I decided to post this to assist other members who have been posting about temp control issues, etc, as I have been...this may help to give some insight as to what can be done and show how I did it to my Gourmet, along with a few tips I've learned to share with the novice charcoal users. The best part of all is that I did these mods with a budget of zero dollars.
I've had this smoker for about 1 month, and seasoned it with a few mods before smoking. After smoking several different times, and adding a mod or two between smokes, I'm getting closer to having good performance for temp control and charcoal ash build-up/fall-out. These mods were done with little more than some items I scrounged up/salvaged from home.
One note right up front, which I am still to this day forgetting.......the golden rule with vertical charcoal smokers: do not disturb the charcoal with the smoke chamber/cylinder/drum assembled to the fire pan, as the resulting loose ashes will eventually be carried by heat up to your food. A rather gritty texture will greet your mouth within the first few bites. Yep, been there, more than once...ah, it's just another example of one of the finer pleasures of outdoor cooking!
From top to bottom, here are my mods to date...
The lid vent is a 1-1/4" hole cut with a hole saw:
The lid seal is a 7/16" braided nylon rope, with the ends frayed apart and then heat-shrunk together after pulling tightly around the lid for fit testing/sizing. I wrapped it in 2 layers of foil strips, the first being laterally, the second being spiral, so as to avoid seam over-lapping...the rope-foil seal is pressed down against the drum lip after the lid is seated in it's normal position. This works quite well for controlling heat and smoke loss:
The probe and wood block with the probe-tip approx. 3.5" below the upper grate while I smoked spare ribs on both grates:
The charcoal grate is a cast iron grate from a fire pit in our yard. I took the charcoal wire grate from my Brinkmann SNP and cut it in half (lengthwise), then bent it to fit inside the out diameter of the cast iron grate. Fuel/smoke wood access is achieved by cutting the ends of two the grate wires loose from the main frame wire and bending them down and tucking inside the cage of the wire grate. This lower access point is positioned beneath the side door on the smoker cylinder/drum to add/position smoke wood chunks or charcoal:
The intake vent control is nothing more than some #10 steel wire from one of those plant pot decorations...a butterfly or something like that which had been broken:
The vent itself is the original hole, with a Bush's Beans can top, snipped and shaped to accept the wire as a control handle:
Inside view of closed to open positions:
I'll update this with any additional mods to come in the future.
Thus far, my biggest complaint is the ash build-up on the charcoal, and it tries to snuff out my fire about every 1-2 hours. For now, without additional mods, my only solution is to remove the drum from the fire pan (mid-smoke) and gently shake or move the briquettes to knock the ash loose so it can fall into the bottom of the pan. I'm brain-storming for a mod to correct this issue as I type this thread........
There you have it. Scrap and salvaged items to get your Gourmet closer to being a sweet little rig.
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