Aluminum vs. Steel Tuning Plates

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by solaryellow, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    I am attempting to mod my Brinkmann SNP to make it a little more consistent. I see that most people use steel for baffles and tuning plates but I happen to have 2 4'x4' sheets of aluminum that a friend gave me. Is than an acceptable material for doing this?
  2. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You don't mention how thick your plates are.

    Personal opinion only- I use steel because I can get it thicker, that's what smokers are made out of, and it is essentially inert for cooking.
  3. roadrunr

    roadrunr Meat Mopper

    i would use steel, aluminum actually dissapates heat.
  4. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I would use a piece of steel at least an 1/8" thick, it will stand up better and hold heat better.
  5. rio_grande

    rio_grande Smoking Fanatic

    Ya know I don't have one fact to back this up but all my life I have heard and been taught that aluminum gives off toxins when it is hot. Now I think that is dang hot not just smoker hot, but knowing that I wouldn't us it. I remember my dad breaking out tha back door glass with a brand new cast aluminum pan full of food mom had just bought the pan and didn't realize it was aluminum.

    This may be total BS but as I get older I am finding out Dad was right more than he was wrong so I have started listening to some of his old teachings more than I did when they were delt out.
  6. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    To my amateur eye I would venture a guess of 14ga for the aluminum.
  7. bud lite

    bud lite Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Here's my .02 worth. Tuning plates keep heat from rising.
    Maybe I should say tuning plates control the amount of heat rise.
    The spacing between plates allows some heat to rise while moving the rest along to the next plate.
    Heavy steel plates may not warp as much as thinner aluminum plates.
    If I already had the aluminum on hand, I would give it a try.
    I bet it would work. Let us know.
  8. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

  9. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    That was my thought as well. I am looking to control the application of heat moreso than capture heat.
  10. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thicker steel tuning plates help with recovery time also and help stabilize the temperature in the smoker. Unless your SnP is the old heavy guage model, you will need alll the help you can get in this area -- trust me.

    If you just want to redirect the heat the aluminum will probably be okay, but I firmly believe you'd be happier in the long run with some heavier -- at least 1/8" thick tuning plates.

  11. elde

    elde Smoke Blower

    Dissipates meaning what?
  12. davenh

    davenh Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Aluminum will work fine, no health hazard unless your going to eat Steel will hold the heat longer, but aluminum will heat quicker and more evenly.
  13. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Well, there you go.

    My steel tuning plate is 1/4 inch thick and works like magic.
  14. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    With a 1/4" tuning plate, I would bet you have no problem at all with recovery time. [​IMG]

    But did you have to beef up the legs to hold it up? [​IMG]

  15. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    I have some 3/16" mild steel plate in the garage from an old Jeep project but I would prefer not to waste that on the SNP when I don't see the SNP being something I will hold on to for the long run. [​IMG]
  16. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Actually no, but you're not far off. I'd like to beef up my firebox end legs a bit~ You got that right.

    My manifold design called for it to extend only 14 inches into the smoking chamber, not halfway across, so there is not a whole lot of weight compared to a longer one.

    It is heavy, and I can tell when moving the smoker around with the manifold in place.

    The thicker steel does wonders with moderating the temps. It does take time to come up to temp in the winter, though. Once it is hot, whatever fuel cost was spent heating it up is well paid back during the smoke through heat radiation.

    Here's a pic-

    Never considered aluminum, since steel is so easily available to me. The more I think about it though, my instinct tells me to use steel.
  17. This is w2hat I did to my charbroil silver smoker...

    I added the baffle out of stainless steel.. and a plate extension.cheep a$$ steel... .to the chamber.. it really helped .. I also added an extension to take the exhaust down to the top of the grate..
  18. smoking gun

    smoking gun Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I have 3 16 ga steel tuning plates in my snp. I bent them slightly in 3 places so they have an arch to them that matches the firebox opening. I have no baffle but over the top of the first plate, (about an inch above it) I have a flat piece of cast iron which is 1/4" thick. This helps control temp spikes on the FB end and the 16 ga steel heats up pretty quickly and spreads the heat evenly. After adjusting the spacing of the plates I rarely have over a 5 degree difference from one end to the other and usually thats due to wind. I'm sure the aluminum would work but I'd be leery of it getting too hot on the firebox end.
  19. tidelife

    tidelife Newbie

    If what you say is true, Why do most BBQers wrap their meat in foil and put it back on the pit?

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