Electric Smoker Modifications

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Jul 7, 2005
Midvale, UT
Folks, Here's your chance to post the modifications and (hopefully) pictures of what you did to your smoker to make it work better. This topic will remain as a sticky so all the new folks don't have to hunt to far to find it.
To date all I have managed to do is ruin some very good venison.
I have a little chief smoker and I know I have to do some modifications
to it but I dont know what to do.
As far as I can see I need some kind of temp control and
some kind of thermometer.
Any kind of help would be great.

Thanks Canuck
one of the things to keep in mind with the luhr jensen products is that they are uninsulated and thusly are very ambient temp dependent......look at the mod I did for the big chief above on adding a temp readout, I ran this thing with ambient temp around 55 and the highest it ever got was 130, and as one would imagine, as the ambient temp dropped...so did the internal temp. They do sell a insulating blanket, but I think it's only for the big chief.....not sure, you would have to check. To be honest, the best mod you could do is really look into buying a bigger better insulated smoker.....it's what I finally did and damn glad....best 199.99 I've spent in years to be honest......
i take no credit for this one but thought i would share it just the same so people didnt have to go searching for it...


Very nice! Short of E-Bay, are bulb and capillary type thermostats readily available at places like Lowes? Might have to do something like this over the weekend!
Hi everyone.

I am a newbie and I am just getting started with modding my Little Cheif. I just got it last week. I picked it up used for $30 bucks. It was only used a couple of times. Right now I am working on making a temp control for it. I am going to try and use a control for an electric frying pan. I figured all I need to do is add a female three prong pluggin coming from the inside of the control unit. When I get it done and going I will let you know how it works and post some pics hopefully. I am also planning on making a box to go around the smoker and insulate it and also expand the smoking space. Hopefully this will help keep it warmer and easier to control the temp and be able to use it when its cold outside. We will have to see how it works. But what the heck I like diy projects sometimes they are half the fun.
Well I started to make my temp control for my little cheif today. I got a control/cord unit for an electric frying pan. It's one with the temp probe sticking out of the front of the unit. I took it apart and wired in a pig tail with a female cord end on it and I then reassemblied it to test it out. I plugged my toaster into the pig tail and then plugged the temp control into the wall and turned it on and started the toaster and held the probe over the toaster. I worked great it shut off when it reached the set temp. I can't wait to get it fine tuned and try it out on the smoker. I will let you know how it goes.
One other mod that I did last weekend is turn my racks into jerky screens/racks. I took the original racks and I got 4 disposable grill screens from wally world for like a buck a peice. I then cut the screens to fit and folded the edges over the rack. Now I can make ground jerky sticks on them. Later everyone smoke on.....

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sounds like a good thing you came up with... the only fear i would have is burning the element out... i am not exactly sure what would be the rating for them
The element in my little cheif I believe is a 250 watt one. But I figure if it burns out then I will just step up to the one for the big chief, its a 450 watt one and both replacement elements are the same price. But I know what your saying, I thought about that too at first. We will see what happens. thanks
I have a red Brinkmann Gourmet just like the one above that has had a thermostat added. I would like to find out if adding a platform above the heating coil would work ? As it is now, to add chips you must carefully reach thru that small door and place them around the heater coil w/o touching it ( a vey tricky undrtaking). Any ideas ?
you could take a piece of flexible metal duct, cut it to the size you want, bend it to the shape you want, feed it through the door, drop your wood chips or chunks down the venting and eliminating getting burnt

Hey Teacup13, the thermostat you showed a photo of seems like a great idea.. Do you have any information on how and where they mounted the probe. I added a temp gauge to mine. It lets me keep it at a steady temp but pluging and unpluging it is a bit of a pain.
I am lazy, I dump my chips (soaked or not) directly on the element. I bought it used, so what the hell.

The wind keeps knocking my Brinkman over, so I don't even have any of the lava rocks left.

I think that the greatest improvement that could be made to the Brinkman is a locking ring of so sort that would allow you to pick up the entire unit and move it. As it is now, the bottom portion stays while the torso of the unit comes right off. A way to set the torso on the base, twist to lock, and then pick up and move would be awesome.

Keep it simple, loose the chips and use chunks, they'll last a lot longer, and to reload just lift the whole body off, all the heat stays in the smoker
I would bet that something like the pie racks pictured below would work for you. It is sort of hard to tell in the picture, but the one on the right is about 4 inches high whereas the rack on the left is about 2 inches high.

Either way, it would get the wood off the element.

I plan on using one of them next time I smoke something. They have little white plastic feet on them that will probably have to burn off before I use them.

Might look around and see if you can find something like these. I picked them up at a garage sale.

As it turns out, those little white feet are ceramic, but I smacked them with a hammer and got rid of them just in case.

I ended up using the shorter of the two pie racks. The pegs for the feet were about 2 1/2 inches off the ground, so it rested perfectly just above the heating element. I ended up making a pouch of foil and stuffing it with soaked cherry and oak chips. Interestingly, the smoke rolled furiously for about an hour then quit. But 2 hours later, the smoke was back to a constant heavy roll. I am not sure why, but it seemed like the chips burned off in stages. Kind of weird. Might have something to do with the soaking. I'll try dry chips next time and see how it does.

Anyway, for the brinkman owners looking for a solution, try to find a pie rack like the ones pictured above. The diameter of the rack fits perfectly within the bottom of the Brinkman smoker. And the rack was less than an inch off the heating element.

New member...

I've got an old little cheif that I've been smoking in. I tried it out in the back yard on a sunny day, got it up to 150. So, I built a plywood box to put it in. Today, a 40 degree and windy day, I got it up to 160...which was a chore. That little 250 watt element is worthless. I ended up finishing my jerky in the oven (not a big deal). I'm heading to the store tomorrow for a hotplate.

The thing to remember about thermostats, they turn the elements on and off...not a big deal at high temperatures, unless your element is too large for your smoker. Then you are going to get up to temperature, your element is going to shut off, if you are insulated well, you are going to hold at temperature for a while, and your electric fire will go out. By the time it comes back on, you will have cooked devoid of smoke for ten minutes. Learned that the hard way. Guess if you had decent draft through the smoker, it wouldn't be an issue, but if you had decent draft, you could just adjust your temperature by adjusting your draft.

Anyway, you can get cheap thermocouple digital controllers on Ebay if you have any electrical background. That's what I use, more as a temperature gauge than a control.
snowman in order to help with the cooking with out smoke part you can always add a briquet that has been started in the skillet or wood pan. I will do this in order to keep the smoke going
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