Do mods help? Really?

Discussion in 'CharGriller Owners Group' started by fpmich, Jul 20, 2016.

  1. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    We all like to do the mods.  They are fun, and we think we making our CG fool proof.  I'm as guilty as most are.

    But I think for the most part we just fooling ourselves.  I've tried a lot of things.  Side to side temp regulation for starters.  Every time I think I have it nailed down, on the very next cook, it goes haywire, and nothing helps.

    Yesterday I smoked 2 slabs of Rib's to give to a neighbor.  And I got a new curve thrown at me by my "not so trusty" CG.  Top rack temp vs. bottom grill grate temps.

    Last time I tracked this was my 1st smoke of the year.  Ribs & Chuck.  That time when I was preheating the smoker the top rack ran 40*-50* higher than the bottom, but when I added meat to both racks, it settled to only 10*-15* higher on top rack.  Stayed that way the whole cook.

    Yesterday?  started out the same way.  Preheat, no meat yet, top 50* higher.    BUT...  When I put 4 half slabs on grill grates and only a couple of flap ends I trimmed off on top rack, the temps ran 25*-30* higher on BOTTOM grate and not the top as expected..  I reversed the probes, and still got same readings.  Nope not the p[robes.

    Then when I foiled the ribs later on, placing back on the bottom grate in same area they were at naked, the temp top to bottom, REVERESED!    Now it was 30* hotter on top!!!

    And it stayed that way, the whole 2 hours they were foiled.  I came in the house to watch the Tigers and the Convention going on, and started laughing when I looked at my Maverick and saw that.  My wife asked what was so funny, as the Tigers were losing, and I told her I thought I was losing my mind.  This is impossible.  She agreed with my mind loss.

    But then, when I took them back out of foil, and placed on same grill spot, a few minutes and the temps had REVERSED BACK to 30* higher on bottom than the top.  What the...?

    For those of you inclined to try and figure this out.  Meat and probes in in center part of smoker.  Not near fire box side.  Same for meat on top rack.  Same for probes.

    So how much did all my modding help me?  Well, the temps held nice & steady, even though reversing top to bottom, and confusing me?  Steady temp was from good seal on my CG, Stack lowered to with an inch or so from grate. and the welding blanket.

    Other than extending stack down to near grate level, sealing chamber well and a blanket over it to retain heat, I can't think of a single mod that has helped me beyond that.

    So now my motto is, whatever today smoke throws at me, I will adjust to, and live with, and not sweat the small stuff.  Some days I never have to move meat nearer or farther from firebox.  Some days, I do have to.  Some days I have to pay attention to top vs. bottom temps.

    BTW the ribs turned out great.  Some of the best I've made lately.  Very nice pull back on both slabs.  Only 2 small bones on one did not have pull back.  Yet even though they are very tender, they weren't fall off the bone. 

    No pics though.  SRY

    Have fun, and keeps mods to minimum.  Save the expense and worries.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2016
  2. wdoss89

    wdoss89 Smoke Blower

    I agree FPMICH!! It's definitely a balancing act to get what we want out of these smokers...because in the end we have to remember 1 thing. We didn't buy a Yoder, Lang, or any other established heavy hitter offset smoker. We all have a cheap offset that with a little love and attention will give us the results we want. Tasty BBQ!! We both know that the cost of modding and modding can send us sky rocketing.

    I like your new motto. I hope ya stick to it sir!! Happy smoking
  3. I have yet to get my CG, but right now, using an E-ECB, I have to keep working it to get the good results. So far, so good. I learned years ago, good cooking is work, and a labor of love. That being said...If ya love what you're doing, it isn't work!

    I have my Mods planned out, and hope they give me the results I want, if not, I will keep tweeking till I get it!

