Thursday, July 3, 2008

Fire, Fire, Fiiiiiirre!!!

Yea, Yea, Yea,.....

So we like fire, a lot.... We've been puzzling over our fire pit for a while because it just wasn't 'good enough'. The flames kinda shot up high and wild from it and it burned the propane way rich leading to a smelly, sooty fire that didn't produce enough heat for all the propane it went thru. What to do what to do....until we hit on an idea...

I found this wonderful turkey fryer on close-out at Sears for only $30! That's what the used ones were going for on Craig's List. And we got the huge pot to boil corn in for when we have our bbq's!

Outta that big box of stuff this is the only thing we wanted. The cast iron high-powered burner!!

Here's a closer look at that lovely 20,000 BTU burner. You see, correctly carburating the propane is kinda tricky but this handy dandy all in one unit does it all for us. Why re-invent the wheel we say.

Just like a Bunsen burner in high school chem lab this burner has an adjustable orifice so we can fine tune the flame to a nice blue.

Here's a shot showing how it adjusts the mixture. This feature should be really handy when we switch to nat-gas which has a different air-fuel ratio.

Our fire pit version 1.0
How ho-hum...

Here's what the guts of it look like. That coiled snake thing sitting in the bowl is our first attempt at making a burner. Its just 1/4" copper tubing with holes drilled into it.
The grate goes down over the tubing and then we pile the rocks on top of the grate.

Here's a closer view of the 'burner' We drilled holes in the bottom of the pan to help air enter in an attempt to get the fire to not burn so rich.

You see all the leaves and dust from the rocks falls down and plugs up the works leading to an overly rich flame.

We have to try to make the new burner fit the pan and work with the old burner.

The idea is, that the new burner will burn blue and heat the rocks up nice and hot while the old burner is going to be adapted to give flames and light but not do the bulk of the heating.

We wanted the burner to sit down below the grate and be spaced up off the rocks. We cut a hole for it and using plumbers tape and self tapping sheet metal screws made a 'mount' for it.

Here's the burner shown mounted. Right in the center of the pan and nice and low.

We skipped a couple of steps and forgot to show the connections under the pan..We added a valve just for the home made burner so we can fine tune the height of the flames in comparison to the heat produced by the new burner. We also cut some expanded metal as a secondary grate to keep the lava rocks up off the bottom of the pan. We mounted the old burner so the jets face downward also to keep them from getting filled with crud and to hopefully tame the flame height a bit.

And Wow fire pit version 2.0 is off and running. This picture doesn't do the flame color justice but its nice and blue-white at the rocks and going to light yellow out at the tips. The flame is burning much cleaner also with not really any sooty smelly black smoke being produced.

This shot shows the blue white flame at the base a bit better. The new burner really heats up the rocks around it and the entire pit radiates a lot more heat than it used to. That and the fire height is shorter so less chance of wind whipped fire singing someones toes.

Here's a shot of the pit in the dark just after I turned off the flame. This shows that the rocks are not being heated completely evenly...The camera makes it look like its white hot but its not really but those lava rocks were a glowing something fierce.

All in all a pretty darn good result for version 2.0. Its high-time for BBQ season and I'm not sure I'm going to have the time to re-jigger the home-made burner to even out the coal heating wheres the marshmallows and chocolate and graham crackers???


Jennifer said...

Very cool! An ingenious way to fix that problem.

Kitt said...

Wow, that's creative! You should submit it to Make.

mistress mousey said...

Ugh... sorry I missed all the fun at the party and didn't get to see the amazing fire pit in action. It's hard to plan stuff when family is in from out of town. :(

CB said...

Just ran across this post. smart use of the turkey fryer parts. Those are all out dated anyway. The new infrared turkey fryer does away with oil, so that saves tons of money and easier to clean - most of all no hot oil to worry about.