I recently bought this grill from Sam's club Sunday 6/23/13. I did my research on it and read all the reviews from people. On the smoker side It leaks due to tack welds, thin sheet metal, doesn't distribute heat properly, made in china, blah blah blah the list goes on. Well to me it just needs some Mcguiverwilly. I have a breakdown of what I did and the damn thing don't leak, distributes the heat evenly across the smoke cabinet and holds temp @ 225 for well over 3 hours with out adding coals.
I did all the basic mods.
I used the black and white JB Weld rated at 500* on all the joints that are tack welded inside the fire box and in the smoker. there are two 1/2" x 1" gaps in the smoker on the bottom left and right. cut left over sheet metal from the build i did and JB weld them over the gap.
I sealed both lids with nomex high heat gasket tape.
Put expanded metal grating in the fire box to hold the smaller coals.
And did the chimney mod to lower it to the grates so smoke has to fill the lid before being forced out the stack.
Here is where it gets fun. I'm pretty handy and this isn't for the beginner power tool owner. Be careful and mod at your own risk.
I made a deflector plate to distribute the heat across the cabinet. take all your measurements and draw it out. measure twice.
draw it out. use squares to make sure you don't draw 85* angles, you don't want any gaps bigger than 1/16"-1/8".
start cutting. I cut every line I drew. I used a grinder with a cut off wheel and took my time. BE SURE TO WORK SAFE. i used my grinding face shield, ALWAYS use a face shield, that wheel is spinning between 1800- 3600 rpm and when that wheel shatters into pieces and they do when you hit something hard or drop it and then you got shrapnel coming right at your face and chest and arms. I wore my gloves and I always use my hearing protection. your family will love you for it. there is nothing worse that having a burr in your eye or having your face cut open and having to go to the E.R. because of a BBQ.
Do a dry fit. the tabs on the right of the deflector are now inside the fire box. mount at the top of the opening between fire box and smoke cabinet. the plate is resting on top of 2"x2" concrete bricks wrapped in heavy aluminum foil. they are the small bricks for holding re-bar mesh to elevation when pouring concrete. the blocks have two wires sticking out the top to tie to re-bar so make sure to cut them off with your grinder. take all the bolts out of the front of the smoker cabinet for an easier fit up. make sure to measure from the back cabinet wall to the front dampener, not wall to wall or it wont fit right.
measure out where you want your baffles to be. the one closest to the fire box it a 3/4" stop cut. do not cut a rectangle out. your making baffles. I measured the small slot to be in line with the handle for the adjustable charcoal tray in the smoke cabinet. the middle one is 1 1/4" and the far left ( the cold side ) is 2". I bent the fire box tabs in so they would fit through the opening to the fire box, forgot to mention earlier.
The pic above is with the baffles cut and bent down at about 45*
this is the deflectors bottom side. NOW get your metal file out and file all those burrs off. wear your glasses and gloves.
looking through the fire box, bend the tabs up and take left top screw out and mark hole with an awl or dip a paper clip in paint and mark holes to be drilled. i stuck a paper clip on the smoker side through the bolt hole to mark it. reinstall screw and do the next two. I placed the bricks just to the left of the baffles slots. I used 6 of them. i found that regular size bricks would take up to much space and block air flow when placing them to hold up the deflector.
reinstall adjustable grill supports. you need this to hold your pan of water. install the lever for the rack. this 'IS' very difficult to do. I found it was easier to do in the shade and had my son hold a flash light shining through the baffle slot and i could stick my hand in through the fire box opening the put the hinge pin and R clip back in. do the back pin first and then put the upper hinge pin in from the top side with the handle set @ 6. It would really be even easier if you remover the fire box to install lower hinge pin but what ever, I got it.
hard to see but the lever is installed.
I can only use settings 4,5,6 any lower and it hits the deflector. i leave it at 5 so it doesn't touch and still have room for my water pan.
I didn't check the height of all my bricks so deflector is running a little uneven, but so what I'm not taking it all apart now. also if you look at the chrome bolts, i replaced all the hinge pins and R clips for bolts with lock washers so there is no wobble and keeps the front damper and the the plate behind the adjusting lever tight to the cabinet. only the front 3. also had to drill the holes a little larger. 5/8" bolt I think. check for your self on that one.
this is the expanded metal that goes in the fire box. i set it right on top of the wood rack that comes with the BBQ. measure the opening of the door on the right side diagonally ( lower L corner to upper R corner ) to get the proper fit inside. take 1/16" off so it will fit though the door.
Once again i cut with a grinder with a cut off wheel attached. with my safety equipment. (PPE)
with the extra expanded metal left over I ran it across the adjustable grill to hold my water pan. the BBQ comes with a charcoal pan with a closed bottom. this way i have maximum air flow. it doesn't run all the way to the front but its touching 3 sides and its American made so its strong enough. i notched out around the bolts holding the L brackets so the grate would sit level. cant really see in the pic but you will see when installed.
You can find the two types of metal you need at Lowes, and Home Depot
1. The Hillman Group 3-ft x 24-in Cold-Rolled Weldable Steel Sheet Metal (Lowes)
2. Crown Bolt 24 in. x 3/4 in. x 24 in. Metal Plain Expanded Sheet (Home Depot)
*****with the left over sheet metal, the shorter piece, use that for dropping your chimney down. it is real easy to roll up around a spray can and wont leave dents apposed to trying to roll it by hand. once around the can slightly loosen it until the can slides out and them mount into the chimney from the under side of the lid. don't worry about trimming it. put the overlap towards the back so you don't see it. adjust it to about 1" above the grill grates and jb weld the seam. BAM your done.
high-que makes the nomex high heat gasket. get it on amazon for $33.00. prime members get it in 2 days. It ships from Las Vegas. You need to slice the whole strip in half, it is to wide to fit the top of the cabinets. cut using a razor knife and a straight edge with the the felt facing down.
It took me 2 hours of playing with my BBQ to get things right.
I got it up to 450* in 30 min using 1 chimney of unlit all natural charcoal (not briquette's) as a bed and put 1 chimney of lit coals on top. i closed the damper on the fire box opened the lid for 10 min and got 225* in about another 30 min. this was a test run to see how hot I could get the smoker.
I got the all natural charcoal from Sam's for $14.00, 40 lb. bag. you have to break up the bigger pieces with a hammer though.
So to get 225* i open the fire box damper less than 1/4 with chimney fully open.
the left side was running at 223* the middle at 225* and the right side was at 228*
IF the right side is to hot and the left is colder you need to bend the right baffle closed a little more or open the left one more, or viseversa get it. its simple. you got to play with it while its running to get it sweet. i was wearing welding gloves and using a flat screwdriver. Have fun, Brew Beer and keep on Smokin.
Edited by BigWillyBrewing - 6/28/13 at 6:14pm