Need advice before I start buying the wrong stuff...

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by turbocoop, Jun 11, 2008.

  1. turbocoop

    turbocoop Newbie

    I just signed up and Ive been doing a lot of reading, but since mines gonna be a little more custom I wanted to get your opinions before I waste money on the wrong stuff. Heres what Im working with- just a regular Kingsford charcoal grill Ive had for 6 months, and for the firebox- an old keg:

    I know about sealing up all the holes, and the dryer vent for the exhaust pipe, and Im still drawing up ideas for the tuning plates.

    My main question is: Would the keg work better standing like in the pic, or should I build a stand and have it horizontal up next to the chamber like most fireboxes??? I dont know if enough heat would get up there with it standing, and it will take more fabrication (which means more $$$) to get the connection attached without leaking. I know Id have to build a stand to get it off the ground a little if I had it standing up

    I can weld steel so thats not a problem, but I cant weld aluminum so Ill have to figure something out for the keg. I have a torch and cut off wheel to cut with but I want to have my plans all made out before I start cutting.
    The grill has the big oval opening on the side like regular smoker grilles so thats good I can just unbolt it. And how much of an opening will I need in the firebox for the air intake- could I just take the one thats in the sid eof the grill now and use it? Id also like to be able to detach the grill from the keg kind of easily cause I will be taking it different places to cook sometimes so Ill have to keep that in mind. Is there anything else I should think about before I start shopping for supplies? Like what materials not to use, I think Ive heard no zinc plated bolts, what else???

    Heres what I have on my list now:
    1/8" stainless steel sheets for the tuning plates and baffle
    Expanded metal for the grate in the firebox
    dryer duct for the exhaust
    A couple more temp gauges(what is a good brand, not too expensive?)
    Stove rope and 3/4" angle steel to surround the lid seal

    Can someone point me to a good online store for grilling and smoking supplies? We only have one store around here and the prices are outrageous.

    Thanks for the help, and Ill be sure to take pics and keep you guys up to date while Im building this thing.
  2. abelman

    abelman Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A stupid answer to a good question, why not refill the keg and get that smoker going? I've always found some Barley Pops to help in the smoke and thus the finishd product.

    On a more serious note, I guess I'd go horizontial since your temps will be constant on both sides. I smoke on an R2D2 type smoker and temps on the top are hotter than the lower rack. However, I don't have any problems with the set up as yet. I guess it just depends on what you prefer.
  3. turbocoop

    turbocoop Newbie

    I had another idea- I could stand the keg up vertically, and build a stand so the top of it sits just below the level of the lid, then I could attach it easily with a little duct. Before I was thinking of having to make a 90 deg chimney deal and that is too much work. This way I could cut a big door on the side and clean it out easily too. Im thinking this is the best idea so far. Can anyone think of any reasons why it wouldn't work?
  4. smokebuzz

    smokebuzz Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I would return the keg for deposit, and get a SFB for a chargiller, it will take alot less fab. if any. and then do the mods you have planned and read the mods in the charcol burners forms, lots of good info there.
  5. agmeyer

    agmeyer Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Welcome. I'd say check with a welder and you will find out that the Aluminum Keg bolted to the Steel smoker will tend to corrode at the connection point. I'd say buy a fire box from Char-Grill or have someone make one. Even a rectangular box will make a firebox. If I was making one from scratch; it would have an ash dump or tray; and would hold some pretty hefty sized pieces of wood or large basket of charcoal. Then the connection to the smoke chamber would be pretty fair sized. I would try to seal the two chambers pretty good except for the intake (adjustable ) and the exhaust (Also adjustable). The keg looks about the correct size; just the metal doesn't seem to me to be quite right. Maybe I'm incorrect; but check with some local welder where you can talk to him face to face.[​IMG]
  6. capt dan

