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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 09-03-2013, 08:21 AM   #1
dwfisk
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Default First Shot At Lump - Need Some Advice

I think my first run was successful, but not quite 100%. Here is what I did with a lot of advice from ButtBurner & others here on the forum.
Here is the basic concept of this style retort.

Finally got my drums 55 & 30 gallons, reconditioned, painted exterior, bare metal interior.

Made the exhaust into the top of the 55 gallon drum and drilled 16@1 inch vent holes about 3-4 inches from the bottom of the drum.

Cut my wood down to uniform sizes, this is oak, air dried for over a year.

Packed the charcoal wood into the 30 gallon drum, pretty tight but I think there was enough room for circulation of the wood gasses.

Put the 55 gallon (inverted) over the 30 gallon (upright) and flipped the whole thing then filled the annular between the 30 gallon and 55 gallon drums and on top of the 30 gallon with burn wood, just scrap branches from the wood on the farm.


Fired it up at about 10:00 AM.

This is about 1-1/2 hours into the burn at 11:30 AM. You can see by the paint burning off the exterior of the drum the fire has made it a little more than 1/2 way down. I could see through the vent holes quite a bit of wood gas being pulled up through the annular an burning off, not quire a jet engine but definitely audible gassing. It burned really hot for about 3 hours and I think the burn wood was pretty much consumed but it stayed hot for another 3 hours with obvious clear exhaust gas at the top of the stack. It was still hot to the touch after 8 hours. I just let it sit overnight.

And, just a word of caution, this thing gets hot. I had a couple of readings of 1000*.

Here is the result about 24 hours later.


I did not get 100% charcoal from the oak, I'm thinking I'll take a few of the better chunks and fire it up for some burgers tonight to see how it burns, but I'll probably reload the retort and do another burn to get everything down to good lump. I'm real happy that the wood chunks held there shape and have not crumbled down into little shards - we will see after the second burn.
I would appreciate any advice or critique.
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Unread 09-03-2013, 08:30 AM   #2
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Looks good to me? However....I know nothing. About making lump that is other than reading posts like yours. I will say I'm glad you didn't fire that thing up right next to that round bale!!! Haha.
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Unread 09-03-2013, 02:15 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by NOHENS View Post
Looks good to me? However....I know nothing. About making lump that is other than reading posts like yours. I will say I'm glad you didn't fire that thing up right next to that round bale!!! Haha.
Yea, ButtBurner warned me in a PM how hot this thing gets and a close call he had so I moved my Santa Maria ranch grill & fire ring so I could use the burn pit. And, even after 24 hours, I made sure the actual charcoal product was cool to the touch and I'm keeping it in my steel tractor loader bucket for now.
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Unread 09-03-2013, 04:05 PM   #4
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good effort!!

I think some of your pieces are too thick. How did the thinner pieces come out? I cant believe they all looked like the ones in the pic. the pieces in the middle of the 30 gal look about right to me. Some are way bigger than I use

I have found they can be long, but the thickness is important

thats really all I can see that different than how I do it

and I dont pack them that tight, I would say my 30 gal is about 3/4 full with space around the pieces.

and on my close call, lets not talk about that LOL
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Unread 09-03-2013, 04:18 PM   #5
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Thanks. I was able to harvest some to try for burgers later tonight but most had centers that were still pretty "woody". I'm going to break down some of the larger chunks and refire the retort, packed a little more loosely. I was surprised all the chunks maintained their basic size and shape, really none of them broke down int small shards. I'll see what it looks like after round two.
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good effort!!

I think some of your pieces are too thick. How did the thinner pieces come out? I cant believe they all looked like the ones in the pic. the pieces in the middle of the 30 gal look about right to me. Some are way bigger than I use

I have found they can be long, but the thickness is important

thats really all I can see that different than how I do it

and I dont pack them that tight, I would say my 30 gal is about 3/4 full with space around the pieces.

and on my close call, lets not talk about that LOL
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Home built 24"x72" reverse flow stick burner trailer with 18"x44" grill w/CI grates and upright SS gas oven/smoker.
Home built 48" fire pit with a 30"x30" Santa Maria style ranch grill.
Home built lump charcoal retort, iGrill & a bunch of other cooking toys.
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Unread 09-03-2013, 04:58 PM   #6
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you will get it

I never used my IR temp gun on it, I did not think of it

But I know it got way hotter than yours, I would guess it at 1500f

I could not get close to it, and it sounded like a jet. A big jet.

