A few weeks ago I decided to build myself a smoker after a rather unpleasant experience at a Southern California BBQ spot I had lunch at, so I found a 55 gallon drum on Craigslist for $15 that was used for food grade glycerine and the work began. I cut off the top so I could keep it as a lid, and stripped the drum inside and out of all coatings followed by a bonfire and a coat of high temp paint, then welded up the fire basket, pegs for the grill, and drilled the appropriate holes for ventilation. Made a chimney out of PVC, a couple hard maple handles, and two 3" casters with a couple of support legs so I can move it around easy.
Here was the work in progress
So to test things out, the other day I decided to go cheap and buy a chicken which I smoked for about 3 hours @ 250'f with some cherry and apple.
And the results were quickly devouered. Man that was some good chicken! I had read it's easy to get rubbery skin, but it turned out great.
Happy with the trial run, I decided to set my ambitions much higher and smoke a pork butt. And considering the long cook time, I searched the net and discovered many people use thermally controlled fans to keep the smoker fed with oxygen as needed to avoid stalls or going out completely if by chance one were to doze off on a nice day. I didn't want to spend $100+ on a commercially sold controller, so I put some of my electronics knowledge to use and picked up a $15 Temperature Controller with thermal-couple, installed it into a project box along with a small AC to DC power adapter, and attached a 16cfm blower fan out of an old PowerMac G5 to a 90' PVC threaded pipe, and here is the result! I think I spent a total of $22 on the whole controller setup. :)
Looking at the clock as I type this, it is reading 12:10am... and in probably 2 hours I'll be firing up the smoker for this 10.8lb pork butt which I coated with a rub I found online consisting of brown sugar, sea salt, black pepper, chile powder, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder.
Here is tonight's victim
I just loaded up my fire basket with almost 10lb of kingsford original along with some chunks of hickory and apple... and I've got about 25 pieces in my chimney starter ready to light. The basket is pretty big. Roughly 18" across and it's got about 7 inches of coals in it.
.Now i know this was a long read, but if anyone has some good advice before I light this off? From what i've read, I'm looking at about a 15 hour cook time at 225'f-240'f with such a large butt. My smoker has a total of 4 vents that are 3/4" and can be capped off. The temperature controller is set to activate the fan until the temperature reaches 225'f, then shut off. It wont kick back on until the temp drops below 220'f. I did this so it wont keep clicking on and off if the temp is hovering around the 225'f mark.
Is there anything I'm forgetting or should be warned about? Any and all advice, criticism, etc will be appreciated.
I think i'll light this off at around 2am which should give me enough wiggle room to ensure i'll have the butt cooked and ready in the late afternoon for Sunday dinner.