Chip Burner

mikerezny

Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2016
798
1,418
93
65
Mount Waverley, VIC
#1
Hi,
In the past couple of months, when camping, I have been annoyed at the time and the amount of wood I need to burn to boil water. In the end, it was far easier to just go and boil water on our gas cooktop.

The last straw was in Dandos, where there are fire pits with a steel plate for cooking. The plate is way too high above the fire and after burning heaps of wood (too hot to get near the fire at times, and the plate got barely hot enough to sear the sausages. In the end, I used the fire as a charcoal factory and moved hot coals into a separate area and cooked the sausages by putting a frypan directly on top of the coals.

Then I remembered meeting a permanent nomad traveling around Australia in a small campervan who had made a simple chip burner from an old paint can. It was really quick to boil water in a billy and used barely a handful of twigs to do the job.

Then, rummaging around the green shed, I saw a BBQ charcoal starter that looked like an ideal starting point for building a robust chip burner. So, I invested $9.95 to give it a try.

First step was to cut a small opening to feed in the twigs. Then make a small trivet from some old expanded steel I had lying around. The last step was to clean up an old billy we had lying around.

Then out to the back yard for a first test. One sheet of newspaper crumpled up in the bottom (where the fire starters normally go), a handful of twigs where the charcoal goes, trivet on top, billy on trivet, light the paper.
Wow, in less than 5 minutes (I didn't actually time it), it boiled 4 cups of water and still enough coals to make a piece of toast. I was hooked. Found an old biscuit tin lid to use as a base to avoid leaving a mess when we are camping. The lot went into a couple of small hessian bags to be taken on our next camping trip.

But, I started thinking, is it possible to use this for cooking as well?
Found a really nice small cast iron BBQ plate at Aussie Disposals for $19.95. Bugger the expense, I was already committed for $9.95 anyway, so I bought it. This was getting to be serious money, almost $30.
But the BBQ plate can be used on a normal fire and fits well on our Companion 2-burner portable stove.

The billy was too small and required a trivet, so I scrounged an old kettle from our neighbours that fitted over the top of the chip burner. So these also went into the van for our next trip.

Last weekend, we had a chance to try it all out. Absolutely fantastic!
One small glitch, the kettle choked off the airflow, so I added the trivet again to let the air out. I will need to drill some holes around the top now I am home.

Here are three photos showing it boiling water, cooking breakfast:egg, cheese, bacon, and mushroom muffins, and dinner: sausages, onions, and fried potatoes.

So far, the BBQ plate has been really easy to clean: wait for it to cool down, then wipe the top with a piece of newspaper, then give the bottom a scrub to remove the soot, then use the paper to start the burner next time.

We store the burner, trivet, and base in a small hessian bag, the billy and kettle are put in shopping bags and then in another hessian bag, and the BBQ plate in a shopping bag and in a small cloth bag.

IMG_0028a.jpg


IMG_0029a.jpg


IMG_0027a.jpg


Next steps are to add a cast iron frying pan and lid to bake damper and then on to the ultimate challenge: a small roast dinner. Stay tuned.

cheers
Mike
 
Last edited:

Dobbie

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2014
3,061
5,867
113
#2
I love it!

All you need is the cover from an old sunbeam electric frypan...or similar...to turn it into an oven and the challenge will be met!

:first: This is the ultimate prize.
 

mikerezny

Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2016
798
1,418
93
65
Mount Waverley, VIC
#3
I love it!

All you need is the cover from an old sunbeam electric frypan...or similar...to turn it into an oven and the challenge will be met!

:first: This is the ultimate prize.
Hi @Dobbie,

what a great suggestion!

I might even go the whole way and put the whole electric frypan on top. If I am lucky, I might be able to find one with a glass lid.
Then I can see what is happening inside without lifting the lid and losing all the heat. That might also be good for baking damper.

And it will be way lighter than my original idea of using a cast iron frypan and lid.

Don't know about anyone else, but I'm excited!

cheers
Mike
 
Likes: DRW

mikerezny

Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2016
798
1,418
93
65
Mount Waverley, VIC
#5
Or you could go and get a BabyQ :D
:behindsofa:
Hi,
that was exactly how this all started!!! We actually headed off to the Good Guys to buy one. But they didn't stock the model with the higher lid and temperature gauge. Then we saw other brands at Bunnings, BBQs Galore, and Harvey Norman (all around the same shopping area. Then we got confused and couldn't decide so we didn't buy anything.

