Originally Posted by Unfathomable Bastid
Another question for you.
The barrel I bought is a bit shorter (34" height) than most. Consequently I don't have as much usable space in the drum. I built my cooking level at 7 inches below the lip, but after I had the fire basket fabricated -- I realized that the difference between the bottom of the fire basket is only 22" from the cooking grate. It seems that the experts maintain I need a minimum of 24" separation. So, I'm two inches short (insert joke here). This is further exacerbated if I'm using 15 lbs of charcoal that are 4-5 inches of height in the basket.
Will the missing two inches cause significant adverse effect? I wouldn't think 22 inches would be so much different than 24.
I think you should be fine. The closer you get to your fire, the hotter your cooking surface obviously but you should be able to control your temps sufficiently to account for that. It's been my experience that there's about a 50 degree temperature gradient for every 3"-4" distance from the fire. I have two grates on my drums. The bottom is between 23" and 24" from the bottom of the fire basket. The grate above it is 4" above and consistently runs 50 degrees cooler than the bottom grate.
I'd think that dropping your cooking grate to just 22" would only mean that you'd need to dampen your fire down a little more.