Nothing is more exciting to a barbecue enthusiast than building a mobile cooker or grill. Some mobile units are just simple round-bodied smokers with a firebox, while others use Simi-trailers and large hydraulic systems to lift the lids off the cooking racks. Most BBQ smoker cookers use a firebox to provide both the heat and smoke. While most mobile grill cookers use propane or hardwood charcoal as the heat source.
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Types of Barbecue Trailers
Deciding on a trailer for the base of the mobile cooker or grill is the most important element of the design. If the BBQ enthusiast is just cooking for family or friendly tailgate parties, then a small 4-by-8-foot standard pull-behind trailer works perfectly. In large catering events or bar-b-cue competition situations, then a flatbed fifth-wheel trailer works best.
Mobile Cooker Fireboxes
Whether a small or large design, the firebox must be located close to the tongue of the trailer due to the weight of the firebox. Too much weight on the backside of a trailer can cause the tongue of the trailer to pop off the trailer hitch. Weld the firebox up off the trailer frame using angle iron or square metal tubing to ensure against heat causing the frame to weaken and bend.
The Smoker Cooker Body
In the case of the smoker cooker, there are two important elements. First, the opening between the firebox and the cooker body. It must be large enough to let in the heat and smoke to cook the food. The second is the smokestack. It must be located on the opposite side of the body away from the firebox. Cut a hole for the smokestack and damper valve high up on the side or top of the cooker body.
The Grill Cooking Area
Build a rack several inches off the bottom to hold the charcoal or other natural heat source to allow the air to flow under the rack raising the temperature of the fire. Build the cooking racks so they are adjustable and can be moved closer or further away from the heat source as desired. Ideally build two smokestacks on each side of the grill body. If using propane, then build a rack to hold the tanks close to the tongue of the trailer.
Welding the Body to the Trailer
Cut angle iron or metal tubing as the supports and braces for the cooker/grill body. Weld the firebox to the trailer first. Measure the desired height of the cooking body supports and weld them to the trailer. Now place the body on the supports, snug against the firebox and weld into place. Weld all braces as needed. Start a fire to determine if smoke is escaping from the welds. Paint the firebox and outside of the smoker/grill body with high-temp engine paint. Now the new mobile barbecue trailer is ready to use.