Old freezer and burn barrel combo??

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by griz, Oct 31, 2007.

  1. griz

    griz Fire Starter

    I have a Traeger grill/smoker and to be honest, not real happy with it. I hear people referring to smoking brisket for 10 hours before it's up to temp. My traeger will have the meat at 190 degree's within just a few hours and that is while on the medium to smoke setting!

    So, I decided that I wanted to build my own and have heard/seen people use old freezers etc. I found one yesterday that will fit the bill perfectly. Metal interior etc so no issues there.

    I placed a double electric burning in it and after 3 hours it was at 215 degree's. I do not want it to take that long to get it up to temps not to mention the heat loss when the door is opened. I do plan, at some point, in mimicking the famed "wookie" on this board and insert an oven burner.

    However, for the time being (ie I really want to smoke a butt this weekend), I would like to place a 55 gallon burn barrel next to the freezer with a 4 inch pipe going from the top of the barrel to the bottom/side of the freezer to supply both the heat and smoke. Has anyone seen this type of setup and would it work?

    I figured that a 4 inch pipe should be sufficient to allow enough heat/smoke to enter the freezer and then out the flue but hate the idea of setting this up only to see that it won't work. Any suggestions is greatly appreciated!

  2. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey Bob, welcome to SMF! Stop by Roll call and intro yourself <It's kinda a tradition> so's we get to know ya and you us!

    As far as the plan... you elevating the freezer? Or just planning on putting the butt up higher than the inlet at least I hope?

    Should work. I'd leave the electric in there for additional heat if required, no harm in that.
  3. griz

    griz Fire Starter

    Thanks for the welcome! I will be elevating the freezer so that the bottom of the freezer is inline with the upper portion of the barrel but less than a foot apart. The more I look the more I like the idea of running a 6 inch pipe between the two. Should allow for more cubic feet of smoke/heat to get in there. I know I am fine on the smoke end but not sure about the heat. I just don't know if enough heat will rise so that we end up in the 225 range.

  4. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sound's like an interesting idea, things to consider are heat control/management. You can't just build a fire and pump it into a fridge without any heat regulation. Heat isin't your problem, should be able to get quite a hot fire in a drum, just need to regulate it!!
    I would definetly go with the 6" pipe.
    Good luck and keep us updated![​IMG]
  5. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    6 is PLENTY I'd think. Like I said, if yer worried, leave the hotplate in place. can always use it to add a few BTU's, or not.
    Also, had ya thought on a tuning or dispersion plate/baffle above the entry point of the tube? Wondering about all the heat/smoke just makinga beeline to the stack, without mixing around very well...
  6. griz

    griz Fire Starter

    Here's what I had in mind. I would have a magnetic cover on the inlet to control the smoke/heat as needed. My initial thoughts are to keep the design to a minimum until I see how well it performs and then modify as needed. The burn barrel would have a cover on it so the only real exit for the heat/smoke would be through the inlet.


  7. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hmmm did an experiment a while back concerning high heat and magnets, and heat will destroy them. Somethng to keep in mind. other than that...by golly, that'll smoke meat OK.
  8. griz

    griz Fire Starter

    That's good to know on the magnets. I have small neodymium magnets that I had planned on using to hold the door at various intervals. I may still try it and see how well it works and for how long.

    Should I punch holes at the bottom of the barrel so that the coals receive fresh air or will that speed up combustion too much?

  9. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  10. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That's a pretty neat set-up as a cold smoker![​IMG]
  11. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Without an air source, you wont be able to keep a fire burning very well.
  12. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    What Bubba said. Yep. And perhaps plan on a way to damper them too. Someone did a simple damper setup here a while back...I'll see if I can find it... altho this was for a flat surface Hmmm lemme think...

    OK maybe something like this- But I did not show some small diameter thin washers under large fenders, to allow sliding clearance...

  13. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    i bet the big drum smoker can be modified for this.........

    lets see if i can find the link

  14. griz

    griz Fire Starter

    Well, I stopped by Lowe's to figure out what, if anything, I needed for this conversion. After much thought, I had a slight leaning towards installing a propane based heater so that I can keep a more even temp.

    At Lowe's they are clearing out their grills and I hope I stumbled across a good idea. They had a small table top grill that was propane operated. I figured the burner would be the perfect size given that I am not asking for too high of temps from the unit.

    I will install it tomorrow, along with a 4 foot hose extension, and see what kind of temps I can get. This way, I will only require the burn barrel to provide the smoke and can damper it off accordingly.

    Maybe it will work and maybe it won't but at least it's a day spent outside with my son!

  15. griz

    griz Fire Starter

    Well, I had an epiphany last night. I had originally contemplated only using the burner in the bottom of the freezer. I was going to line the bottom with additional metal to protect the surrounding area. I decided to use the entire body of the grill, minus the lid. I had it installed in a matter of minutes. I put a 3 inch vent at the top of the freezer and fired it up.

    On high, it averages 380 degree, +/- 5 degrees. I am going to let it run on high for a few hours to burn any residual stuff off the inside of the freezer. I know on low, when I first started it, it was up to 230 in about 15 minutes. I don't know what it will hold it's temp at. I will probably have to put a larger vent in top and maybe an additional one to better control the temps if the low setting won't average in the 225 range.

    Anyways, for about $50 in parts, this thing is up and running. I must admit, it was nice to walk outside and see thin blue smoke rolling out the top. Kind of proud right now!

  16. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Ya, but where's the pic's??[​IMG]
    Sound's like a neat set-up, be sure you put some kinda baffle over your burner or you'll have grease dripping on your flame's and that would'nt be pretty!!
    What is your set-up for wood??
  17. griz

    griz Fire Starter

    Originally, I was going to do the wood route, hence the reason why my post is in this particular forum. However, in an effort to better control temps, I elected to install a propane burner.

    I have the burner on low and my temps are a steady 290 degree's. Obviously, too hot for low and slow. My exhaust vent is 3 inches. Will going to 5 or 6 inch help reduce the temps by the 60 degree's or so that I need?


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