Currently, I've got a home built horizontal offset smoker. The smoke chamber has a 14 " (diameter) x 24" useable cooking space, . After 10 years of replacing / patching fireboxes, as much as I love this thing, I've decided that
1. the cooking space is a little too small, and
2. mild steel is a stupid choice for a cooking appliance that lives outside and is continuously subjected to high heat.
I cook primarily 3 racks of baby back ribs or a pork loin, or a brisket or whole rib eye. I'd like to have the space to do 6 racks, or 3 racks and a brisket.
Enter the Stainless beer keg. Outside dimensions are 16.125" diameter and 23.75" in length. Inside is closer to 16.0" and 19" of useable length. I've got three kegs to play with, and whatever scraps and bits and pieces I need to complete the build. I plan on welding two kegs end to end for the smoke chamber with a door in each, and using one keg, lined with 1.5" of refractory cement as the fire box. a 4" pipe 15" long supplies the exhaust, and a 4" wide by 6" long pipe on the firebox inlet will keep my valve away from the heat and working well. Plan looks like this:
Firebox has a door on top for grilling and opens on the right as well to clean out ashes. See red lines.
However, a vertical design would probably look cooler, since that is the natural orientation of a beer keg. Issue is, ribs and brisket are generally longer than 16", therefore it would be hard to cook in the vertical / horizontal hybrid design:
I've considered using hangers in the vertical to fit ribs, but I've never smoked meat on a hanger before, and I'm not sure if I'd like the results.
I've run the firebox, smoke chamber, inlet and exhaust dimensions through "feldon's BBQ pit builder", and it appears to be in the ball park of suggested parameters in either configuration. Given that the horizontal design's specs are quite close to a NBS Hondo, albeit slightly longer, I think its a workable design.
Anyhow - Stainless is considerably expensive, and before I start to cut my kegs and begin the fit-up (plan is to go with the first design - the horizontal one) I'd love input from the pantheon of experienced pit builders and cookers in here. I'm not trying to start a vertical / Horizontal debate (necessarily) but my constraint is the size, primarily the diameter, of a keg and I want to make sure I'm not missing out on a design that would better fit what I'm working with. Assume that I'm generally competent to do whatever metal working tasks are required to fit this sucker together.
If you've got as better idea as to how to stick three (or two or four) kegs together to smoke meat I'm all ears.