Get a Baby Q, then the flat plate, then the stand, or find something similar that already had a flat plate or half and half.
Then we still wanted something else for cooking and boiling water on a fire (use less gas).

Then we needed to transport it all and possibly worry about it smelling in the van or boot of the car and keep within our weight allowance for the car and van. The van has 300kg, but 92kg of that is already used with water and gas. Cant remember off the top of my head what a Baby Q with flat plate and stand weighed. But it wasn't negligible.

It all got too hard to make a decision and I didn't want to blow around $500 to buy something that might not be the best solution for us. Then we started thinking about something not so expensive that would fill in until we found out exactly what we wanted.

cheers
Mike
 
Last edited:
Likes: WHHEMI

NoWorries

Well-Known Member
Sep 28, 2015
805
1,343
93
Perth
www.expandasdownunder.com
#6
I just have the normal lid one and it cooks and roasts well (originally wanted a high lid one)
Your set up will definitely boil a kettle faster as the webers are nor a fast heatup
I would guess that all up the webber and stand weighs around 20kg.
 
Likes: mikerezny

Dobbie

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2014
3,061
5,867
113
#7
Hi @Dobbie,

what a great suggestion!

I might even go the whole way and put the whole electric frypan on top. If I am lucky, I might be able to find one with a glass lid.
Then I can see what is happening inside without lifting the lid and losing all the heat. That might also be good for baking damper.

And it will be way lighter than my original idea of using a cast iron frypan and lid.

Don't know about anyone else, but I'm excited!

cheers
Mike
Now you're cooking with gas...or not needing the gas.

I use our wood bbq at home a lot to cook roasts and such ....hence the suggestion of the old frypan lid. Ours is square and has a vent so it's possible to control the cooking a bit more. I also have an old Weber kettle bbq lid for bigger roasts.

Another trick we use, at times on the gas stove, is a large metal mixing bowl which fits over the frypan and does almost the same thing....great for casseroles, bolognaise etc

You're certainly on the right track, I think.......and it's great fun making something out of nothing.

Keeps the little grey cells active.
 
Likes: mikerezny

Bellbirdweb

Well-Known Member
Jan 24, 2014
1,897
2,715
113
Sydney
#8
But they didn't stock the model with the higher lid and temperature gauge. Then we saw other brands at Bunnings, BBQs Galore, and Harvey Norman (all around the same shopping area. Then we got confused and couldn't decide so we didn't buy anything.
Out of interest, if you ever decide to go back to the Weber idea, the high lid/temp gauge/electric ignition version is only available from Weber premium dealers.
 
Likes: mikerezny

mikerezny

Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2016
798
1,418
93
65
Mount Waverley, VIC
#10
Hi,
here is an update on the life of the chippy.
Came back from our 16 day trip. The chippy supplied almost all of our hot water needs.
tea for breakfast, hot water for coffee, cooked pasta, wash dishes, etc etc.

Made 5 dampers. It is hard to get enough heat from it into the old Sunbeam Electric fry pan. Best we can do is a bit over 150C.
The glass lid seems to work better than the high-top aluminum lid. But still cannot get a brown crust on top.

Last effort was to use a cast iron frypan and lid. Internal temperature was initially over 230C. But I was worried about too much heat and let it go down too far. Got a lovely crust on the bottom and sides though. This is my best option so far.

IMG_4470a.jpeg


Done over eight of them now. Every one slightly different but all taste great.

Now to the highlight. I believe that I have satisfied the roast dinner challenge set by @Dobbie to cook a roast dinner in the Sunbeam Electric Frypan. Actually, it worked so well, we did two of them. We think both turned out rather well, but you be the judge:

First attempt: Roast potatoes, pumpkin, and sweet potato. Rump steak with margarine, garlic, pepper, french onion soup granules in sealed alfoil. Took about an hour.

Second attempt: Roast potatoes with rosemary, fried onions, Rump steak was so delicious we did it again.
Took 45 minutes.

IMG_4435a.jpeg
IMG_4437a.jpeg

IMG_4451a.jpeg

cheers
Mike
 

Dobbie

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2014
3,061
5,867
113
#11
Wow....I'm super impressed!

:first:

Now......have you tried a slow cooking recipe?

You might have trouble controlling the low heat but it'd be great for casseroles, soups etc in winter....and any other time.

