Alright, first off thanks to you all for your help through the process. The big hold up since I was last here was waiting for a buddy to get to the welding bit on the fire box. It ended up done, but for a number of reasons it took several months to get it back. At the end of the day, not having welding skills or equipment (and the problem burning out the barrel you'll see in the photos), next time I might find a machine shop willing to do it for about the same amount all told it ended up costing me, but hey, it's done and I now have a smoker.
So here goes...
Four months ago I picked up a barrel for $20.
It had this red paint on the inside, but I burned it out like I should after cutting intake holes.
Fire is fun.
Unfortunately, it didn't work. The fire was glowing hot, but the paint on the inside just turned to goo. This was after hitting it with the wire brush, too.
So, I found a blasting shop. They charged me $100 to blast it. That sucked. But it worked. This is a picture after I added all the bolts, etc. The cost of all that fun stuff at Home Depot (including the useless wire brushes) was about $120. (We're at $240 if you're keeping track)
While this was happening, I'd delivered all the metal for the fire box and ash pan to a buddy whose a welder. Unfortunately, the day after I gave it to him he got picked up on a 6-day/week job. 2 months later, I picked it up from him about 75% done. Another buddy finished it for me, I got it back last week (for $30). I was bored, so I had a bunch of fun this summer with my AMPS in my Weber Charcoal Grill. Here's my bacon.
Last night I seasoned it and brined up a chicken (gallon water, cup salt, cup sugar, small handful cayenne, small handful black pepper). No pics of this step, I spent most of it simultaneously attempting to set up a new phone (also my camera) and drinking. Fired her up around 4:30 today with a load of apple wood. Using a magnet as a chimney damper. Final cost: $250. Living in CT doesn't help I'm sure but this is definitely more than I went in planning on spending.
Here's the chicken with a standard rub, a little spicy (but that's the way I like it)
And boom, 3 hours at ~300 later, there she is.
A better view.
Plated up. Delicious.
Alright, so that's the rosy view. Here are the issues I'm having that I'd love your input:
1. Temperature control. So far in two burns, I'm having trouble getting it to really stabilize. It's either going slowly up or slowly down. To keep it around 300, I had to keep 1 intake all the way open and have the ball halve halfway. But it was a struggle, and it was hardly exact. Last night when I just had a test fire going to season it, I also had trouble keeping it stable, both around 300 and lower. I don't think I have any significant air leaks, and if I did I would figure that the temperature would rise, not fall. I'm mostly seeing it steadily falling until I drastically increase air flow (see #2) and then cool it down gradually. It worked fine for this 3 hour chicken, but it concerns me for a long pork or brisket smoke.
2. When I take the lid off, even just after the initial lighting bit, the temperature flares like hell and the charcoal and wood starts to flame up. This makes sense, opening the top introduces a ton of previously absent oxygen. But it brings the grill temp up to around 360-400, which then takes a while to sink back down to smoking temps. Again, not that big a deal with this chicken, but I found myself over-choking the intake/exhaust to speed up the cool down and then having to over-open it again to bring it back. I know you're not supposed to open the lid, but I opened it once to readjust the thermometers and once to flip the chicken. It flared both times. Any way to combat this?
Edited by bennyshaik - 9/22/13 at 12:01am