So, if if have not read, check out this thread to see my progress up until now: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/113881/think-this-will-work-side-barrel-earthen-smoker. Basically, I am attempting to make a smoker exclusively with materials on hand. Only item purchased so far is used craigslist grill.
Fortunately, the soil here makes decent, but crumble prone bricks when mixed with just water, then air dried.
In the last incarnation, I had trouble keeping the temp where I wanted it, and I figured it was because either 1) The hole leading to the cooking chamber was too small, or 2) I was loosing too much heat because the wall separating the firebox and the cooking chamber was too thick. So, I simply tore down the wall and made a few adjustments.
1) I put two big firebricks in the cooking chamber. I imagine this will help it hold it's heat better owing to the heat retention properties of these things, and because it reduces the air volume in the cooking chamber.
As you can see, I also used a firebrick to go above the charcoal basket (the basket is also a new addition), as again, I think this will help hold heat.
Here is the basket:
The basket goes under the brick with the mud on it...and ontop of another firebrick that you see surfacing above the dirt.
A big tile will be the door.
The door swings down, or can be easily removed if need be. I also dug a ditch behind the door to ensure a good enough air flow.
With this next shot you can see that I can move the charcoal basket closer to, or farther from, the cooking chamber.
And lastly, another tile that will serve as a baffle, hopefully moving most the smoke into the middle of the chamber. This may not work, I may have to find another material, but I will give it a try at least once.
I will test these tomorrow and report back. Any suggestions?