Drum Clean-Out????

Discussion in 'Smoker Builds' started by shierkahn, May 18, 2010.

  1. My drum for my UDS is on the way and should be in my truck by the weekend... yah!!! It originally had ethanol it it. It's closed at both ends with bungs. So, I really need to get it cleaned out real good before I go cutting into it or welding on it.

    So, my question is..... what would be the best may to clean it out. Read a couple ways on here. Just looking for the "safest plan of action" for the families sake.
    Could I just fill it with water and a bottle of dish soap or maybe give it a good acetone rinse first then soap it?

    Thanks guys, Chris
  2. suthrngrllr

    suthrngrllr Fire Starter

    I'd rinse it a few times with soap and water, let it sit a few hours full, drain it and refill overflowing with water, then cut. That way you have no space for any vapors or fumes to accumulate, should be ok; IMHO.
  3. Thanks. I didn't think there would be much to do to it being ethanol.I'll just make sure to rinse it good and fill it before grinding the top/bottom off.

    Thanks again SMF, Chris
  4. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yea most guys fill it with water when they are cutting on a tank that had oil, gas, propane, etc.
  5. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Reading threads like this makes me appreciate how dangerous it is to mess with drums and tanks if you don't know what you're doing. [​IMG] I'm usually one of those can-do guys who wouldn't think any harm would come if I couldn't smell a potential problem. Other members' experiences certainly have taught me otherwise -- before I did something stupid and regrettable!!!
  6. suthrngrllr

    suthrngrllr Fire Starter

    Well I'll tell you, this may be gross for some but a true story. Back about 35 years ago an old man from my hometown had a welding shop and did mostly farm welding. A school teacher brought him a 30 gallon drum that had herbacide residue in to make him a trash burning drum. Well the welder asked if he had washed it and the guy told him he did. When he put the torch to it and burnt thru it the top came off and took half his head to the top of his shop. So sad and unnecessary but true. I know a lot of people on here make UDS but; Please don't ever take any chances, if you don't know get someone who does.
  7. Lots of good info.
  8. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I agree with the safety side of things here.

    This is my opinion only and I am in no way saying this is right or wrong but only the way that I myself would do it.

    I would fill with dawn dish soap and water mix, half way. Have it in the pickup and drive around for a short time to mix and slosh around.

    I would drain it and refill with same mix only full to the top this time.

    If you work on the bottom of the barrel you DO NOT cut thru the barrel at all. You only grind the edge of the rolled bottom of the barrel. In this pic, if you look close you can see where I used the grinder to just remove the thickness of 1 layer of material. After you do this all the way around you can use an old chisel or something with a sharp edge and start the separation, then it pops right off. You could also use a 1 1/2" dowel rod thru the bung hole and tap it from the inside to start the separation.


    If removed this way it can be used as the top/lid, and it has a very nice fit. If you would like a pic of one of my barrels that is untouched I would be glad to snap a pic and post it. Just to make sure you are dealing with the same type barrel as what I have.

    One last thing is, if you are planing to use a kettle lid, NO mods are necessary to fit the lid to the drum.
  9. old poi dog

    old poi dog Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi Tom....Could you post picture of one of your barrels that you mentioned with a closeup of the gound rolled lip? Thanks friend.[​IMG]
  10. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I would be glad to, I almost took pics today when I got home but I was lazy and wore out. Its raining hard and its dark so I will try to grab a couple pics tomorrow and try to get posted tomorrow evening.

    I can't promise cause I have a grad to attend for my daughter. I do not know all the details but she is walking with the Washburn University kids, for her first year credit for nursing.

    Its a pretty special deal for her since she is only a junior in high school this year. 2 hours at the HS and the rest of the day at the college.

    If it helps any, I only had to remove as much material as the thickness of the barrel wall. It looks like the top of a coke can before you start grinding on it, is a good comparison.

    Anyways, It may be late but I will get some pics up tomorrow.

  11. old poi dog

    old poi dog Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Congratulations on your daughter's accomplishment. Funny...... I work at a high school and willl be asssiting with the graduation ceremonies beginning tomorrow, so I understand if you can't get around to posting until some time later.

    I got home today and checked the rolled edge on my drum. I can't seem to see if there is a seam there. How much do you need to grind before you can discern a seam?

    Hey I just re-read your post. I just wanted to Re-congratulate you and the Mrs. for your support in making it possible for your daughter to graduate ahead of her peers. [​IMG]
  12. badfrog

    badfrog Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I got home today and checked the rolled edge on my drum. I can't seem to see if there is a seam there. How much do you need to grind before you can discern a seam?

