in too deep? only a little...

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Original poster
Aug 24, 2007
south centeral indiana
Hello all, I am brand new to the art of smoking. I have helped a friend of mine several times, and decided that i would jump in head first into it.

I am building a smoker that is a bit... different from some that i have seen. The smoker chamber is a 375 gallon fuel tank (yes, going to light it up to burn out any thing left before i even think of cooking in it. the fire box is a wood stove with a blower that i am going to use for a warmer. the blower is separate from the main fire pit. the pipe into the smoker is a 6 inch that i am mounting in the bottom center, and 2 3 inch pipes out at the top. the two doors are going to be top open, with ability to open one or both. i am putting in 2 doors - 8 inch fire doors in the main doors so i can check temperature without having to open the main doors. i am putting in a water pan above the inlet which will have a pipe in from the outside, as well as a drain that i can control outside as well. the main areas i am scratching my head on are... i am going to be putting in several shelves that i can remove depending on what i may do with it. i have several vertical rib racks that i plan to use.

any ideas on what would be good height for the shelves? i want to put in as many as possible, because i want to be able to use the smoker for fund raising for a few local fire departments, and i figure if i can cook a lot o ribs or chicken, etc that may be an option for them. i am going to set them up so they will be removable, so i can cook larger meat if i want to.

i am also trying to decide what the best pipe placement for vent out is - i am leaning towards sides, top center so i can reach the dampers easier.

i am putting a small work bench to the front of the pit - i am guessing that 12 inches would be deep enough, and still get to the grill. the wood is stained, and i am using a cutting board for any meat contact rather than directly on the wood counter.

the rest of the trailer is a bit... different. i am making it look like a fire truck. hose bed, ladder, light bar, kitchen sink (it was available, free, i couldn't turn it down) and several shelves for coolers and such. the warmer will be on top the fire box - there is a 10 inch opening that i will be putting a box around and damper in, but that will be done over the winter.

there are a few photos of it at:
Welcome to SMF! Glad you found us. Hope you can keep a photo record of your "little" project. We'd love to see it!

Take care, have fun, and do good!


Glad you're part of the SMF. Looks like you've got yourself a project on hand. We have plenty of qualified stick burnin' members who'll be glad to offer you help with your project. Best of luck.
Guess ya won't be taking that on any backpacking camp-outs...good luck with it...
Welcome Chris -

That's quite a rig you've got going. Please be careful about using containers that are not food grade they can be harmful.
Welcome to the SMF the best BBQ site on the net glad to have you

Nothing like jumping with both feet head first
. Good luck & looking forward to your progress reports.
Awesome Idea nothing like seeing a masterpiece in the making. I have what I call my baby book, pictures of the general from start to finish. Keep us updated and show lots of pics.
Thanks all for the welcomes!

I spent most of the day today painting the skin for the shelves. I am scratching my head with a possible concern for pipe placement going into the pit. the pipe out of the fire box is about 6 inches higher then where it will be going into the bottom of the pit. will a downward slope of about 6-12 inches over a 2 foot distance (max distances, to be safe on the measurements) be a problem. i can set it so the pipe will be even, but then i run into a small problem with being able to move the firebox if need be.

any thoughts?
welcome to smf. i hate to be the 1st downer- but if it ever held any kind of fuel- i wouldn't use it - you will never get all the bad stuff out of the pores no matter how hard or high ya burn it.i'm not the only 1 here that will tell you this- we care about people- but if you must use it- do send pics-now you can talk to a member here named ultramag that can hook ya up w/ brand new 55 gal drums just for the purpose of smoking. or you can find a local me on this- i used to work hazmat,spill response, & refineries- anything that ever held any kind of chemical or even(especially) diesel or kerosene---- bad mojo-you'll never ever get rid of the residue...just my 22 cents worth.
I agree with Gypsy, I do beleive this smoker project has been preseasoned in a way that will always add an unwanted taste and/or odor.
Welcome aboard the SMF! Talk about a project... you certainly got one going on there!

I'm on board with what Gypsy sez... find a new tank and call the used one "practice"...

Good luck!
hmm... the drum is a 375 gallon tank, and i was told by a haz mat tech that with sand blasting and good burning out in the tank that i should be ok. not trying to argue, just background as to why i chose that tank. it had been empty for about 8 to 10 years before i had gotten it. are there places that i can get new tanks that are that size?
[edited] I just called a tank manufacturer and he told me that since i was already cut open as long as i burnt it out that would take care of anything left in the tank. he would sell me a new tank for $354.00, but he has only ever sold one new one, and everyone else that has bought from him has bought used tanks. i am thinking i might try the used tank to make sure it all works, and next spring consider a new tank if there is still any extra taste left in the tank *shrug* please note i am NOT trying to argue or discredit anyone here, just passing what i was just told. by doing it that way i can make sure i am all set, then put the new tank in in the spring. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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