Step 1: Clean!
Step 2: First & Second coat
The legs were removed and painted black. All I needed to do to the legs was hit them with a wire brush to remove some rust and scale, then washed them. The legs were rubbed with steel wool and hit with Krylon BBQ flat black ($3 can). The legs will be reverse installed to the kettle body (the first of several 'cheap ass mods'). This modification is called the firebowl mod, it will allow me to lift the smoker directly off the fire & water bowls while smoking to add more fuel. It is a very simple modification that makes the smoker more useful.
Step 4: New Handles
Step 5: Thermometer calibrated and reinstalled
I was recommended to buy a wireless digital probe thermometer (Maverick ET732) and plan to when I can scrape up $60.
MORE TO COME! (dampers, smokestack, firebowl legs)
Mucho thanks to the FrankenBrinkmann website and /r/smoking for inspiration and great information!
Step 6: Fire Bowl Legs
I used (4) 5.5" carriage bolts as legs, they cost about $2 each at Home Depot. I used a phillips screwdriver and a hammer to make pilot holes for the drill and was surprised that the screwdriver easily punctured through the metal like it was butter. I drilled the holes on an angle inside the lower bend of the firebowl using a 1/2" bit on my drill press. Stainless steel nuts and lock washers were used on the inside of the bowl where it will face the fire. Zinc coated nut used on the outside of the bowl. I will probably spray paint the carriage bolts and nuts with 2 coats of flat BBQ black to be on the safe side since i hear zinc can offgas when heated.
It sits at the perfect level now inside the smoker, and I can lift the smoker off cleanly from the firebowl when I need to dump ash, add charcoal, wood or refill the water bowl that rests on top.
The legs sit neatly under the smoker. No more bricks to place the firebowl on! I was thinking about adding handles to the firebowl, but all I am going to add is a damper to control air flow. I own kevlar welding gloves, so I can easily lift and dump the firebowl as needed.
Step 7: Installing Top Vent
I also painfully learned carbon steel hole saws are not really suited for working on metal. Rather than incur the expense of $40 for a set of bi-metal hole saws for one single cut, I endured and did the slow and steady method. It took about an hour, and a lot of oil, but I got through the lid.
The vent lids:
I cut the vent lids from 18 ga aluminum with my tin snips. I left a flap of metal in my cutout to bend upwards as the handle. I also rounded the edges with a bench grinder and 1/2 round file, and I sanded the metal in one direction to add a nice finish. I secured it with a small SS bolt and a leftover acorn nut to pretty it up. I had to hand bend the lids a bit to accommodate the rounded dome.
Step 8: Bottom Vents
I started to think about the bottom vent and realized it's going to be damn hot under that firebowl while cooking. I added a piece of 3" long scrap dowel as a cheap handle to the new vent cover. I hit the wood with 2 coats of BBQ black to keep it from burning up.
I then painted the leg black where the handle sits closest to when full open. The way it is set up, the vent always closes to the left this way, and the painted leg marks full open, I sort of lucked out that it happened that way. Painting the leg black as a reference helped a lot during cooking.
Step 9: Air management pt. 2 - vent cap/ash
I placed this drilled bowl (vent cap) open side down over the charcoal bowl's vent holes so the ash will stay out of the vent area, and fresh air will be drawn inside in all directions at the same time around the charcoal for better fire management. The large water dish will rest directly on top of this vent cap, which is a nice added bonus that helped keep the water boiling steadily during the cooking process by lifting it off the charcoal.
Step 10: 9 lb Boston Butt (BB)
Step 11: The rub
Basic Rub Recipe:
1 c sugar
1/4 c salt
1 Tbsp Adobo
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp sweet paprika
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp italian herb blend
2 Tbsp Chili powder
1 Tbsp cocoa/chipotle pepper mix
1 Tbsp of dried minced garlic
and a few other odd and ends from the spice cabinet.
Most of the spices we use in our rubs are sourced from penzey's. - they have amazing stuff. They are also local for us in the KC Metro area. Check them out, they do mail order, the 4-8oz bags of spices are your best bargain from them.
Step 12: Smoker ready to go
I can tell within the first 5m that the next mod I'll be doing after this smoke session will be sealing the inside of the lid where it mates with the body of the smoker. They sell a fireproof gasket kit for about $20. Other than this, the smoker is working as it should.
Step 13: The first casualty - stock thermometer
Step 14: First firebowl change out, a look at the meat
The biggest issue you encounter with this sort of smoker is the need to constantly add water to the bowl from a boiling kettle. I added about 4 boiling kettles (about 3gal) to the water bowl over the course of a 7-8 hour cook. Luckily you can easily access the waterbowl from the front door, and if you are careful water can be added to the bowl from here.
Step 15: Meat at 5 hours, 6 hours
Step 16: Texas Crutch, Igloo treatment.
The BB was pulled from smoker reading an internal temperature of 198. We tossed the foil wrapped BB in a small Igloo cooler for an hour to rest. The Igloo treatment can now begin, which will finish off any cooking and bring the juices back evenly into the entire BB.
Step 17: Voila! Meatbot delivers.
Any questions? email@example.com // re:Meatbot check me out on Tumblr: http://docsteamcrunk.tumblr.com