Attn: Char-grille XD Grand Champ drivers..I gots questions!

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Chasdev

Master of the Pit
Original poster
Jan 18, 2020
1,051
859
First cook is behind me, I got a handle on fire management using mini-splits but I just found out this cooker has been on the market for years.
I did a deep dive on YouTube and found an earlier versison that had louvers cut into the underside of the cook chamber grill insert (the one that runs the length of the cooker from left to right).
So, do any of yours have louvers and/or has anyone drilled "tuning plate" holes in the same?
It would seem that the manufacturerer's are interested in diffusing the heat and are trying different gimmicks.
Do any of them work, mine has neither.
I would love to have more even heating all the way across but I'm reluctant to haul out the drill and go crazy with out at least some testimony (first hand that is) that it's a good plan.
 
First cook is behind me, I got a handle on fire management using mini-splits but I just found out this cooker has been on the market for years.
I did a deep dive on YouTube and found an earlier versison that had louvers cut into the underside of the cook chamber grill insert (the one that runs the length of the cooker from left to right).
So, do any of yours have louvers and/or has anyone drilled "tuning plate" holes in the same?
It would seem that the manufacturerer's are interested in diffusing the heat and are trying different gimmicks.
Do any of them work, mine has neither.
I would love to have more even heating all the way across but I'm reluctant to haul out the drill and go crazy with out at least some testimony (first hand that is) that it's a good plan.
I have not looked at the newer ones but I had the smokin pro I took the charcoal grate and turned it upside down and butted it against the firebox. It help even the temps put in the cook chamber. The grate did not sit flat so smoke and heat came from the sides of it. Never drilled any holes in it. I did line the cook chamber with firebrick under the charcoal grate. Made some really good que off that rig
 
I watched a lot of YT vids also. I saw a few where guys flipped the grate inside the cook chamber and adjusted to what worked for them. I tried it but did not like it as I could not put a drip pan underneath the cook grate because the bottom was domed but I did have some even temps. Have you added the stack extension? That helps a lot for evening out temps side to side. Also I have the lava lock temp gauges on both bottom ports. I know they are not perfect but I tested both in boiling water and ice water and were damn close to give me peace of mind that I know what temps those corners are.

I also bought two boxes of rutland fire brick off amazon to insulate the fire box and have played around with different configurations from no ash pan and just brick on the bottom to where I am at now. Ash pan and charcoal basket in and bricks on both sides and two cut pieces against the cook chamber wall! Trust me I have delved deep into this smoker!! Hahaha!! Throw in wood and fire management and I have scratched my head a few times!! But now I have it dialed in and it is damn nice for my use and am loving it as there was no way my budget could do more.

If you do one thing I would add the stack extension for sure!! Creates more draw and helps even out temps for sure. You need to notch the extension so it fits over the dampener on the factory stack. There is a YT video on how to do this. With the extension the stack will be wide open always and I almost always run my intake wide open always and open the cook chamber lid to release heat if I am over shooting temps. Only time I use the firebox damper is on initial fire up if I build to much of a fire. Once I get my temps dialed that damper is wide open also. You can also open the firebox door wide open to settle temps also. I have played with many different configuration!! Do a few mods and just keep smoking and you will dial it in for sure!! I hope any of my info helps you enjoy this smoker as it is a great smoker when you dial it in!!

Aloha,

Sean
 
I have the cooker inside a covered patio and have an exhaust fan hanging from chains about 8 inches from the exhaust stack so when I'm cooking the smoke is sucked out of the stack and blown out into the back yard, so I THINK that equals the extended stack height..?
The the wood fire seems quite happy, with gentle flames and clean smoke the whole way.
Has anybody tinkered with the diffuser flap that attaches to the two flats sticking out of the right end of the cook chamber, it looks like it could be used to cover more of the opening between the two chambers or removed to free up air movement.
Don't know if that would help or hurt but I'm always looking for variables.
I could live with a super hot right end if the rest of the cooker's temps were averaged out.
In fact all my stickburner experience has revolved around a large water pan right at the cook chamber iinlet and moving the meat around during the cook to help it cook more evenly.
 
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First cook is behind me, I got a handle on fire management using mini-splits but I just found out this cooker has been on the market for years.
I did a deep dive on YouTube and found an earlier versison that had louvers cut into the underside of the cook chamber grill insert (the one that runs the length of the cooker from left to right).
So, do any of yours have louvers and/or has anyone drilled "tuning plate" holes in the same?
It would seem that the manufacturerer's are interested in diffusing the heat and are trying different gimmicks.
Do any of them work, mine has neither.
I would love to have more even heating all the way across but I'm reluctant to haul out the drill and go crazy with out at least some testimony (first hand that is) that it's a good plan.

I'm in the market for an offset, and the XD is one of the contenders. I've probably watched a bunch of the same content you have. The consensus seems to be that flipping the charcoal pan helps even out the temps. My plan, if I end up with the same smoker, is to test it without holes first, just varying the distance from the firebox/baffle, and then, if more tuning is needed, I'd consider drilling, but I'd avoid drilling the bottom center of the pan. I'd prefer the holes be closer to the top edges of the pan, so it doesn't lose it's ability to catch ash, if I decide to use the pan as designed, for direct grilling.
 
