by Gordy McCaffer
(Central New York)
Redneck Barbecue Grill
Hi Jody and fellow welders! A friend of mine came over to my welding shop one day with this 55 gallon steel barrel and asked if I could make him a barbecue grill. I said sure, I can build one.
This particular barrel had a removable lid because he was previously using it to test small, outboard boat motors. The first thing I did was to TIG-weld the lid on all the way around. On the next one I build, I'll find a one-piece barrel...less work. After doing some careful layout work with a centering head and a square, I cut the barrel in half with an abrasive cut-off wheel mounted on my hand-held Milwaukee grinder/sander. All sharp edges were de-burred.
I built two rectangular frames from angle iron, placed each barrel half in one of the frames, and welded each barrel half inside a frame. The two frames, back to back, formed a nice flat sealing surface which help keeps the heat and smoke in the barbecue. I welded three heavy-duty hinges to the back side, connecting the two rectangular frames together. I had a chrome handle laying around. I welded it to the front top for easy opening.
The cooking surface is expanded metal and is removable so that the grill can be cleaned out. There is another piece of expanded metal below which the charcoal sits on.
The sliding vent door on the side is made of 12 gauge stainless. The two smokestacks on top have pivoting, adjustable vents. The front shelf is also stainless. I TIG-welded that to the steel frame with 309 wire.The side shelf has some little hooks welded on the front for hanging cooking utensils. The hooks were made by cutting up chain links into a "J" shape. The wheels are from an old lawn mower. A piece of chain stops the top from going too far back when opened. For the most part, the angle iron frame was stick welded with 6011 stick rod. I also used my MIG machine here and there...for example, welding the vent pipes to the top of the barbecue.
I've sampled some ribs and chicken from this grill and can say it does a fine job. Some day I'll build one for myself!