    FPMICH, just keep doing what ya love![​IMG]
  4. wdoss89

    wdoss89 Smoke Blower

    PitBulMom if ya can look it up and get the competition pro 8125. It's a little heavier model than your every day CG. If mine wears out then I may purchase this because it's like what I want to make but will cost so much less. I've heard some really good things about it from a guy I know around here I convinced him to spend the little extra money on it rather than the smoking pro. He likes it I think any new comer to offset smoking will like it as well.
  5. fpmich, some mods have done pretty well for me.  No, this amount of effort is probably not justified but it has given me about 10 years of entertainment and some really good meat.  Things are now at the point that variations in meat are more important than variations in the smoker.  I have a small New Braunfels offset.  There is an article attached that covers the mods I've made.  Here is a picture. The stack, insulation, sealing, and baffle plates made the most difference.  The larger, better models are far ahead, but even this small one makes more meat than my wife and I eat in a reasonable time.  

    Good luck and eats ahead. 

  6. Will definetly check it out!
  7. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Yeah, doing all those mods would take me about 10 years too.  LOL

    I'm not sayin' all mods are worthless, but just not to stress over them.  You can still turn out good smokes with finessing things around. 

    Will I never do another mod on my CG? 

    Come on now... we all know the answer to that one.  Of course I will.  I can't help myself.

    Maybe one of them will work as well as the insulating, stack extension, and etc.  If so then, then I'm one more step better off.

    For instance, I like your new grease drain.
  8. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016
  9. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016
  10. smoking pit

    smoking pit Newbie

    I would guess they help some.  With the insulation, I can hold my hand on the smoker lid, so there has to be a reduced heat loss.  But I still get a 25 to 30 degree heat differential across the grates.  I do use a water pan on the fire box side to adsorb some of the heat spikes.  The real reason I did the mods was for the challenge and fun.
  11. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    I hear ya Smoking Pit.  I too, love the insulating blanket I made for the CG.  The only time I take it off is when I can't get temps down as low as I want. Usually due to my over exuberance and adding fuel too quick, or too much, to firebox.

    I think the four best, and most effective essentials for CG offset smoker, are

    1.  Sealing lid before you ever fire it up for first time.

    2.  Stack extension down to 1 or 2 inches of grate level.

    3.  Remote thermometer like Maverick or similar.  (I wasted $80.00 on 2 therms that I mounted on each side, only to have them go haywire.  I have to either, leave them in, (they look cool) or plug up the 3/4" holes I drilled for them. (ugly)  I never even look at them anymore.  I use my Maverick for side to side or top to bottom.  Unless I'm cooking a large hunk of meat that needs a correct temp without opening lid, I use my Thermapen.  Quick & easy, and lid is only open a few seconds.

    4.  Insulating the outside of chamber is a great help in stabilizing and holding temps with less fuel.

    (I just did two 7 hours cooks with a 15 LB. bag of Royal Oak, and still have enough for a 3  hour cook left in the bag.) 

    I used to only get one 7 hour cook from a bag with enough left for maybe 2 or 3 hours on next cook.  Insulating a CG helps a LOT!

    I think I am going to get rid of my grease catching/ smoke/heat deflecting shallow pans from under the grate, and just go back to turning the fire tray upside down and lay foil over it.  I MAY (here I go again LOL)  add a deflector on SFB side.  But I want it to be easy to lift off for when I do want a large difference from side to side.  Like today.  I cooked ribs on cooler side and chicken quarters on hot side.  I slid the deflector pans away from the sfb, and still only had 30* diff side to side.  I would've preferred a 50* difference. or more.  (See this Ribs n Chicken quarters link)

    So yeah, we keep on modding and having fun.  But at least, I made all, but the sealing mod, temporary and easy to discard if I didn't like it.

    KISS, then mod some more.  LOL  Have fun people.  That is what makes us happy.    Smokey Fun.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  12. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Hmmmm ........  Guess what?

    Tried something today, that just "MAY" lead to another mod for my CG.  LOL

    Baffle plate on sfb side.

