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My Brinkmann Gourmet Smoker Modifications
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woody350ep
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Joined: 02 Sep 2010
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Location: South Bend, IN

PostPosted: Fri Sep 03 10 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, no pressure!!! I just really appreciate the effort you put into documentation on the mods!

I plan on skipping the leg mod, but tonight I was able to make the brackets for the extra rack and trace all the damper adjusters. I had bought a sheet of aluminum from Menard's, but today I was at WalMart and found a real nice heavy duty aluminum cookie sheet. I am going to be using that instead. I also got the raised rack in the charcoal pan done as well. I have to run back to Menard's or Lowe's tomorrow to get a dang hole saw. I thought I had a small cutter, but my smallest is 1-1/4". Since I am going to buy one, would you recommend a smaller size than what you used?

Also, how much was the extra grate you got for the middle rack mod?

Thanks again!
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day_trippr
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03 10 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

woody350ep wrote:
Hey, no pressure!!! I just really appreciate the effort you put into documentation on the mods!

I plan on skipping the leg mod, but tonight I was able to make the brackets for the extra rack and trace all the damper adjusters. I had bought a sheet of aluminum from Menard's, but today I was at WalMart and found a real nice heavy duty aluminum cookie sheet. I am going to be using that instead. I also got the raised rack in the charcoal pan done as well. I have to run back to Menard's or Lowe's tomorrow to get a dang hole saw. I thought I had a small cutter, but my smallest is 1-1/4". Since I am going to buy one, would you recommend a smaller size than what you used?

Also, how much was the extra grate you got for the middle rack mod?

Thanks again!


I used the 1" that I had on hand, but with the 9 intake holes I think a smaller cutter would have been closer to optimal: when I'm running at my usual 225F I have just one of the three intake dampers barely open, and I can take the cooker sans water pan above 400F at the top rack with two of the dampers wide open, so I almost never open the third damper at all.

The extra cooking grate was $10.
http://brinkmann.net/products/details.aspx?item=852-7080-E

I also recommend a second charcoal grate oriented 90 to the first one to form a grid that's small enough to virtually eliminate charcoal fall-through. To me it was worth the extra $9 for the 2nd Weber grate...

Cheers!
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woody350ep
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03 10 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks! I think maybe I'll go with a 3/4" hole then. That cooking grate is cheaper than I would have expected. I also saw that they have brackets that I could have used instead of making my own Confused . Oh well, it was fun to do Laughing

I bought my charcoal grate from Menard's last week for $4 on clearance. I'm getting ready to go now, so I guess I'll grab another to run 90*.
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woody350ep
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05 10 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's getting there. Between classes and my truck breaking down yesterday and just life in general, I have been able to get some time in on the mods. I goofed and bought the 3/8" fiberglass stuff and had already cut it so I ended up using it anyhow. I guess it'll work better than nothin'!!!! That got glued on tonight. I got all my dampers cut and installed today too. I ended up going 3/4" on the bottom ones, and the top one is 1" holes. I also put some RTV in the lamp fittings tonight. All I've got left to do tomorrow is drill and install the thermometer, and drill and install the 3 brackets for the extra grate. That should be it!!!
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day_trippr
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 1:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I know about "life getting in the way" Wink

I had a bit of an adventure with my wee cooker yesterday: what with all the dire warnings about Hurricane Earl coming our way I had taken all the gear off our decks and stashed them in the garage - including the smoker.

That part went fine, but when I was bringing everything back out yesterday, while carrying the smoker up the stairs I managed to miss a step and lurched forward, and my upper body planted right on top of the smoker - driving the lid down into the smoker, totally dislodging the 'glass cord.

As I didn't have any furnace cement left in the shop, I decided this would be a good time to try using hi-temp RTV to affix the seal, so I took the lid down to the shop, ground off all the remaining furnace cement, cleaned the cord up as best as possible, then gooped up the lid rim and stuck the cord back in place. I took it up to the deck and set it back on the smoker body and adjusted the fit, then let it sit overnight.

Late this morning when I was getting ready to put a rack of spares on I checked the lid and the fit looked excellent, so I was good to go. Spares went on at noon and so far so good. No leaks and the cooker is holding 225F on the nose.

