challenges with Brinkmann Square vertical smoker

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got the temp at 225-245. been adding fuel as i go .controlling the temp alot easier this time also new charcoal pan making a big difference.
BB's came out really good 2-2-1 method works well .they were falling off the bone. keeping temp around 200- 225 alot easier with the new pan .i needed to raise temp at times and just added a few briquettes. used some hickory chunks this time much better taste then mesquite.used apple juice to keep moist. all in all a good smoking lesson today.
I purchased 1/4 inch fiberglass gaskets that use a screw driver to push into the spaces around the doors. That plus a slotted charcoal pan have made my Brinkman a dream. I load the charcoal pan with hot coals that last an hour. Each hour I add water and replenish the charcoal. I smoke Boston butt 3 hours then put it in the stove at 250 for a couple of hours.
I have one of these Brinkman 2 door smokers. I modified a small kettle type charcoal grill by replacing the legs with bolts for legs so it would fit in the bottom of the smoker. I also added a different temp gauge to the side which is more accurate then the factory unit. If you buy a replacement temp gauge check it by sticking the end in boiling water. I used a modified version of the Minion method the cook ribs using the 3-2-1 method. I took both end out of a coffee can, set it in the center of the little grill. I then poured lump charcoal around the can, lit a chimney, dumped it into the can and then removed the can. Then I placed the grill into the smoker and got the temp to stay between 200-225 for 6 hours with the addition of a couple large hands full of charcoal and some air directly on the fire after about 4 1/2 hours.
I ran into essentially the same problem. Replaced the charcoal pan with a grilling wok, put the briquets in there, got the starters going in the chimney, dumped 'em on the briquets when ready and then left for about 15 minutes. Came back and the temp was up to 350! Still trying to bleed off some of the heat. May simply have to start my turkey breast later than I planned. Good thing I'm not working today.
I have one of these smokers as well. I was quite frustrated in the beginning. My first problem was getting the temp up, and this was cured by modifying the coal pan by cutting out the bottom and welding in a piece of expanded steel. I then purchased the ET-73 and realized that the stock thermometer was 50-75 degrees off. I now had a hell of a time keeping the temps in the 225-250 range. After some research I tried using the minion method, but I still could not keep the temps down. I assumed the problem was caused by a bad seal around the doors and the air vents.

Still frustrated, I remembered that I had some aluminum (I assume it's aluminum) tape around, and I sealed one of the bottom vents with the tape. I then sealed the doors from the outside, thinking that I would need to replace the tape everytime I had to open the doors. Surprisingly there was just enough "stickyness" to seal the doors, but to also open the doors without having to replace the tape each time. I have only used this method once, but I was able to maintain proper temps for approx 2 hours at a time before needing to reload. Not the prettiest thing, but it works great!

the Labyrinth keeps the coals from igniting each other into one huge fireball.  It makes them burn a little at a time, sort of a way to control the chaos.  gives you a longer cooking time also, well, gives ME a longer cooking time. 


guess i was a bit late on the trigger there, sorry folks.
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I love my new Brinkman Vertical.  I had an ECB that rusted out and was looking to replace it with the same, but when I saw the vertical at Wally World I figured I'd give it a shot.  This thread was very helpful, suggesting mods to the unit.  I got it Wed. night, put it together, Thursday night I seasoned it, and used it to cook all weekend, no problems. 

First thing I did was remove the thermometer and check it in boiling water.  The thermometer was reading 250º when the water started to boil. (checked with digital, at 209º), so I just "calibrated it in my head that 250º on my thermo meant 212º and if I wanted 240-250º, it should read about  300º.  I checked while seasoning with digital thermometer and my "calibration" method worked perfectly.

I did the charcoal basket mod, using a SS wire basket used for grilling veges and stuff.  I used my old water pan from the ECB set on the bottom of the smoker to catch the ashes and set the basket right on top.  I might fabricate a new shorter ash pan to allow me to lower the charcoal basket a tad, to be able to get wood chunks and fresh charcoal into the basket, and to keep the fire away from the water pan.  I found 1 chimney of Kingsford blue briquettes lasted me about 2.5 hrs, and maintained about 250º  with the top vents wide open and the bottom 1/2 closed.  I also drilled three 1/4" holes into each of the sides, +/-1 inch down from the top and put 3 pieces of 1/4" threaded rod through the unit with nuts on the outside, to hang sausage/bologna.  I can get 9 sticks of deer bologna in there at a time, hanging so they cook evenly and the juices drain into the water pan.  My deer bologna turned out wonderfully Friday night.

