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Oil / Gas Field Pipe Off Cuts - Pellet Grill Project

CalgaryPT

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Years ago, well...OK—a decade+ ago if I am being honest—I used to make a lot of BBQs and smokers for people. It was one of my favourite projects. I probably made 20+ of them. They are super fun, last forever—and (aside from making a still), I can't think of a metal working project that has as much of a comfort factor as a smoker. I even made a few that I know have been handed down to kids in the same family. That's super satisfying.

In the days when I made them, they were all offset models that burned either briquettes or (mostly) wood. However, sourcing actual hardwood in Calgary is now tougher and certainly more expensive. Fortunately the advent of pellet grills has changed this. You can now find hardwood pellets easily and even order custom pellet mixes online. Believe or not Princess Auto has a decent selection in their meat/grill aisle in different flavours. But best of all pellet grills now have electronic controllers that sample the temperature and adjust the feed rate to maintain a stable temperature without babysitting a flue, chopping wood, stoking a fire, etc. In combination with a $50 wireless temperature probe (some are Bluetooth), you get to sit on the southern part of your body, partake in an adult beverage or two, and do nothing but savour the smell of hardwood smoked brisket or ribs for hours on end. So, yeah...Heaven.

I recently discovered that you can just buy the hopper/feeder with digital temperature controller unit separately. This sounds like a summer project for me. Just add this to a homemade grill drum and stand and you have a gem of a metalworking project. The issue I now have is that the contact I used to know for oilfield pipe is no longer around.

Does anyone know a source for offcut steel pipe in the 24" ballpark? I do have a slip roll that can do up to 16 gauge, but I'd like something thicker...so pipe is typically the route for smokers.

 
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Johnwa

Ultra Member
I don’t know if he has that large of pipe but he did have cutoffs available 2 years ago.

Darin Wakeham Shop Manager

Bus; 403 226 7420
262125 Balzac Blvd Fax; 403 226 7424
Balzac, Alberta,
T4B 2T3
E-mail darin@threadcoinc.com
 

Brent H

Ultra Member
@CalgaryPT : this is genius. We are looking to make a drum smoker for the times we are off remote work sites etc and the cook can take a day to smoke away - LOL. I received a beauty smoker for Christmas and have been making lots of yummy stuff! I have a few great ribs and sauces if you want some recipes.
I will check into the feeder assembly as this would be great!

@Janger : for the drums you can burn them out and then finish anything out with a wire wheel - I would think anything highly combustible or highly toxic would not be recommended though.....
 

Johnwa

Ultra Member
I just looked on kijiji there are ones that were used to transport bagged apple juice so nothing ever touched the sides.
 

CalgaryPT

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:rolleyes: here I am Mr. Safety OMG. Watch what was stored in the drum if you try this. I wouldn't cook food in a container that used to hold toxic stuff.
Yes, it has to be unused for sure. Petroleum penetrates the steel and is very difficult to get out for cooking purposes. When I used to make them I knew of guys that made them from old filing cabinets. Bad, bad, bad idea. Most were made of leaded paint, and certainly not heat safe. Only an unpainted 50 gallon barrel would work if you wanted to go that route, but good luck finding an unpainted one. I prefer pipe. I used to use 24" 3/16 or 1/4 wall stuff. I can slip roll the equivalent of a barrel if need be, but am hopeful I will find pipe. It holds heat longer and therefore requires less fuel + keeps the temp more consistent in northern climates. Competition pitmasters in Texas use 16 gauge, but in Alberta with cold wind you want thicker material.
 
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Chicken lights

Forum Pony Express Driver
I’d really have to dig for the name of the company but there was a shipper in Quebec that made pipe. They had various cut offs probably 20-24” diameter and a foot tall that I kept for awhile thinking they were too good to scrap.....but eventually went for scrap. Probably cost too much to ship to AB anyway
But they were roughly 3/8” wall thickness too, they were perfect for a small fire pit or smoker project.

I had four of those pipe cut offs :(
 

historicalarms

Ultra Member
two industries that come to mind that use and cut pipe to specific lengths so would have cut-off's are pile driving & Rat Hole drillers. They both routinely use pipe 12' to much larger. Wall thickness would be sufficient for your application as well.
Probably such companies in or close to Calgary but there is a piling company along QE ll just outside Ponoka that has piles of cut-off's visible in the yard from the hi-way.
 

CalgaryPT

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Thanks guys for all the suggestions. I agree industries that would likely have off cuts is a great place to start. Thinking of a few companies in town that do bending as well. There are always pieces left over there.

I'm going to start calling around next week. I'll post my results.
 
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CalgaryPT

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How about old air compressor tank? How tall of a section are you looking for?
I did try using one years ago for an offset smoker. There was always a smell to it, even after burn off. I read on a BBQ forum it's because the compressor oil is under pressure for, well 20 years or whatever the lifecycle was. Over that long a term it permeates the rusted surface of the tank, so you really have to get in there and sand down (not just wire brush) the interior surface. We just wire brushed the one we used, but it was shiney. Still, we could never get rid of the smell. In the end I think the guy I made it for (and who supplied the tank), used it to burn down his wood for charcoal. So in the end it did get to be a part of the BBQ world, kind of. I think had we sanded it the results may have been different, but it's just a lot of work. It turned me off used containers for any future builds.

On a similar note I just don't trust anything advertised online as unused, especially if it is a vessel I have to cut into. I've seen too many of those accident videos on YouTube. I think there was even a OHSA video about a barrel purchased as "food safe." Sadly it was classified as such because it had been used to store peppermint oil for the food industry. And yeah, it exploded.

So I trust no one when it comes to vessels. While I won't use one again for a smoker, there are lots of good uses for used tanks. There's a metal artist in the USA called Kevin Caron who has a YouTube channel. He uses lots of stuff like this. His advice for people buying a used tank is to only buy it if the compressor and other components are still attached. Otherwise, if the tank is bare, there is a 50% chance it has been used to store some sort of liquid (diesel is common).

Sounds like good advice to me.
 

CalgaryPT

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I’d really have to dig for the name of the company but there was a shipper in Quebec that made pipe. They had various cut offs probably 20-24” diameter and a foot tall that I kept for awhile thinking they were too good to scrap.....but eventually went for scrap. Probably cost too much to ship to AB anyway
But they were roughly 3/8” wall thickness too, they were perfect for a small fire pit or smoker project.

I had four of those pipe cut offs :(
Thanks for thinking about it. There is a company called Compass Bending that may have big cut offs. I will find some...I love challenges like this. The best part about getting older is I finally have the patience I always wanted when I was young.

Just waiting for some additional technical specs from the company that makes the Hopper and Burner Unit. Turns out the controller they use is a improved version of what Pit Boss (a well know smoker manufacturer) uses, but way cheaper.

I'll likely order the unit as I know I have a fall back plan in case I can't source the pipe. I can always slip roll 16 gauge up to 3 feet long myself. Not ideal, but do-able.
 
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