    I did a similar process on mine...I used a die grinder with a cutoff wheel and cut through the rolled seam...
  13. old poi dog

    old poi dog Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks for the tip Bfrog. I'll go check out the edge one more time. I'll give the edge a light pass with an angle grinder.
  14. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Here we go.

    you don't have to grind on the side, you could grind on the horizontal/bottom end of the drum, if you are not looking to reuse the drum end as your lid.





    If you look real close at my pen you can see a flat spot where I actually went a little to deep with my grind.


    Just looking at the drum end it does not really look as if its rolled. If you can picture the surface of the drum end going to the side of the drum and then 90 degree up 90 degree out and a curved edge down. They kinda hide the end of the rolled edge. If you want post a pic of both ends of your drum and I will see if I can tell for sure what you have.

  15. saltbranch

    saltbranch Smoke Blower

    Why not just use a pipe wrench and a hammer to open the drum top? Also there is a drum opener that works like a can opener sold @ grainger an other places if want to buy it.

    The pipe wrench and 4lb hammer will take 15 minutes to cut the top out, no need for water etc to fill the drum. I cant count the number of fuel and solvent drums I have opened this way for various projects.
  16. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I decided to use the grind method I described above since I wanted to reuse the lid I cut off as an ash pan under my basket. I just couldn't see wasting the lid. My next drum I will reuse the drum end as my lid instead of a dome.

    The method I used is probally one of the top 3 safest ways to open a drum since there is no sparks entering the inside of the drum.
  17. saltbranch

    saltbranch Smoke Blower

    Tom doesnt grinding yield sparks? The pipe wrench/hammer yield no sparks, from your pics the results are the same, you still have the top do whatever with. Yea you can open a drum with a grinder, I would not call it safe. Once you drop that cutoff wheel into the lid you are throwing sparks into the the drum body and on the outside of the drum.Then you have roll/hammer the cutoff sharp edge.

    I am sorry but I have to disagree with the statement your method is in the top 3 safest ways of opening a drum. Torches and grinders used to open drums have killed alot people. The best method by todays standards to open a drum top is to buy

    http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/items/3AY68?Pid=search, this still leaves a sharp edge on the inside of the drum that needs to be hammered flat to prevent cutting your hand.

    The pipe wrench/hammer method is just an old oilfield method thats time proven to do the job.its still the choice today today to open fuel drums/oil drums on location.If you hold the pipe wrench at the correct angle is a an all in 1 job, top cut,usuable top, inside cut is laid flat against the inside, no need to flatten it to prevent cuts.

    I am not trying to flame you, I just disagree. If anyone goes to open a drum with a method that causes sparks, fill it with water and open the holes in top at the least.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2010
  18. tom37

    tom37 Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    No threat taken, I just want to make sure no one ends up hurt because of a misunderstanding in a post.

    I would have to agree with you that having sparks inside of the drum could be very unsafe!

    But the method I used allows no sparks to get to the inside of the drum at all. I think my definition may have been unclear and I'm not sure if I can explain it proper with out a picture during the grind process. Again I am not sure all drums are built this way, but the ones I have, are constructed in a manner that the lid starts out several inchs larger then the diameter of the drum. Unsure how they do this exact process but the lid is recessed down inside the drum about 1/2" then its rolled up and over the drum edge and down the outside so that the lid piece ends up with a hidden edge right near the drum side under the rim.

    Where I grind is on the outside of the rolled portion of the lid material at a point where it in on the outside most point of the drum. [​IMG]

    The reason I suggested this method was so that a person could reuse the lid as a lid for the smoker, I happened to use mine for an ash pan so I used the grinder to remove the rest of the rolled edge leaving a 1/2 lip.

    I am curious about the pipe wrench method, sometimes I miss the obvious. Doesn't this method remove about 1" of material around the edge of the lid?

    I in NO way want anyone to take my methods as a proper method or (the right way) to safely cut open any kind of pressure vessel or tank that has or does contain flammable product.

    If any person that may read this is not 100% confident in there methods of cutting a tank, I suggest they take said tank to a qualified shop for the cut to be made.
  19. saltbranch

    saltbranch Smoke Blower

    The pipe wrench/hammer method, yes you will lose about 1" circumference on the ash pan when done. The ash pan will be  atleast 1" smaller In diameter and it will have jagged edges from the pipe wrench cutting the top. I really think the safest thing for those that want to cut a top out of a drum via a grinder, pipe wrench or torch is to just fill the drum with water, open the bung holes, throw a flame across the bung holes  to burn off any gasses and do your thing. Gasses in drum is what will kill ya, fluid like water displaces gasses. Cut the drum lid full of water. Id scratch all the soapy water sloshing around etc.

    I really think thats the best advice for someone not familiar with drums and cutting tops out. Fill it with water within a 1"or so of the top and cut away.

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