Part 5, I finally figured out how to make a self-lifting smoker door. Check it out!
First, I did a spring over conversion (flipped the axle over and moved it to the underside of the leaf springs) which lifted the smoker 4-5″ and also moved the axle back ~2″ which makes the weight distribution just about right. Before I did this, it was too light on the tongue.
In Part 4, I had just gotten done building the main smoker door. Not to my surprise, it is really heavy and hard to open. The next step was to figure out a way to make the smoker door easier to open. I have seen a lot of counterweight designs, but didn’t want a big weight hanging off the back. So I started playing with some spring designs.
First test with a leaf spring and chain fall attached to the door handle. Turns out my idea actually works.
Close up of the spring. Yes that is an entire automotive leaf spring upside down bolted into some leaf spring plates which I had welded on.
Next step was to figure out how much spring tension and leverage was needed. So I welded my manual tube bending bar onto the lid so I could try different heights. The height I finally ended up with was ~8.5″. I also welded on some lid stops (seen clamped on in this picture) because the spring would take the lid all the way over.
Lid stops. (sorry, bad pic)
Welded my new bracket on (box end of a big wrench I didn’t use very often) and did a final test with some steel cable.
Lid down. Notice the leaf spring below is stretched up. This builds spring tension for easy lid opening.
Lid up. Notice in this picture the spring is almost returned to its natural position.
Overall, I would call the self lifting smoker door a success! While I didn’t achieve a completely smooth design, I did manage to figure out a way to have the door lift itself without giant counterweights hanging off the back. This should make it so that I can have either a prep table or toolbox on the backside of the smoker without worrying about anybody hitting their heads on a counterweight.