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Materials needed for your smoker: Used older style hot water tank-used 15 inch car rim-1/4 or 3/8 inch solid rod for handles-scrap piece of heavy wall metal or flat strap-1 short length of 3 or 4 inch metal tube- 2- 3 inch metal hinges-3/8 inch pieces of scrap tube for the legs-10 feet of ¾ inch flat strap-20 feet ½ inch angle and access to a cutting torch and welder.
Building a “Smoker” is an easy step by step process. First you will need to lay out the width and height of the main door on the smoker tank itself. The dimensions are as follows. Height is 50” and width is 15 inches. Make your first horizontal line for the top of the door 6 inches from the top of the smoker tank and finish laying out the rest of the door from this line keeping it square. (See pics below).
The second layout is on the very bottom of the smoker tank and the entire bottom is removed to match the outside dimensions of the rim so that it just fits up inside so it can be welded to the tank. Place the rim against the bottom of the tank, keep it centered, and trace a line around it. The rim is then inserted and welded in flush so the unit can draw air for the smoker fire thru the holes. The charcoal and wood for flavoring is placed on top of this rim in the center. The third and final cut is on the opposite end which will be the top and it is a 3 inch round hole for the damper unit. Once these cuts are done they are dressed up with a hand grinder for fit as well as looks. Then the parts can be prepped and laid out in place for the welding.
Lay the smoker tank down with the hole facing up and place the fresh cut door back in the opening and support it from the inside so that it is flush all the way around. Now you can lay the hinges on the tank and door with equal spacing and line them up with a straight edge from top to bottom to keep them square so the door will swing freely back and forth. Try to keep an equal space all around the edge of the door as it lays in the opening. The center pin of each hinge should be directly over this air gap. Once your parts are lined up correctly you can now “tack” weld the hinges in place. (Tack welding is a temporary small weld that is just enough to hold the piece in place to make sure it is right before final welding is performed).
Next you can now make or buy a simple gate latch system to hold the door closed and tack it in place. Now the ¾ inch flat strap is cut and fitted to cover the air gap in the door to completely seal it when the door is fully closed. This is welded to the door only! Again only tack weld. Now you can make a simple handle and attach it to the door also. (See pics below)
Next you insert the wheel rim into the bottom of the smoker tank and place it so the rim is completely up inside the tank and tack it into place. Install the three metal legs equal distance around the bottom rim and again only tack these in place so that they can be adjusted once the tank is standing on them. The unit must be placed on flat surface when stood up so they can be adjusted so they all touch the floor equally.
Now stand the tank upright being careful not to bend the legs and adjust the legs as needed so the tank is standing up straight. Re-tack as needed.
Next the “damping unit” on top is now made and installed. A piece of scrap is cut and fitted to the inside diameter of the 3 inch metal tube as close as possible to shut off the air as needed. Two holes are drilled 180 degrees from each other in the 3 inch pipe for the pivots which are welded to the metal damper. These pivots can be of 3/8 inch rod or short bolts. (See pics below).
Finally, check your door to see if it opens and closes correctly as well as the movement of the damper. Make adjustments as needed and you can now finish all the welding on the outside. Weld in short lengths and weld in different areas and let each weld cool so as to minimize warping and drawing of the metal parts and the tank itself.
Now the inside of the unit can now be laid out for the adjustable shelves as well as the rotisserie in the top to hang ribs and meat chunks from. The shelf rails are made of ½ inch angle equally space from top to bottom and the shelves are made of wire mesh with a handle. These can be adjusted from top to bottom for cooking time as well as the heat range for cooking.
The rotisserie is welded into the top and is made with S shaped steel hooks with the ends made to a point. (See pics below)
That’s all there is. Once it is complete you can sand and paint with a heat primer and paint as you see fit. Then fire it up and burn it in for a couple of hours with a good hot fire to burn off all the impurities in the metal and paint. Now it’s ready for use.
Note: Do not use this unit in a closed area! It must have ventilation to exit the smoke as well as fresh air for the coals!