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Masterbuilt 44 Mod Ideas

thebugman10

Newbie
2
3
Joined Jun 23, 2021
I've been lurking around here for a little bit, and I've really enjoyed reading everyone's ideas for smoker modifications. I have a Kamado Joe classic and a Smoke Hollow 33 propane smoker. I recently bought a used Masterbuilt 44 propane smoker. I really love the size of this smoker. I'm able to fit whole packer briskets and whole racks of St Louis ribs without them touching the sides of the smoker. However, I think I'm going to have to make some modifications to this Masterbuilt to get it smoking like I want.
Over the weekend I broke it in doing some pork belly burnt ends one day and a few pork butts the next. I noticed when doing the burnt ends, the pieces on the edges got much more done than the pieces in the middle. The butts turned out great, but I also had trouble getting the smoke I want. I'm going to attach some photos and explain what modifications I plan on doing. Any feedback would be much appreciated.

1. Like many here, the lowest I was able to run the smoker was about 250f, with both burners on. I didn't try just turning on 1 burner, but I was worried it would heat unevenly that way. I'm going to install a needle valve like I've seen recommended here.

2. Here is a photo of the water pan (along with a stainless pan I purchased)
IMG_20210622_180854.jpg

Compared to the Smokehollow 33, the waterpan is smaller in relation to the overall size of the grill. There are large gaps around the water pan for heat to get around. My idea is to keep the water pan where it is, and on the shelf above it, place two stainless pans like I have pictured here. I would place each pan on the far left and right sides of the grill grates and have a gap in the middle between them. The idea is that heat from the burner first hits the oval water pan and is deflected around it. Next the heat rises to the next level and hits the two stainless pans I have placed, with the idea that most of the heat would be deflected up into the middle between them. I'm hoping this would lead to more even heat throughout the smoker.

3. Here are a couple of photos of the oval water pan, heat deflector, and wood tray.
IMG_20210622_180911.jpg
IMG_20210622_180923.jpg

The wood chip tray that came with this smoker is a small rectangular steel tray with a lid that is too small for chunks. I removed it and took the wood tray from the Smokehollow 33 and placed it directly on the heat deflector for the cooks I did over the weekend. I still did not get quite enough smoke. I've seen other people use cast iron pans. My plan is to remove the heat deflector entirely and place another rectangular stainless pan (like the one I had sitting on the shelf in the photo above). The pan would sit on that lip above the burners so there would still be a gap for air, and I would hopefully get more smoke from my wood chunks.

4. I like the idea of closing up the top vent permanently and installing a tube on top of the smoker. I'm assuming this is done to improve airflow and leads to better smoke. Do you guys think that is worth it?

Any other ideas/thoughts/comments are much appreciated. Thanks!
 

JLeonard

Master of the Pit
SMF Premier Member
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2,086
Joined Apr 17, 2020
Sounds like a good plan. Let us know how it works out.
Jim
 

kilo charlie

Master of the Pit
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1,150
Joined Sep 25, 2017
Here's photos of my Smoke Hollow 44 so you can reference.

There's a flange around the outside that the water pan sits in.. it's got holes around the perimeter to help even out the heat distribution.

20210623_112232.jpg


I removed one of the wood boxes for the photo.. you see it sits on a bracket above the burner and not directly on it.

20210623_112301.jpg



I used Lava Lock around the whole perimeter of the door to help seal it. (this is several years old)

20210623_112331.jpg


Good luck with your project! Hopefully this will help you or give you some ideas on where to take yours
 

thebugman10

Newbie
2
3
Joined Jun 23, 2021
Here's photos of my Smoke Hollow 44 so you can reference.

There's a flange around the outside that the water pan sits in.. it's got holes around the perimeter to help even out the heat distribution.

View attachment 501034

I removed one of the wood boxes for the photo.. you see it sits on a bracket above the burner and not directly on it.

View attachment 501035


I used Lava Lock around the whole perimeter of the door to help seal it. (this is several years old)

View attachment 501036

Good luck with your project! Hopefully this will help you or give you some ideas on where to take yours
Thanks! That's very interesting that the Smoke Hollow cooking chamber is almost directly sealed off from the heating chamber by the water pan, except for those holes as you mentioned. As you can see in my photos, the gaps between the water pan and walls of the smoker are very large, which I think creates hot spots around the outside of the cooking area. My smoker doesn't actually have an issue of smoke coming out of the doors, but I order gaskets anyways because I figured it would make temperature control more reliable.

I actually just ordered a large hotel pan to replace the water pan with. It is almost the size of a cooking grate. I am going to try that first instead of the multi-level heat diffuser system I was talking about in my OP. I still think I am going to remove the heat deflector above the burner and set that smaller stainless pan at the bottom of the smoker and put my wood in. It won't sit directly on the burner, there will still be a gap between the burners and the bottom of the stainless pan.
 

kilo charlie

Master of the Pit
1,303
1,150
Joined Sep 25, 2017
I actually did something ver similar on my smaller propane smoker... I use the black tray for pellets or wood chips and the small hotel pan as a water pan.. I also lined the inside with some mirror polished stainless steel that I had laying around the garage and it basically doubled the wall thickness.. it holds temps really well.

Not a fan of the "vent" on the top though so I don't use it a lot.

IMG_20170826_185716044_HDR.jpg
 

OldSmoke

Meat Mopper
SMF Premier Member
233
360
Joined Sep 5, 2020
To even out the heat, I have a small cookie sheet from Dollar Tree that fit perfectly on a rack with about an inch gap around the edges. I slide it all the way to the back to force the smoke and heat to spread out. Previously, the heat and smoke traveled straight up the back wall and out that back vent.

A needle valve is a must have addition. I can get down to 150-170 without a fuss. Installing a gasket will also help a lot to maintain consistent temps. Install the gasket on the doors so drips don’t land on it.

Consider using a tube for smoke. Trays don’t seem to work as well in propane smokers. Once you install a needle valve, you may not get consistent smoke using a pan. It doesn’t get hot enough for hardwoods. The tube also introduces less heat. Try mixing some chips in with the pellets. I learned that on this forum and it works great.
 

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