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Old 06-13-2009, 10:31 PM   #1
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Default My homemade smoker.

Today marks the one year anniversary from when I begin construction on my homemade smoker. She is a vertical offset wood smoker built from two 55 gallon drums and a cast iron stove kit. The design was based upon Mike Sell's "Big Smokey." I call her the Green Demon.

As a homage to all of the joy, not to mention weight, that this fine machine has brought me in the last year, I would like to post photos and comments on the build process and few of the smokes.

33.jpg  
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Old 06-13-2009, 10:33 PM   #2
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That smoker is a thing of beauty! Well done!

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Old 06-13-2009, 10:43 PM   #3
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Nice work! How 'bout some pictures of it in action?

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Old 06-13-2009, 10:46 PM   #4
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It all started last June when I discovered that a building near to where I work was a salad dressing manufacturer with access to food grade 55 gallon steel drums. I stopped in to have a chat and ended up leaving with three barrels for the cost of a smile and a hand shake. Having admired the designs of Big Smokey, Big Baby, and the Texas Hibatchi for some time, I set out to designed and build my own smoker.


Here are the three barrels in my garage, a molasses drum, a honey drum, and a sesame oil drum:



All were food grade so there was no worry about chemicals. The first step was to take them down to the steel and repaint with something that could handle the high temps and the wet Washington weather.



An angle grinder and many hours later, I could have a barrel down to the steel. They sell paint stripping wheels for the grinder at home depot that seemed to do the trick, it took about 1 wheel per barrel. A word of caution, unscrew the barrel cap before doing this as the heat may build pressure. It goes without saying but a breathing mask and safety glasses are also important here.



First barrel stripped. The heat caused what honey was left inside the barrel to liquify and form a puddle on the floor, what a mess. If I do this again, I'm going to collect the honey first as there was probably a couple pounds left.



Rustoleum High Heat BBQ paint. I can't remember how many cans of this I used throughout the process, but it was probably in the neighborhood of a dozen and a half. At $5 per can that really adds up. I opted for green because I like it and all the other smokers I've seen were black. They stopped carrying it at the home depot about half way through my project so I had to drive around to 4 of them and buy up what was left. They still make the black and white as far as I know.



The first coat finished. Each barrel got three coats plus touch up.

01.jpg   02.jpg   03.jpg   04.jpg   05.jpg  

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Old 06-13-2009, 10:56 PM   #5
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The third barrel is only needed for the lid. I will note that it is important to select drums with ribs that line up so that the top barrel and the lid barrel can overlap evenly.



I measured the lid to be 1 inch wider and taller than the opening. I used a dremel for the pilot cut.



The sawzall was invaluable in this project. I used 1/8" metal scroll bits to do all of the cuts on the barrels, including the door, because it will take the corners nicely.



This was a sesame oil barrel. One of the bits worked loose of the chuck when I was cutting and you can see it down in the oil. I recylced the rest of this barrel when finished as I only needed the lid.



I traced out the font of the bottom "fire" barrel for the stove kit doors. The cast iron doors will insert and overlap, allowing you to fasten them to the front of the barrel. The bottom plug can be cut out carefully.



The cuts finished. They don't have to be pretty as there is a good 3/4" overlap on the stove doors. This was a honey barrel.

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Old 06-13-2009, 11:05 PM   #6
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Drilling the holes to hold the door in place. The stove kit comes with a single piece, double door. The top is for loading wood and the bottom for controlling air. I lined the door up with the top plug so it was symmetrical.



Mounted. The insides of the doors and lined with stove rope and the air door has two air control dials that are of limited usefulness, more on that later.



Redneck leveling setup to mount the bottom legs. The legs are cast iron, designed for the curvature of a 55 gallon drum, and included with the kit.



The fire barrel standing on its own two legs.



Front hole cut for the damper collar and drilled for the next set of legs. This is a 6" diameter hole and the collar will overlap it, however the damper machanism must clear the hole.
11.jpg   12.jpg   13.jpg   14.jpg   15.jpg  

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Old 06-13-2009, 11:11 PM   #7
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holy crap! that thing is majestic

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Old 06-13-2009, 11:16 PM   #8
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The damper collar fitted. The collar is also fitted for the curvature of a 55 gallon drum.



Hole cut for the rear damper collar and top legs mounted. Being able to control the airflow via the two dampers is handy when you're cooking two sides that require slightly different temps and/or times. Most of the time I have both dampers full open and use the air intake to control the temp.



Second collar mounted on the fire barrel and test fitting the cooking barrel.



Test fitting the connecting flues. I used 3 inch lengths of 6 inch diameter aluminum heating duct painted with black BBQ paint for the flues. One thing that was very difficult for me to discern from the Big Smokey design was how the flues connected between collars. As it turns out, on the top barrel one of the receiving collars is male and the other female, making the end piece of ducting necessary.



Test fit of the collars for the cooking barrel. You can see the male/female in this picture.
16.jpg   17.jpg   18.jpg   19.jpg   20.jpg  

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Old 06-13-2009, 11:25 PM   #9
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The top "cooking" barrel with the door opening cut out.



A third damper, ordered separate from the kit, mounted at a 45' angle on the cooking barrel. This will be for the chimney which is the principle difference between my design and the other drum cookers.



The cooking barrel test fitted. In hindsight, I probably would not have used a damper on the chimney as I almost never control the heat by choking the exhaust. It is useful on very cold days however as neither barrel is insulated.



A view of the vents from the inside of the cooking barrel.



The door mounted with three sets of hinges from the hardware store. I do not have a proper stop for the door, but it rests comfortably against the chimney and has a piece of angle iron inside (not shown) that acts as a counter weight.
21.jpg   22.jpg   23.jpg   24.jpg   25.jpg  

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Old 06-13-2009, 11:32 PM   #10
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The door open, pre-chimney.



I mounted two lengths of angle steel inside to hold the cooking grates.



It was a challenge to find a grate/combination of grates that fit the drum to maximize cooking area without breaking the bank. I ended up with a set of three steel rock grates from the hardware store that were a perfect fit. The trouble came in removing the steel plates welded to them...



Here is one of the plates after removal. I tried unsuccessfully to use a MAPP torch to heat up the joints and then a pry bar and a hammer to break them free. This resulted only in bending or breaking the bars on the grate. The easiest way that I find to remove them was to use the angle grinder and grind the welds from the rear of the plate. Time consuming, but cleaner.



The grates fitting after plate removal, missing a couple bars.
26.jpg   27.jpg   28.jpg   29.jpg   30.jpg  

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