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Upgrading my PitBarrel Junior

SmokeThisMeat

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Joined Feb 4, 2021
Hello everyone! New member here.

I want to upgrade my PitBarrel Junior. I plan to add screws for more racks, a heat shield, and a thermometer. Oh yeah and I'll be modifying the intake so it can close all the way.

Other than screws and stuff, what else do I need? Has anybody drilled a PitBarrel before? Won't I need a special bit for the porcelain enamel layer? I noticed the PB comes with gaskets for its screws, but I don't know what they are called so I can't find them. I can use gasket compound but it is usually red and messy. I would rather something solid.

Also I googled a bit and noticed people use steel pizza pans as a heat shield. I can get one but how thin can it be? I figure 1/8" is good, but does it really matter? I plan to smoke a lot of veggies on racks so I need consistent temps all around.

Thank you everybody!
 

TNJAKE

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Welcome from Tennessee. Lots of people here using barrels that can answer your questions
 

HalfSmoked

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Welcome glad to have you. As Jake said hang on and help will come.

Warren
 

Brokenhandle

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Welcome from Iowa! Not much help either on your barrel.

Ryan
 

bill1

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Why do you think the coating is porcelain? I'd be surprised if it's not just enamel paint? Either way, you'll just dull the bits quicker if it's porcelain. Jobber twist drills are cheap. Mark your holes with a center punch (an automatic, spring-loaded works nicely) and drill away, starting with ~3/32 (#40 or so) and step up to the final .25" or so you want. If it's porcelain, you may see some hairline cracks emanating out from where you initially punched the starting indentation, but if you reasonably seal the holes, you won't have any rust problems.

A heat shield over your fire is a great idea. Pizza pan sounds cheap & readily available. Don't use an aluminum alloy one unless you keep it many inches away from your fire--it melts at 660C/1200F. Any steel will do, although stainless is more likely to warp than carbon steels, although I wouldn't worry about that. It can be pretty much any thickness, it's job is just to reduce the infrared hot spots so your cooking is by slow, uniform convection, not radiation. Think of it like sunglasses for your meat.
 

SmokeThisMeat

Newbie
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Joined Feb 4, 2021
Why do you think the coating is porcelain?
It says "porcelain enamel coating" on their website. So I may need a different drill bit for starting the holes. The only concern is it cracking.


A heat shield over your fire is a great idea. Pizza pan sounds cheap & readily available. Don't use an aluminum alloy one unless you keep it many inches away from your fire--it melts at 660C/1200F. Any steel will do, although stainless is more likely to warp than carbon steels, although I wouldn't worry about that. It can be pretty much any thickness, it's job is just to reduce the infrared hot spots so your cooking is by slow, uniform convection, not radiation. Think of it like sunglasses for your meat.
Exactly what I was thinking! Keep that heat consistent. I can find many steel pizza pans with holes in them online, but most are coated in stuff. I'd have to drill holes in the chrome plated ones. Which is fine, but it's basically do I want to sand off coating, or drill a bunch of holes? I guess sanding is less time and gives me more options for designs.
 

bill1

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You don't need holes in the heat shield as long as you have room for the smoke to come out at the outer edges. You just need to shade the meat from a line-of-sight path to red-hot embers.
 

SmokeThisMeat

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Joined Feb 4, 2021
I was under the impression that a heat shield increases pressure around the coals, causing it to burn more air and fuel, thereby delivering a shorter cook. It's mitigated by ventilating it or reducing the distance. Every professionally made heat shield I see is ventilated or has adjustable vents on it.
 

bill1

Smoking Fanatic
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Joined Apr 25, 2015
I was under the impression that a heat shield increases pressure around the coals, causing it to burn more air and fuel, thereby delivering a shorter cook. It's mitigated by ventilating it or reducing the distance. Every professionally made heat shield I see is ventilated or has adjustable vents on it.
Sounds like you want a hotter fire if you want a shorter cook. That's pretty much a matter of just increasing your air flow. Most drum or bullet smokers have no problem getting more heat if you want it.
Some like louvers (ventilated steel) because it provides the shade while letting drippings fall into the fire. Not sure it makes the meat taste better but it smells good for the cook. Others like to separately save the juices for gravies etc. If you have louvered panels and the ability to cut a round shape, certainly sounds good to me. Holes are fine too, but I don't suggest making them too big or you're kind of defeating the purpose of the heat shield.
 

SmokeThisMeat

Newbie
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Joined Feb 4, 2021
Don't want a hotter fire. Just the opposite. That's why I have to modify the intake. I have no problem achieving hot cooks. :D

So it looks like my solution for the heat shield is to just get a plain stainless steel pan. This is good because I rank drilling metal greater than sanding in terms of funness. If I need to catch juices instead of burn them, I can put in a thing in there to catch. That's the main reason I need to add screws, so I have more options.
 

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