Saturday, September 26, 2009

Riverwalker's Survival Wallpaper - Hairy Mygalomorph

Here is a free image suitable for use as wallpaper for your computer.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Smoker Barrel Tips - Wood Chunks vs. Wood Chips

Due to the fact that a smoker barrel with a full load of charcoal will normally burn for anywhere from 10 to 12 hours, I’ve found that wood chunks work better than wood chips. The normally smaller, thinner wood chips will burn up much faster. Three inch diameter limbs broken up into quarters make good sized chunks that will last almost as long as your charcoal. Just place a few handfuls in your wood chip holder and start smokin’!

Warning: Make sure you soak them in water beforehand to avoid a flame up.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Smoker Barrel Gear - The Propane Torch

A propane torch is another piece of gear that can be handy for your smoker barrel. It will allow you to start your charcoal directly in your smoker. It can also be used to do a burn out on your barrel when building a fire in your barrel may not be an option due to burn bans or code restrictions.

They can also be used to burn weeds and cactus. They are more commonly referred to as "pear burners" in my part of the country. A decent propane torch can usually be found for under $40 and is well worth the cost, especially since it is a multi-use item.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ugly Drum Smoker - Care and Maintenance

The major parts of your ugly drum smoker will require a certain amount of cleaning from time to time. This can be done simply with a good wire brush, soap and water. It is best to avoid the use of harsh chemicals and cleaners to avoid any possibility of your food becoming contaminated. The normal temperatures used in a smoker barrel are generally a lot lower than those used in a conventional “stick burner” and may not be sufficient to burn off chemical residues left by commercial cleaning compounds and de-greasers. A little “elbow grease” is a lot safer and your food will taste even better as a result.

Cleaning the Lid

The lid for your ugly drum smoker is best cleaned with plain old soap and water. You can also check to make sure the vent holes aren’t stopped up to insure proper venting. You should also check to make sure your handle is properly tightened and secure.

Cleaning the Grill Grates

The grill grates for your ugly drum smoker will require cleaning with a good wire brush. If done on a regular basis, it will only take a few minutes to clean properly. This can be done prior to use or immediately after you are through cooking or smoking your food and the grates have cooled down.

Cleaning the Charcoal Basket

If properly constructed the charcoal grate should be easy to remove from your charcoal basket for cleaning. The expanded metal portion of your charcoal basket can then be cleaned with a stiff wire brush and then you can rinse it with soap and water.

Cleaning the Temperature Gauge

Keep the probe for your temperature gauge clean in order to get more accurate temperature readings. A couple of passes with a mild abrasive pad will clean the grease build-up off the probe. Wipe the dial face with a clean paper towel.

Cleaning the Barrel

The barrel itself should also be cleaned with soap and water to help it last longer and to keep it as clean as possible. Remember, the barrel is made of metal and water should not be left standing inside for any length of time in order to prevent unnecessary rust from occurring. Don’t leave your smoker barrel standing in water. This may decrease the life of your smoker barrel.

Barrel smokers can build up a creosote type residue over time that could create a potential fire hazard. Keeping it clean will help to eliminate this problem. The best way to clean your smoker barrel is with soap, water and a good wire brush to insure the quality of the food you cook on your smoker barrel is the best you can make it.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ugly Drum Smoker - The Cooking Grates

Here is a pic of the grill grates installed to give you a little better idea of what the finished assembly will look like.

Excerpt from The Smoker Barrel a guide to building an ugly drum smoker:

“Measure up 25 inches from the BOTTOM of the barrel. This is where your first cooking grate will go. Put three bolts around the barrel, spread out pretty evenly. I used to do four bolts (8 when I used small grates). What I found was that if you are off even a little bit on one of the four bolts, your grate will be uneven. Three bolts will always have a stable (even if not level) cooking surface. Throw a 20 pound brisket on a grate and let me know how important stability is (again, don’t ask how I know).For the second grate, measure up 31 inches from the BOTTOM of the barrel. This will give you six inches between cooking grates, and roughly three inches from the flat top of the barrel; more than enough room for a slab of ribs or two.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ugly Drum Smoker - The Charcoal Basket

The picture above shows a little more detail of the charcoal basket assembly.

The picture above shows the assembled charcoal basket in your smoker barrel.

Excerpt from The Smoker Barrel a guide to building an ugly drum smoker:

“Take your expanded metal and wrap it around your 14”or 16” charcoal basket. Want to make it a little easier? If you have a bottle of propane for a gas grill, wrap it around that. It will give it a pretty good shape to start with. Put a short (1”) bolt through the expanded metal at the top and bottom to hold it together. Put them about two inches from the top and bottom of the expanded metal. Add the two of the same sized bolts equidistant from the first bolt (put three bolts the same distance apart around the outside). These three bolts will be where the charcoal grate rests, so try to spread them out evenly. If you want to add a fourth bolt, feel free to do so. This is your smoker.”

Hopefully these pictures will give you a little better idea of what the assembled charcoal basket will look like. I am also currently working on what I hope will be a simpler version of a charcoal basket for your ugly drum smoker.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

How to Build A Smoker Barrel

Smokers aren’t really all that complicated. They create heat and smoke in a controlled environment while giving you the means and ability to smoke your food. The basic idea behind a smoker is to have one area in your smoker that creates heat and smoke and the required temperatures to do your cooking and another area that is designed to hold food in an environment that allows you to control the temperature. The difference between these spaces will provide the necessary airflow that is required to keep the heat and smoke working together to properly smoke your food.

Advantages of a Barrel Smoker

1.) You can achieve temperature control through an adjustable valve which limits airflow. This is one of the easiest ways to smoke food because you don’t have to deal with fire tending and helps to save on fuel for your smoker. This also allows for a very simple smoker design which allows for easy venting of exhaust through the barrel lid. This ability to easily adjust airflow, both intake and exhaust, is one of the most important parts of a barrel smoker.

2.) Ugly drum smokers are also very portable. They are relatively lightweight and can be easily moved if necessary. They are great to use in areas where the feasibility of a more permanent type of smoker may not be an option due to permits or limited space.

3.) They can be easily built with simple tools and parts. You don’t need any special skills to make one.

The material you decide to use to make your smoker needs to be strong enough to withstand the temperatures that are involved in smoking. It also needs to be able to withstand a certain amount of abuse that will almost certainly occur over time.

Just because you don’t have any special skills, doesn’t mean you can’t make a great smoker. A smoker can be built out of almost anything you have on hand. It just takes a little imagination on your part. Remember that your own abilities and experience when combined with a “can do” attitude will allow you to accomplish most anything. When building your smoker don’t be afraid to try something different, you’ll be surprised at the results.

This post will contain links to all the articles on how to build a smoker barrel from a 55 gallon food grade barrel. Hopefully by doing a step by step process it will make it easier for you to build an Ugly Drum Smoker of your own.

The Smoker Barrel

Building a Smoker Barrel - The First Step

Building A Smoker Barrel - The Second Step

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Magna Cart Personal Hand Truck

The Magna Cart personal hand truck is a great little item for use in an emergency. Whether you need something to carry several cases of MRE's, several ammo boxes or miscellaneous assorted gear items that aren't easily carried by hand, this is a very useful item. It has a capacity of 150 pounds. This is way more more than the average person can carry without some form of assistance. It has a very rugged design and is also extremely lightweight. It folds flat and this helps to make storage very easy when space may be at a premium. It extends to over 39 inches and is easy to maneuver and handle. Mine has done an excellent job for me whenever it has been needed. It is also a multi-use item in that it can be extremely handy around the house for non-emergency purposes.