- Joined Jun 27, 2018
I just sold my Old Country Brazos that I cooked with for three years.Hi all,
Just wanted to share a few simple but effective mods....
1)Build the fire on the floor - Tried several different firebox setups, including one with "V" shaped grates to funnel coals, surrounded by firebrick. However, the simplest and most effective setup so far has been to build fire on the floor. Using ~12" L x 2" W splits of oak. Never going back to any other setup.
2) Add a chain drying hammock/brazerro - The rails at the top of the firebox that hold the direct cooking grate can be repurposed as a) an argentinian brazerro/burn box to produce coals for your grill and b) when chains pulled to the side, creates a 'drying hammock' for splits that you are warming/drying for the next one to put on the fire. Sometimes they catch, but rarely. Much more effective than setting on top of the firebox or in the cook chamber where they take up space. 6' of chain at your hardware store. Cheap. Grab some chicken wire or a carabiner to help secure it to or around the rails.
3) Top cooking rack - Went on Thumbtack (amazing app) and found a welder to make a custom top shelf. Doubled the cook space. $160, but worth it to me.
4) Lavalock/gasket - Nothing special, but works.
The problem I have is the STACK side getting hotter than the firebox side. Temp testing on upper and lower racks indicated strong flow (not weak, where hot air might get stuck in upper chamber). To remedy, and short of restricting airflow to the firebox or on the stack, there is a need to modify the baffle and airflow inside the chamber. I am working with the welder to come up with a solution (eg. a customizable baffle that can push air both UP and DOWN, depending on current conditions. She is also going to cut a water pan shelf for under the lower grate on the firebox side to open up more cook space.
It's a good amount of money, but not exorbitant, and is valuable to me for a better cooking experience and a better end product.
The Lone Star Grillz Fire Basket was the best thing I found for managing the fire. Building directly in the bottom of the firebox made it too hard to get new splits to ignite. Can't get air under the splits . I put the fire basket on fire brick, to create air space under the basket.
I like 8 to 10" splits , bout as round as a beer can.
In one of your pics, you have your fire built way too close to the cook chamber. You're getting a lot of direct heat into the cook chamber. The other benefit of the LSG Fire Basket, is it allowed me to keep the fire next to the firebox door, away from the cook chamber. That extra 6 to 8" made a difference . It effectively increased the length of my firebox.
I don't like your chains idea. I don't want my splits to dry out that much, you might as well be using kiln dried wood. Removes most of the moisture from the wood. I don't want green wood, but I don't want completely dry wood either. Warming on top of the firebox is plenty enough drying, really more than I like.
I did not use the upper grate in the Brazos. I don't like juices dripping down on meats on the lower grate. The upper grate is also just a drag on air flow.
I don't like loading up my smoker with a lot of meats. It changes air flow inside the cooker. Thus it changes how the smoker cooks. Capacity was not something I was looking for in a smoker.
Just cutting the baffle out , or reducing its size , is only gonna work if you open up the exhaust end with a collector or some way to improve the draw and get heat out of the cooker. The reason the stack end is hotter, is due to the baffle acting as a mild venturi effect and shooting heat to the stack end. Compare to putting thumb halfway over the end of the garden hose. Ya can't just open up one end , without opening the other. Heat will build on the stack end. It can't get out that 4.5" exhaust port fast enough. And likewise, if ya increase the draw by modifying the stack, ya also have to cut out the baffle.