Thanks everyone for all of the great posts on your ECB's. Decided after many years to get mine out of the box and start to smoke. Decided that without making some mods i probably would not have gotten a very good result so off I went.
Im not a junk collector but I do get my fair share of stuff gathered that just might be helpful. For this build it was a most unusual piece of junk. My son totaled his truck. It had some nice wheels on it and fake tire bead trim on the wheels. As you can see from the photos below there were about 1.5 inches wide. Well, they are just the perfect fit inside the ECB to fill in the air gap and hold the coal bucket. So I burned off and sanded the paint off and there you have it. Turned the legs to be on the outside, used some marine grade stainless bolts to hold them at the bottom and a perfect fit. Since the bead trim was contoured i used two of them so i could align them to cover all of the drill holes and make a nice seal.
I drilled out the coal pan and purchased a cheep replacement grill surface to make an elevated grate. A bit of cutting and bending and all done. Everything else is standard fair for the mods, no bling.
I purchased a 42" piece of standard stove pipe (6" diameter) cut a couple of notches in bottom and use that as the starter. It is tall enough to put in 5-6 sheets of news paper and a bunch of coals and also long enough to use a pliers to grab the top and pull it up when the coals are lit. You can lift it slow enough that you don't get a lot of ash flying up and the coals spread nicely without too much added work. I let them start for about 10 min and that gets a good burn going on the lower coals and leaves a lot of them un-started on the top so that fire is not too hot to begin with. There is plenty of room with the coal pan lowered to get the coals and wood without it stacked up to the water pan.
Total cost for the mods: $9 for the grate, $3.50 for the stove pipe, $20 for the lower pan and cinderblocks.
For a first go at smoking I went for a big oven roaster chicken on a stand. Temps hovered at about 225 for the better part of 3.5hrs without adding any coals. Had a bit of time up at 300 but not too long.
Pics of the mods and the first bird below. Going for a Rib roast next.