BBQ Smoker Build “The Tower”

So during the busy summer I wanted to smoke more meat at one time on one smoker you know for parties and catering. This was a problem because all I had was a small uneven Brinkman offset, a Weber, and a few Ugly drum smokers… It was about as fun as getting your teeth pulled. Dragging out and setting up four or five smokers to cook a bunch of meat. So I set out on a mission. After cooking on the 55 gallon drums (ugly drum smokers) many times and understanding how they worked and why they worked so well I decided to build something better… Something bigger.

After a couple of weeks or days or hours of looking through CraigsList and keeping my eyes peeled around the neighborhoods I am around and not being able to afford a big smoker or my dream smoker the Cook Shack.

I found something…

A computer sever tower from the 80’s. The ad read: big steel cabinet 7 foot tall $100 bucks. I sent out an email and offered $50. I quickly received a yes and was on my way out to pick it up! When I got to the building I found out that the company makes these and they cost around $1500 new. I met the guy who was selling the cabinet for the company and we walked back through the maze of cool stuff. When we came upon it I felt like the monkey’s in the movie 2001 A Space Odyssey. Since the pictures on the ad did not do it justice I will just tell you now this thing is 8 feet tall I am 5 foot 9″! What have I gotten myself into I could have just walked away… But I didn’t. I looked at it for a few more minutes walked around it knocked on it and could see the goal… A big not just big but huge smoker. I had them load it up with a fork lift and gave them some cards and a few pounds of left over meat and I bid them farewell.

On the way home I can’t wait to start working on this thing. First I have to figure out how to get it out of the truck I think it weighs 500 pounds! But I have to stop and get my first big meat order ready for my boss at work. I stop by the area Restaurant Depot and get meat. Also, I meet a new friend Gary who has all ready seen my cabinet in the back of my truck and see’s my vision! Hey this thing doesn’t just make meat it makes friends too!

So I get home and I have to this thing out of the truck… I don’t have a fork lift. So called over the neighbor Mark. Apparently waking him up from a good dream because he was not a happy helper! Some of the comments were how I was crazy and how big is to big. I let the grump go back after we get it out. Here it is laying there on it’s back and the build begins…

First off it’s the middle of the summer 100+ degrees so I can’t do much during the day. So I wait till the sun goes down and I start pulling the left over wires and plastic parts out. I got all the extra stuff out and cleaned off all the double sided tape from the wire holders off. next I removed all the old tar based door seal off mind you it’s 30 years old and it is the first time this thing has seen heat and that seal stinks! I found some heavy duty casters at Harbor Freight and welded them and bolted them to the bottom (The welds weren’t going so well). While I had it on it back I drilled three 1″ holes in the bottom of the base. I put in some 1″ threaded pipe and some 1″ gas valves to control the air intake. Now I need to stand it up…. I don’t know if you have ever tried to stand up a 500 pound steel box with no handles and no help but its not fun! Some 2X4’s and ratchet straps and my truck made short work of it… Scary but not to bad! After I got it at a 45 degree angle Mrs. Chop and I were able to get it up right!

Next was the shelves. I kept it as simple as I could I had a goal in mind use every inch of the inside. So I went down to metal by the foot and got some expanded steel from their cut off bin. I had a bed frame so I cut that down to fit in as shelve holders. I had Metal by the foot cut the expanded steel to the right size so all I had to do was weld it to the bed frame angle iron not to bad one evenings work. To hole the racks to the walls I drilled 1/4″ holes evenly spaced at 7″ so I could fit turkeys or big pork butts on the shelves and put 2″ 1/4-20 bolts in the holes.

Then the fire basket. It was a hard choice how big do you make it? I had done some research on the size and couldn’t find the right answer… So I winged it and made a two foot by one foot by one foot cage open on the top with 2″ legs.

I am a a safe person when it comes to cooking and I don’t want anyone to get sick because of paint. I had to find away to get rid of all the paint on the inside and outside… I decided to have it sandblasted. So I started calling around. The first place I called said sure we can do it for $100… I thought cool so I loaded the beast up. (not fun ratchet straps and fingers crossed..)

As I pull into the sandblasters the guy that I talked to on the phone started back peddling well this thing is bigger than I expected and it’s not paint it’s powder coated. I got a message from him the next day with a new quote $300+ I was not happy I headed out to take it somewhere else. I ended up down in an older part of town at I place that did huge trailers. They did it in an hour and only charged me $110!

But the day I wanted it back it was raining… HARD! If you have ever had freshly sanded metal before but it can rust in a matter of minutes… I had them wrap it up in plastic still it rusted before I even got it home…

After getting it home it of course stopped raining. A couple of buddies had come over to work on their projects so they helped me get it out of the truck. and they mocked me also about the size of the Beast.

Now it was time I couldn’t waste anymore time so it would rust anymore. I wiped down the outside with acetone witch took off most of the rust that had formed and I loaded up the spray gun with Rustolum high temp satin black and thinned it just a little with acetone. I sprayed 3 coats on it and it looks great!

The next day I came out to start the seasoning process. I filled a spray bottle with vegetable oil and sprayed every inch of the inside down. Then I mixed charcoal and wood in my fire cage and lit it up with my weed burner torch! This was a test I had everything done as far as I could tell and had put in a couple of thermometers to see if it could get up to temp… It did and it kept going no matter what I did it rocketed past 250 past 300 past 400 past 550… Did I forget to mention I didn’t seal the door because I thought the metal on metal seal would be enough. Nope it wasn’t. I just let it burn.

The next day (yes 15 hours later) it was still over 200. I opened it up to find that the oil that I had sprayed all over was now a perfect non stick seal! The high heat has burned the oil perfectly all over!

So a few days later I found fiberglass wood stove seal at the local hardware store with some pure silicone. I went around the door twice and made a perfect seal.

After it had dried a day or two I fired it back up and what do you know IT WORKS! It works so well I can make adjustments and see a change it a matter of a few minutes!

So now comes the real test meat. I preped a couple of briskets and butts and fired it up I let it cook just like I did on the the Ugly Drums. The results where awesome. I have noticed now after cooking close to 1000 pounds on “THE TOWER” that I get a very good smoke ring every time without it ever being over smoked!

Here are some pictures of the build and so on.

P.S. It’s for sale the the first $3000.00 cash takes it!

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2 Responses to BBQ Smoker Build “The Tower”

  1. McRib says:

    Can you make a D’Quer half that height?