Newb making custom smoker out of 275 gallon tank

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by trizzuth, Apr 20, 2012.

  1. trizzuth

    trizzuth Smoke Blower

    What's up meat smokers!  This is such a gem of a website, I can't believe I never came across it before, but then again, I still have to pop my meat smoking cherry as I have never done it in a legitimate smoker yet.  Here's how I got into this:

    Converted oil heat to gas about 2 years ago, removed 275 gallon tank and put it in my back yard, wife tried to sell it with no luck, so my mind started churning as I had a small taste of what this can turn into by smoking about 100+ lbs of Chourico with my father in law in his back yard.  We used an old porch swing frame and installed some bars going across so the chourico could be hung.  Had a long slender fire all across the bottom and covered it with a canvas tarp.  Worked pretty darned well for what it was, but the only problem was that because the heat was not really "indirect" the sausages that were on the bottom got a bit to much heat, but man they were still delicious!  

    So far I have thoroughly cleaned the tank, set an enormous raging fire in there after I cut the door out (went through a gigantic pile of brush and the flames were all they way up to the top and out of the tank), then pressure washed the inside, and immediately lit another super hot fire in there as well.  Totally cleaned out now, smells like normal wood fire in there, no signs of oil residue anywhere.  Have the door hinged up with handle, thermometer and one smokestack.  Going to get two more for the other two fittings on top of the tank so my flow is good.  

    I have an old wood stove that I am going to put outside the tank that will have it's exhaust going in near the bottom for good flow of smoke and so i can control the fire really well.  Excited to fire her up for her maiden voyage, but still have a lot of work to do.

    Need to buy or fabricate grates somehow and wanted to put some rods across the top for smoking chourico.  Have a buddy who's brother can weld, so I am bent on buying supplies and sending him the materials and measurements, or trying to buy existing grill racks online somwhere and making them fit.  I want to have a long rack that goes the length of the tank a bit below halfway mark, and rods above that horizontally for sausage.  

    Any suggestions on what to do for the rack? what is my cheapest/best option at this point?

    Great forum with tons of excellent information here!

    P.S. tank I'm working on is in my avatar
  2. jrod62

    jrod62 Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    :welcome1: to SMF
  3. mossymo

    mossymo Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Glad you joined us trizzuth, welcome to SMF!
    Expanded metal cut to size is a great option for cooking racks. A little more expensive than steel but I used aluminum; costs less than stainless steel, doesn't rust and while it is a soft metal still has a melting point of 1220º farenheit.
  4. trizzuth

    trizzuth Smoke Blower

    That's a pretty decent idea Mossy!  Can you please elaborate on what "Expanded" aluminum means?  

    ahhh, that's the grating I was looking for, and the term for it! Google told me the answer.

    Best place to get this from?  Is it obtainable locally maybe at Lowe's or Home Depot, or do I need to get it online?
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  5. thsmormonsmokes

    thsmormonsmokes Smoking Fanatic

    I don't know about expanded aluminum, but Home Depot and Lowes usually have expanded metal.  Don't bother asking employees there if they do or not because very few people will know what you're talking about.  They'll just show you galvanized metal lathe that you use with stucco, which is unhelpful.  It'll be right by their sheet metal, angle iron, straight iron, rods, etc...  They package it in cardboard, so it winds up looking kind of like an air filter for a home furnace/AC unit.  But I don't know if they'll have pieces big enough for your needs.  Wear gloves when you handle it though, unless you like stitches.

    Here's a question I have.  At risk of threadjacking, is burning the tank and pressure washing it enough to make it safe?  I ask because a guy in my neighborhood can source a barrel for $15 and I want to make a UDS.  But the barrels have been used to hold lacquer thinner or some other petroleum product.  If I can make it safe by burning and pressure washing, I could get a UDS up and running from probably about $50.  But I'm concerned about whether that would safely remove all the chemical nasties. 