The only negatives I see with the unit is the water pan is too small and the unit itself is just a tad small.  Even though 1 chimney of charcoal lasted 2.5 hrs, I found I had to add water at about 1.5 hours into the smoke.  Had they used the same sized water pan as an ECB and made the unit 2" bigger all around and slightly thicker steel, it would be the bomb.  Also, my unit has wire racks.  The Brinkman website says the one at Walmart should have ceramic coated racks, mine didn't....they were chromed wire.  Ceramic racks, or even cast iron, would last longer I believe.

I have the same smoker but with the twist lock handles. The miniature round table top charcoal grill that you can find at home centers for around 19-20.00 and will fit perfectly in the bottom of this square smoker and has a charcoal grate and holes in the bottom that you can clear out with a stick when the ashes get built up over long smokes. It will fit in the bottom with the legs attached and will move the fire up higher, hold more charcoal and burn cooler and use less charcoal than that wok. I use two of them. When one gets too full of ash, I start more coals in the second one and trade them out. That way, I can control the ashes and the ideal level of charcoal more consistently and suffer less heat loss while waiting for new charcoal and added wood to recover from smothering the coals initially. It will also raise the bottom holes under the charcoal grate to where the inlet vents actually feed the fire instead of just drafting cold air into the top of the smoker.

This is the grill that fits. Leave the catch cup off the bottom which will fully expose the holes in the bottom, which are the same configuration as the side vent holes you see in the picture. Pretty much an ideal fix for this poor little smoker.
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I need some help, i can never get my temp above 120 degrees, its driving me nuts.  I've put about 20 holes in my charcoal pan, i keep messing with the vents trying to get the temp up and it doesn't seem to work. 
I need some help, i can never get my temp above 120 degrees, its driving me nuts.  I've put about 20 holes in my charcoal pan, i keep messing with the vents trying to get the temp up and it doesn't seem to work. 

Welcome to SMF. There are a lot of very friendly & knowledgeable folks here to help you. I urge you to sign up for the free E-course. It will give you the basics, & even if you are an experienced smoker you may learn something new. Then start asking questions. Good luck & glad to have you aboard. Don't forget we all love Qview! Now, if you would, go to the roll call section & introduce yourself, so we can give you a proper welcome. Let us know where you are located and what kind of smoker you have. We need more info to answer your question.

What material was used to build the labyrinth? It appears that it may be wood.
I have the same unit and made a few mods myself.  The one that worked the best was to start using a labyrinth in the charcoal pan.


I think they're patio pavers.  Looks like they chipped or cut them to have an angle to match the pan.  I'll be trying this soon!


I am not trying to one up anyone, nor am I shilling for the manufacturer of my grill. However just to let you know how I do it, I'll tell you about doing 2 butts recently. I set my Kamado (TM) ( I do not recommend the Kamado (TM)) (But I do recommend this type of cooker) (anyone who wants to know why I don't recommend Kamado (TM) can PM me) On with the cook (AKA kook), I set the grill up with about 8 pounds of hardwood lump Saturday afternoon around 4PMm and got it to around 200 degrees. I then hooked up the BBQ Guru and set it for a cooking chamber temp of 210F, and the internal temp of the meat to 195F. Set the meat to kooking at 6:30pm. Slept all night long and checked the grill around 6AM Sunday, and all was good. ( no need to add fuel0 Went off to work and around 10am the wife called and said the Guru was beeping. Told her to just unplug it. Came home about 12:30PM and took two beautiful butts off to pull. Took the pulled pork of one butt to work and shared, kept the other. Froze some and still have about one meal left.  Once the ceramic cooker gets up to temp, she stays there unless the coals go out or there is too much draft. A guru is not necessary, but it sure makes it easy. All long cooks I do with the guru, shorter cooks like a roast, (beef, pork or chicken) I just know how far to open the damper and draft for what I want. Usually I do roasts and baking potatoes at 400F. that means about the width of 2 quarters on the draft door, and a 3/4 turn on the damper. Charcoal last a looooong time do the the heat sink of the cooking chamber walls.
i use one with great success. i love the flavour you can get into your food wether smoking or just grilling. I think you may be using way too much coals. And thats why the temp really cranks up.

i light mine with 3 -4 heat beads (like whats on a webber) and then run just 3 or 4 lumps of HARD charcoal. add a lump or two every time i think it needs it.

I can run at 120 as long as i want then add a bigger pile of charcoal and let the temp run up to 180 or whatever for finishing.

My cheapy Brinkman was only 60 bucks and they sold a heap as seconds, but the temp gauge seems to be good. i can cook meat at 180 on the gauge then use a temp spike on the meat and its about 160, so I think thats pretty good. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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