    I was doing 2 racks of ribs today.  And I added ribs to smoker same time as I added the hot coals.  I use the 1st hour to warm and dry the ribs surface before adding smoke to it.  I saw after a few minutes that my side to side temps were 40* to 50* hotter on firebox side.  Not unusual, especially during start up and the smoker hasn't warmed up yet thoroughly.  I had slid my foil grease catching/deflector pan, right up to the box side, temps still remained too high on that side.  So I slid the pans back a bit, and took a sheet of tinfoil and a stick lying in the yard from tree, and poked the foil down underneath the entire coal basket that the grease pans set on.  Wrapped the foil around the coal pan handle to hold it from flopping around.

    And something happened that I have never seen before!

     Within 10-15 minutes the temps evened out side to side, even though the smokers metal wasn't fully warmed up yet.

    I kept probes at each end of slabs for temps, as I always do.  No sense in putting directly over fire box if you aren't cooking meat there.

    I'm sure if I had probes at extreme ends of smoker, there would have been a little more variance.

    Here is my probe placement.

    After the smoker ran a few more minutes it read like this.

    For the next 6 hours the temps never varied more than 3*, and most of the time were exactly the same!

    I decided not to foil because of such consistent temps side to side, as well as smoker holding very steady in the 230*-235* range.

    It held steady for the next 6 3/4 hours between 230* & 235* and seldom more than 2* diff side to side.  I checked with Thermapen (which I never do with ribs) and both ends and middle, and all were within 1*-2 on IT.  WOW!   Ribs were not dried out.  Tested the small end rib on each rack, and it was juicy and tender.  We had BLT'S for dinner, before ribs were done.

    Am I going to run out and buy a premade baffle for 30 bucks?  HECK NO!   This was a one time phenomenon, as far as I am concerned, right now.  The BBQ Gods were smiling on me for a change.  LOL

    I will leave the tinfoil right where it is for now and see how it works when I do 3 or 4 meatloaves this weekend along with some chicken leg quarters.  Different meat mass in different areas can do strange things to a smoker. <grin>  If it works as good for the loaves and chicken, then I will try to make a more sturdier one than 10 cents worth of foil.

    I am amazed!  In 3 years, I have never saw such a steady cook on this CG.  I told my wife that I will still be talking about this day 3 years from now too.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  13. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Well... it's 3 days later, and I cooked my 4 meatloaves.  Forgot to take chicken out of freezer, so just the loaves this time.

    I got pretty much the same results as with the ribs.  I made two 2 1/4 lb. loaves and two 1 1/2 lb. loaves.  I placed them pretty much in the same spot that the ribs were.  Put the probes at the beginning, in the same placement as in rib pic above.  Notice in the rib pic's,  they are at each end of the ribs, but more to the front of the grates.

    So after an hour or two,I thought about that.  So I moved the probes to a more central spot at each end. 

    There was no change in variance of temps.  They still remained between 2* & 10* for the entire 4 hours cook.

    Mostly they remained between 5* - 8* difference side to side.

    I did get chamber up to 300*-305* near the end.  These loaves were very loose, and I wanted to overcook and dry them a little longer than usual, to help firm them. 

    Here is the temps, side to side, when I finally pulled them off.

    I took this photo of just exactly what the foil was covering.  Not much huh?  I just reaches the bottom of the charcoal pan in the chamber.

    I took this pic just before adding coals to SFB.   As you can see, I didn't get very good coverage, using my twig from a tree to poke foil down.  LOL 

    But much to my amazement, it actually works for me.

    First time, I figured it was a fluke.  But now.... I have duplicated the same results, on a different day, with different meat.

    So if I can duplicate it twice in a row, I have to think there is something to this MOD.  And maybe I should make it a more permament one.  One that I can adjust, or at least remove, when I do want a much hotter side nearer the SFB.

    Do Mods Help?  Sometimes they do, by accident!  

    So I'm off to think and maybefabricate something.  LOL   If I come up with something, and it works every time, I will post it, after first testing several times.
  14. coyote-1

    coyote-1 Smoking Fanatic

    Some of the mods help, others not so much.