    Anyone want to shed some light on this?  I've been wondering about this for a while now and can't seem to find an answer.
  6. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hello and welcome to SMF - looking forward to seeing your smoker  build 
  7. Welcome! I just found this forum last week myself, and I am also a newb to smoking as well.Chourice you say? Let me guess you must be near Fall River, if you mentioned Linguica I would have guessed New Bedford. I`m over in Acushnet. For those of you who may have never heard of Chourice and Linguica they are a type of Portugese sausage and taste awesome!

    If you are still looking for expanded metal most sheet metal shops have it they can even cut the basic sizes you need,or suppliers like mid-city steel in Westport or General supply should carry it. Aluminum expanded metal may be harder to find, the places I mentioned should have the mild steel type. DO NOT! use any type of galvanized metal it will give off toxic fumes and you can get very sick from it "fume fever".

    Post some pics of your smoker when you get a chance.
  8. [​IMG]...To SMF.......Glad you joined our group...
  9. trizzuth

    trizzuth Smoke Blower

    I am unsure about anything other than heating oil, but I can only assume it would work the same as it's petroleum based and should burn off, but you really really need it HOTTTT.  Only reason to be afraid of anything is if the contents of the barrel could somehow seep into the metal, but don't forget if you are doing indirect heat, the smoker itself should never really get above 300-350 degrees so i don't think seepage from the metal would be an issue..  
    HA! you got me!  sorta.. I lived in New Bedford for 3 years and now live in Fairhaven, my wife and in-laws are Portuguese so of course I am well accustomed to Chourcio!  I drive by the Mid-City Steel annex every day on the way to work and have checked out their website and did not see any expanded metal. I will have to call and ask once I have my exact measurements down.  Hopefully they can hook me up!   I will def stay away from galvanized steel..  Being the "mild steel" how strong is this stuff, would I have to reinforce it, or should it be strong enough on it's own if wedged into the bottom area of the tank to hold some pork shoulders/turkeys and maybe a pig someday if I get ambitious!  I bet it is pretty weak...  I can always cut come angle iron and lay it across the bottom to the point where it starts wedging itself and then lay the expanded steel across..  that would give it a lot of strength..

    So far i haven't done anything else except give the outside a coating of rust-inhibiting paint, and will give it another two coats of black engine enamel to protect it from the elements...
  10. I grew up in Fairhaven and live in Acushnet now. I`m 1/2 Portugese myself but can`t speak a word of it! As far as the expanded metal goes I would say it would be pretty flimsy for the size you need. I would suggest making a frame out of angle iron then lay the expanded metal in there and tack it in place with a few more pieces of angle iron under the exp. metal to stiffen it up as needed . You could weld tabs in the tank to lay the rack on so it would be removable for cleaning. If you are in a jam and need a welder I have a portable flux/core mig welder it`s an old piece of U know what but it should be able to weld what you need. I was working at the power plant just over the bridge in Fall River about 5 years ago and we used miles of expanded metal and angle iron that would be perfect for what you need.
  11. boykjo

    boykjo SAUSAGE MAKER Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Welcome to SMF Zuth.............Glad to have ya aboard. I wouldnt bother looking for expanded metal from the HD or Lowes unless you need a small amount. They only sell 2'X2' squares and are pricy. find a local metal supplier and buy a 4X8 3/4 #9 expanded metal. Usually runs between 46 and 56 bucks and you'll need some 1 inch square tubing for framing. here is a smoker I built using a pipe burner and 2 amnps smokers (pellet smokers) i hangs sausage with a rack and smoke whole hogs on a grate......



    I hang the sausage on rebar rods. I place a small pieces of foil strip over the bar and hand the sausages. Makes for easy cleanup and the bar wont get dirty with sausage residue

    Just throwing out some Ideas if yo can use them

    Good luck and happy smokin


    mormonsmokes... just burn it out real good and youll be fine

Share This Page