So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

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Circle J Fire Pits
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So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

Postby Circle J Fire Pits » Mon Jan 28, 2019 5:59 pm

Fire box thickness - I guess one of the most often asked questions. What are your thoughts, and why. I know 1/4" is thicker, but why is there a stigma on anything that is thinner. How many of you have actually burned through your box? I want to know....
Thanks in advance
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Re: So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

Postby OldUsedParts » Mon Jan 28, 2019 6:25 pm

Just a novice here but I wouldn't think that advantage wouldn't be anti-burn through as much as it's heat holding capabilities :dont:
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Re: So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

Postby Mule rider » Mon Jan 28, 2019 10:26 pm

Thinner seems to warp more. and doesn't hold the heat as well.
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Re: So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

Postby Circle J Fire Pits » Tue Jan 29, 2019 9:26 pm

That's a good thought. Where do you generally see the warping on the Fire Box? Is it on the sides, bottom, or where?
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Re: So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

Postby limey » Wed Jan 30, 2019 9:04 pm

Thicker the better, most of the comp. trailer builds are insulated for maintaining temp and fuel consumption.
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Re: So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

Postby Mule rider » Wed Jan 30, 2019 11:21 pm

When you cut your door out the thinner metal has more potential to warp. Thus making it hard to seal.
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Re: So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

Postby Rambo » Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:52 am

I went to a little Country School but I believe 3/8ths is thicker than 1/4
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Re: So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

Postby Circle J Fire Pits » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:35 pm

So what thickness door have you seen warp. Was it a 3/16 or 1/4 door you have seen warp?
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Re: So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

Postby k.a.m. » Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:08 am

Most twisting or warping of fireboxes is due to poor fire management and super heating the firebox, along with how the firebox and or cooker were designed.
I have seen 1/2" doors twisted. You can get buy with material thinner than a 1/4" on small offsets but when your cooker is above say 20" x 48" you really need 1/4" at the minimum. My 24" x 55" .375 wall chamber has a 20" x 20" 5/16" firebox that has never warped.
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Re: So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

Postby Circle J Fire Pits » Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:32 pm

Thanks for the info KAM, and I have to ask is the 3/8" wall unit a plate smoker or a used pipe / vessel shell smoker. I am always curious about the used propane tanks. We get a lot of calls on those, and sometimes they can be hard to find.
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Re: So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

Postby Boots » Sat Feb 02, 2019 12:20 am

KAM is a pro and knows his stuff. Throwing in some amateur metalurgist opinions:

Thicker is just better.

Thinner than 1/4” will warp, perhaps the better term is “distort”, because it will twist up through all 3 planes of the 3D spectrum, not just one. Ever try yanking the 16 guage sheet metal lid off a can cooker that overheated? It sticks from expansion and distortion (no piece of metal is uniformly thick or tempered, right, so they don’t expand and contract uniformly).

Speaking of temper, when initially formed every piece of metal has a certain “temper” or hardness depending on the heat at which it was formed, the purity and chemical composition of the metal, etc. Watch those “Forged in Fire” guys and you get a sense of that, the heating, hammering, quenching and repeating all of that purifies and progressively hardens the steel. Yer average piece of plate steel coming out of a rolling mill is “soft” in comparison, but a thicker piece requires more heat and pressure to form and by definition should be “tougher” than a thinner piece of plate.

Then there’s the whole longevity thing of the inside of of the firebox breaking down over time with expansion and contraction and rusting, etc. Thicker just has a capacity to “weather” more so it lasts longer. How many of those horizontal drum cookers you saw back in the 70’s ever lasted more than 3-4 years for a hard core griller before failure and burnout ?

Consider also that the temp in the firebox may easily run up to 800 or even 1000 degrees (wood burns at surface temps of around 1200 +/- degrees) even though the cook chamber may only be running 300+, and you get the idea.

A much smarter man than me would’ve simply said, “thicker be better...”.

My Rosebud has about a 3/8’s firebox now (might’ve been thicker before I got her) and can handle a hot fire like a champ after 7 years of pretty steady use that I’ve put in, so that’s a pretty good guage.
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Re: So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

Postby spacetrucker » Sat Feb 02, 2019 10:08 am

I would "second" what boots said about kam he is a close to a pro as anyone can be...
my $.02 is the warping happens around the door, I have seen fire boxes with channel steel door frames warp due to what I would call "sloppy" fire management.

however, the thickest was 1/4" not measured, but by estimate, I have built several pits using thin wall pipe, 3/16 they are probably still in use due to the fact that they were small less than 27" in diameter and were too heavy to move very far.. we may indeed have been the predecessor of life time pits back in the day, I say this because we were where they started and are being built, our favorite hinge was "fork lift" triple roller chain, and engine valve spring handles. :D
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Re: So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

Postby k.a.m. » Sat Feb 02, 2019 11:28 am

Circle J Fire Pits wrote:Thanks for the info KAM, and I have to ask is the 3/8" wall unit a plate smoker or a used pipe / vessel shell smoker. I am always curious about the used propane tanks. We get a lot of calls on those, and sometimes they can be hard to find.

She is used pipe.
Most propane tanks up to 250 gallon have about a .250 wall.
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Re: So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

Postby hdc77494 » Mon Feb 04, 2019 9:36 pm

I think your best bet to avoid warpage is to insulate, or like Franklin, add a smaller tube inside the primary to reduce the level of heat reaching the door and outer box. Of course that also lowers your fuel usage too, and may help maintain consistent temps.
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Re: So 3/16" 1/4" or 3/8" Fire box?

Postby Badger16 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 12:00 pm

Speaking of fire boxes, my wife and I were considering buying this house in Eretria, Greece for the holidays, there's supposed to be a "barbecue area" shown in picture 13 of the page, will it be appropriate for all of my grilling, smoking and generic cooking needs, or will that kit be appropriate for other forms of cooking? As far as I know, it looks more like a pizza oven than like a "traditional" BBQ rig; not that I'm against pizza, but I like my grilled and smoked meat as well.
Last edited by Badger16 on Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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