Finally did mods to my Charbroil Silver

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Sep 16, 2010
Salem, Oregon
Picked up my Charbroil Silver lightly used from Craigslist a few months ago, and have tried several smokes with it in the stock condition (actually the first thing I did to it was buy two decent therms and put them in). I have learned how to use it pretty well, but a few of the mods commonly spoken of on the forum sounded like very good ideas for improving its performance.

My mods include:
Charcoal basket
Heat baffle and tuning plates
Firebox brace

1- First the Firebox brace... I didn't take a good before and after picture, but as some of you may have noticed, and I imagine somewhat common on all these cheapy smokers, the firebox was sagging. It is a horrible design, but then again, these things are cheapy, probably made in China or somewhere, with the thinnest material they can. The design of these things is that the full weight of the firebox hangs on the side panel of the cooking chamber, just sheet metal. So even with this smoker being in really good shape, if you stood back and looked at it, there was a clear sag in the firebox. I used a floor jack to jack up the firebox to where I wanted it, then measured the gap underneath between the firebox and the frame. I took two pieces of angle iron and welded them as a spacer/brace. See pics:

Even with the welder turned way down, still melted a hole in the leg of the frame (amateur welder), but I just left it. This brace worked very well, displaced the weight of the firebox down to the frame instead of relying on the sheet metal of the cooking chamber.

2- Next the Heat baffle and tuning plates... My personal twist on the heat baffle was for it to protrude slightly into the firebox chamber, this way to begin heating up earlier and block some of the heat from the joint of the sheet metal between the firebox and cooking chamber.

First step was to use a grinder and cut off the sheet metal flange that protruded into the cooking chamber:

Next, measurements and mockup. I had some 1/4" x 5" flat bar on hand, so I welded two 16" long pieces of that together at an angle from each other, and welded a 7 1/2" long piece of 1/4" x 1" flat bar as a tab that would stick thru into the firebox chamber. I then welded a 2" square tab for it to bolt on with, using the existing bolt at the top middle of the firebox connection.

Finished shield bolted in place:

Tab of shield protruding thru opening into firebox chamber:

Tuning plates are made from 1/4" x 5" steel, 15" long, and then I welded 4 tabs on that measure outside to outside at 16". I saw on someone elses post (sorry can't remember who) that they cut their tuning plates with 4 tabs, so there was a gap on each end for smoke travel. I liked the idea, but didn't have a good way to cut the plates that way, so it was easier for me to weld on some tabs.

3- Finally the charcoal basket. Pretty simple, expanded metal mesh, basket size 14 1/2" wide x 12 1/2" deep x 7" tall. Fills up the firebox chamber, sits on existing grate. Divider is 3/16" steel plate 6" square.

Test run showed a nice 10 degree difference across cooking chamber, and I could already tell that the major hotspot right next to the firebox was under control now.
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looks good, tell me what's the divider in the charcoal box for?

The divider allows burning with the "minion" method... search it and you will find many posts about it... basically it is a way to get longer burns without having to add coal so often. The divider is only 6", but the basket is 12 1/2" in that direction, so there is a 5 1/2" open area, forming a U shape for the coal to go in. On my test run, I filled my chimney starter with briquettes, and poured about the same amount into one side of the burn basket. When the chimney was ready, I poured the hot coals into the other side of the basket. I then allowed some of the briquettes to touch around the open area, so the lit coals burned the unlit coals, almost like a fuse. You will find some people's "minion" method baskets actually have an S shape.
This is awesome, and relevant for me especially.  Im posting something similar to this.  
Ok I got it. Thanks for the explanation. I was literally just looking into that minion method last week.
Is there any value to putting lava rocks to help disperse the heat better?  My steel baffle and plates are much thinner than this.  I planned on putting a water pan as close to the baffle as possible and then putting stones towards the end.  Waste of time?  Im concerned about hot spots especially with the thinner gauge.  
Is there any value to putting lava rocks to help disperse the heat better?  My steel baffle and plates are much thinner than this.  I planned on putting a water pan as close to the baffle as possible and then putting stones towards the end.  Waste of time?  Im concerned about hot spots especially with the thinner gauge.  

Not sure about the Lava rocks... Seen those in store bought gas grills, but never heard of anyone doing those in smokers. Much more common from viewing posts on the forum is steel... the thicker the better for radiant heat. The higher end offset firebox models are built entirely from 1/4" steel. I have read posts where people have done the water pan, seems to work ok. Yes if the tuning plates are thin you will be getting some of the feature of blocking heat, but not the radiant aspect. See my reply to main post from my first cook with these mods...
I did my first cook the new mods today. I noticed that with the baffle and tuning plates in the cook chamber, it took a lot longer than normal to get up to temp. I think part of this was that all of the steel was cold, but also because some of the heat was blocked from getting up to the thermometers for awhile. Once it was up to temp though, I noticed much faster recover times after opening the cook chamber to check the meat, spray apple juice, etc. Once those plates got good and hot, they don't cool off for awhile. Also, before the baffle and tuning plates, even opening the firebox would drop the temps significantly. Not now... I can open the firebox, add coal or wood chips, close the lid and the temps hold steady.

Also, I think what I found with my charcoal basket, is that the baffle (3/16" plate) either isn't thick enough, or it might be better to do two plates with a small gap between them... if an unlit piece of coal is right on the other side of the divider plate from a lit piece, it is hot enough to get the unlit one started, which defeats the "minion" method. If there were two plates with a small gap, it would act as a heat shield... I may add this at some point. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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