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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 09-05-2012, 03:17 PM   #1
CustomBBQ
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Default Making my own smoker, couple questions.

I recently got into smoking food on my grill with a small store bought smoke box, now I'm building my own smoker, haha. I got my hands on a small oil barrel (not 55 gallons, maybe 25-30) and decided to use that as the cooker. Then I found a small air compressor that I want to use as a fire box. I want to raise the oil barrel a bit, and connect the air compressor tank to the barrel with some kind of tube, doing a kinda-sorta vertical offset thing.

Here are my questions.

What is the most effective tubing or pipe to transfer heat and smoke to the food? I can mount a pretty wide diamater, dryer vent size probably.

What type of paint should I use for both the inside and outside of the cooker? Also, what kind of paint should I use for the outside of the fire box.

And lastly, what is that insulation called that people sometimes wrap their pipes or entire smokers in?

Any help on this would be greatly appreciated. I attached some photos so people can see what I'm using.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 03:42 PM   #2
El Ropo
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I'd make a midi UDS out of that 30 gallon drum if you haven't cut out the bottom already. Look for a donor 18" weber kettle on craigslist etc. The lid from the kettle will fit on top of that perfectly. Then you can use the cooking grate and charcoal grate for the project too.

For less than $100, you'll have an awesome cooker that will work just as well as a WSM.

Oh, and never paint the inside of any cooker.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 03:49 PM   #3
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^^^^
What El Ropo said.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 04:05 PM   #4
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Now certainly you could make something with those parts ..... But a few cations and a bit of advice first!
NO PAINT ON THE INSIDE !!! Really no paint ! What ever you make to cook / smoke food in you want no paint!

Now back to making a smoker......

You could put the parts together in all manner of ways and make something you could call a smoker, granted. There will be many that offer suggestions of how they would do it and why - and I bet they are all right

But one question, since you are just starting to smoke, do you think a one off contraption is the way to go?

Let's consider your fist butt.... It's got you feeing a bit uneasy about how it's going, perhaps temps are all over the place! No problem you say, I ask the Breatheren.... Now because you have a one off smoker you will get answers that conflict confuse and bewilder , all of them right in one way or another .....

If you build a mini UDS you know have a device that is well known and a huge knowledge base at the brethren - you questions will get answered with fire control, air management , and more targeted to you method rather than your cooker.

I highly suggest you build a UDS mini or otherwise and learn on it
then spread your wings if you must and build something custom
Really a small drum welded to a small air tank = COS which can be picked up for @ $100 at Wally World I'm sure welding and finding parts like grids etc will cost you more in the short run to build it.

Bottom line make a mini UDS with this drum or get a 55 and build a full size - you will NOT regreat it

Just my 2 cents
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Unread 09-05-2012, 04:29 PM   #5
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Thanks to everyone for the great info! I was just concerned with any left over rust after sanding the inside of the barrel, but I will not paint it. However, are there any recommended brands of paint for the outside of the barrel? My idea with the offset heat source was that I have been smoking stuff on a grill so far, and really want to try a smoker that has total indirect heat, rather than a burner being right near by. Great to know about that 18" weber as well.

Thanks
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Unread 09-05-2012, 04:38 PM   #6
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Default Making your own smoker

Ive built one that was about the same size and I used a 4 inch square tube to connect the fire box and the chamber. I actually built it for a buddy and he loves it. I use Rustoleum high heat paint its rated for 1200 degrees. I mainly use an indirect smoker but have been building UDS smokers for a couple of months now and they are alot simpler and maintain their temperature more closely than the offsets Ive used. I would suggest you build a mini UDS and if its not what you want you should still be able to convert it to an offset.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 04:39 PM   #7
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You're not getting it... Build a UDS, you'll be nothing but sorry if you don't. The fire basket is so far away from the food, it's just like cooking in an offset. I can't find a decent 30 gallon build thread after a quick search, but I know they are here somewhere. Maybe someone who has build one will chime in.

Any high temp rated paint in a rattle can will work fine for the outside. Krylon BBQ black.

You keep rust out of the inside by seasoning it like a cast iron pan. Spray pam or the cheapest cooking spray you can find all over the inside, then do a "seasoning burn" to set the oil into the metal. No more rust.
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Unread 09-06-2012, 03:50 PM   #8
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Well alright then, haha. You guys seem pretty adamant about the UDS. A few questions about UDS then. I wanted to put grates not only on top, but at the points where the barrel has ribs too, so I'd have three racks in total. Would the lowest rack suffer from too much heat with a basket as the bottom. I've heard people talk about difusers or something, is that just a heavy metal plate elevated above the heat source.

