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RiverGrille Farmers Grill and Smoker

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I bought this grill/smoker from Home Depot in May. I didn't know what I was getting into until I brought it home. I liked that it had a side firebox, although I had never used one. It had cooking grates in the firebox as well as a charcoal stand in the bottom, so I expected that if I was just cooking a few steaks I could cook them in there. And, if I was cooking for a crowd I could use the main chamber where there are cooking grates and charcoal grates for grilling. After I assembled it, I attempted to season it. The instructions said to get the temp up to 300? or so, but 250 was about all she would do. I turned to the internet and discovered a whole world I never knew existed, Smokingmeatforum.com. After some research, I determined that there were some modifications I could do to get it working correctly.

 

I made a charcoal basket for longer cooks where I don't want to use or don't have any dried wood (the large firebox is made for wood).

 

 

    

I added two 2 3/8" holes to the front and rear sides of the firebox to help it breathe. The factory vent is too small to get the fire hot enough to exceed 300 degrees.

 

 

I added cam locks to compress the lid into the wood stove gasket tape I glued around the lids of the smoker and fire box. I bent the hinge slightly on the firebox lid and it will close up tight with just a small bungee cord hooked to the handle.

 

 

I filled the seams with black high-temp silicone. The picture makes it look uglier than it is.

 

 

I added a dryer vent elbow to the stack, and it lowered it to about 1/2" above the grate.

 

 

I added a stainless steel sheet bent to divert the heat/smoke from the firebox to underneath the tuning plates.

 

 

The tuning plates are 3/8" aluminum. I cut them progressively smaller, wider ones closest to the firebox. The temp can easily be regulated to within about 10 degrees from side to side.

 

 

The RiverGrille. This photo is before I cut the vent holes in the firebox, which I haven't tested yet. See the bungee cord on the firebox handle. Also, notice how small the factory vent is. These mods have made it work a lot better. I can get it up to 300 fairly easy, if the wind is blowing and it is much easier to keep a constant temp up to 275. The new vent holes should help it get a lot hotter, wind or no wind, and hopefully I can get it to 350 and keep it there. I'll let you know after I test the new vent holes.

 

Back to the whole new world I discovered on the internet. I bought a UDS back in my youth because it looked cool. I had tried smoking a few things with it, but I could never get it right. Too done, not done enough, too much smoke. So, I put it in the shed and never used it again. When I bought the RiverGrille, I mainly intended to grill on it, but as I discovered on this website and amazingribs.com, there are some amazingly good smoking methods that I have never tried before. So, I did the mods and tried cooking pulled pork. It was the best my family and guests had ever had. Ribs, same thing...the best. Smoked chicken...beat my grilled chicken that always got rave reviews. Will I ever use my RiverGrille for grilling instead of smoking? Probably not. I will just grill steaks on my Weber kettle grill and smoke everything else from now on. I'm not claiming to be some talented smoker chef, I just used the recipes and techniques I learned on the web.

 

 

 

Birds are doing nicely. Grill has been holding at 275 for well over an hour. This was before my vent mod, but the firebox vent was turned toward the slight breeze that was blowing that evening. The other mods had already been done. If the vent mod doesn't work, I'll try one of those electric fan thingys with the thermostat.

post #2 of 7

Glad it is working out for you, - birds do look good!!

 

A full smoker is a happy smoker

 

DS

post #3 of 7

I have the same unit. I have also had a very hard time regulating the temps. Looking at your modifications I am going to do the same. Where did you get the cam locks, and was there a certain brand or type or size of stove gasket you used? For the side vents you created how do you keep them open for airflow?

 

Any steps and how to is greatly appreciated!

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy Killian View Post
 

I have the same unit. I have also had a very hard time regulating the temps. Looking at your modifications I am going to do the same. Where did you get the cam locks, and was there a certain brand or type or size of stove gasket you used? For the side vents you created how do you keep them open for airflow?

 

Any steps and how to is greatly appreciated!

Got the cam locks on ebay. The one on the right doesn't interfere with the firebox lid. The gasket was 1"W X 1/4" thick (no adhesive strip). I also got it on ebay. It was sold by the foot, so I measured and ordered only what I needed. The side vents have self locking nuts (metal, not the plastic insert type). If you can't find any, you can use two nuts on each bolt, keeping the inside nut just tight enough to allow you to turn the vent, and the outside nut to lock the inside nut into place. Don't use the stove gasket adhesive, it is too brittle. RTV red or copper, or the black high-temp stuff. Not the black low temp.

post #5 of 7

I just bought this smoker on Friday and really enjoy it.  I'm upgrading from a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker, so it's a completely different world for me.  Assembly was quite simple if you have a partner, as the instructions suggest you do.

A few hours later and I had a nice hot bed of coals in the firebox.

 

My door seems to fit a little better than yours, although it was smoking pretty bad during the initial seasoning.  I have noticed that with the stack wide open, and the fire door damper wide open, I can get a good breeze through there and get the thin blue smoke that we're looking for throughout a smoking process.  During the seasoning, I started with lump charcoal before adding about a bag or so of hickory chunks.  I was able to get the temps up to the recommended 400 degrees, although it was difficult to get a smoker that size to do so.

 

I ordered a couple of temp gauges from Amazon, which were delivered and installed today.  One thing that i noticed is that the factory gauge will run hotter, or cooler, at different times throughout the cook.  At times it was 25-30 difference, although the new gauges are at rack level, rather than near the top of the chamber.

 

I cooked some chicken on the grill above the firebox today.  I also used this time to test out the new gauges to see what the smoker could really do.  Using nothing but charcoal, and without a heat management plate, I had 255-265 on the right side of the smoker and about 240-245 on the left side.  The left side of my door does have a bit of a gap, but with good airflow it's not escaping out of the door, but rather out of the stack.

 

 

If you're having trouble relegating the temps, I really suggest using some real thick wood over a bed of coals.  I had the fire door cracked open about a 1/2 inch or so and it wasn't burning too quickly and held a decent temp.

post #6 of 7

The trick is to use the door as a air source to get the fire going them close once at temp to maintain!

 

Good changes!

post #7 of 7

I just wanted to say thank you for this post. I bought my Rivergrille smoker back in February 2016 and I used most of your mods to help get this starter level smoker to work at a higher level. I haven't created an additional air intake yet, since I usually just leave the loading side door open, but I did install some fire bricks to help take the swing out of the temperatures. Finding the toggle latches for the smoker door was tough but they work excellent. Thanks again for this post!

 

-Mike

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