Love grilling and always wanted to expand and try smoking. Decided to get this done. Found that in our area that I had two choices, either a Brinkmann Smoke n Grill or a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker. Anything else would require buying online, sight unseen, with shipping costs. Researched both options on this site and others. Decided, after learning about the ECB modifications, going cheap to see if smoking was something that I truly wanted to get into. I bought an ECB, a Masterbuilt 14 Inch Tabletop BBQ (has a slide out ash pan) and a bag of Kingsford briquettes from Home Depot.
Straight away I seasoned the unit using the Masterbuilt 14 Inch Tabletop instead of the charcoal pan. No modifications done at this point other than putting the legs on the outside. The temperature spiked to 300°F then over time dropped like a rock. The ash was killing the fire. I still ended up with a seasoned unit and a lesson had been learned. Time to modify the smoker.
I gathered all the parts I need to modify the smoker over a two-week period. I added a damper in the lid (a Weber part ordered online). The Masterbuilt already had one in the charcoal pan part of the BBQ. Added stove rope to the lid and finally added two thermometers, one below the top grate and one in the lid. I then drilled out the ECB charcoal pan with half-inch holes to let the ash out and the oxygen in. This was to become the new charcoal grate in Masterbuilt BBQ. Put four bolts sticking out from the sidewall of the ECB charcoal pan to lift its bottom and sides from the Masterbuilt BBQ walls. Bought a bag of ceramic briquettes to put in the water pan.
I smoked ribs last weekend using the 3-2-1 method with Big Bald BBQ Rub. I bought lump charcoal to get rid of the ash problem, filled the charcoal pan thinking that was required for a six hour burn and lit them using the minion method. I bought the lumps because this site recommends them for low ash and leaner burning. As soon as I saw that part I stopped reading. The part I missed is that they burn much much hotter than briquettes. I stayed with the smoker throughout.
Early on the temperature spiked to 350°F and at that time I closed all dampers. The temperature dropped to 300°F over time. I was on this site researching what I could do to get the temperature down. At one hour twenty minutes the temperature was at 260°F. Three and a half hours in, the fire needed tending. Shook the ash out (all those holes in the ECB charcoal pan worked as hoped for). Moved the remaining coals together and added some briquettes. I learned that if I wanted to use lumps it would be a good idea to have water in the water pan. The temperature remained constant for the rest of the smoke.
The ribs with their black bark were still surprisingly good and extremely tender. I was told by the family to smarten up, get it right and do more smoking.
Next weekend I plan to only use briquettes and less of them initially, take out some of the ceramic briquettes to lessen the capacity of the heat sink. Hopefully these changes will give me the desired temperature range.
I am now totally hooked and can’t wait until next weekend to try this again.
Edited by AlwaysHopeful - 1/25/16 at 11:14am