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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 03-02-2014, 09:59 AM   #1
Highcal
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Hi, I am making a drum smoker and I am probably over thinking this, but would appreciate some input. My 30 gallon drum is 18 1/4 " wide (inside to inside edge) and I was wondering how big my charcoal basket should be(height and diameter ), and I also noticed some people put a separater so the ignition of the coals moves in one direction, and I even seen some with a wedged sized compartment to put hot coals in.

I understand there is probably not one perfect style, but what style basket does the majority of people here make ??
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Unread 03-02-2014, 11:01 AM   #2
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I'd go 14 X6 you don't need no stinking divider fill it up with coal and a few manfist chunks of what ever flavor you like and dump a 1/2 chimney of hot on top. Don't over think it.
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Unread 03-02-2014, 12:29 PM   #3
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In my 30 gal I use a 18 in weber charcoal grate as bottom of the basket. That size works well. My basket total height is 16 inches with the floor of the basket mounted 2 inches up. It is plenty for a 14-16 hour cook depending on how cold it is.
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Unread 03-02-2014, 08:52 PM   #4
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So much to learn lol I always tend to over think things, but after reading about the Minion method for lighting the charcoal I thought that was the reason for having a small compartment to place the hot charcoal in.
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Unread 03-02-2014, 09:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bludawg View Post
I'd go 14 X6 you don't need no stinking divider fill it up with coal and a few manfist chunks of what ever flavor you like and dump a 1/2 chimney of hot on top. Don't over think it.
I went with 14x6 for the first drum I built (a 30 gallon as well) -- works great. For the base, I used the 14" (or so) Weber branded charcoal grate for the Weber 18.5" kettle. Then I wrapped about 6" tall 3/4" 9 guage expanded metal around it:



Tied with 12 guage copper wire (rebar wire works better I hear). Stainless steel bolts, washer & nuts (galvanized are toxic--couldn't find iron ones).

I put a 2nd grate--an 18" charcoal grate for weber 22.5 inch kettle as well-- about 7 inches below the cooking grate for three purposes: 1) to have something to sit optional diffuser medium on, and 2) to sit the 6 inch tall fire basket on so I can do grilling/searing if I want; 3) to have another level for cooking if needed.

I suppose if I wanted a deeper fire basket, I could make a cylindrical, bottomless, insert with 9 gauge expanded metal, that was up to say 16" inches tall.
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Unread 03-02-2014, 09:08 PM   #6
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Cannot find anything where I live here in Quebec, so I ran over to the US today and picked up a Weber Jumbo Joe in hopes to use the domed lid on my drum and also use the grill. I have not opened the box yet but I am assuming it also has a 14in grate I could use to make my basket, plus I found some expanded metal at work, but I have no idea what gauge it is.

Last edited by Highcal; 03-02-2014 at 09:37 PM..
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Unread 03-02-2014, 10:25 PM   #7
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I have a basket out of the heavy duty 9 gauge and one out of the lighter gauge expanded metal, and the biggest difference is the weight of the two. Both are about the same size, and I have been using the lighter one for about 2 years, and it is still as good today as it was when new. Just don't let it sit with burnt coals in it if it gets wet and it will last as long as the barrel.

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Unread 03-03-2014, 11:39 AM   #8
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That's good to know because I think my expanded metal is thinner than 9 gauge.
I tried the dome lid and it does not fit the top of my drum at all, BUT if I flip the drum over it fits the bottom perfectly, so I guess I will be cutting the middle of the bottom part of the drum out and use the bottom of the drum as the top of my smoker.
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Unread 03-03-2014, 11:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highcal View Post
That's good to know because I think my expanded metal is thinner than 9 gauge.
I tried the dome lid and it does not fit the top of my drum at all, BUT if I flip the drum over it fits the bottom perfectly, so I guess I will be cutting the middle of the bottom part of the drum out and use the bottom of the drum as the top of my smoker.
Would it be easier to glue a gasket on the lid or was the lid to small? I have never built a UDS but this was the first thing that came to mind.
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Unread 03-03-2014, 12:27 PM   #10
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When I tried the lid on top it sat balanced exactly on top, not over the rolled edge, but when I sit it on the bottom half it sits perfectly over the rolled edge, and it looks like I can put a fireproof seal inside the lip of the lid and it should seal perfectly to the drum. I'm guessing a rope style seal that is used on wood stove doors should work.
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Unread 03-03-2014, 02:07 PM   #11
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I wouldn't bother with adding a seal on the lid area. Buy some meat and cook it up. The BBQ gunk buildup after a couple decent sized cooks will seal it up fine.

I also recommend doing this on leaky WSMs instead of forking over $30 for a gasket kit. You can bend the door and sections back to form and just cook some meat to get a nice seal. Really no need to spend the $$ for a gasket kit.
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Unread 03-03-2014, 07:32 PM   #12
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Great thanks, next is to buy a valve for an air intake.
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Unread 03-03-2014, 11:08 PM   #13
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You don't really need a valve either, fridge magnets over 1" holes works great. Or there is the $1 sheet aluminum BGE style intake. I can't remember who posted a pic of it here, but it was a really slick and cheap intake for a UDS.
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Unread 03-05-2014, 06:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Ropo View Post
Or there is the $1 sheet aluminum BGE style intake. .

I have no clue what that is lol.

I have not welded in 30 yrs since high school lol but a buddy says I can borrow his welder to make my basket so that should be fun, and when I cut the bottom of my drum out I think I will leave four tabs sticking out so my grill can sit on it, hopefully the tabs are strong enough to hold the weight of the grill and meat that way I will not have bolts showing from the out side of the drum.
Now just to find the time to build this thing and I will be set.
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Unread 03-05-2014, 07:14 PM   #15
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Everyone talks about galvanized being toxic and they are right. But a blacksmith told me once that galvanized takes about 500 degrees to burn off. Until then it doesn't burn off and it's not toxic. He then said if your worried about it fire it up and burn it once with no food. It will only burn off once then it is gone. You can also hit your bolts with a torch till blue then it is also gone. I shoot for stainless hardware but some bolts like the charcoal basket support bolts I am using were either zinc coated or galvanized. I ran a load in it with an empty drum. Anything that was going to burn off burnt off then so no worries.
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