Building a Bubba Drum

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by geek with fire, May 23, 2008.

  1. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Disclaimer: I should note that I’m stubborn and cheap, so I’m going to do it anyhow….

    So I’m getting plans laid out to put together a bubba drum this weekend. When I bought the fasteners I found that stainless steel was more expensive than I was planning. So, and I know what you are going to say, I bought Zinc/Steel fasteners. My question is, how hot do I need to get them to make sure they are safe for smoking? Will burning them in a pile of hedge embers be enough, or should I get the propane torch out?
    Again, I’m cheap, so I didn’t want to buy expanded metal on this go around, so I just bought 2 Weber grates. 1 for the top and 1 for the fuel. I’m going to run it without a basket for a while, until I can find the cheapest way to build one. Then I’ll have the grate for a second drum.

    I'm going to mount the fuel rack fasteners about 3" from the bottom. How far down do you guys mount the cooking grate? I'm guessing just far enough down for the largest pork butt. I'd really like to cook beer can chicken or maybe even a turkey in the drum, but would that put the grate too close to the heat?

    So far, the supplies have run me about $60 and I’m going to pick up the $12 drum today. They sure are proud of those ball valves; $10.00. Do the plastic components that serve as the gasket on those brass ball valves hold up to the heat?
  2. invader q

    invader q Smoke Blower

    Can't remember the exact temp, but here are a few thoughts:

    Zinc burns with a blue flame. If you see blue "flares" you got hot enough for sure. Metal fume fever sucks in ways that can not be expressed well enough on a family forum. I've burned the stuff before while casting. Nasty nasty stuff. If you are going to try it, a respirator rated for metal fumes isn't a bad idea, and certainly do it outside, with the wind at your back.

    Another thought, steel will oxidize when it gets hot enough, and develop scale, which might not be handy if you have fasteners that need to fit together.

    If my memory serves me, I've used Ferric Chloride to remove zinc, Vinegar might work too, but I'm not sure of the required exposure time.

    Hope that helps a bit.
  3. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'd not worry about the galv unless you plan on using it for the coal basket or it's supports. Seems I recall 900° before there's an issue.

    Get stainless expanded for the basket and have it welded up.
  4. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yea, I am using them for the coal grate supports as well.
  5. navionjim

    navionjim Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    "Zinc burns with a blue flame. If you see blue "flares" you got hot enough for sure."

    Well not to get picky about it, but my pyrotechnic background forces me to mention this:

    Copper based chemicals burn with a blue flame.
    Sodium burns yellow,
    Strontium burns red,
    Barium burns green,
    Aluminum burns white/silver
    Burning Zinc is actually more of a yellow/green color.
  6. cowgirl

    cowgirl Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Geek, I've got my cooking grate about 2' above the heat source...also is a fairly cheap coal basket I made from a 2'x2' piece of expanded metal.....

    I still have not had the time to try mine out, but I've had no problem with the ball valve on my smokehouse firebox. It's built the same way as my drum intake.

    Good luck with your drum, can't wait to see it.[​IMG]
  7. agmeyer

    agmeyer Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    [​IMG] Geek, I might go to Sutherland's and buy some stainless bolts or some farm supply house and buy the darker bolts and nuts to be safe. I never liked cutting galvanized or welding it. I'd rather be safer? Hope this helps.
  8. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hmmm yeah the standard grade 3 bolts would be fine. Don't matter if they rust up a bit. Use a 3/8" bolt. It'll take 30 years to rust out.
  9. dono

    dono Meat Mopper OTBS Member

    o.k. first , you will never burn off all the zinc unless you cook it red hot for a couple hours, and while burning it if you breath the smoke in and start to feel sick, drink milk it's the best fast cure for zinc poisoning.

    I've been doing the first aid at the scrap metal yard were I work for some 18 years now and zinc fumes from torching steel is a common problem. milk is the fastest way to treat it

    second, the plastic gasket in the ball valve will not hold up to heat, there are stainless steel ball valves used in the beer and milk industrie that don't have those gaskets. try doing a saturday morning visit to the local scrap metals yard
  10. bbq bubba

    bbq bubba Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Lot's of opinions......[​IMG]

    P.M. sent Josh, drum on brother! [​IMG]

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