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Old 06-07-2014, 05:53 PM
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spanishgrass spanishgrass is offline
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Default Pig Smoker

Its been awhile since I've posted but been lurking for sure. It has finally happened. I've been asked to build a pig smoker from 2 55 gal drums. Dug around youtube and did a superficial search here also. This is to be a over under type. I'm open to all suggestions and any threads that have pics. The customer isn't overly concerned about "pretty", just functionally. My biggest concern is welding on the thin material of the barrels. My Ironman 230 is quite versital so I'm sure thats not going to be an issue. Any way feel free to offer any advice you may deem useful and or necessary. I'm quite busy at the welding shop I work at and don't get to visit here as often as I would like so if you don't get an immediate response from be, be patient. Thanks to all
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Old 06-07-2014, 11:07 PM
o7oBaseMetal o7oBaseMetal is offline
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I have been researching smokers alot lately since I am building a reverse flow smoker, myself, right now. I haven't heard anything good about using 55 gallon drums other than being cheap and easy to find. I have read that the metal is too thin for good heat retention. I am building my smoker out of a junked water heater. The metal is around 3/32" thick. Personally, from all the looking around I did, that is as thin of metal as I would want to go. This is my first build so I can't speak to actual experience with a finished product though.
I have one other hot water heater to use up (I was originally going to build a wood boiler using a hot water heater for the firebox so I posted on Craigslist, got a couple different ones and then changed my mind on the design for the wood boiler and didn't need the water heater anymore) so I will probably make one more smaller smoker and then I hope to build a pig roaster on wheels that a friend of mine will rent out to people for their special occasions. I normally live on the road so I can't deal with the money and delivery and my friend needs an extra source of income so it might work out nice. The first x-number of rentals he would pay me half until a certain point and then he would take full ownership. So I am interested in your pig roaster for when I get freed up to build the one I have in mindm
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Old 06-08-2014, 03:54 AM
FabberMcGee FabberMcGee is offline
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I had some friends at the racetrack in the 80's that were from Georgia. They would always cook the pigs for our special events, 4th of July, State meets, Labor Day, etc.

They used a 200 or 250 gallon oval fuel tank laid horizontally and split in half horizontally. The pig would be broken open and laid flat (all 4 feet pointing away from each other). They had 2 sheets of expanded metal with angle iron frames and pipe handles. They would sandwich the pig between them and wire the two together. Then they could turn the pig over and roast each side.

They didn't have a heater barrel underneath, they just put charcoal in the bottom and turned the pig every 45 minutes or maybe an hour depending on how large a quantity of liquor they had consumed by that time. The thinner parts of the pig would have fewer coals under it. They always produced a delectable pile of pork.

Mine is made from a piece of siphon pipe that was part of the Davidson Ditch. The Davidson Ditch was a series of ditches built in the mid 1920's that followed the sides of hills at a gentle slope and siphons that crossed the valleys between the hills. It carried water 90 miles to the Fairbanks area for operating gold dredges. http://www.alaskadispatch.com/articl...sh-maybe-saved

My pipe was 54 inch before I started cutting on it as I recall. It has a little less than a 1/4 inch wall thickness. I heated it with propane which I think helps keep the pig a little more moist. I put a smoker can on one end to flavor the meat.

Originally, I had a rotisserie powered by a slow gear motor and reduced even farther by bicycle chain and sprockets to maybe 4 or 5 rpm, but I gave up on that because it was too hard to keep the pig attached when it started getting well done and falling apart. Even wrapped in chicken wire and with several pins driven through the spine, breast bone, ribs, etc. and clamped to the rotating center pipe it was hard to keep it turning and not falling apart.

It now has a piece of galvanized tin that replaces the re-purposed oven door window that a drunk broke when he stumbled and smacked it with the bottom of his beer bottle on his way to firmly planting his face in the dirt. Luckily, the glass didn't get on the pig or I'm sure someone would have shoved the whole thing up his.... well, it didn't get on the pig. Also there was a light bulb above the window for a while, but it was always so smoked up that it was pretty much useless.

Eventually I just built a big tray of expanded metal that we could slide out one end to work on the pig. The best way for me turned out to be cutting the pig into chunks, hams, shoulders, sides etc. The biggest pieces would go in a couple hours ahead of the thinner ones to get everything done at about the same time. Generally we'd cook them 12 to 16 hours at 250 or so. Also had a side door for basting and sampling. Last time I used it was in 2002 when some friends were moving away to Spokane and we needed a big farewell party.

