My mods include:
Heat baffle and tuning plates
1- First the Firebox brace... I didn't take a good before and after picture, but as some of you may have noticed, and I imagine somewhat common on all these cheapy smokers, the firebox was sagging. It is a horrible design, but then again, these things are cheapy, probably made in China or somewhere, with the thinnest material they can. The design of these things is that the full weight of the firebox hangs on the side panel of the cooking chamber, just sheet metal. So even with this smoker being in really good shape, if you stood back and looked at it, there was a clear sag in the firebox. I used a floor jack to jack up the firebox to where I wanted it, then measured the gap underneath between the firebox and the frame. I took two pieces of angle iron and welded them as a spacer/brace. See pics:
Even with the welder turned way down, still melted a hole in the leg of the frame (amateur welder), but I just left it. This brace worked very well, displaced the weight of the firebox down to the frame instead of relying on the sheet metal of the cooking chamber.
2- Next the Heat baffle and tuning plates... My personal twist on the heat baffle was for it to protrude slightly into the firebox chamber, this way to begin heating up earlier and block some of the heat from the joint of the sheet metal between the firebox and cooking chamber.
First step was to use a grinder and cut off the sheet metal flange that protruded into the cooking chamber:
Next, measurements and mockup. I had some 1/4" x 5" flat bar on hand, so I welded two 16" long pieces of that together at an angle from each other, and welded a 7 1/2" long piece of 1/4" x 1" flat bar as a tab that would stick thru into the firebox chamber. I then welded a 2" square tab for it to bolt on with, using the existing bolt at the top middle of the firebox connection.
Finished shield bolted in place:
Tab of shield protruding thru opening into firebox chamber:
Tuning plates are made from 1/4" x 5" steel, 15" long, and then I welded 4 tabs on that measure outside to outside at 16". I saw on someone elses post (sorry can't remember who) that they cut their tuning plates with 4 tabs, so there was a gap on each end for smoke travel. I liked the idea, but didn't have a good way to cut the plates that way, so it was easier for me to weld on some tabs.
3- Finally the charcoal basket. Pretty simple, expanded metal mesh, basket size 14 1/2" wide x 12 1/2" deep x 7" tall. Fills up the firebox chamber, sits on existing grate. Divider is 3/16" steel plate 6" square.
Test run showed a nice 10 degree difference across cooking chamber, and I could already tell that the major hotspot right next to the firebox was under control now.
Edited by happy2meatu - 8/27/11 at 10:46pm