Charcoal Smoker Modifications

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Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
OTBS Member
Jul 21, 2006
Erie Colorado
I found these pictures on the net after my first smoke. I had a little trouble the first time, getting up to and retaining temp. I saw a lot of posts here (and elsewhere) in which folks talked about making modifications to their Silver Smokers. I dug around for a while, and this was the best and most helpful pictoral for me. Gave me a good understanding of what needed to be done. The mods helped GREATLY! Click here, SilverMods
Mack, nice link with some good pics.

The thermometer mod is a nice convience, but isn't really a big deal. Just a little experience with a cooker will tell you what the difference between the indicated temp and actual grate temps are. On my horz its 15 degrees, I got used to the difference before I got mine moved so I've never bothered.

Basket burning is certainly a convenient way to cook but I would hate for beginners to get the wrong impression about this technique. It will produce good Q, but nothing beats the tedious task of feeding the fire a stick of wood every 30-60 mins for really delicious eating. It's more trouble, and wood can be expensive depending where you live, but that's how offsets are designed to be used. When time doesn't allow, I do use the Minion Method in my offset, but the end result isn't the same as stick feeding.
To get the best quality product, there are no short-cuts.
Scott, I have to agree with ya on that one. There are no short cuts for a good smoke, time and patience works wonders. I like to be around the smoker when cooking, so I pull up a chair and a brew and relax.

I agree with you both. I will not go with a coal box. What I did instead was take one of the two fire grates (the Silver comes with three) out of the cooking chamber, and put it in the fire box with the third fire grate. I turned them both lengthwise (they overlap a bit) to get about 4-5 inches of clearance under the coals, for better air flow. I too enjoy the thrill of the smoke, with a cold brew in hand. If I don't smell smoked myself by the end of the day, I didn't enjoy enough!
JMack, I moved it but some how lost my original post and your request. Oh well, ca-ca happens! :P Maybe what I should of done was insert a link into your post.
I am currently refurbishing a New Braunfels offset ( I was told it was a Silver Smoker) It has the large thermometer with the NB/Oklahoma Joes brand on it. I cannot find any model# anywhere on it. The question I have is regarding the firebox, on the bottom below the coal grate, opposite the door/vent, there is a quarter sized hole with 3 screw holes around it. Is this a vent? should I leave it open or seal it? I have been unable to look at a SS to see if open or sealed and all the modifcations I've dug up does not show this opening. I have added 4 new wheels, stove gasket between the firebox/smoke chamber, sealed and lowered smoke stack, oak handles and table slats, tuning plates and baffle. I can't wait to fire this baby up, but thought some advice from some pros is in order. Thanks to all for the help!
I'm not sure what that is, as my Silver has no such thing. My guess (as good as yours) is that perhaps it is or was some sort of vent for air under the coals. Not sure...
I was finally able to download a Char-Broil parts list for a SS, the hole is for a Diamond Fire igntion assembly that is an option and there is a cover plate that was not installed, so I'l have to fab one. UPDATE on mods so far: Completely disassembled and cleaned up rust spots on firebox, removed stock wheels and added 4 new wheels, stove gasket between firebox and cook chamber, oak handles and shelf slats, sealed and lowered smokestack to grate level, baffle, tuning plates, calibrated temp gauge and new paint job.
Found some perforated stainless plate that I might try as tuning plates. And working on a coal basket. Any other suggestions? I am very happy with the results so far! It looks like new and I can't wait to fire it up.
Will you post some pictures of it when you're done? And after the first smoke? Nice work, sounds like a great find!
All right guys here comes the questions....
I have a New Braunfels smoker, basic w/ the firebox. I bought it new on E Bay(never again) and man is it stripped down. I even had to buy new racks for it.
-Why do you seal the smoke stack and lower it?
-Why do you use a charcoal basket?
-Do you have a damper between the fire box and smoke area?
-What other mods. can be done?
This is my first smoker and I want to do it right.

Thanks guys!
The stack is lowered to or below the level of the cooking grate so that the heat doesn't go sweeping straight across the food like a torch from the firebox to the stack. By lowering it it kinda creates an even bubble of heat throughout the cooking area.

A damper, once again, directs the heat from the firebox downward to prevent burning up the food where it enters the oven area.

The ccoal basket allows ash to fall away from the coals so that they don't suffocate.

Other mods are myriad. I would suggest that you try a couple smokes, figure out what the problems are for you and your unit, come back here and talk it up.

I have yet to see a problem come up here that wasn't solved. Right guys?

BTW, be forwarned, usinfg a NB offset may be habit forming and lead to the use of larger and more dangerous smokers.
I added a baffle that cuts off the top half of the firebox and bent it L shaped to fit under the cooking grills, also have a couple different tuning plates to experiment with. I've only done one cook with it 4 game hens using Lazzari Mesquite lump on the firebox grate took @ 4 hours and used @8lbs of lump, not too much ash, but it was very cold out and I was peeking too much so that had a lot to do with it. I have a couple different charcoal baskets to play with one made from expanded steel and a 12"x12" steel box with 3/8" holes in it. I made copies of some of the different mods and got a lot of feedback. PM me if you need more info.
Tuning plates are pieces of metal that interfer with and redistribute the airflow through the oven. I think if it were me, I'd just buy a new smoker as opposed to using them. But I think some of just like tinkerin'.

Use this smoker. Figure out what you don't like and what you'd rather have. In a year or two, you'll be able to design and build your own, or have one custom built.

Good Wishes, and Good Modifyin',
I agree! just use it, but from all the research I did on this smoker and brands similar to it you want lower the exhaust to grate level. Check out the BarBChef it is similar and has the basics done already and people are modding it. I took a pit that someone didn't have the patience to use as it was intended,lost interest in it, bought a gas grill and got tired of the old lady bitchin' to get it off deck, cleaned it up and put a paint job on it and have a new toy to play with. Some people love to tinker, and I found that I can further my Q habit on a low budget by refurbishing neglected cookers for next to nothing.
I must admit that I still have problems obtaining and maintaining good heat on my brinkmann vertical smoker. I've done a couple mods that have helped, but I struggle with heat and sometimes have to finish in the oven. I sacrificed a cooking grate to move the water bowl up about 2" which gave the fire more room to breathe. I've drilled about a dozen holes in the coal pan, but still don't seem to get enough air and rarely see temps above 220 if there's water in the pan. I do have good smokes, but wonder if I'm putting in too much work for it. Anyone else have a vertical brinkmann or similar?
Jaynik, around 220 is where you want your temps. What are you using for charcoal? If your using briquettes, try switching to lump charcoal. It doesn't have all of the filler crap that briquettes do and tends to burn hotter. It's been awhile since I used by ECB (daughter kidnapped or should I say "Smokernapped" it from me). Lump might be the trick to get your temps up.
Jaynik -

Which Brinkman do you have again? I hae the All-in-one and never have trouble with getting enough heat unless it's below 5 degrees outside.

Although I did put together a little wind break for the winter.
Really...220 is pretty darn good. I always liked around 185 to 200* for most of my smokes. Extra holes in the fire pan should help. Another thing is to not use water. Try Playbox sand. More stable and higher temps can be achieved. In Florida with the high humidity, water is not really needed. I might baste alittle more with sand though. Remember to put a sheet of aluminum foil over the sand to catch the drippings. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.