    capt dan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I would think that the aluminum would also warp and eventually render itself useless, charcoal is quite hot burning! I agree on the chargriller SFB idea. Refill the keg first though, makes for better fabrication![​IMG]
  7. turbocoop

    turbocoop Newbie

    I dont even know if the aluminum would hold up to the heat. How much do those Char-grill fireboxes cost???
  8. turbocoop

    turbocoop Newbie

    Honestly I just want the keg cause it would look cool and be different, and thats what Im all about. 2 of my friends have the smoker grilles with the fireboxes and I just want to blow them out of the water cause they think they are world class smokers...
    I cant turn it back in cause Ive had it for a long time and they all have tags on em around here now with your name for some reason... Im pretty short on money too cause I drive a truck that gets 13mpg so I dont want to buy a bunch of nice stuff when I can build it just the same. I work a auto shop so I can get a lot of scrap metal that might work. Heres a pic I drew in MS paint to give you an idea-
    Pretty sweet huh?
  9. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    If it was steel it would probally work but i think alum is asking for problems. If alum was good for making smokers wouldn't most of the ones we buy be made out of it. Get some steel and go to work [​IMG]
  10. ncdodave

    ncdodave Smoking Fanatic

    dont use the alluminum it melts at only 900 degrees F. charcoal gets way hotter than that. go to orchard hardware or home depot and by a side fire box by chargriller for $60 much easier for your conversion and much easier to!
  11. tn_bbq

    tn_bbq Smoking Fanatic

    I agree

    Those aluminum kegs are valuable
  12. packplantpath

    packplantpath Smoking Fanatic

    Agree with others, the aluminum may melt if you get distracted and the fire gets too hot. Plus, aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat, so you will lose tons of fuel that way.

    Honestly, if you have access to that much metal, just weld you one together out of thick scrap. Then you can do whatever you want, and make it bigger.
  13. master_dman

    master_dman Meat Mopper

    The keg won't last. It'll be thin as tin foil before you know it.. then it will disinegrate altogether.

    If you don't want to just buy a side fire box.. which the grill is already set up for.. find a steel drum and use that.
  14. What he said....Plus, your going to have a hell of a time welding the aluminum to the steel. It would not bond together well, and would probably fall apart with your first use. REFILL THE KEG!!!You can buy an affordable offset from Walmart, or Academy for alot less hassle and expense!
  15. I forgot to mention, this fall when school starts again, I'am having a smoker built by the welding class at our local High School. All it is going to cost is for the materials. check your local HS or vo tech classes. They may be able to build you what you want
  16. The cost in time and materials would be more expensive than just getting the firebox that is made for the grill.

    Although it would be cool, the keg just won't stand up to the heat.
  17. bhille42

    bhille42 Meat Mopper

    That aluminum will definitely melt. No Doubt about it. Definitely go with the Chargriller Side Fire Box
  18. turbocoop

    turbocoop Newbie

    Well Im glad I found this site before i went off and did it on my own like I usually do with my random projects. I guess Ill look at some fireboxes and do some pricing, and also try to find something I could make my own firebox out of too. I guess Ill scrap the keg idea, I would only get like $20 if I turn it in so Ill make it into a table or stool or something instead. Thanks for all the advice everyone- Ill make a new thread when I get my ideas together and Im ready to start building it.
  19. ncdodave

    ncdodave Smoking Fanatic

    if you insist on using your keg for something, make an ice chest out of it. lay it on its side and cut a door out of the top then put on some hinges. or make a folding table out of it by cutting in half, cutting wood to just fit inside and hinge the back side together. that would be a unique table indeed. you could also make a meat roller out of it by cutting the door and putting it on some wheels with a crank and shaft on it. fill with rub and put in your meat and turn the handle. presto rolled and seasoned meat.[​IMG]
  20. turbocoop

    turbocoop Newbie

    Good ideas, that would be funny to use it as an icechest. You could tell people youre having a keg party- but they'll be surprised when you just open the keg and get cans of beer out of it. Sweet

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