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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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Unread 10-19-2012, 01:36 PM   #1
Gary_D
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Thumbs up Big Poppa Smoker

Hi Guys,

My barrel got here today, my kit from Big Poppa showed up last week, so this weekend is build time. I have a couple of questions.

If any of you have built from Big Poppa's kit, did you make any changes?

I am thinking about skipping the top set of U-bolts that are meant to use for raising the fire basket up for grilling. I have a few other grills that I will be using for grilling.

The height of the lower U-bolts for the fire basket seem rather high at 5.75" above the bottom of the drum, is there a reason to have them that high?

I have a large deep dish pizza pan to use for my ash catcher. I am thinking I need to put a handle on it to make it easier to get out of the drum? Old guys don't bend and stretch so well as we get older. :-)

Poppa includes two sets of bottom vents with 4 - 3/4" holes in each one. Does it really need that much venting?

Thanks for any feedback.

Gary
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Unread 10-19-2012, 01:45 PM   #2
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I have no idea.
But Cowgirl has one of those.
I am sure she will be along.

TIM
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Unread 10-19-2012, 02:01 PM   #3
sheepdad
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You can skip the top fire basket bolts for sure. I imagine you could move them up a little along with the top ones so you could have 2 grates instead of one.

The bottom u bolts put your basket bottom at 6" from the bottom of the drum.... plenty of room to come down a little there thus giving you more leeway in positioning a second grate if you want to.

I can't give you any advice on the # of vent sliders though. I'm new to this drum also and don't have enough experience to give you an honest answer on it.
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Unread 10-19-2012, 02:02 PM   #4
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My top rack will hit 450+ if I don't have a diffuser. Only know this cause of an oops on my part. So you could still grill with the coals on the bottom
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Unread 10-19-2012, 05:05 PM   #5
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I tweeked mine so that i could get two smoking racks in mine and a deflector rack too. Be careful moving your bottom u bolts down because it may interfere with your bottom vent holes. I ended up putting the fire basket flat on the bottom of the drum because there is about two inches of space under the basket already. Where you actually put your cooking racks may depend on if you are going to use a weber kettle lid or not. If so, you will create alot more room.
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Unread 10-19-2012, 05:22 PM   #6
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I use the upper U bolts for a diffuser plate. Do not monkey around with the lower U bolts. The guys who designed the BPS have them there for a reason. It creates the correct amount of draft to keep the fire going. Be sure the sides of the pizza pan do not interfere with the vent holes. You can most likely get away with only 3 vent holes on each side on the bottom. I would not do less than that to be honest.

The stepped drill bit that comes with the kit is not the best thing in the world. It will be a major buzzkill if you are using it with a battery powered drill. A lesser buzzkill if you use it with a power drill. I bought a better version of it at Home Depot for around $40 and was very glad I did.

Overall, I am very happy with the BPS.
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Unread 10-19-2012, 07:55 PM   #7
Gary_D
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The stepped drill bit that comes with the kit is not the best thing in the world. It will be a major buzzkill if you are using it with a battery powered drill. A lesser buzzkill if you use it with a power drill. I bought a better version of it at Home Depot for around $40 and was very glad I did.

I found out with the very first hole that the step bit wasn't going to cut it. I had plenty of regular drill bits, so I chucked a 1/4" bit and drilled the required 1/4" holes and it made great pilot holes for the step drill bit. After starting with the 1/4" hole, the step bit did great.
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Unread 10-19-2012, 11:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary_D View Post
Hi Guys,

My barrel got here today, my kit from Big Poppa showed up last week, so this weekend is build time. I have a couple of questions.

If any of you have built from Big Poppa's kit, did you make any changes?

I am thinking about skipping the top set of U-bolts that are meant to use for raising the fire basket up for grilling. I have a few other grills that I will be using for grilling.

The height of the lower U-bolts for the fire basket seem rather high at 5.75" above the bottom of the drum, is there a reason to have them that high?

I have a large deep dish pizza pan to use for my ash catcher. I am thinking I need to put a handle on it to make it easier to get out of the drum? Old guys don't bend and stretch so well as we get older. :-)

Poppa includes two sets of bottom vents with 4 - 3/4" holes in each one. Does it really need that much venting?

Thanks for any feedback.

Gary
Apart from grilling, the upper U-bolts also make a very handy height for a deflector or water bowl rack. Even though you may opt to grill on a kettle or something similar, a drum is so much more versatile than just as a vertical smoker. You may want to reconsider skipping that part of the install. It'll only take about 10 minutes and does no harm if you never use them. And helps you avoid firing up a second cooker if you want to reverse-sear something. (GrillGrates also greatly help amplify searing heat in any smoker). Bit you know how you cook so go accordingly!

A coat hanger makes a handy catch wire on an ash pan you can hook with the charcoal basket tool. You may also want to pick up a cheap pooper-scooper from the pet department at your local discount store... great for cleaning out the bottom of drums.

You won't regret the vents. The drum goes into turbo heat when the lid is off and vents are wide open for searing. Plus, more holes = more control. Bigger pain to do them later if you decide you want more venting.

My two cents!
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Unread 10-20-2012, 03:42 PM   #9
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I really like the option of raising the hot coal basket to the higher level.






I use the long "hook" that is provided to raise or lower it.



It's great for reverse searing or heating pots of beans, rice, chili, etc... I seem to use the feature a lot! :)



.
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Unread 10-20-2012, 05:17 PM   #10
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I got the water pan/diffuser today for the upper grate bolts and am trying out right now with some bbr's. It does a real good job. Only had a 12deg difference between the center and the edge.





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Unread 10-20-2012, 10:08 PM   #11
Gary_D
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Thanks everyone for the feedback. I finished my build today, well mostly. :-) I drilled all 8 bottom vent holes as you suggested, although I did skip the upper U-bolts. After reading all your thoughts, I will probably end up putting in the upper U-bolts. I added an additional thermometer in the lid, more towards the center so I had a better idea of the actual cooking temps.

For a test, I decided to throw a full rack of spares on it and see what happens. I mostly filled the fire basket with some Kingsford that has been hanging around too long and lit about half a chimney and lit it off. Since I'm in the wood business, I have no shortage of Pecan, Hickory, Cherry, Mesquite and other varieties. I put three chunks of Pecan, dry, about fist size pieces on top of the basket before I dumped the hot coals on. Turned out to be a bit more wood than I needed, It was more smoke than I prefer, but that is the reason to test.

About 20 minutes after dumping the chimney of coals in my fire basket, with the top vent wide open and two bottom holes open, one on each side, the temp climbed to 280 on the top thermometer and 220 on the side one. I closed one bottom vent hole and about 45 minutes later both thermometers settled in at 220.

Not perfect , but for the first cook, I call it a huge success! Thanks Poppa!
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Unread 12-06-2012, 08:19 AM   #12
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BPS is out of their kits at the moment. Anyone seen another place to buy vents and handles like this?
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Unread 12-06-2012, 09:58 AM   #13
jimbloomfield
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If you are just wanting the vents and handles he may have those separate as all the parts minus the hardware are sold individually .

On the second set of u bolts for the drum. I use them with what I have named the drum funnel. It is made out of a 20 quart mixing bowl with the bottom cut out. All the juices run into the fire and keep the bottom of the drum cleaner.





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