Well, I think that I am finally finished. I think that I have a functional smoker, now all it needs are modifications to make it better. It has been a fun journey and almost obsession. I am new to smoking and was looking for a used smoker on craigslist when I saw someone selling a 55 gallon drum and said that it could be converted into a smoker. Then I googled how do you make a smoker from a 55 gallon drum and ended up here. I have read through 500+ pages of the thread and I think that I got it right. I have never smoked anything in my life, so we will see how it goes.
I started by buying a drum from Dayton Industrial Drum. They sell reconditioned drums for $40. My next door neighbor is the fire chief in my neighborhood so a huge burn would have been a no-no. They actually sold me a new drum for the same price. I had asked for one without a liner, and luckily I stopped at Lowes on my way home to pick up some things and I noticed that the drum had the red liner. I exchanged it for an unlined drum that has a lid. It is the lid with the 2 bung and the inside is ready to go. I cleaned it out and prepared to get to work. I bought a $10 step bit from amazon.com and borrowed a drill from a friend. The bit from amazon worked great. I used 2 ¾ pipe nipples with caps and one ¾ ball valve.
I put the cooking grate a little lower than the 24 recommendations because I anticipate cooking more chickens than anything. I set it lower so that I can use the beer-can method and still fit the lid on. The grate is about 21 above the bottom of the charcoal basket.
I bought a 2 X 2 sheet of expanded metal at home depot and replacement weber grill and charcoal grates. The hardest part was probably cutting the expanded metal and forming it into a circle. I used old tin snips and a lot of elbow grease (and a lot of blood from tiny cuts in my hands and fingers) and was able to cut the expanded metal in half. I then bent it into a shape that is irregular but a little more oval than circular. I think that it will work. It is held together with bolts and attached to the charcoal grate with bar ties. I hope that they hold. The charcoal grate is elevated on 4 3 bolts. I bought a piece of 2 pipe and an elbow for it and plan to use that as a chimney and a hook for the lid. I had an old turkey fryer in the garage that I took the thermometer from. Using the ¼ hose barb adapter, a few washers, and some other part in the same section that I fit on the outside.
I intend to add an ash pan later but for starters will probably put a few layers of foil on the bottom. I also need to add a bottle opener and paint the thing. My goal was to get it ready for the Super Bowl, and I made it.
Today I seasoned the drum with Crisco, cooked a fatty and a chicken. The fatty was my first - an unstuffed tube of sausage covered with a rub I made today. It was excellent. I also cooked a chicken on it. Before putting any of the food on, the temperature inside got to almost 425. Then I shut things down, and got it down to about 225, which is when I put the fatty and bird on. It seemed pretty easy to keep it there, but at one point it dropped to about 150. I had to jostle the drum and then grab something to shake the charcoal basket. But it came back up, and the fatty finished in about 3 hours. Then I opened things up again and it got to 400 quickly. This made the skin nice and crispy. After taking the bird off, I shut things down and an hour later it was less than 100.
Here is what typically happens when I take on some sort of project that involves tools. I work at it for a while and then get really frustrated and pissed off. Then I go to the hardware store and buy something that is supposed to help. Then I continue to work at it and get even more pissed off. Then I hire someone to do it. So, if I am able to do this, then I believe that anyone can.
Here are pictures showing the almost finished product and some pron.
Shot at 2012-02-03