Behold, the “Desert Racer’s, Enviro-Friendly, Portable Fire Pit” or “DREFPFP” for short. The basic origins are a recycled, metal washing machine tub.
If you live in the west, you have probably seen variants of this design strapped to various RV’s, trailers and pickup trucks in route to and from the popular desert, off-road venues.

Desert Racer’s are a hardy, mobile, practical and generally frugile sort of people. Rarely do they camp in “herd ’em in, campground condominium tracks” instead, they choose to “dry camp” in approved open areas. Dry camps raely have approved fire rings. Ya gotta stay warm! The advantages of a portable fire pit are many, at the top is practicality:


Saves Time: No digging or rock gathering is required.

Safety: Placed above ground, the DREFPFP pit is less likely to be stumbled into or upon. Hot coals are not left on the ground after the fire is out.

Efficient: Because the fire is up and out of the ground, less fuel can be used to generate lateral heat to those warming themselves around the fire.

Stable Cooking Platform: The DREFPFP with BBQ grille attachment is a superb, stable grilling platform.

Portability: The DREFPFP sets up, and is stored in minutes.

Durability: The metal of washing machine tub is extremely durable and light.

Space Saving: Stores wood during transport.


Recycled: The main component of the DREFPFP is a recycled washing machine tub.

Low Impact: Digging and rock gather for the fire ring in not necessary.

Reduced Fire Hazard: Coals and ash must be buried before the DREFPFP can be stored.


Fuel: Burn common scrap wood found at construction sites.

Deluxe: Total cost for the most deluxe model as in this article, is just a bit over $50.

Follow along as we locate, remove, gather parts and build our fire pit.

Discarded washing machines can be found in many illegal dump sites. You can also purchase washing machine drums from appliance recyclers. We found our a couple miles from my home, out in the desert.

Task #1 is to remove the retaining bolt and plunger which allows access to the primary, retainer assemblies.

The tub retainer ring was frozen to the tub shaft. We used an assortment of tools inlcuding a die-grinder, chisel and bolt breaker to destroy and remove this piece.

With the machine on it’s side, lift on the rail of the tub as you hammer the center shaft. The tub should pop free.

Use a die grinder to remove the center tube. Note: some machines do not require this modification.

Our pit will double as a Barbque Grille. We obtained a grille top and a charcoal base grille intended for use on Weber Kettles. The charcoal base grille keeps the hottest embers of the bottom which prolongs the life of the pit.

I attached the bottom grille via common eye bolts and fender washers. After opening the eybolts, I pounded them shut around the grille ring. I then aligned, drilled holes, then mounted the grille.

I fabricated a simple set of legs with 3/4 inch galvanized pipe and associated flange fittings.

Set the forged eyebolts for the top grille. Drill mount and install the eye bolts. Align the top grille on the bolts to understand the depth of the die-grinder cuts into each eyebolt. The object is to make at least one eyebolt capture the grille with only a small slot open in the eye bolt circumference. The other eyebolts will be opened further. This creates a type of “locked in” mount for the grille.

I added a carrying cable assembly as the grilles are generally very dirty after use. The cable is long enough (6 feet during assembly) to fall away from the pit so as to not absorb heat directly.

With grille in place and a small set of coals the Bar-b-que application of the pit works superbly.


The best tub is a stainless steel type found in Speed Queen washers.

It goes without saying that you should void the newer machines with composite or plastic tubs. We found all parts necessary at our local Home Depot store.
For extra lateral heat, I drilled out 3/4 inch holes on center with the existing holes around the side.


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