When I was a sheetmetal worker in the phosphate mines...I used to be in contact with many welders and they all seemed to have created a great smoker at one time or another...its been a dream of mine to either build my own barrel style smoker or to have someone weld me a nice one from a tank; I missed out on many opportunities to get one. I finally decided to make the move and found what I was looking for online and bought it without even thinking twice! Drove far to get it too...got it all the way home and now I have some concerns. Here are a few online photos of it - http://tampa.craigslist.org/hil/for/2945490817.html
I have never owned a custom smoker of this size and style - I was hoping someone here could help this newbie answer some burning questions:
- First off...the smoker and firebox doors have some gaps...I realize that no smoker is perfect, but I am having an issue bringing it up to temperature with the amount of charcoal I used (more on that below)...with that said - the firebox door has a 1/4 " wide gap all around 3 sides (last photo on bottom of this page) and the smoker door has a 2-3 inch long...1/4 " wide gap and narrows to an 1/8" for another 2-3 inches in some spots. Here is a short video showing the smoke leaks: http://youtu.be/D4Xzc31z_HI
I have read that some gaps are normal on a custom-build and that they might seal themselves after its been heated to an intense temperature - is this true on this thick of a unit/tank? Do you recommend applying a fireproof caulk or fiberglass gasket of some sort? Should I be concerned about this design...should I contact the fabricator?
- I think this firebox is unique, since its made from a smaller tank...it has two 2" holes on the right side to allow for air flow - but does not have a damper door - the smoke stack has a spring-loaded piece of flat bar and and is the only means of regulating the smoke. To season the smoker...I dropped in layer of about 10 lbs of Kingston/Mesquite Charcoal in the firebox (below)...but I was a little surprised that the temperature never rose above 170 Degrees Farenheit!
Question # 2...Is this temperature normal for the amount of charcoal I used (see photo)? How much should I be using or how full should that firebox be when I attempt to start smoking some meats? Does the type of charcoal really make a difference?
- There is no grate, cleanout, or damper door on this firebox...
Question # 3...To prevent burnout - should I insert firebrick or a grate - any suggestions? What’s the best way to clean this type of firebox? Do I really need a damper door...if so, how should I do that now?
I know this is a lot of info all at once...and I'm sorry about that - I'm just a little worrried that I may have jumped the gun on my purchase...any help or suggestions is much appreciated....Thanks