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Charbroil Double Chef smoker modification for longer cooks

 
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wftyler
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Joined: 12 Jan 2010
Posts: 37

PostPosted: Tue Feb 16 10 4:26 am    Post subject: Charbroil Double Chef smoker modification for longer cooks Reply with quote

Seems daily someone in the Smokering Nation is finding out what an excellent bargain the Charbroil Double Chef is (currently going at about $70 shipped to door). Those of us who have one know the biggest shortcoming is the depth of the charcoal chamber/grate. It's frustratingly shallow.

As offered by the mfr, the grate is only about an inch and a half deep. Barely good enough for a 2 deep stack of charcoal with a little wood - any more and you're running hot coals against the cooking chamber - NOT good for longevity. Using the minion method with the stock chamber, getting more than a 4-5 hr uninterrupted burn was nearly impossible.

I've found an excellent (and very inexpensive) way to overcome this shortcoming. My local Freds store (similar to Dollar General/Family Dollar/etc.) has a 14 inch wide, 5 inch deep aluminum "dishpan" that's a near perfect fit for making an extended capacity charcoal chamber for the Double Chef. Just remove the bottom of the pan with a hacksaw, and you can TRIPLE your coal capacity. I removed the bottom inch of material to leave room for adding coals with the water pan in place (last pic). Even with the water pan in it's normal position below the bottom rack, I can now run DOUBLE the amount of charcoal I did before (even with wood chunks added). If I place the water pan on top of the bottom rack, add sand, and fill the aluminum ring to full capacity, I have a nearly 12 hour uninterrupted supply of fuel using the Minion method. Not bad for a $5 modification!!!!

The pictures below are for about a 6 hour unintterupted supply of charcoal with the water pan in it's normal space. The nice thing about the shape of the cheap aluminum pan is that you can bank coals high up on the sides and start the middle ones with the Minion method. There's plenty of clearance as loaded here, and the aluminum pan never touches the smoker side walls.









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tnbarbq
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Joined: 12 May 2008
Posts: 739
Location: West TN/KY Lake

PostPosted: Tue Feb 16 10 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice solution to your problem. I may need to hit Fred's and see what else they have.
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TMB
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Joined: 31 Dec 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17 10 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is a 9 in x 3 in ring I cut so as to do the same thing as wftyler made. This is also the same ring I use for the Big Easy to lift the basket up in the chamber. The cuts are just right for charcoal or wood to be added if need be. Cost was 10 bucks, wished I had seen wftyler first Wink


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Bronxbbq
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Joined: 22 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17 10 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is my mod to the ring. This is a phenomenal smoker once seasoned good and sealed up a bit with some tweaks. I also flared out the top a little bit. I was getting a 7 hour burn with the stock ring. Now i get 14. I'm installing Guru as we speak.

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wftyler
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Joined: 12 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17 10 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The mods look great, gentlemen. BronxBBQ I considered going the route you did, but the aluminum pan from Freds just fixed all my concerns. 4 inches deep after removing the bottom, and the outward taper at the top plus the 14 inch diameter at the opening means it's the same exact width as the water pan. So water overfills (and grease drippings) don't spill down on the coals.
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dmike25
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Joined: 27 Dec 2009
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Location: Colorado Springs (sometimes)

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18 10 12:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanx guys! Guess I'll be puttin some mods to my Double Chef. Bronxbbq, "sealed up a bit with some tweaks". What did you do to it?
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wftyler
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Joined: 12 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21 10 9:26 am    Post subject: **CAUTION**CAUTION**CAUTION**CAUTION**CAUTION Reply with quote

Fellow smokers,

After a near disaster today, I must offer up an urgent caution on using this method. A use of the aluminum modification today revealed a serious issue with the use of the Freds aluminum pan as a charcoal ring on the Double Chef.

After filling the aluminum ring half full, and starting a half chimney of about 30-35 coals, the smoker started at about 200 degrees, then rose to 250 and held that temp for about 5 minutes, then SPIKED to 400 degrees. I had one of the vent tabs open on the Double Chef, then closed it. For the next hour and a half I could not bring the temp down below 350 degrees. Fortunately I had chicken leg quarters on the smoker, and relative to other meats they do well at higher temps.

I started with the water pan 1/3 full of sand, and after the temp spike I added water until full. The temp dropped about 25 degrees. I sprinkled water on the outer coals to bring the temp down and it worked temporarily (3 mins). The temps quickly went back to 350+ (keep in mind I'm using an accurate probe thermometer to measure the temp at the top grate). I finally doused the coals with water. The temp finally dropped down to 300 degrees until the coals burned down.

The problem? The heavier gauge aluminum ring holds and radiates too much heat. And I must confess that the times I stated in my initial post I truly got, but using the aforementioned cheap roasting pan that doesn't raise the lower chamber temp so much. That was simply a throwaway pan that got me great extension of time until I discovered the ring at Freds. I assumed that the ring - being the same size as the cheaper roaster pan - would yield the same results, but with more consistency. Worst of all the intense heat has all but destroyed the powder coated finish all along the bottom chamber. It'll start rusting now for sure. Kind of a big lesson learned for me.

I urge you to try another material (steel) or thinner grade of aluminum. Cheaper roasting pans work better. My bad guys! Embarassed
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dmike25
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Joined: 27 Dec 2009
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Location: Colorado Springs (sometimes)

PostPosted: Sun Feb 21 10 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wftyler, thanx for the update. I was very excited when I read your initial post, but since I now have a uds my double chef hasn't been used! My plan was that as soon as I got the uds figured out, mod the double chef and use both. I've got a couple questions. You said: "but using the aforementioned cheap roasting pan ". I musta missed that part. Are you speaking of a throwaway (heavy foil) pan you get at the grocery market? Do you think the mod by Bronxbbq would be the better fix (mod)? (by the way Bronxbbq, I'd sure like to know what you did to seal er up!) wftyler, thanx again for your update (warning?). Sure appreciate your honesty. Seems to be a common trait among ringers!
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Bronxbbq
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Joined: 22 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21 10 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just make sure the sections are trued and not out of round. Also work with the door and latch to make sure you get a good seal. At first you may have to run it with both bottom vents closed and the top about half.. Once you get a good build up/season in it she will settle down.