I watched a video today that pointed out that the effect of running the exhaust stack wide open and/or making it longer creates TOO much flow which alters the cook chamber temps causing hot and cold spots AND speeds the smoke across the cooker which does not allow enough time for the tasty smoke particulates to stick to the meat!
He closed the exhaust vent down to 25% open and while keeping the slow gentle flame in the firebox, the cook chamber temps went from a difference of over 100 degrees right to left, down to less than 50 degrees difference.
I've always run the exhaust wide open but I'm going to do a test fire and see if his idea works in the char-griller XD.
 
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I watched a video today that pointed out that the effect of running the exhaust stack wide open and/or making it longer creates TOO much flow which alters the cook chamber temps causing hot and cold spots AND speeds the smoke across the cooker which does not allow enough time for the tasty smoke particulates to stick to the meat!
He closed the exhaust vent down to 25% open and while keeping the slow gentle flame in the firebox, the cook chamber temps went from a difference of over 100 degrees right to left, down to less than 50 degrees difference.
I've always run the exhaust wide open but I'm going to do a test fire and see if his idea works in the char-griller XD.
Interesting, I am curious to hear how that works. I have never messed with that. Just wide open with the extension. One thing I can say is that I have never needed more smoke flavor on any of my cooks. I do have some off temps when I am getting it going but once all heated up my temps are pretty even across the cook chamber. I have played with the baffle plate and right now just have it how it is supposed too be . I had some good cooks when I reversed it to push heat coming out of the firebox upwards. I am still trying different things to see what works best for me.
 
I just finished my 6th experiment on the Grand Champ and I am sad to report there's no magic bullet to even out the temps, that I've found.
I need to repeat some of the above with a water pan but I ran a large one on my first cook over the inferno lower right and it probably helped, but it didn't knock my socks off.
Flipping the interior chacoal basin was interesting, it cooled the right lower inferno down to a gentle camp fire but drove the left lower temps almost as hot as the right side used to be.
Upper shelf temps with it set up that way were decent and pretty close to each other right to middle left, but not in line with lower shelf, which complicates cooking on upper and lower at the same time, unless there's something that cooks at a lower temp than say brisket or dino bones.
I tried various sized fires and multiple inlet and exhaust openings.
Restrictinig the exhaust about 75%, and the inlet somewhat less, did seem to even out the temp spread but only on a middle aged to elderly fire.
 
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After a lot of reading, watching, listening, and a handful of offset cooks, I've come to believe Franklin has this right: You want the fire hot and clean, and the air moving fast. Air flow is probably where a lot of smoker designs will trip up: They won't draft fast enough to create an even temperature across the entire cooking chamber. Baffles, tuning plates, and other techniques to optimize the heat distribution are inexact answers to a highly variable problem.
 
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That is interesting. I tried flipping the charcoal tray but didn't like it because I could not put a drip pan underneath the cook rack. I just use mine the way it is supposed to be with baffle in and a water pan above the baffle on the cooking grate. I am running that stack extension though. My temps are pretty even on the lower grate. On some cooks they are within 5 degrees. I do get some fluctuations but nothing drastic. Top grate is usually 15-25 degrees hotter than the bottom but that is to be expected. With the extension obviously I am running wide open. I usually run the firebox dampener about 3/4 open. I have great draw across the cook chamber and feel like I am getting good convection in the chamber.

I have also somewhat insulated the fire box with fire brick and feel like that keeps my temps pretty steady. I will add a couple of pics of how I have my brick setup in the firebox. I have played with different setups from only having brick and running the fire directly on the brick but have settled on this and I really like how it is working. Only problem is I need to remove the brick to pull out the fire basket and the ash pan. I don't mind though as I like to keep it clean after every cook. I can do it and have it all back together in like 10 minutes. Also you can see I cut one end of the fire basket open so I can feed wood in through the door rather than opening the top every time.



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VERY interesting, can I ask what size bricks and how many you used?
I love the cut basket mod too.
Oh and did you find a good price on the bricks?
 
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VERY interesting, can I ask what size bricks and how many you used?
I love the cut basket mod too.
Oh and did you find a good price on the bricks?
I bought them on Amazon. They are called Rutland fire bricks. I bought two boxes and there are 6 to a box. More than plenty to play around with different setups. I did have to trim 6 of them. Cut off about an inch if I remember correctly. I just used my grinder with a ceramic cutting disc. Went through them like butter. They are $35 a box on Amazon. The way I have it now I am using 10. And I have 2 in the cook chamber. Figured more thermal mass can’t hurt.

Yeah I really like the fire basket like that. Nice and easy to open and lay splits in. And I fell like I don’t lose as much heat that way. I am really enjoying this smoker and playing around with different setups.
 
I only did one cook big enough to use the whole cook chamber. But I didn't worry about uneven heat. I just rotated the meats part way through the cook. I had foil pans with water on the charcoal crate and had them all the way against the firebox baffle.
All of the food came out excellent.

This is 3 Whole Packer Briskets and 6 Pork Butts:

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I do enjoy all these XD threads though. I really enjoy cooking on mine.
 
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