Modifications To My Barrel Grill Needed???

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Smoke Blower
Original poster
SMF Premier Member
Apr 26, 2014
Long Beach, California
Hola Muchachos!!!

So lately, I have noticed that my coals don't seem to stay hot enough for long enough.

Starting to think that since I only have openings on the top and one side of the grill, it's not allowing a sufficient amount of air to circulate through the coals.

Hoping that some of you have experience with grill mods because I'd love to hear some ideas.

Initially I am thinking that maybe I should just cut out a hole around 3 inches on the opposite side to allow air flow from left to right, and also vent out the top pipe.

Here are pictures detailing where my current openings are.

Thanks in advance folks, always open to hearing what other grillers have to suggest :)

Hello.  "So lately"  So this JUST started happening out of the blue?  Have you changed your fuel?  Maybe a cheaper brand of charcoal?

"I have noticed that my coals don't seem to stay hot enough for long enough."  So are the coals burning up too fast or are they hard to keep lit and are going out?

All just my opinions:  The small hole at the top is not needed.  That stack should have been on the end opposite to the vent; and not in the middle.  What you have is 1/2 a smoker ( by size ).  Air flows in, carries down to 1/2 the smoker and then up and out through the stack.  I see know way to close the bottom vent, how do you regulate the temp?  Is the bottom vent BELOW the fire grate?  If you cut a hole on the opposite end you will run the risk of the heat and smoke flowing left to right/right to left depending on wind direction and straight out the other vent with very little heat or smoke rising and cooking and smoking your meat.

More info, method explanation, and pictures are needed to offer better advice.  Keep Smokin!

Should have worded it better lol, just started using the grill more often because I do a lot of my grilling on the propane one I have.

and to clarify, I do not smoke any food in here, it's just solely a Charcoal Grill....i occasionally throw a chunk in the middle or toss my smoker box in there, but I have a seperate "dedicated smoker" for when I want to smoke my meals.  Just have this grill so that I can bbq larger meals for when family comes over to eat.

I use Kingsford charcoal, just the standard coals, no "ready 2 light" or any of that crap.  just the original blue bag coals.

This is how I bought the grill, so not sure why they put the vent up top. Noticed after checking out other builds, that yea the barrel is usually flipped and the vent is made from the large hole that already exists.

yea the bottom vent is below the fire grate, then there is another smaller opening at the top corner that can be opened or closed via a small cap that screws in.

Do you think I should just take something and cap off that vent on the lid???  also, I could make a new hole on the left side of the grill and weld a new pipe to make a side "smoke stack"
Hello.  Strictly a grill does change some things slightly.  The small vent hole in the end makes no difference one way or the other in a grill.  I think moving the stack to the opposite end from the bottom vent would help distribute heat better but to be fair, as long as you are 

The one question not answered was are the coals burning up too fast or are they going out?  Sounds like they are burning up too fast so that means you are probably getting too much air.  A damper on the bottom vent could slow down the airflow and make the coals last longer.

Other than that; start with a bigger fire  or add some charcoal during the grilling process.

Wood chips for grilling.  Just sprinkle on a handful now and then during grilling.  Yes you will get white smoke but so long as the food is not exposed to the white smoke for more than an hour total you will be good to go.  Keep Smokin!

I did get two 15 pound bags of some charcoal of some "Sonora Charcoal" or something from Stater Bros for 3 bucks a bag cuz they had tears in them...So I think I may use some of that to "practice" with

Might take a can and hose clamp to shut that top stack out and see how it runs....

Coals had seem to have been just burning with less heat than usual, food was taking a long time to cook with even simple things like chicken breasts and wings.

They'd burn thoroughly til they were complete ash, just seemed to actually take forever to get there.

So felt like they'd burn low n slow even when it's an entire large chimney's worth of coal.

Like I said though, I think i'll cook some more meals on it wether big or small, and keep a close eye on what works n what doesn't as far as changing venting and stuff like that.

Thanks for the advice guys.....never without help from the great people of SmokingMeatForums :D
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