Intro: Solar Powered Pig Roaster
So this year I turn thirty years old. For my 18th birthday I was in the Army and in basic training. So no big celebration instead I got rolled left and right in the mud all day. My next big birthday I turned 21 and i was in Iraq. This was during OIF 1 so I hadn't even had a shower in 4 months. So no trip to the bar to get my first beer. I was thinking a 30th birthday bash sounded good. What better way to throw a party than roasting a whole hog over some coals with some good friends and family.
Step 1: Metal
I started looking al over the internet and found many plans but nothing looked good. There were some nice rigs out there but they were several thousand dollars. I was told to just use some old jack stands but that not my style. So off to the metal store I went. Here is what I bought
24ft of 1 ¼ inch square tubing
24ft of 1½ inch square tubing
12ft 1” rod
4 cast iron stars
I knew I wanted something I could take apart and store easily. I wanted to use as many free or junk parts I could to build this project. I have a great friend Casey Henson who is incredibly bright and had several gearmotors and bearings left over from an old job. He brought me a big pile of parts that were going to be scraped. We talked for hours about this bouncing ideas off one another, and finally came up with a plan. I drew it out in windows paint, the only drawing system I have.
We took my drawings from paintbrush and started cutting some metal. A friend from work, Chet Brown was recruited to do the welding. He is a far better welder than I will ever be. I also had a friend of mine Zach Harrison grinding and de-burring the parts before welding. We used a metal chop saw and cut the parts. Then we took out the mig welder and carefully aligned all the parts for welding. The parts went together well. I really haven’t detailed the plans in this Instructables to well because thats not the way I work. I prefer to build things based on how they look good to me. Also I dont know what materials you may come across. almost every part other than the metal was recycled. I made a motor mount out of a old leaf spring bolt plate. It worked perfect and I used 4” hose clamps to hold the motor in place.
Step 3: Bearings and Sprocket
Bearings; again a gift from Casey. To mount them we welded a bolts to a peace of tubing and bolted them on, It works great.
The large sprocket is a 60T bought this from from northern tools and the small 9T was from Pervis Industries. Both cost about $15. on the large sprocket we welded on a 1" cuppling that would slip over the spit rod. This got me down to about 2.5 rpm which is a great speed to roast a hog. I built the entire mount system on the 1 1/2 square tubbing so i could slide it over the main stands that are 1 1/4 square tubbing. I drilled a hole in the mount and welded a nut to the tube. Then, using a bolt you could move the pig up or down to control the heat. On my motor mount I added a bottle opener for my beer.
Step 4: Fire Pit
It was time to build the fire pit. We cut some 6” C-Purlin connectors to 48 inch length and welded three of them together. We then boxed them in and cut some expanded metal for the coals to lay on. I have never worked with C-Purlin connectors before but will again. They are cheap and strong. I then welded two stars to the box and a Texas cutout I salvaged from an old trailer hitch. I’m from Texas and it what’s we do. We added two 1 ½ tubing to the side of the box and added a nut and bolt so we could have a second way to adjust the heat.
Step 5: Powering
The motor I got for turning the pig operated off of 12V. I started thinking of multiple crazy ways of powering it. I finally decided to go simple and hook it up to my truck battery. I wasn’t sure how long the motor would turn so I went to Harbor Freight and bought a $15 solar panel. This turned to work out great. The pig cooked for almost 7 hours and never even slowed down.
Step 6: Spit Rod
The spit rod was easy take a 1" rod and shove it through the pig. We made some forks that would hold the pig in place with a few cupplings and some metal of an old piece of furniture. They turned out perfect.
Step 7: The Pig
The pig we bought was natural, local and delicious. I will detail the cooking process in a future article. It took about 7 hours, 60lbs of mesquite lump charcoal and around 48 Shiner Bock, Ruby Redbird Beers. It was the perfect birthday and I am blessed to have great friends and family to spend it with. Thank you for taking time to read my article.