Thursday, September 8, 2011

BBQ Smoker Modifications

People have shown a (surprising) interest in seeing the mods I did to my BBQ Smoker, which is the 
Char-Griller 5050 Duo Gas-and-Charcoal Grill with a side firebox added. We use the charcoal side almost exclusively for smoking big hunks of meat but I have noticed some shortcomings. Apparently a bunch of other people have too, and I found some great ideas for fixing things up. The biggest problem has been keeping temperature up, not surprising because of the relative lightweight nature of the smoker, and I wanted to address this so I could help keep the temperatures stable.

My idea was to both add thermal mass and to increase the time that the smoke/heat stayed in the cooking chamber. The first addition was to add a 3 inch water heater exhaust pipe to the chimney and bring it down to the grill surface.

Aluminum exhaust hose

The next step was relatively simple but I think will make the biggest difference in the overall performance of the smoker; eight firebricks in the bottom of the smoker. These bricks sit close to the firebox opening and add a tremendous amount of thermal mass to the smoker. 

I mounted a couple of stainless steel sheet metal squares on top of the bricks. The right side piece is pressure fit between the slightly offset bolts holding on the firebox and the left side is sitting loose so it can be adjusted to tune the temperature gradient across the pit. 

Bricks and stainless ductwork

The stainless steel plates serve two purposes: both serving as a bit of a duct to carry the smoke across the pit and as a vaporization plate for dripping fat and juices from the meet. I can also add a cookie sheet if I need to with some water (or beer :)  ) to make it into a water smoker,  but I have a vertical smoker, the Brinkmann 852-7080-E Charcoal Gourmet Grill and Smoker, that does water very well. 

The finished product

With the smoke coming through the bricks and under the stainless plates and drifting up and back across the surface of the grill to get to the exhaust pipe I'm hoping to get a more serious hit of smoke in the meat as it smokes and also a more consistent temperature over time. I'll keep you posted!

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