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I'm preparing to build a spit roast in my back yard in preparation for a lamb roast party in the future. I have next to no experience working with metals of any kind, and as the steel rods/pipes I'm looking into are quite expensive I want to make sure I'm going to buy something that's gonna support the lamb.

Based on my research I'm thinking a stainless steel 304/316 rod at 7/8" diameter, 6 feet long (it will sit on its supports at a distance of about 6-8 inches inside) should be able to hold at the most a 50-70 pound lamb distributed as evenly as possibly, with makeshift counterweights and balances attached.

However, if this party is a success I'll buy something bigger like a hog or maybe even half a cow in the future.

So my questions are:

  • Can 7/8" (or even 1", it's within the budget) diameter, 6 foot rod hold a 50-70 lamb for several hours?
  • Can the same diameter hold something weighing up to twice that weight for several hours?

Thanks in advance.

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  • How expensive is the raw material you're looking at? Because you can get commercially made spits for like 100 that would do the job Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 5:40
  • Really why are you not getting a party-que or similar? Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 5:40
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    On the whole, a reasonably thick-walled tube/pipe will do just as well as a solid bar, and a slightly larger diameter tube will do better than a smaller solid bar. The material in the middle does relatively little, structurally. How that compares on price is down to your shopping...
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 14:00
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    Just remember (or learn) that when drilling stainless, you want to push hard - if you go lightly, you'll work-harden the stainless until you can't drill it. You want to see nice healthy chips/shavings coming off while drilling. Lubrication is also helpful (use something food-grade for that, here.)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 15:18
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    If you use rebar crossbars you'll need to figure out a way to keep the carcass from sliding along them. I suppose you could use hose clamps with washers or something. I used threaded rod with washes and nuts.
    – Huesmann
    Commented Mar 18, 2023 at 12:37

2 Answers 2

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Having actually done DIY spit roasting with lambs and pigs (maybe 3 of each?), there's nothing wrong with stainless steel. I actually started out using a 1" ID black iron pipe from Home Depot, rolling on some rubber rollers. (I upgraded to a stainless steel round tube for the last beast roast I did; unfortunately I don't seem to have any pics from that.)

I jury-rigged a gear reduction motor up with a bike chain and gears, using a 1/2" socket swivel bolted through the end of the pipe. I used stainless threaded rods through the pipe with some big washers to keep the carcass in place. I had a flange on the opposite end of the pipe to which I screwed a piece of wood as a balance weight (spitting the beast mouth-to-tail isn't evenly balanced).

V1.0 of the setup used a bicycle wheel bolted to the end of the pipe, with a peg on a board. The peg stuck through the spokes to keep the spit in position, and the wheel was manually repositioned and re-pegged every few minutes. The intensely manual nature of this setup (hours upon hours of repositioning the wheel and waiting) is what prompted V2.0 with the gearmotor.

mechanism roasting meat Cows are probably a different story. Not sure I'd recommend a whole cow, unless you're feeding an ass ton of people (and have a crap ton of time to do it). FWIW the first pig I did was over 120 lb and the pipe handled it just fine.

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I used a copper pipe with a second internally for a lamb.

I made a couple of spikes and used jubilee clips to hold them. The copper pipe had 2 elbows to give a handle for rotating purposes - a nice chair, 3 guys and cans of beer works well for variable speeds…

If I was to do this for a cow, then I have a 1.25" diameter steel peeler bar nearly 6' long that would do a good job.

I suggest you test before you commit.

Edit: Just so you know, I used best quality Welsh lamb that was traceable... Oh and it was stuffed with couscous and peppers onions etc so that absorbed much of the cooking juices :)

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  • What prevents the meat from rotating around the spit instead of with the spit? Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 14:08
  • @PhilFreedenberg jubilee clips can work…
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Mar 17, 2023 at 14:23

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