1.66 Vertical Drum Smoker

Discussion in 'Other Builds' started by hexlobular, Apr 10, 2011.

  1. Hello all!  I've been working on putting a smoker together for a while now.  I like the vertical smokers and the USD's, but wanted to try something a little different, and on a budget (naturally).  So, I decided to try this. 

    I got three drums together, and burned them out.  One for the cooking chamber, one for the firebox, and one to make the doors.

    The cooking chamber barrel:


    The firebox barrel, which is another 55-gallon, only cut down a bit (cut out part is off to the left):


    Then, starting to cut and weld (if you can call what I do welding).  BTW, the propane tank back there is full of water. :eek:


    Making sure the doors won't fall off.  I still need latches to lock them down.  I may need to add some seals also.  There's a 6-inch hole between the firebox and cooking chamber.  Still debating on what to do there.  I have 3 racks for the cooking chamber; I plan to secure them with bolts UDS-style.  Adding a fourth rack might work, but I want to see how the heat does before I invest in one.


    A grate raised about 3.5 inches for a water pan or diffuser plate of some sort.  Maybe a couple fire bricks?  I plan to use the same type of grate for the firebox as well; still deciding on how to arrange it, though.[​IMG]

    As it sits, I have two bungs in the bottom of the firebox, and two bungs at the top of the cooking chamber.  I am debating on whether I should put the whole thing up on a few blocks, add an ash pan, and use the bottom holes for the air inlet, or plug the bottom holes with the caps and make an inlet on the lower side of the firebox.  Try not to laugh at my horrible welds. 


    Thanks for looking!  This is my first build, so feel free to ask questions and comment.

    arkansas0103bl likes this.
  2. Found some draw latches today.  They're zinc coated, so I may burn them off in a coffee can or something, then just paint them; just to be safe.  I'll need to find some hardware for these, or maybe I could weld them after they're burnt off?

  3. Got the coating on my latches burnt off this evening.  Kept upwind with a torch, and got them glowing red.  Hopefully, they'll weld ok.(more accurately, I hope I can manage to weld them on without making a mess of things)

    I still need to fab up the firebox grate and install the hangers for the cooking grates.  I also need to cut some plate to adjust the air flow to the cooking chamber, and decide on how to make my firebox air inlet. 
  4. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Drums can be tricky to weld on if your just starting out. Thats where I learned and now I'm glad I started with the thin stuff. I wouldn't worry about the welds to much, get it stuck together and call it good. If it breaks then re weld it. 

    I'm liking the looks of the additional firebox down under. 
  5. You're right about welding the drums.  I don't weld much usually, so this is like a crash course all over again.  I hope the firebox works like I plan; I'm hoping to have the option of using lump charcoal and some wood chunks, or just wood.  It will be a fun experiment, and a great learning experience no matter how it turns out.

  6. Got the latches welded on this evening.  I'm glad because I had to lay the whole thing down to store until now.  I didn't want the doors to twist or warp just hanging by the hinges.  It might not have made a difference, but I figured I'd better play it safe.


    After that, I drilled the holes and installed the bolts for the cooking grates.  I placed the grates inside to see how it looked.  I'm not sure if I can put a fourth rack at the bottom or not. 

    It would be nice, though...


    Well, that's all for tonight.  Next will probably be the grate for the fire box.
    magnus likes this.
  7. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I can't wait to see how even the heat is going to be through all those racks. You might be onto something my friend with that design.
  8. I hope you're right.  I think that's why I'm still deliberating on how to make my air inlet for the firebox.  I don't want to create an unnecessary hot spot if I can help it. 

    Thanks for the feedback!!
  9. roller

    roller Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Now that is nothing but TOOOOOOO COOOOOL !!!!!!
  10. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Great Job So Far!

    How are you going to seal the doors?

  11. Thanks!  I'm optimistic.  The door seals are yet another one of my unsolved mysteries. The doors are pulled shut pretty snug right now with the draw latches, so I'm thinking (hoping) it shouldn't take much to seal them up.  I'm still trying to study what has worked best for others.  I've been thinking of using some high-temp replacement felt gasket (kind of like what comes on the Big Green Egg smokers).   I'm always open for suggestions, of course.  I still have a few more test burns planned once I get my firebox situation figured out, and I'm hoping to learn more then. 

    Thanks Again!

  12. Started getting the firebox grate put together this afternoon.  I made a lower/wider rack; this is a little over a foot wide, and about 4.5 inches high.  My thinking was that I could have plenty of space underneath, and also accomodate burning lump or wood, or a combination of the two.  I also thought this would be better than a taller, narrower box for allowing ash to fall through more efficiently.  One goal of this build is to hopefully learn to use a smaller, hotter fire that burns more efficiently. 

    thunderdome likes this.
  13. Got started on the firebox vents this morning.  I cut some 2.5" holes (that still need some cleaning up) at each 1/3rd of the firebox, about 2" up from the bottom.  Then, I used the left-over 3rd of the firebox barrel to make dampers that would work together with one lever.  I left a tab on the ring and cut a slice at the base of the firebox to fashion a handle.  So, I can adjust all three vents with the same lever.




    I kept the section all one peice, then wedged it through the door, then spent some time shaping it back.  There is one spot at the front by the door where I put a crimp to make this just a bit smaller in diameter than the firebox.


    Then, I wanted to make a damper to close off the firebox from the cooking chamber; for shaking-down ashes and whatnot.  This fits nicely under the waterpan grate.



    That's about all for today.  I need to find some temperature guages for the cooking chamber, and some high-temp paint.
  14. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Its coming right along, I don't think you will have any troubles getting air to the fire.

    Nice work.
  15. Got a lot of cleanup done today.  Scrubbed the inside and outside down, deburred all the edges as best I could, wiped it down, vacuumed it out, and started painting.  I also added some temp gauges at the top and bottom rack level.

    Two of these gauges from Lowe's. 


    I positioned them at the top at bottom cooking rack levels. 


    And, a shot of the whole thing at this stage.  I still need to clean up the firebox grates, figure out some door seals, and get the whole thing seasoned.  But, at least it looks like something now.


    More to come--thanks for looking; hopefully some QVIEW sometime soon!
    maguirre likes this.
  16. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A little paint makes it look like a whole different set up.
  17. You're right; my wife even said, "It looks a lot less garage-y".  heh. 

    Thanks for the support, Tom!
  18. tyotrain

    tyotrain Master of the Pit

  19. Got the grates all cleaned up, and then seasoned the whole works late this afternoon.  To test, I put one level-full Weber chimney of Kingsford in it.  This filled the firebox basket up about halfway.  With everything open and empty (and today was fairly windy), it settled in at around 350 at the top temp gauge, about 325 at the lower gauge.  I still need to seal the door, so hopefully that will help my efficiency and balance the temps better. 
  20. thunderdome

    thunderdome Master of the Pit


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