point dwilliams35! I've pondered that traditional flow is traditional for a reason: it works! I also came across lone star grillz and their videos are pretty compelling where they say they can get evenness of temps to within 5 degrees from left to right.

As I'm hashing this out in my head, the one thing I could sell to myself would be that the rig would have a 50% thicker cook chamber and a 100% thicker firebox. That alone may be worth it. I plan on giving Craig Bell a call in the morning. I'm thinking if he can pull off a reverse flow design , then that may be a way to have my cake and eat it too.
Lang 36 Hybrid Deluxe Patio (current)
Texas Original Pits Pearsall 16", 1/4" inch thick, single door, patio (sold)
Chargriller 5050 with OFB (sold)
Maverick ET-735 Bluetooth, 4 Probes
Famili OT008 Digital thermometer, 2 probes
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Re: Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

Postby dwilliams35 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:45 am

Ever consider a hybrid? There's really not much difference between the two besides stack location and having enough tuning plates to approximate a RF plate; I believe k.a.m.'s big pit has this design, a stack on each end and you can switch back and forth at will. I believe some folks have their pits figured out to the point to run them both at once to good results. I would imagine that would be a pretty cheap add on if you had it figured out what you wanted and could specify the changes.
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Re: Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

Postby sparctek » Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:12 am

I'll offer my thoughts on RF vs traditional but take it for what it's worth. I've cooked on both of them and I currently have an LSG pit with the tuning plates. What I have found is I do not like the taste of the fat/grease falling on the hot tuning plates/reverse flow plate and vaporizing. I'm sure it is just me, but it gives the food a different flavor and one that is not my preferred taste profile.

That is the reason I sold my RF and went with the LSG. Even though I have set up and marked the position of the tuning plates on the LSG for even cooking temp, I do not use them. I just prefer the taste and smell of the traditional offset.

Also, my LSG has an insulated firebox and my experience is it doesn't extend the amount of time between adding fuel. It does however, make the required fire size for a given temp smaller. But perhaps the biggest advantage I see with the insulated firebox is the time to recover after opening the cook chamber. It recovers very quickly and helps maintains a steady temp. Once everything heats up it a small amount of wood to keep it going.

Good luck on your decision.
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Re: Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

Postby COQue » Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:49 pm

Thanks sparctek,

That's precious insight re insulated fire boxes not necessarily extending burn times but rather shrinking size of fire and lessening recovery time after door opening.

In sum total, if you could turn back the clock, would you do 1/4, 1/2, or insulated on your firebox? I'm doing that cost benefit process in my head right now. I'm balancing performance vs money. It's nice hearing about your LSG experience since I consider them one of the name brand benchmarks.
Lang 36 Hybrid Deluxe Patio (current)
Texas Original Pits Pearsall 16", 1/4" inch thick, single door, patio (sold)
Chargriller 5050 with OFB (sold)
Maverick ET-735 Bluetooth, 4 Probes
Famili OT008 Digital thermometer, 2 probes
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Re: Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

Postby k.a.m. » Mon Mar 13, 2017 3:28 pm

COQue wrote:Thanks sparctek,

That's precious insight re insulated fire boxes not necessarily extending burn times but rather shrinking size of fire and lessening recovery time after door opening.

In sum total, if you could turn back the clock, would you do 1/4, 1/2, or insulated on your firebox? I'm doing that cost benefit process in my head right now. I'm balancing performance vs money. It's nice hearing about your LSG experience since I consider them one of the name brand benchmarks.

You could go 1/4" inside and 1/8" outside on a 2" thick ceramic insulated firebox. Or 1/4" both ways. There is no need in all this beef your'e talking about to achieve the cooker your'e wanting.
Always remember slow and steady wins the race.

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My Hybrid cooker.
Competition trailer #2.
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Re: Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

Postby sparctek » Mon Mar 13, 2017 4:41 pm

COQue wrote:Thanks sparctek,

That's precious insight re insulated fire boxes not necessarily extending burn times but rather shrinking size of fire and lessening recovery time after door opening.

In sum total, if you could turn back the clock, would you do 1/4, 1/2, or insulated on your firebox? I'm doing that cost benefit process in my head right now. I'm balancing performance vs money. It's nice hearing about your LSG experience since I consider them one of the name brand benchmarks.


That is a good question. I thought long and hard about that when I ordered my cooker. I finally decided to go with the insulated firebox because I thought it would do a couple of things: 1) help with the recovery time as I already mentioned, 2) It would help keep the outside of the firebox from showing rust quickly, and 3) it would help on cold, windy days (I've been known to sit out there cooking in below freezing weather - not that we have much of that here)

In the end for the price difference between 1/2" and insulated I chose insulated; I do not regret the decision and would make the same one if buying new again. I think what it really boiled down to is in the back of my mind I had already made up my mind I wanted insulated and if I got anything else ... well we all know where that tends to lead... ha ha

By the way Chris and Amber at LSG were great people to work with. I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone. I love my cooker and would buy another from LSG if I were to "upgrade" :P
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Re: Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

Postby GRailsback » Mon Mar 13, 2017 4:54 pm

Go get a nice back yard Klose model and be done with it. Set for life.
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Re: Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

Postby COQue » Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:45 pm

I agree that Klose is hard to touch, but for the sake of my pocket book and marriage, I don't think I can venture there. Nonetheless, I catch myself dreaming a little dream. If I were to go full force on a lifetime rig with Klose, I would probably in the territory of 8-9 large easy!

The kiddos 529 college plans come before my cooker, even though I seem to day dream about a Klose or a Jambo. An every day schmo like me can't hang in that realm :( Hence, I didn't even name them when I started this thread--gotta win dat PowerBall !!
Lang 36 Hybrid Deluxe Patio (current)
Texas Original Pits Pearsall 16", 1/4" inch thick, single door, patio (sold)
Chargriller 5050 with OFB (sold)
Maverick ET-735 Bluetooth, 4 Probes
Famili OT008 Digital thermometer, 2 probes
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Re: Bell Fabrications of Tulsa, OK Super Patio Rig of My Dreams

Postby GRailsback » Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:09 pm

I understand what you are saying. Quality cookers are a large purchase and need to be considered in detail. But at the same time, the dimensions you describe are quite large for a "backyard smoker". 6 feet with 24 inch pipe is large. You could go with 3 or 4 foot easy, with tuning plates, and an upright, and still have a bunch of capacity for larger cooks. Unless you were going to put something 6 feet long on a trailer, I doubt you would ever see the need for something that large in your backyard, regardlesss of which builder you went with.

Just some thoughts from a Klose owner is all.


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