That was before the oops

and during the oops too

;)
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Unread 09-03-2013, 05:36 PM   #7
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AAWWW come ON BB, let's DO talk about the close call! Thanks for the detailed post on this, PLEASE keep this thread going and updated as you go to share the learning curve!
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Unread 09-03-2013, 05:43 PM   #8
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one more thing

I found that its important to pack the wood real good between the barrels.

When I just used pine branches and assorted junk twigs, etc. It did not light the inside wood good enough.

Then I got some hardwood slabs from the Amish sawmill down the road, they sell the stuff for real cheap. A pickup bed full for $10

I stuffed that between the barrels and it really made a difference. Pallet slats work real well too
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Unread 09-03-2013, 05:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterChrister View Post
AAWWW come ON BB, let's DO talk about the close call! Thanks for the detailed post on this, PLEASE keep this thread going and updated as you go to share the learning curve!
lets just say I have about 1/4 acre of brand new grass just sprouting up
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Unread 09-03-2013, 06:23 PM   #10
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OK, so I did harvest some and fired it off; it was great, no sparks, ignited fast and burned hot & clean. Not critical for burgers but I'm excited this lump is gonna be great.

When I packed the burn wood into the annular space between the drums, I packed it in with an old axe handle. I put in 6" then packed it down to 3"-4" and repeated the process until it was full.

Tomorrow, I'll do "burn 2" and keep the thread going to document the outcome.
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Home built 24"x72" reverse flow stick burner trailer with 18"x44" grill w/CI grates and upright SS gas oven/smoker.
Home built 48" fire pit with a 30"x30" Santa Maria style ranch grill.
Home built lump charcoal retort, iGrill & a bunch of other cooking toys.
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Unread 09-03-2013, 06:27 PM   #11
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I think if you used longer whole pieces in the space between the barrels it will work better, that was my experience. The smaller pieces (that I see in your pic) tend to burn up faster

Yes, my home made lump does not spark at all. Not one bit
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Unread 09-03-2013, 06:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ButtBurner View Post
I think if you used longer whole pieces in the space between the barrels it will work better, that was my experience. The smaller pieces (that I see in your pic) tend to burn up faster

Yes, my home made lump does not spark at all. Not one bit
AhhhhSoooo. I have a hardwood pallet plant near the farm, I think I'll go see if they have a scrap pile. Thanks.
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Home built 24"x72" reverse flow stick burner trailer with 18"x44" grill w/CI grates and upright SS gas oven/smoker.
Home built 48" fire pit with a 30"x30" Santa Maria style ranch grill.
Home built lump charcoal retort, iGrill & a bunch of other cooking toys.
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Unread 09-04-2013, 08:12 AM   #13
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You're on the right track. The burner would be better if you shorten the stack. You do not need that much heat and it effecting the final product. No need to pack either barrel. If there is the jet effect the burn is to hot and to short. The idea is to heat the wood inside, not lite it. All you want to do is release the gasses in the wood. It's the burning gas that continues the process. Your pieces are not to big if the burn releases all the gas. A lump that big can easily be broken with your hands. Think about the process and soon you'll have perfect lump.
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Unread 09-04-2013, 08:32 AM   #14
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I had the same problem at first then I learned that if the 30 gal drum is too full you will have to burn twice. Fill it to 3/4 full and you will have better results. Also be careful not to overcook it ether with too much burn wood. Keep the burn wood long down the sides with some short fillers. It has also been said on this form many times, the lump wood should be cut to the size of a fist.
Good luck.
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Unread 09-04-2013, 08:41 AM   #15
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I looked at the pictures again. My advice is to put some holes in the reducer in the angled area, it will help with the draft. Also you should try shorting the chimney length some if you can.
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