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Building a sausage smoker

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi, guys.

Okay-- now here are the specifics.

I plan on starting with a 55 gallon drum.. the only question I need answering so far is-- what type of wattage heating element should I put in it that would be able to get me temperatures of >190 degrees? Does anyone know the math for this?

And secondly, I'm thinking of a type of controller to put in there. Money really isnt an issue so I certainly am considering the PID but I dont get quite how it works exactly.

I also like this guy's method of installing a capillary-and-bulb thermometer inside of his smoker:

Help, please?
post #2 of 19
How many lbs of sausage are you looking to smoke at once? Are you thinking of using the drum in a UDS style (vertically?)
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hm... At once? Hopefully no more than 20 lbs. at a time.


But then again-- I have no idea how much 20 lbs. of sausage really would be or what it would look like. lol

and yes sir, I plan on using the drum UDS vertical style.
post #4 of 19
Now I have done maybe 18lbs of sausage in my GOSM and it all fir with no problems. My smoker is 14" square so it should work in a drum. But I would over build it or even maybe build a cook shed that bigger and wooden. I had a old GOSM laying around so thats why I used it. Now you should think of the future cause when you get into it you will really get into it (most folks here do) so you might want to go bigger right off the bat. You should break down and build one like rbranster has in his signature.
post #5 of 19
I'll second mballi's "build a bigger one" - love my smokehouse, just did bacon, last week did franks, have done chicken and turkey too, next week will be the Easter ham!
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hey, I understand fellas. It's just that in between my cheese-making, bread and soon-to-be-meat-making hobby, I dont have much room on the deck for a traditional wood-built smokehouse.

Takes up WAAY too much time and room. I would preferably would like to start with something ALREADY made--such as a cabinet or a 55 gallon drum-- so that I dont have to build one myself, so that I can just convert it over.

Any other suggestions guys?
post #7 of 19
I think you are going to have trouble getting 20lbs of meat in a UDS style smoker especially if you have a fire in the bottom you won't be able to hang them very low. If you are doing small batches maybe you can get by but if you are doing around 20lbs I could see you may have to do it in a couple of different shifts.
post #8 of 19
Hi, I'm currently in the process of building a converted refrigerator for sausage among hopefully many other things. I'm new here and certainly not an expert on anything, but hopefully this will help. I'm building a PID controller very similar to the one on the page below (i hope posting a hotlink is OK) and I'm happy to share any other info about it.

post #9 of 19
You can get away with as little as 350 watts, but 750w would be better, especially if you use a PID controller.
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Okay-- I understand.

But what if instead of building a fire underneath I just use a heating element controlled by a PID?
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Great comment. Thanks
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
Great. Can't wait to see your project. I've thought about using a converted old fridge myself-- I'm still contemplating though.
post #13 of 19
It is early in the project so there is not a lot to see yet, but I will keep it updated as I make progress. I've had this old Frigidaire in my barn for about 10 years, and I decided it was time to make something useful out of it. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

post #14 of 19
i would double stack 2 drums. i do that with my ecb. bigger version would be great. then if you wanted to use the bottom of a usd that would be a bonus
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Man, that sounds GREAT!

Just two questions.

1.) What is an ecb?

and can you elaborate on "using the bottom of a usd" for a bonus?

post #16 of 19
If using a 55 gallon drum, you might look at how I did the internals on the 55 gallon drum I built, which uses propane. Twenty pounds of sausage would not be a problem in this drum:


Depending on climate and/or time of year, you could probably use a simple electric hot plate, which will function like most electric smokers, putting a pan of sawdust on the heating element to generate your smoke.

Rigging a controller to a thermostat to control the temperature would be a big plus. If you want to go all out, wrap it with insulation and put a thin sheet metal jacket on the outside.

When using a drum like this with an internal electric heat source, you will probably want to cut a door in the bottom to get to the sawdust pan without having to unstack the contents.
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
perfect, Hog Warden.

Let me check out this link
post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 
You know guys-- would a metal cabinet also suffice for a cold-smoking chamber also?

I ask because when guys usually convert fridges over into cold smokers they take all the plastic innards out and are left with just an empty metal housing. I'm wondering if by taking a metal cabinet I can achieve the same.

Anybody ever seen this?
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thought it over again today guys-- and I' going with the "converted refrigerator" approach.

Just seems so much easier
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