I bought an el cheapo thermal cooker, thinking we'd use it when away but have given up that idea as its a bit bulky....but I wonder if something like that principal could be used for the chippy....you'd just need enough heat to do the initial cooking and the chippy should be fine for that.....then put the lid on and let it continue cooking.

I'm thinking of attempting this on the bbq at home.....if that works ok I could be talked into carrying the cooker when away......I hate wasting power on long slow cooks and it's almost impossible to get the low constant temp from a gas stove or a fire....the damn flames just go out......so maybe my casseroles and slow bakes could be done via the thermal cooker.

and another possible use for your chippie!

:fencing:
 
Likes: mikerezny

mikerezny

Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2016
798
1,418
93
65
Mount Waverley, VIC
#12
Wow....I'm super impressed!

:first:

Now......have you tried a slow cooking recipe?

You might have trouble controlling the low heat but it'd be great for casseroles, soups etc in winter....and any other time.

I bought an el cheapo thermal cooker, thinking we'd use it when away but have given up that idea as its a bit bulky....but I wonder if something like that principal could be used for the chippy....you'd just need enough heat to do the initial cooking and the chippy should be fine for that.....then put the lid on and let it continue cooking.

I'm thinking of attempting this on the bbq at home.....if that works ok I could be talked into carrying the cooker when away......I hate wasting power on long slow cooks and it's almost impossible to get the low constant temp from a gas stove or a fire....the damn flames just go out......so maybe my casseroles and slow bakes could be done via the thermal cooker.

and another possible use for your chippie!

:fencing:
Hi @Dobbie,
we bought a thermo cooker from Aldi last year for $99. When we travel, it fits in the cubby hole for the porta potty under the bed. I have extra insulation to go around and over it to make it more efficient.

At home, we use it for soups, stews, curries, corned beef, oss-bucco, and for cooking rice.

Ideally, I would like to cook these things on the chippy and put them into the thermo cooker for a few hours. But, it gets complicated since I don't want to put the thermo cooker pots on the chippy and get them all burnt and covered in soot.

So, at the moment, if we are going to use the thermo cooker, we do the cooking on the stove.
Almost everything else is done on the chippy. The two exceptions are espresso coffee. We heat the water in the kettle on the chippy,
put some into the coffee maker and finish it on the stove (again, I don't want the espresso machine over the fire). The advantage is that we also have hot water in the kettle to add to the coffee.

And for a BBQ or Roast, we want to also boil vegetables. So, for a BBQ, we boil the water on the chippy, then add the veges and cook them on the stove while I BBQ the meat, onions, and potatoes. For the roast, we start cooking the roast, when there is 20 minutes to go, we take the roast off the chippy to boil the water, then put the roast back on, and cook the veges on the stove.

This is still in trial mode, some of it seems labor intensive, but lots of fun. When we tire of it, we will obviously make short cuts. Barbara has also taken to the chippy and quite likes feeding it on the long jobs like roasts and damper. She says it is quite relaxing sitting on the stool feeding the fire as well as watching the birds and scenery.

The problem with long slow cooking is that sitting at the chippy feeding it for long periods will become tiresome. The biggest wood that will work is only about 1" diameter and 5" long. It burns away quite quickly. Once there are no flames, it cools down quite a lot and quickly goes out. The trick is to keep some thick wood in there as coal but also enough flame to keep the airflowing.

Oh, it cooks toast easily as well. Make the bacon and eggs on the cast iron plate. Set it aside to keep everything warm and put toast in from the top on a long fork. It is really quick.

cheers
Mike
 
Likes: Dobbie

Drover

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2013
7,477
13,615
113
Cooloola Coast, QLD
www.expandasdownunder.com
#13
You mentioning your chippie elsewhere reminded me I was always gong to knock one up BUT !!!!!!! never got round tuit since we mostly want to boil the billy camped on the beach so went yuppie with one of these usually a $1 a gas bottle, works in back of ute as well as under the awning....using the old hexy stove could be treacherous at times.............. Still might make one of your chippies as I think it's really cool.

