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ECB Mods

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I have had this smoker for a long time, I get it out on occasion but usually use my RF  I did these mods about 4 years ago but since I had it out last night decided to post some pictures.








post #2 of 17

Hey,Gary , cool... Got an eye on a old ECB :biggrin:


Thanks and keep it Blue...

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hey thanks, I told a guy the other day, when he was talking about Smokers, that I can turn out just as good BBQ on my ECB as I can on my RF, only difference is more meat and less looking after. I told him it is the person doing the smoking not the smoker that turns out great Q


Gary S

post #4 of 17

Gary, on your rig, does the body rest entirely on the charcoal pan? 

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Yes, the charcoal pan sits in the base, then the cooking chamber sits on that then the lid.



post #6 of 17

Ah, I see.  The charcoal pan lifts out of the base then.  I didn't notice that they were two separate units.

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 

The very first one I had only had the smoke chamber and the lid. The 3 piece are nice, easy to add charcoal or wood



post #8 of 17

Thanks soo much for sharing your Mods, IndyBurro

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 

You are welcome    They really help



post #10 of 17

Just thought I'd share my mods. I also have the ECB-Smoke-N-Grill. Out the box, it was obviously terrible and I made all the common mods. Drilled vent holes, installed two thermometers etc. I still couldn't get good heat, so I placed a piece of sheet metal cut into a circle inside the charcoal pan. 


At this point, I get plenty of heat...but way to much heat. I'm constantly above 300, which is from all the reading I did before buying, I figured 250 would be my top, and I'd want to do briskets around 225 x 12hrs.


This is where I go off the deep end. With some help from a good friend, I decide to seal, the smoker and add an air regulator. We do this by cutting a piece of sheet metal into a rim, sitting directly on the legs. The charcoal pan sits inside of it. I attach copper pipes inside the pan, which leads into another pipe with holes punched in. We seal off the airleaks with solder and attach a fan to the very end. The fan is controlled by a raspberry pi module attached to a pit probe that regulates the temperature. After my first test, i realized there is too much air getting to the coals from the sides so I seal of the space between the rim and the drum with some rutland stove cement. 


I have to say, my temp regulation is near PERFECT!!!!! I have a example temp chart below when the smoker was set at 240 for a pork butt. 



Needless to say, I've gone completely crazy. I smoke food 3-5 times a week, set it, go to sleep, wake up and check the temps on my phone or computer. 


Overall, I'd say I've spent ~120-$150 on mods, and I'm getting temp control and regulation similar to what my friend gets, and he has an egg. 


In 4 weeks, I've done chicken countless times, pork butts, lamb, goat, fish etc. I've been able to set the smoker as low at 220 for salmon on a cold day. 


I fully endorse the ECB particularly because of how much modding can be done with little expense. $49 dollars +150 in mods is worth it to get the performance of a 500-600 smoker (if you can make the mods). I could have saved some initial dollars by skipping the first set of mods I did.


Side note, the temp you get with the air based thermometers is crap. Now that I monitor the temp from the cooking grate, the two thermometers (one in dome, one above door) are ridiculously off. By 50-100 degrees at times. I wouldn't use them at all, monitor your temp directly from the cooking grate. 


That's all folks! Happy modding. 


















post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 

That's some mighty tasty looking food,  and glad your mods worked out perfect, May be a whole new way to mod the ECB's



post #12 of 17

Nice work Legzyd.  One comment: you could have maybe saved a little $ by converting from copper piping to steel or even PVC once you got a foot away from the heat. Plus those materials don't have near the heat conductivity that copper has so your separation distance to your fan (which can't be allowed to get too hot) can be made a bit less.  


Also one question: you say it's important your ambient temperature monitor is measuring the grate temperature, not the air, which sounds reasonable if you're going for a slower response time in the feedback system you've implemented with the Raspberry Pi.  But the picture makes it look like the thermometer (which is only sensitive at the tip) is separated from the grate/grill.  Do you have another method to bond that thermometer to the grate that I'm not seeing in the picture?  Or do you think it's enough to just have that thermometer close to the grate?    

post #13 of 17
Good questions bill. Never really considered pvc but steel would be a good alternative to save some dough. I had to increase the separation distance because it was too short initially (< a foot). Now I have to snake it in but I know I won't melt the fan casing.

My pit probe is clamped to the cooking grate. I checked the clamp sensitivity in boiling water and it is within 2° of the tip so I'm pretty confident I'm accurate.

Frankly if all i was smoking was chicken and pork butts, I wouldn't care as much. They can take a beating! Butts can take 300 easy! Briskets though, I'd personally never go above 250, and I prefer 225. Measuring in air for me is just too unreliable. My dome and mid level thermometers were just so off it was embarrassing.

You can test your setup and see how far apart your readings are. Measure on the grate and in air. If you are within 5-10 degrees, you're gold.

Here's a few more pics from recent smokes!

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

Nice Job everything looks great



post #15 of 17

Thanks for the reply,Legzyd.  You wouldn't want any galvanized steel in with the fire because zinc oxide could form, flake off, and get in your food.  And black iron pipe can be hard to drill and machine so copper pipe in the fire area is a great choice. But after your last elbow (and I'd minimize the number of elbows used) you could've converted to steel EMT conduit, which is dirt cheap.  The OD would be about .030" larger than the "same size" copper pipe, but copper fittings are pretty malleable and that just helps to get a good air seal, even as it builds character! (JB Weld is amazingly good, even at high temps, in case you ever run into the opposite problem--too loose a fit.)   For most of my hot air line plumbing I favor 1/2" EMT conduit because it's large enough you can still cut a 1/2" NPT male thread on it (assuming you have a die--Harbor Freight to the rescue!) and then use threaded pipe fittings--a great way to convert to white PVC once you get below 200 degrees. The other trick I do (and is common with the ugly drum smoker crowd) is to route your inlet air lines UPWARD along the outside of the Brinkmann "drum".  That way, the air is "falling" and gravity is your friend--a lot less load on the fan.   

post #16 of 17
I really like that idea about the air inlet. I'm eventually going to mod another ecb and I'll definitely do that. Great trick!
post #17 of 17

Raspberry Pi's are extremely versatile controllers, being full computers themselves, but if you just search for "temperature controller" in ebay or amazon you can find units for ~$10 that will get the job done just as well.  Always note the current the relay contacts can handle. If you're just controlling a fan, a few amps are fine.  If you were controlling actual heating filaments, you might need more like 20A contacts.  You didn't mention details about your fan blower--it looks like a squirrel cage design?  Price?   I've been using a 110V air mattress inflation blower.  They're well under $20 and can be used directly with a 600W light dimmer switch to slow the motor down to a reasonable flow so your controller isn't constantly turning your fan on and off.  

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