Should have used some tape to mask off the lid before applying the goop, but expediency got the better of me. Little FrankennBrinkmann isn't out to win any beauty contests at this point Wink


The acid test will be at the end of the cook, when I get the smoker up to well over 400F to caramelize some sauce on the ribs. Once that's done and I put the lid on top of that inferno and close everything down, that's when the lid seal will be exposed to some serious heat. If it survives that, it will survive pretty much anything it will ever see.

I can smell the apple and wild cherry smoke from my office - smells great!

Cheers!
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woody350ep
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 2:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was wondering about doing the silicone as the adhesive from the start, but I figured why mess with it if you used the stove stuff and had good results Confused

Since mine is 1/8" smaller, which kind of irks me, I don't have a 100% seal around the edge. I guess what I have is better than it was though, huh??? Since yours came off, this would be a good time to ask. If I don't like the fit of this and decide to change to the 1/2" rope in the future, was it a major PITA to clean that off for the new stuff?
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day_trippr
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 2:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Going back to the original mods, the rope came with the tube of furnace cement, so it seemed proper to give that a go in the interest of keeping the mod costs down. It worked just fine, going on a year and a half, until I body-checked it loose. But I will tell you that the key is to get the bead down to clean metal or darned close, because that paint is slipperier than puppy poop and nothing will stick to it for long.

Since I put that article up I received emails from folks that used RTV with good success, so it's not like I'm flying blind on that, but until its durability has proven itself to my own satisfaction I'll hang on to a recommendation to use it over the cement. Stay tuned - I should know if the trend is good by tomorrow Wink


Anyway, I used the same technique to grind off the old cement that I did to grind off the paint before applying it: set up my drill press with a wire wheel, clamped a chunk of plywood to the table to fit the lid on, set the quill to put the wheel at the right height, then just went at it until it was all off. Didn't take very long.

Getting the bits off the rope was a matter of banging it around until all the cement was fractured then picking it off by hand. That took longer than cleaning the lid, but I got it done.

Then I washed the rope with some dishwashing detergent to get as much accumulated grease/smoke/whatever off to give the RTV a fighting chance, then dried it in a hot oven for about an hour. Not sure how effective that was but it seemed like a good idea. Once it had cooled back down to room temp I glued it on.

Unless you can see obvious gaps around your seal, I'd say give it a go and see how your cooker performs. If everything goes well, you've saved a bit of money, but if you have trouble controlling the temps and you think the seal isn't performing well, then I'd replace it with the thicker cord.

Cheers!
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woody350ep
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a spot that there is a gap of about 1/8" or so that shows up around 4" long. Not sure if it is the norm for these or not, but my smoker was OOR when I took it out of the box. I hand tweaked it as well as I could, but you know how that goes.

I'm thinking I'll end up with the 1/2", but I've already got the 3/8" on so I'm definitely gonna give it a go. Gonna fire it up today to see how I can do on the temp regulators
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woody350ep
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 4:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you have ANY smoke coming from your furnace seal? I have some in 2 places where it is slightly OOR. I just set up a small burn. I did 1/2 charcoal pan of Kingsford briquettes (what I have), and did about 25 briquettes lit in the center. I have 2 bottom dampers closed, and one 1/2 open. The top is fully open, and my lovely remote thermo is telling me 222* 7:30 in.

Question though. With the little bit of smoke coming from the seal, what exactly would that affect? Heat control at all? Burn time of the charcoal? Anything I'm not thinking of? I mean, if it's not something that would make a HUGE difference, I might just leave it.

224* @9 minutes in now Laughing
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woody350ep
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well CRAP. @15 minutes I was running 246*. I went out at closed the damper to 1/4 open. Now at 21:30 I'm running at 275*.

Maybe it's the seal after all? Might be getting too much exhaust? I might close down the exhaust damper to see what that does...
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SoEzzy
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don't close the exhaust, you stand a good chance of choking off teh fire and getting nasty bitter flavor on the meat, just tighten up the air intake and see if it settles back down again.
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woody350ep
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 4:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't have any meat on it. This is a test run for me to get the control aspect down a bit. I have 2 bottom dampers closed off and one is at 1/4 open. I thought lower than that would choke it out, that's why I did the top one. So I should open the top one up and close the bottom one even more?