By the way, it's a little after midnight with 11 days to go before the longest day here and I just went outside to take these pictures. No more darkness until sometime in early August. Anyway, those are my tools and experiences, I'm sure there are many other guys that are much more competent with a roasted pig than I am.
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:59 AM
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spanishgrass spanishgrass is offline
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Thanks for the responses so far. Looking forward to more ideas. I spent considerable time surfing the net last evening and found something that I will probably go with. This link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5-bfcGPgtY is a video of a double barrel smoker with mostly bolt on material. I sent it to the customer and am waiting on His response. Should this project turn out successful, I just might build a couple and put them up for sale. I'm also going to give considerable thought to the water heater thing. I see a lot of them on craigslist fo free. Keep the suggestions coming folks.
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Old 06-08-2014, 10:06 AM
o7oBaseMetal o7oBaseMetal is offline
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Fabber, that is an interesting design. Kind of like you sliced a pipe in half down the center and mitred it into quarters. It could impress some of my pipefitter friends with a smoker like that. Of course, we don't see pipes that big in our niche. Very nice!
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Old 06-08-2014, 10:42 AM
o7oBaseMetal o7oBaseMetal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spanishgrass View Post
Thanks for the responses so far. Looking forward to more ideas. I spent considerable time surfing the net last evening and found something that I will probably go with. This link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5-bfcGPgtY is a video of a double barrel smoker with mostly bolt on material. I sent it to the customer and am waiting on His response. Should this project turn out successful, I just might build a couple and put them up for sale. I'm also going to give considerable thought to the water heater thing. I see a lot of them on craigslist fo free. Keep the suggestions coming folks.
I couldn't believe the guy had $75 into this, not including the kit. I don't know what the kit included but from the impression I got everything but the angle iron, barrels, and the pine shelf he built was in the kit. There are 4 barrels here on Craigslist for free right now but otherwise they are $10 from the oil company. He's got maybe $5 at most in lumber. There is about $10 in angle iron and maybe $5 in round bar. So, assuming he couldn't find a way to get those small quantities of materials for free, he's only got $40 into it from where I am sitting. Maybe another $15 if he had to build the grill grate himself. I still have my doubts on the room for a profit margin trying to sell it. Of course, if you figure out a layout and do a bunch of them all in production style, you could probably cut your invested time down enough to be worth it.
I know the one I am building hasn't cost me much in material but I have quite a bit of time into it. I am hoping to find a buyer to pay at least $350 when I am finished. Depending how much time it takes me I might make minimum wage at most for my time. In my case, I am mainly aiming to take all of these smaller, random shaped pieces of steel that I have around the house and make them useful to someone who will, in turn, give me money to buy new steel in large pieces. That way I am still able to build my wood boiler for next to no money out of my actual day to day budget.
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Old 06-08-2014, 10:42 AM
derekpfeiffer derekpfeiffer is offline
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Spanishgrass,
I like the design of this smoker! Very clever. I would caution the customer on using the drums, however, they'll offer poor heat retention as already mentioned especially in cooler weather, and also will rust out quickly. Especially if said customer is paying you to do this project he had just as well find something thicker so he's happier with the finished project as well as the longevity of the smoker. Just my 2¢. I've seen so many smokers and grills not last long because they're made out of thin drums.
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Old 06-08-2014, 11:12 AM
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Don't forget that you need to get the paint off the barrels before you cook with them. Some people burn it off but I'd worry about warping the barrels with the heat. Sanding/ wire brushingn would be a miserable job. I think for my time I would rather buy clean sheet metal.
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Old 06-08-2014, 12:41 PM
FabberMcGee FabberMcGee is offline
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Spanisgrass, my mistake, I thought you were going to cook a pig. My barbeque (which I also use as a smoker during salmon season) looks like this. It's made from a water pressure tank (about 16ga.) usually available for the asking from anyone that works on water wells for a living. Frame was an old treadmill, wheels are from a fire extinguisher, table was part of a commercial kitchen that was being remodeled. I started to build a bigger fire box a couple years ago, but got sidetracked.

I would definitely not use a wooden shelf in the front. The first time you use it there will be grease and sauce and moppings slopped all over it and they will be there forever. Find a piece of stainless. A refrigerator door comes to mind right away, but there are probably a lot of things you can get for free that would work.
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Old 06-08-2014, 12:51 PM
o7oBaseMetal o7oBaseMetal is offline
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I like the way you did the off-center side hinges on the lid. This is the same concept i used on mine. Major difference is I attached at the bottom off the lid and put the hinge on the inside of the tank. I like that style because the lid acts as it's own counterweight and it isn't too likely to slam shut on someone's hand. That is why, I steered clear of typical hinge setups like the guy did on the 55 gallon drum smoker. I don't want an accident on my conscience.
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