Monday, March 9, 2009

Building a Smoker Barrel - Part Three (with Upgrade)

After having completed step one and step two, you are now ready to move on to the third step in building an ugly drum smoker. The third step is one of the most important. It deals directly with the air flow into your smoker barrel. Included in this step is also an upgrade to make the air intake for your smoker barrel a lot easier to control.

The third step basically involves cutting 4 one inch diameter holes in the bottom of your barrel. These holes need to be equally spaced around the bottom of your barrel at least two inches up from the bottom. The average circumference of a 55 gallon barrel is approximately 72 inches (6 feet). Your holes will need to be approximately 18 inches apart (4 holes X 18 inches = 72 inches).These holes will be the air intakes for your smoker barrel and will allow you to control the temperature of your smoker.

These holes can be made in several different ways. If you’ve got a torch handy, you can simply mark your holes and cut them out with a torch. If you don’t have a torch, you can use a step drill bit to make the one inch diameter holes. In other words, use whatever tools you have handy to make the air intake holes. These holes can then be covered with large refrigerator magnets that can be moved to adjust the air flow into your smoker barrel. Be sure to make them at least one inch in diameter. This will allow you to do the upgrade to your smoker barrel that follows.

Air Intake Upgrade

The upgrade is really quite simple but it does add extra cost to making your smoker barrel. The choice is dependent upon how much time, money and effort you want to put into your smoker barrel. It can also be easily added at a later date if the funds aren’t available right now.

Parts List for Upgrade

4 Two inch long all thread 1” pipe nipples (non-galvanized)

8 One inch locking nuts to secure the pipes nipples in the barrel

4 1” pipe elbows (non-galvanized)

3 1” pipe plugs (non-galvanized)

1 Piece of 1” inch pipe (non-galvanized) approximately 26” in length

1 1” U clamp to hold air intake extension in place to side of barrel

1 1” Brass valve

The cost of theses parts will vary depending upon your location. You may even have some of these laying around in your garage or workshop just waiting to be used! Most home improvement stores will also cut your pipe to length and thread both ends for you. This will make the upgrade a lot simpler for you to accomplish.

Air Intake Upgrade Assembly

Photo of smoker barrel air intake holes.

Install the 4 one inch pipe nipples through the air intake holes and secure in place with locking nuts on each side of nipple. Leave approximately 1 inch of the pipe nipple sticking out of the barrel. Then add the one inch pipe elbows to the outside. Place the three pipe plugs in the 1inch elbows to seal the air intakes. Do not tighten. These can be removed to allow additional air flow if needed. If you tighten them, you will need to keep a pair of pliers or a wrench handy to get them out should you need additional air flow to increase the temperature of your smoker. The above picture will show you what it should look like when the installation of this phase is complete.

Photo of air intake valve installed.

Next thread the 1 inch brass valve onto one end of the 26 inch length of pipe. Then insert the 26 inch length of pipe, being careful to have the valve open so that it will clear the sides of the barrel, into one of the 1 inch elbows and tighten sufficiently to keep it in place. If you don’t have a sufficient amount of your all thread nipple sticking out, you may have to make some minor adjustments to allow clearance for the valve. Then secure the pipe to the side of the barrel with a 1 inch “U shaped” pipe clamp. The above picture will show you what your smoker barrel should look like when the installation of this phase is complete.

This upgrade will allow you to fine tine the heat for your smoker from an upright or standing position, which will be a lot easier on your back! You can also add a second pipe and valve for even greater air intake control. This will add somewhat to the cost, because in most cases one air intake valve should be sufficient. It’s your smoker, so don’t be afraid to dress it up a bit with dual air intake valves.
These ugly drum smokers are very fuel efficient. This is one of their main advantages.

Got smoke?

Staying above the water line!



Ken said...

...sweet...Thanx Brother,sure appreciate ya for helpin me,although i'm not gonna do the air valves,i like the idea...strict no cost budget for some of my latest projects...although,if(by some miracle of TheAlmighty)S doesn't HTF,those controls will be on 'Smoker two'

riverwalker said...

To: Ken

The air valves aren't required to make it work but do save some on the bending down to adjust the air intakes when required.


Anonymous said...

I have been looking for the pipe to make the air intake upgrade. However the only pipe that I could find in my area is the galvanized and black metal. Both of which I have been told are not usable around food. I was wondering if you might have any ideas?

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 4:34

I've been using the black pipe for several years without any problems. I would avoid using the galvanized pipe.

The black pipe should be adequate for your smoker and is what I use in mine.

The only alternative would be to use some form of stainless steel pipe...which would be extremely expensive. In that case, you would probably need to buy a commercially manufactured unit if you're going to spend that kind of money.

The whole point of building your own smoker barrel is to save a little money.



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