Got a tank that held oil, options for a smoker?

Discussion in 'Smoker Builds' started by qinkc, Mar 16, 2016.

  1. qinkc

    qinkc Newbie

    I got this tank from a buddy who intended to use it for a smoker build.  He got it from a maintenance shop who drained some kind of oil in it.  Kind of smells like gear oil.  The spigot looks pretty gnarly so I'm sure the inside is too, it's been mostly drained of oil and sludge.  I'm going to lift one end up with an engine hoist and drain anything left into a bucket.

    I suppose I have some reservations on how to get it A) clean enough inside I can cut on it (I know people often fill with water) so that I can burn a wood fire in it and B) if I can even get it clean enough I'll want to cook on it.  

    I thought if I managed to get a good fire burnout on it, I'd have ever the inside and outside sand blasted...but that first requires cutting a door.

    First post, apologies if this is a beaten to death topic but most of the posts I was able to find were tanks that held heating/fuel oil.


    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    NICE FIND!!! That's an old used oil storage tank, for sure...tough to judge the diameter and length, but maybe 175-200 gallon. Your thoughts on how to begin are correct, and If you search for propane tank builds you can get some ideas on internal configuration, fire box, door openings, conventional or reverse-flow designs, etc. As far as cutting into it, no guarantee, but there shouldn't be any flammable/combustible vapors as long as you drain the remaining oil and then provide positive-pressure ventilation either via air compressor or an air blower. I say there shouldn't be any vapors because you do not know exactly what was in the container, as oils have a very high flash-point while some fuels and industrial solvents have much lower flash-points. There could have been some old gasoline dumped in there at some point recently, or some kind of highly volatile substance such as what may be used with industrial spray-on coatings...the smell of really old oil may mask the odors of other chemicals. If you knew the history of the tank, in detail, would help to determine what precautions are necessary. Too many unknown variables here, so I'd play it safe...drain it as best you can, then fill with water before cutting. Used oil residues can get hot enough during cutting to flash off vapors which could flash back at you through the cut at some point. It probably wouldn't be enough energy involved to cause damage, but it could still burn you...there's nothing quite like that woofing sound to get one's undivided attention.

    If it smells like rank oil, it may have been just sitting around for years...really old lubricating oils in a tank with vapor space can take on a pretty nasty stench due to oxidation. I've drained gear lube and engine oil from vehicles that were parked for decades...none of it smells pretty. Even just pulling the dip-stick on a long-term dormant engine is about enough to gag a maggot. So, be ready for the stench, and as always, be sure to cut the tank in a well ventilated area.

    Last edited: Mar 17, 2016
  3. qinkc

    qinkc Newbie

    Thanks for the reply.  It's 48" in length and 30" in diameter, so I calculated it out to be about 170 gallons.  It sat outside for a while, hence the surface rust.  I suppose my hesitation to filling it with water is that even if I tilt one end up and drain as much of it out as I can, I'm not sure I can really dump the 170 gallons of soap/water I fill it with in the drain/yard.  Hence me wondering if it's something I really want to deal with.  If I do decide to cut into it, I'd obviously err on the extreme side of caution.  Thanks for the good info.  

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