How to build an auto rotisserie

Written by jan benschop
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How to build an auto rotisserie
Chicken hot off the rotisserie (The hen a grill on a dark blue dish image by Viacheslav Anyakin from

Nothing can enhance outdoor cooking like a device that allows your grill or fire to heat your food evenly and gently. Electric automatic rotisseries can be pricey, but there is a way to build one yourself that won't break the bank. You can start with a commercially available spit rod and skewer forks: they're cheap and plentiful at hardware stores and the Internet. Add the right gearmotor, some accessories to hold the entire thing in place and make it portable for convenience, and you're ready for a cookout.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Spit rod with skewers
  • 1 set screw coupling
  • 12VDC gearmotor
  • 2 5/16-inch threaded rod coupling nuts
  • 2 5/16-inch, 3-ft threaded rods
  • 2 5/16-inch eye bolts
  • 18-Gauge speaker wire
  • 18-Gauge wire nuts
  • 2 crimp-on alligator leads: 1 with red insulation, 1 with black
  • Wire cutter
  • Wire stripper
  • Terminal crimper
  • Box of assorted crimp-on terminals

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  1. 1

    Purchase a 4 to 6 RPM gearmotor that operates on 3 to 12 Volts DC. If the motor is an automotive vent motor, it may have a sprocket socket to fit a 1/4-inch spit rod directly. If the shaft is round, fit a dual-set-screw coupling to fit both of them at a home improvement store. Slide the coupling over the rod and the motor shaft and tighten the set screws.

  2. 2

    Connect the copper side of a 6-ft. long piece of 18-gauge speaker wire to the motor's positive terminal. The silver side goes to the negative terminal. Some motors come with wire leads: use wire nuts. Some motors have a plastic housing you open to get to the motor tabs. Crimp terminals to the speaker wire to connect to this kind of motor. At the other end of the wire, crimp an alligator clip onto each lead. Red goes on copper, black goes on silver.

  3. 3

    Connect each eye bolt with a threaded rod with threaded rod coupling nuts. Push the threaded rods into the ground on either side of the fire, to the same height. Insert the spit rod through one eye bolt, slide on and fasten one spit fork. Insert the spit rod through your game, slide on and fasten the second spit fork, clamping the game between the fork tines. Slide the end of the spit rod through the other eye bolt.

  4. 4

    Use a loosely attached tie-wrap between the motor and the threaded rod to keep the motor from moving.

  5. 5

    Connect the black alligator clip to the negative terminal and the red clip to the positive terminal of a 6V lantern battery.

Tips and warnings

  • Some gearmotors are available for less than £5 If the fire gets hot enough to melt the motor housing, punch a hole through an aluminium pie plate to let the shaft pass through before attaching it to the spit rod.
  • Place the battery as far away from the fire as the wire will allow.

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