I'm running 288* at 29 minutes right now
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woody350ep
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 4:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Opened the top damper back up and closed the bottom on to below 1/4 open. I'm running 304* @ 39:30. This seems a bit absurd!!! How can mine be so different than day_trippr's?!?!?!?!? It is virtually the same damn machine!
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woody350ep
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 5:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Still climbing. 332*@45 minutes now.

I'm gonna choke myself!!!
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day_trippr
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SoEzzy's right on - try to avoid using the exhaust damper to choke down the fire. From what you've said, I think you just had the intakes open too much too long, your fuel bed got toasty, and you just need to calm it down by closing down the intakes a bit more.

To answer your question: the gasket has always been a marvelously effective seal, I never get any smoke squirting out of the lid/body interface, whether with the original furnace cement, or now with the RTV. That's attributable to the 1/2" diameter of the rope verse the original gap, which I had gotten to be a nearly uniform 1/4" with some tweaking of the body cylinder, before applying the gasket and carefully adjusting it before the adhesive set to close up the gap.

As I've said, when I'm running along at 225F at the top cooking grate, I have just one intake barely open. A quarter-open intake will take the cooker to somewhere between 260-280F, depending on ambient temperature, wind, fuel burn pattern ambiguities, etc. That's the reason I'd have gone with 3/4" intake holes if I was going to do this over again - to cut down the sensitivity a bit.

So I would say you're at the beginning of the learning curve on your cooker. Two key things to consider along the curve: make small adjustments, especially when increasing the intakes, and give the cooker time to respond after any change, to cut down on any "yo-yoing". It takes a while for the fuel bed to calm down, but less time for it to get "boisterous", in my experience, so small adjustments and patience are key.

Just ate the "chef's treats" (trimmings from the rack o' spares I'm cooking) with a couple of home brews. It's been a fine day already! Very Happy

Cheers!
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woody350ep
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 5:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lucky you!!! Twisted Evil

I got all the way up to 354* I think at about 50 minutes.

I am now running 340@57 minutes.

That is crazy that that little bit of adjustment makes that HUGE of a difference. I would have never thought that. It seems to be coming down. I thought I would choke the fire out by having it nearly closed. I think you're right though, I probably let the coals have too much air and they took off. It is now down to probably 1/8 open. I guess I'll see how this ends up for a couple of hours or so, but it seems I definitely need to change my starting point and change that gasket out.

336*@59:30
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day_trippr
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just so I don't leave the question unasked: do you have water in the water pan? Makes a huge difference!

I have a theory, that with the intakes directly below the fuel, it's really easy to get a small, vertical/bullet style smoker running wild - whether it's an ECB, a WSM or a UDS. And it can take a loong time to get the fuel bed calmed back down if it "gets loose".

These are the reasons why I advise a slow start procedure - using just a half or even just a third of a chimney of lit fuel to start off, then working the controls to "sneak up" to desired cooking temperature before putting the meat on.

The rest is just getting used to how these wee beasts work. I'm sure you'll get the hang of it in short order!

Cheers!
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woody350ep
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 5:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, yeah, I have water in it. I filled it nearly up with boiling water. I am running 331*@74 minutes now. Still 100* HIGH!!!! I have a feeling that one culprit is my extra exhaust? It has been coming down, but VERY VERY slowly.

This burn is probably gone, huh? I think I'll run it's course, and then tomorrow when I start up, I'll set the thing to about 1/8 open to start and knock it up from there...
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Soapm
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

woody350ep wrote:
Still climbing. 332*@45 minutes now.

I'm gonna choke myself!!!


Try putting a couple of bricks inside to simulate adding cold meat. Meat absorbs heat so see if that lowers you a bit.

Like me, it also sounds like you need a smaller fire or a larger diffuser.
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woody350ep
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 06 10 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got it to hold 280ish for an hour. I checked the chicken after 1 hour because I figured it would be about ready for the probe. It was 175 already!! I wasn't expecting it to be there yet Shocked

Now I've closed off all the vents to choke the fire out.

The chicken looks and smells fantastic, but I dunno how it will taste yet.

I hope tomorrow goes a bit better than today did... Crying or Very sad
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