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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Old 02-03-2012, 10:26 PM   #9196
whodey
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Join Date: 01-11-12
Location: Cincinnati, OH
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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
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Old 02-04-2012, 11:36 PM   #9197
Ehudbenjamin
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Join Date: 02-01-12
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I guess its time for me to stop lurking.

I have seen so many setups and all claim close to the same results, (4) 1/2" intakes, (3) 3/4", (3) 1"......(4) 1/2" exhaust, (12) 1/2 " exhaust, (1) 2" exhaust...etc

The variables are so far off they cant all be working that well, can they? Shouldn't there scientifically be a sweet spot for intake and exhaust? Is there one size that works better?
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Old 02-05-2012, 04:21 AM   #9198
lemur
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ehudbenjamin View Post
I guess its time for me to stop lurking.

I have seen so many setups and all claim close to the same results, (4) 1/2" intakes, (3) 3/4", (3) 1"......(4) 1/2" exhaust, (12) 1/2 " exhaust, (1) 2" exhaust...etc

The variables are so far off they cant all be working that well, can they? Shouldn't there scientifically be a sweet spot for intake and exhaust? Is there one size that works better?

It will take a few cooks to dial in your drum...with all the variables this build is forgiving.

That said I'd LOVE to see a poll(s) to determine the MCD (most common denominator)....the MCD UDS poll could "standardize" size\number air intake and exaust...size\volume basket....grill height...etc

Would also like to see how much air intake is open when cruising at a steady temp...say 300°F. This info "should" speed up the dialing in exercise.
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Last edited by lemur; 02-05-2012 at 04:26 AM.. Reason: brain fart
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Old 02-05-2012, 06:44 AM   #9199
Pappy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ehudbenjamin View Post
I guess its time for me to stop lurking.

I have seen so many setups and all claim close to the same results, (4) 1/2" intakes, (3) 3/4", (3) 1"......(4) 1/2" exhaust, (12) 1/2 " exhaust, (1) 2" exhaust...etc

The variables are so far off they cant all be working that well, can they? Shouldn't there scientifically be a sweet spot for intake and exhaust? Is there one size that works better?
They all work. If you drive a 4 cylinder or a V8, they both can go 60 mph. Just might take longer to get up to speed.
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Old 02-05-2012, 06:48 AM   #9200
vafish
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One thing about the various size holes, most people have some way of regulating at least intake. So exhaust size isn't quit as critical.
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Old 02-05-2012, 07:38 AM   #9201
MushCreek
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I think the real variable is how air-tight the rig is. I know someone whose drum runs a perfect 225- with all of the intakes closed. That means air is getting in somewhere. If all else is equal, I think intake is the most critical, and why it needs to be adjustable. I have found that a 2" exhaust, such as the 2" pipe fitting found in many drums is too big. I added a 9" stack, which helped, but still had to add a baffle. If the exhaust is too big, air can enter as well as exit (especially if its windy), and the fire runs hotter. I think (and its only a guess) that the exhaust could be as small as the intake without causing trouble. Air in, air out, right?

My UDS has silicone rubber seals on toggle clamps for the intakes. They are virtually air-tight when closed. I built one with a BGE vent, but it's not as tight.
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Old 02-05-2012, 08:07 AM   #9202
mkulikow
Got rid of the matchlight.
 
Join Date: 01-20-12
Location: Fairfax, VT
Default Long time kettle smoker, < $10 UDS

So,

After making ribs and butts on a kettle for years I read this entire thread and built a UDS over the last week or so.

before:



after:



I got the closed top drum from a tractor dealer, it had motor oil in it. Cleaned the crap out of it, took the weed burner to it and then finished it off with a snowmobile crate burn. Needless to say it's CLEAN!!



I have a Weber kettle that I "borrow" the lid and grate from. I used a knockout to put 1" holes in the bottom of the basket, I am a lump user so the ash choke isn't too much of a concern yet, but the holes will help.



As you can see I took the lip off the drum, as a first try I will see how it works, I put a bead of high temp silicon on the lip of the kettle lid and it seals tight, and I can still use it on the kettle as needed.

The drum was free, the basket and pizza pan were in the basement, the stainless hardware was a "gift" from work and the kettle donor was already in the garage.

I am seasoning it today, it's currently -1 outside. Not sure if I will smoke anything for the game but I am looking forward to many smokes coming up.
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Old 02-05-2012, 09:07 AM   #9203
Ehudbenjamin
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I wish I knew a thermodynamic engineer. These just might make him loose his mind.

There should be more exhaust than intake, the cool air expands from heat before leaving. However if intake and exhaust are the same size would it force the hot air to circulate a little longer before leaving? Or possibly smolders itself.

I would think a little air from the 3 intakes would burn more even than from only one "side".
Just a thought
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Old 02-05-2012, 10:44 AM   #9204
MushCreek
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That's true about the air expansion, so I guess the exhaust should be bigger. I know if you choke the exhaust down too much, you get creosote on your food (yuck!).

As for the location of the intakes- I usually only have one open, which gives me 225. It always burns evenly, from the center out.
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Old 02-05-2012, 12:14 PM   #9205
Ehudbenjamin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MushCreek View Post
you get creosote on your food (yuck!).

As for the location of the intakes- I usually only have one open, which gives me 225. It always burns evenly, from the center out.
Good point, rough way to find out your exhaust is to small!

Good to know your burning even, what size intake/exhaust?
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Old 02-05-2012, 12:32 PM   #9206
MushCreek
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My single intake is about 3/4". The other two are one inch. If I open the second one, I run about 350-375, although the temp keeps creeping up. My exhaust is like a Weber lid. My other lid has a 2" pipe, which is over 2" ID. I had to add a 1/2" wide baffle in the stack to keep the temp down for smoking.
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Old 02-05-2012, 01:22 PM   #9207
Ehudbenjamin
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Great info, that is about where I was considering starting.
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Old 02-06-2012, 12:13 PM   #9208
smootz
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Join Date: 01-12-12
Location: Kitts Hill, Ohio
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This thread provided a lot of info for my build. I thought it only fair to post pics of my progress. Hopefully I can show you the completed unit in a few days.

SCOTTIE

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Old 02-06-2012, 06:03 PM   #9209
Ehudbenjamin
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Looks great! I haven't started yet, might get a chance to start this weekend.

Is that a SS drum?
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:15 PM   #9210
smootz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ehudbenjamin View Post

Is that a SS drum?
Nope, wish it was. Just a burn, lots of elbow grease, and not yet painted.

SCOTTIE
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