    I have a drip pan that distributes the heat well, and the chimney mod forces the smoke to circulate. Those, plus adding better thermometers, are useful mods. As for the concept of having perfect heat distribution.... I often find it useful to have a temperature variance on a grill surface. So while heat deflection/distribution is useful, it is not mandatory to obtain great smoked food. Btw, I don't like the baffle idea. While it helps prevent burnt food on the firebox side of the grill, it also forces most of the heat to be lost via radiation from the firebox! If you have an infrared camera available, point it at the unit while you're grilling. You won't like what you see.

    I also made a charcoal basket that has a divider to extend burn time. While it works very well, the reality is that I'm using mostly whole or split logs after the initial lump charcoal start so I usually don't use that basket anymore.

    Lining the unit to prevent leaks? I don't see the value of it. The chimney mod is designed to get the smoke circulating down to grate level, right? Well.... when you think on it, isn't having smoke come out from the edges, which means it's circulating down to grate level, essentially exactly what you're trying to accomplish by making the chimney mod?

    Insulation? I can see the usefulness for heat retention, but I sure don't want exposed fibrous insulating materials around my food. And it's certainly not pretty.

    I did make the shelves foldable to facilitate storage. That's a very useful mod, as keeping the smoker stored in the garage will extend its life significantly.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2016
  15. Agree about fibrous insulation around food. I covered my small offset smoker with house insulation, but sheathed it is galvanized sheet metal. The sheathing went a lot better than expected and the improvement in reduced charcoal use, more even temperature distribution, and less sensitivity to weather changes.

    Here is a picture. Pretty? Not so much. Since the photo, I have added sheaths on the edges, as well as front thermometers. 

  16. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Well here it is 2017 and Frank is still modding.  LOL

    I made my simple down stack extension 3 years ago,  It finally gave up it grip, of just pinching a split piece of 3" dryer vent, and it kept falling off end of last year.

    So this year, I broke down and bought some more cheap dryer vent, and did it the same way.  Did not use a fastener at top of top.  Just split an inch, and finger finer crimped it around the stack base.

    I also tossed out my tinfoil baffle and cut a new one from am aluminum pan.   I wrapped an extra grate I had with foil, and laid next to firebox also.  Works great on first smoke with it, but the hotter end (5* to 10** or less) seems to be at the stack end away from the fire box now.  So I think I will trim the baffle a little shorter, to let a little more heat near the fire box.  But overall. it worked like a charm when doing 3 slabs of ribs.

    Here is the pics of my replacement tinfoil mods.

    Foil pan cut for baffle.

    I think I will cut it a little off the bottom of this, to keep temp slightly higher on sfb side.

    Semi-wrapped grate slid toward sfb side against baffle.

    Two sheet cake foil cake pans to deflect heat and smoke, but mostly to catch grease dripping.

    Tinfoil between to direct grease in pans and not smoker bottom.

    Inside stack extension,

    I cut a strip about an inch or so, out of tube, and poked it over my side therm probe, which I no longer rely on anyway, to help hold it in place. 

    I also poked a hole farther up to help eliminate any stale smoke.

    I'll probably cut some more off the end.  I like it about 2 inches off the grate.

    So there you have it! 

    Nothing really new, but just  (hopefully) better lasting cheap mods.

    Will be smoke again tin a day or so, and I will update my results.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2017
  17. fpmich

    fpmich Smoking Fanatic

    Well, I've done two smokes now with these mods. 

    And my temps are consistently 10* to 15* hotter AWAY from the firebox, than near it.  I think I will have to remove the foil on the extra grate and just use the baffle in the 1st photo.  That worked real well when I just had foil wrap stuck down there last year.  Temps then stay within 5* side to side.
  18. dorzak

    dorzak Newbie

    I have the Smokin' Pro purchased a few months ago.  My mods are simple - a seal kit which has really helped with controlling temps because I now control the air going in and out.  I use a disposable aluminum baking pan as a water pan.
  19. motocrash

    motocrash Master of the Pit

    Why not just turn your CG's into reverse flow??


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