I think lighting "and starting a half chimney of about 30-35 coals"/Half a chiminy was the down fall on his part. I only start with no more than 10 and make sure i start adjusting way before the 225 mark. On long smokes "more fuel" still the same method. I dont use water but once all is setup and meat on i dont open the door or lid. I monitor it with the ET-73. Keep you spray bottle that you use to sprits handy "apple juce in mine". Use it to calm down outa control coals. Mine never sees above 250.
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wftyler
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Joined: 12 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21 10 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dmike25 wrote:
wftyler, thanx for the update. I was very excited when I read your initial post, but since I now have a uds my double chef hasn't been used! My plan was that as soon as I got the uds figured out, mod the double chef and use both. I've got a couple questions. You said: "but using the aforementioned cheap roasting pan ". I musta missed that part. Are you speaking of a throwaway (heavy foil) pan you get at the grocery market? Do you think the mod by Bronxbbq would be the better fix (mod)? (by the way Bronxbbq, I'd sure like to know what you did to seal er up!) wftyler, thanx again for your update (warning?). Sure appreciate your honesty. Seems to be a common trait among ringers!


dmike25,

Yep - the cheap roasting pan is the one-use throwaway stuff most people buy for a buck or two during the holiday season to roast their "roaster" birds (large hens or turkeys) or hams. I'm going back to tht method, until I get a steel ring fabbed in size and shape similar to Bronxbbq's. I'll probably do a full circle ring.

BronxBBQ,

I'm pretty certain that the 30-35 coal start didn't help things, but even if I'd started with only 15-20 (like I usually do), once all coals are lit the aluminum just heats up like crazy; and the continuous reinforcing heat from the coals keeps the high heat trapped. With the "Freds ring" being only 3/4 of an inch away from the sides the heat just seared right through the powder coat finish. Only way to quickly reduce the heat is to disassemble the unit and yank out the ring. I couldn't do that at the time because the water pan was full to the rim and extremely hot.

At least I now know what NOT to do. Good thing is that the unit is still very usable - won't be very pretty though. Plus when I discovered them at BargainOutfitters for only $65 I had the foresight to buy and store away a second unit for future use. After this mishap I may yank another. Wink


You know something else that's sorta strange. Even after LITERALLY dousing the coals 3-4 times with water, the Double Chef continued to hold temps for 3-4 hours AFTER I'd removed the leg quarters! I'm considering an experiment to see how long a 1/4 chimney lit coals over a 1/4 chimney unlit coals will last with the aluminum ring in place - and how high the temps will get. As I think about it, the ring may allow long temp smoking/cooking on way less coals.
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wftyler
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22 10 8:27 am    Post subject: new information Reply with quote

Guys,

I have a new correction - one day I'm gonna get it together. I've identified the source of my heat spike, and it is NOT the pan. It's the choice of sand.

Apparently I either used too much sand or made the wrong choice in sand. I used Quikrete brand All Purpose Sand, about a third of the pan full, and placed it on TOP of the lower grate. Apparently the sand holds a sh!tload of heat.

Being one who has to know "why", I tried an experiment this afternoon, using the same aluminum pan, a little less charcoal, about 15 charcoals started in the chimney, and WATER in the pan (56 oz to start). As of now, 3 hours after starting the ring using the minion method again, temps have gone no higher than 250 degrees. And I've refilled the water pan as normal.

Another notable difference here from yesterday is I actually have the water pan BELOW the lower grate. So if I were actually smoking meat, I would be able to use both grates. Yesterday the pan was sitting on the lower grate.

So the charcoal ring is good.................the sand...???? Well, I'm gonna play around with that one. Probably go back to using regular playground/sandbox type sand. Just about got it all worked out. Stay tuned!
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fsr402



Joined: 14 Jan 2010
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25 10 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
a little less charcoal, about 15 charcoals


Right there you go. It's not the sand it the fact that you started with half the heat. I've screwed up like this and there is no stopping it once you do.
FYI, when trying to determine where you went wrong ONLY change one thing at a time.
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wftyler
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26 10 4:37 am    Post subject: continuation Reply with quote

fsr402 wrote:
Quote:
a little less charcoal, about 15 charcoals


Right there you go. It's not the sand it the fact that you started with half the heat. I've screwed up like this and there is no stopping it once you do.
FYI, when trying to determine where you went wrong ONLY change one thing at a time.


Not that it's a big deal, but I disagree. Reason being is that in both cases - sand or water in the pan - ALL briquets were lit at some point in time during the burn. I could do another experiment, this time using the "All Purpose sand" for comparison, but I don't wanna waste another 6-8 lbs of Kingsford. I'm convinced that the sand heated up like a cattle brand, and that temp just stayed put, until the fire was finally doused enough to keep from reheating the pan, essentially slowly lowering the temp. The Quikrete brand All Purpose Sand is nothing like playground sand - it's essentially small broken pieces of rock, in an almost dry concrete mix without the sand. It's temperature holding properties are apparently much higher than playground sand.

And if the number of charcoal just happens to be the reason, then I've learned a lesson there too. I found a combination that holds temps really well and works great, so I'll stick with that. At some point when I get some playground sand I'll go back to the drawing board again. Wink

Take care.
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