1524606564477.png
Hexy
1524606847231.png
 

Attachments

Crusty181

Well-Known Member
Feb 7, 2010
4,712
10,434
113
Mentone, VIC
#14
I was already committed for $9.95 anyway
I went for the semi delux $19.90 model (they were fresh out of the $9.95 ones, apparently you got mine). The $19.90 model is a sightly bigger diameter. I going to make a 24mm high cross trivet for the top for air flow and maybe see how it goes just dropping the fuel in the top without the side opening. I'll affectionately refer to as Mikes Penguin Chippie
 

mikerezny

Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2016
798
1,418
93
65
Mount Waverley, VIC
#15
I went for the semi delux $19.90 model (they were fresh out of the $9.95 ones, apparently you got mine). The $19.90 model is a sightly bigger diameter. I going to make a 24mm high cross trivet for the top for air flow and maybe see how it goes just dropping the fuel in the top without the side opening. I'll affectionately refer to as Mikes Penguin Chippie
Hi,
it is difficult to find the Bunnings store that stocks the model we have. I got someone to go on their computer to find out which store still had them. I now have a spare. The original chippy is 18 months old and still going strong. Most of the gal is worn off but I think it will still last another couple of years.

I used a metal nibbler to cut out the side port. No need to put the holes around the top anymore since I made a 25mm cross trivet out of some aluminium strip. Checked out the bottom corners so it sits snuggly into the top.

One problem is that the trivet often sticks to the bottom of the kettle. One learns to take the kettle of at an angle.

Don't use the Sunbeam frypan at the moment. We manage to do everything we need to with a kettle, a billy, a small cast iron plate, and a cast iron frypan with a lid.

With the exception of the cast iron pan and lid, it all fits neatly into a plastic box which now has some utensils, lighter, and paper. The box now serves as a small table when we are cooking.

Next challenge is to make bread that is as soft and rises as much as the loaf @Crusty181 made recently. I use a similar recipe the only differences is adding sugar, mixing the yeast and sugar prior to adding to the flour, and keeping the top of the loaf from forming a crust while it is rising. I don't use yeast sachets, but bought a small container. Our bread turns out more like ciabatta than soft white bread.

cheers
Mike

IMG_4649.JPG
 

mikerezny

Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2016
798
1,418
93
65
Mount Waverley, VIC
#16
I went for the semi delux $19.90 model (they were fresh out of the $9.95 ones, apparently you got mine). The $19.90 model is a sightly bigger diameter. I going to make a 24mm high cross trivet for the top for air flow and maybe see how it goes just dropping the fuel in the top without the side opening. I'll affectionately refer to as Mikes Penguin Chippie
Hi @Crusty181 ,
if I remember correctly the other more expensive models do not have a flat top.

Looks like the Jumbuck model I bought is in stock at the Springvale store on Princes Highway and also at South Oakleigh if either is convenient for you.

https://www.bunnings.com.au/jumbuck-charcoal-starter_p3170877

cheers
Mike
 

Crusty181

Well-Known Member
Feb 7, 2010
4,712
10,434
113
Mentone, VIC
#17
Our bread turns out more like ciabatta than soft white bread.
Interesting. Possibly too much yeast ?? I love Ciabatta, but Ive never thought about intentionally making it .... until now

if I remember correctly the other more expensive models do not have a flat top.
The $19.95 Char-Griller branded unit is 20cm and flat across the top, and slightly tapered from top to bottom. The unit is mostly bolted together to which is a kinda nice old school touch
486ec8e0-0a87-4414-9c63-353f4e0d62ba.jpg

Looks like the Jumbuck model I bought is in stock at the Springvale store on Princes Highway and also at South Oakleigh if either is convenient for you.
I found the same "in stock" status and heading to a job called past South Oakleigh only to find they hadn't had any for some time. So I upgraded to the one above
 

mikerezny

Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2016
798
1,418
93
65
Mount Waverley, VIC
#19
Hi @Crusty181,
tried out your recipe for bread. Worked quite well. Liked your idea about putting the dough in the car to rise. It only got up to 17C during the day at Kirth Kiln. Let the bread rise for over an hour.

Made only a half recipe, and made four bread rolls. Really happy with result and they tasted great. Would like to get them to rise higher. Any suggestions?We cannot get enough heat into the cast iron pan with a stainless steel lid. So we cheat. Cooked for 10 minutes, turn around 180 degrees to ensure even cooking, then flipped over for 10 minutes to brown the top. Pan started off at about 250C, but cools down quite a lot when cooking.

Here are some photos of the results:

cheers
Mike

IMG_4653.JPG
IMG_4654.JPG
IMG_4655.JPG
IMG_4656.JPG