I have a dyna glo vertical charcoal smoker. I have a hard time keeping the temp up without an electrical fan to stoke the coals. I want to move the chimney from the top and seal it off and put the chimney at the bottom so the heat does not just go out of the top. Can anyone help with what I would need to do this? I am currently in Europe working for the US Army so would have to order supplies online. I do not have the ability to weld myself and to get someone to do it would cost a fortune. I know I need the piping but have no idea what I would need to connect the pipes to back of the smoker. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Help with Chimney
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Maybe you don't fully understand how vertical smokers operate. The exhaust has to vent out the top or you will have one of two things: no heat flow through the smoke chamber, meaning no heat to the food (along with stale, acrid smoke collecting in the smoke chamber making your food inedible), or, not enough draft through the fire box and little to no fire to produce heat.
First and foremost, be sure your smoker is exposed to as little wind as possible. Wind is your worst enemy with outdoor cookers...second is precipitation, third is extreme cold ambient temperatures.
If low fire is an issue, make sure you have adequate space under the fire grate for ashes to drop off the coals, and make sure your vent is wide open. If using a form of the Minion Method, drop it and build the fire up with all hot coals. Also, check the internals to be sure there is not a restriction or baffle which could slow/stop flow into the smoke chamber from the fire-box, or restrict flow upwards through the smoke chamber. The water pan only needs an inch or so on all sides to function as intended, if installed. If these steps don't resolve the low-fire issue, then it's time to add height to the existing vent to increase the draft through the fire-box and smoke chamber. Any properly designed and constructed smoker should never need a fan to keep the fire burning when the intake and exhaust vents are fully opened.
Lastly, remember this: when loading up a smoker with a ton of cold meats it takes a while for the smoke chamber temps to recover...be patient.
While I applaud your willingness to improve your cooker, like forluvofsmoke said, moving your exhaust to the lower side is a really bad idea.
When you say "Dyna Glo vertical smoker", I assume that you mean the DGX780BDC-D 36" vertical and not the 47" vertical offset. The 36" has the firebox directly below the cooking chamber and, to the best of my memory, has an ash tray that a grate sits on and then a firebox with holes in the side all the way around it. above that is a water tray and then 4 racks above that. There is a chimney (exhaust) in the center top of the food chamber and two intake vents at the very bottom on each side of the firebox.
Before we do a test burn to see what we can get out of the cooker for heat, lets pull the door thermometer and run a quick test on it to see how accurate it is. Remove the temp gauge and clean the probe to get any soot or oil off it. Start a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Once it's boiling, insert the probe into the boiling water (be careful that steam is HOT!). When the needle stabilizes, the temp should read about 212 degrees(#). If it's not, note the temp. For example, if it's reading 232#, then the gauge is 20# high. So you would need to subtract 20# from your reading when you are cooking.
Now that we know what the gauge is really reading, reinstall it in the door using a little hi-temp food grade RTV to seal the hole. If the gauge is way off you may want to replace it with a quality gauge that is adjustable. Just make sure you do the boil test with the new gauge before installing it.
Now lets fire that baby up! Load the charcoal box to 3/4 full. Fill a starter chimney full of charcoal and get it started. While the starter chimney is doing its work, make sure both bottom intake vents and the chimney (exhaust) are wide open. Wrap the water tray in heavy duty aluminum foil but DO NOT add water. We're going to see just how hot the cooker will get. Go get a beer and wait for the starter chimney charcoal to ash over. When all of the coals in the starter are ashed over and burning well, open the firebox door and pour the started charcoal over the top of the charcoal in the firebox (Top down burn method). Careful the starter is hot! double check all the vents are completely open. You can leave the firebox door cracked for the first 5 minutes to assist the fire starting but close it up after that. Go get another beer and pull up a lawn chair and wait (BBQn is hard work!).
After about 20 minutes of waiting and drinking beer you should see the temp in the cook chamber coming up. When the temp gets to 200# (adjusted for the error you have noted above) open the firebox door and throw a few fist sized chunks of your favorite smoking wood onto the coals and close everything back up. after a few minutes you should see smoke starting to come from the chimney. The smoke should ONLY be coming from the chimney. If it's coming from anywhere else, make note of it. You'll need to seal those leaks later with high temp food grade RTV or a hi-temp nomex tape like LavaLock. I prefer using nomex as it's easier to work with.
At this point let the cooker get as hot as it's going to get. With a full firebox and the vents wide open it should get to ~275# or higher. If it doesn't, then you have a serious obstruction in the cooker between the firebox and the cook chamber or a massive air leak and you're going to have to do some sleuthing to find it.
I hope this helps to get the cooker sorted out.
Edited by BBQWillie - 9/5/16 at 6:15am
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I have the vertical offset and nothing except using a fan to stoke the coals keeps the temp up. I have always used a horizontal offset and never had any troubles. I bought this one from a friend that was moving back to the States. I got it because it would hold more meat then my horizontal and then sold my horizontal. When I use it I keep it out of the wind and make sure the outside temps are not very cool. Even with no meat inside I can never reach 200 without stoking the coals with a fan. Any ideas guys. I will reseal with the RTV and try to extend the chimney. Do I need the chimney baffle raised or can I just extend the chimney and leave the baffle where it is currently?
Check the smoker where the fire box attaches to the cooking chamber and make sure the attachment screws are tight and the FB is flush with the CC. I've seen that model warp there and leave a gap that you could see through.