This might be an obnoxiously long post, but I think I might be able to help some people with some mods. To start off, I wouldn't necessarily recommend doing this... unless you happen to be in a similar situation as me. I started this whole process about 2 years ago when I found a smoker on the side of the road in a trash pile. It happened to be an old ECB from the 70's. It had slightly thicker walls than the new models and had some different handles, and longer legs on the bottom. ANYWAY, I enjoyed the smoker, of course, but I knew there was something more. So, I bought another of the exact same model from a friend for $10. So now I had two ECB's for a total investment of $10. I took the old lid and turned it into the new bottom of the smoker. As seen here: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/128535/my-ecb-mods-two-ecbs-in-one
So, fast forward to last Dec. My father-in law- had "drawn" me for the gift exchange on my wife's side of the family. He forgot. I honestly didn't mind, and didn't say a thing, but whisperings finally got around and when he figured out the mistake he felt so bad that he bought me this Electric Brinkmann which is slightly above the $25 gift exchange limit. Once again, I didn't mind.
I used it once and I liked the ability to not tend to coals for hours a day. I also liked not having to use $5 of charcoal for a $3 chicken. But, I knew there was more!! So, I went to work.
I should also note that these mods spanned over about a year, and probably took around 45-60 hours total.... but a lot of that time was spent finding the perfect balance of blood-alcohol-level and productivity.
Let's start with the body:
I cut the rolled over parts of the old smoker off. Like that ^. I used a cut off wheel on my angle grinder to do it.
I cut the top and the bottom off, and the folded-over connection down the middle. These things are called "el-cheapo" for a reason. After I cut the two old smoker bodies down, I took a 60 grit sanding wheel and attached it to my grinder and I removed all of the paint from the inside and outside of the old smokers. (actually I took the paint off first, before cutting it apart) I have no idea if that was necessary, and it took a ton of work, but I liked the idea of having all of the rust/paint/mold? gone and starting over fresh. It took a lot more effort than I had planned on, but the beer was flowing and it kept the motivation strong.
So, basically I took the above image ^ times two (both "old" smoker bodies) and I cut them down, sanded them down and put them inside the new smoker body. The red one. I wanted to increase the thermal mass, and the ability to maintain a constant temp. here in the midwest where it is either 100 degrees and miserable or 30 degrees and miserable.
I didn't take as many pictures as I should have, but like I said. Beer.
Anyway, below is a picture that kind of sums it up. I lined up the holes for the door as best as I could, and I didn't worry about anything else. I also sprayed all of the freshly sanded metal with vegetable oil. It was slippery and terrible, but I didn't slice any wrists on accident, so it still worked out. I wanted to use the oil to make sure all of my hard work didn't turn into a giant rusty mess. Like before, I don't know if it was necessary, but it's what I did.
From now on I will describe the photo below the text instead of above. It makes more sense.
After I had the "old bodies" inside the new ones, I started to screw things up. Or at least I screwed them together. I re-drilled the holes in the handles and put the handles back on. They were a welcome addition to the lubed up slippery handle-less previous condition.
After the handles were on (not pictured) (beer) I wanted to add the hanger for the top grate. But the thing is... I really wanted to have 3 grates instead of 2.
I took one of the old hangers for the bottom grate/water pan and cut off the thinner part. Then I turned it upside-down and made it the new hanger for the top grate. This lifted the top grate up about 1/4" or 1/2".
I drilled in 3 holes for a new "2nd" grate. Using all stainless hardware, of course. And then I drilled 3 new holes 1" (I think it was 1") lower than the original holes. I used the old screws and bolts to seal the holes from the old... holes.
Holy crap!! Here you can see my enthusiasm as I point out the old hole, which now has no purpose, and the new slightly lower hole, which now holds the bottom grate and water pan.
This part is kind of hard to explain.... more pics would have been nice. Damn you, beer. Here goes anyway: The "old" bent parts that I cut off of the original bodies were re-purposed (well, one of them) I sanded it down and then bolted it into place, as seen here, to cover up the 1/2" gap of the old smoker inside the new one.
The body was really not complicated. All I did was cut and sand the old bodies to fit inside the new one to increase the thickness of the walls of the smoker and to increase it's thermal mass.
Now let's move on the the lid!! Here I am dramatically sacrificing the old lid. I basically cut it into two pieces and then put them up inside the new lid.
Like this! Ignore the ingenious "lip" for now. I'll explain it all shortly.
Here is the Weber vent. That is nothing new.
Ok, onto the cool part. I had read about all of the lid mods that used the glued on rope to seal the giant gap. I tried it. It sucked. I used it for a while but the glue kept breaking apart where I had connected the rope together. Plus, I don't really know if the chemicals in the old glue were meant to be eaten in my delicious Q.
In one beautifully drunken moment I realized that the "lava rock pan" for the electric smoker fit the "body" of the smoker perfectly, top or bottom.
Wait a sec, I think I just......... yeah.... I just had an idea. Follow me.
If you put the lava rock pan on top of the smoker, intentionally or un-intentionally, it still fits just fine. Here is what I bought: http://cspoutdoors.com/realwapanfbr.html
Put the old lid on top of the new lid..... match made in (meat) smokers heaven.
I put the new lava rock pan on a bucket and secured it with cinder block. So I could cut off the bottom lid with minimal damage.
I drilled some holes to mount it to the lid, and to minimize any cracking. I did it 3 times. It worked!
Now onto the most complicated part.... the damn door!!! First I bought a horizontal clamp from Harbor Freight. http://www.harborfreight.com/500-lb-horizontal-toggle-clamp-96233.html
The clamp worked really well. I drilled the holes to mount the clamp.
This part might be tough to explain too.... damn it beer. But I took one of the old smoker doors, I mounted the hinge, and I outlined it with a pencil. I cut it off and mounted it inside the door to cover up the inside of the hinge. It's kind of ingenious, yet so simple. You can see it better in some of the following photos.
You can kind of see it here. You can also see the other part of my most ingenious mod... I took two edger blades (since I'm in the lawn care biz) and I attached them to the inside of the door. The thermal mass that they add to the door is a huge help, but also, structurally they make the sides of the door perfectly vertical. This makes the whole door line up to the smoker perfectly.
Finally, I bought a gasket for the door from amazon. I bought this one: http://www.amazon.com/Nomex-High-gasket-smoker-stick/dp/B00CI7A69I/ref=sr_1_1?s=lawn-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1405147364&sr=1-1 and it worked perfectly!
I didn't need the full 1/2" coverage though, so I cut it in half. The door only really overlaps by about a 1/4" so it worked out perfectly.
Here it is attached.
And sealed. I can't believe I am finally done!!
This took so much more effort than I had originally planned. If you're still reading, I hope some part of this can be useful to you, and thanks a lot! I didn't post anything about the bottom because I will be using the un-modded electrical element on the bottom, but you could also use the charcoal.
I sprayed the entire inside (except the door) with vegetable oil and I will be seasoning it soon, and then smoking something delicious.
Edited by dysenterygary - 7/20/14 at 4:47pm