I've noticed that a lot of smoke and heat escape from the ECB through the gap between the walls and the charcoal pan. I'm guessing that in the original design, that gap was necessary to allow oxygen to reach the coals. However, for those of us who have ventilated the charcoal pan and inserted a grate to elevate the coals from the bottom of the pan, that gap has become more of a liability.
While I'm waiting for the postman to deliver parts for a more permanent solution (more on that later), I've been toying around with a temporary solution. I decided to cut up a lightly-used aluminum foil roasting pan, and affix it to the bottom rim of the ECB with binder clips. Here are a few photos from my "proof of concept" mod.
Last weekend, I tried it out with a 5-lb. pork shoulder, and was very pleased with the results. Very little smoke came out the bottom, while smoke poured out the vents in the top at a heavier rate than I'd ever seen on my ECB (sorry, didn't get a picture of that).
Today, I had some free time, so I decided to clean it up a little bit. I got a pack of 7" aluminum foil pie pans, and cut the circle out of the bottom. I cut one end open, then cut a notch every few inches so that it would bend properly. It came out like this.
It's about 2.5 pans' worth of material. Basically, it was going to work, but I wanted to do something about the gaps, so I cut them into smaller pieces (about 4" long), then arranged them in an overlapping fashion. The binder clips hold the foil pretty securely.
Then I removed the little handles from the binder clips.
Then I turned the ECB back over and lowered it over the charcoal pan, which is resting on two cement bricks. The legs I had installed were a bit to high, so I'm going to pick up some shorter ones on my next trip to the hardware store. The bricks work fine, but I want to be sure I get enough oxygen to the coals, so I can keep a hot fire and get more thin blue stuff. Here's an internal look.
I may also need to drill some holes in the sides of the charcoal pan.
I haven't had time to try this out, but it's essentially the same setup that I used last weekend. It just looks a little nicer. I didn't have any problems with the first version, though when I needed to lift the body off of the charcoal pan, I made sure to take the lid off when putting the body back over the pans, so I could align it visually. Almost everything on the ECB bends, and the flexibility of the foil collar seems to work well. The foil pieces bend upward as you lower the body over the pan.
The foil pans plus the binder clips came out to under $2.
I'm sure I'll find something to smoke this weekend, so I'll post more pics then. In the meantime, let me know if anybody has comments, suggestions, questions, laughter, etc!