Also, I don't know if I mentioned this before, but my intentions with the offset was to still have the barrel vertical, not horizontal like the cheap ones in stores, I get why those wouldn't perform well. It would still stand like an UDS but would have the offset heat source. Does that make it any more feasible?

Appreciate all your input.
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Unread 09-06-2012, 09:38 PM   #9
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Alright, you guys are really adamant about the UDS, haha. A few questions about those then.

I wanted to have 3 racks for food in this thing, two where the barrel has those "ribs", then one on top. Is the heat from a UDS to hot for a rack that close to the bottom? And if so, would some kind of plate to difuse heat help?

Maybe I'll just cut the air compressor in half horizontally and use it for the coals, might as well get my 15 bucks worth, haha. I have the tools to cut a door (similar to the WSM) to access the mutliple racks if I can put them in. As always, thanks for the input.
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Unread 09-07-2012, 06:56 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CustomBBQ View Post
Alright, you guys are really adamant about the UDS, haha. A few questions about those then.

I wanted to have 3 racks for food in this thing, two where the barrel has those "ribs", then one on top. Is the heat from a UDS to hot for a rack that close to the bottom? And if so, would some kind of plate to difuse heat help?

Maybe I'll just cut the air compressor in half horizontally and use it for the coals, might as well get my 15 bucks worth, haha. I have the tools to cut a door (similar to the WSM) to access the mutliple racks if I can put them in. As always, thanks for the input.
Your choice on the door, but the more times you cut into the barrel the more chances for leaks and harder time controlling temp.

Other people have put a rack low to the fire box, if you do that I am pretty sure you will want a heat diffuser of some sort. In the Mini WSM's placing a supported terra cotta plate seems to work great. Put it a couple of inches above your fire pit, wrap in foil and fill wtih apple juice when cooking or sand to absorb heat and distribute evenly.

Design it to your standards, have fun with it and let us know what works and what doesn't. we will all learn together.

Remember no one has failed on this site when designing a pit, we have all just learned several different ways to not design pits ... except for that one time... but we don't talk about that one time...
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Unread 09-07-2012, 07:00 AM   #11
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You won't be able to have 3 racks in this thing if you do a UDS.
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Unread 09-07-2012, 10:13 PM   #12
CustomBBQ
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Fine, you guys win. I'm having my door and 3 racks though, haha. Mini UDS it is. I'm going to use the air compressor for a fire box, cut in half horizontally. Should I use a terra cotta plate as the difuser, or a pizza stone? I'm going to a scrap yard in the morning to hunt for the Weber parts, or at least same size parts in good shape. I started to do my first cut on the air compressor today and the tool died, haha, go figure. Hopefully I'll have some more pictures soon. Also, what are peoples thoughts on igniting the charcoal with a torch?
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Unread 09-07-2012, 11:06 PM   #13
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The terra cotta trays work great. Some people pick up a cheap pizza pan from wallyworld or some place similar.

Torch or weed burner is the preferred method of starting coals for a lot of people.

FYI, the way a fire basket is designed for a UDS, a door isn't really needed. You should be able to maintain temps for far longer than it would take to cook anything. Think 14-16 hours @260, depending on the type of charcoal used.

Some people have added a third rack close to the fire basket and use it for the diffuser. I don't see why you couldn't have 3 cooking racks, but most people go with 1 or 2. I've used my lower rack to place a diffuser on before.
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Unread 09-08-2012, 09:22 AM   #14
CustomBBQ
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Thanks El Ropo. The door will be to access the lower two racks, put food on, off etc. Do you have a preference to Terra cotta or pizza stone? I know the Terra cotta will be cheaper for sure. Also, does anyone have suggestions for thermometers? I can either buy some, or strip them from other grills. I don' t really want a digital one. I should be able to get some more work done on this sucker later today, pictures to follow. Thanks again for everyone's help.
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Unread 09-08-2012, 10:55 AM   #15
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You should consider that you are trying to learn 3 things at once:

- how to smoke meats
- how to build a smoker
- how to manage temps in your smoker

The ability to control temps is dependent on the design of the smoker. So you should consider that it may be VERY difficult to control temps if you don't have a good design......and this is compounded if you don't know what you are doing. And it will be difficult to get better at cooking the meat if you can't control temps.

So with that said, everyone is giving you good advice to build a proven UDS design. You'll learn to control temps AND learn to smoke great BBQ. If you build a wildcat design.......well, it could be the best thing since sliced bread.......or more likely, set back your progress as a BBQ chef and be a source of great frustration.

Keep in mind the cutting a door is a potential source for air leaks.......which cause out of control temps in your pit.....,
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