Bought this unit in January. Overall I like it alot. Keep in mind it is a C.O.S so go into it knowing that, cheap thin metal, drafty etc. Fit and finish is extremely nice, it looks like a corvette out of the box. Love the sear burner, love the working space size, love the adjustable charcoal grate. The dial gauges are very accurate. I compare them with my digital's regularly.
Now onto the dislikes. It is a high maint. grill you will have surface rust issues unless you keep it in your garage and grill in your garage all the time. The paint on the firebox will peel off after 1st or second smoke. Spray it down with PAM often. The propane bracket is a little flimsey with a full tank on, I just put a block of wood under it. It is hard to maintain temps. for smoking, but as I said earlier I knew that going in and expected it.
Some mods I did to mine are as follows: Extended chimney to cooking surface. Removed rubber stoppers on lids and bought green egg lid gaskets and put on charcoal and smoker boxes. Sealed up weld seems with stove sealer before I seasoned. The firebox has a grate for stick wood but does not work well for charcaol. I flipped it upside down and bought a cooking grate to put on top of it and it works great for a charcoal basket now. I also use welders blankets on the cooking box and firebox when I'm smoking to help save fuel. I can maintain 250 - 275 degrees for about 2 to 3 hours. I think thats pretty good for a C.O.S. Use lump for smoking and not briquetts It's alot easier I found with this unit.
So there it is. I did alot of research before buying this and asked alot of questions from other owners so I hope this helps you. you will read alot of good reviews and bad. I found most of the bad reviews come from people that were expecting a $2000 grill for $400. For me this unit fit my budget for what I wanted to do, the versatility is great. It is a awesome looking grill and I love watching the jaws drop when friends and family see it.
Here is a link to a reviewer from this site. He also has a blog with some mods he did that I just stumbled onto as well
Out of the box, it works. With some tweeks, works awesome.
"Tweeks?" you ask...
High temp JB Weld on seams in fire box, smoke box and dividing wall of the propane and charcoal chambers.
Fire proof rope on upper seam and holes in same dividing wall.
Made a pipe extension for the exhaust out of flashing. Used some rivots to make it look nice.
Removed rubber spacers from smoke box and charcoal chamber, then replaced with 1/8 inch gasket from fireplace window gasket. The fire box one for sure but you can use BGE gasket to boot.
Used BGE gasket on bottom charcoal vent, basket handle guard, and small holes in charcoal side lid.
Flashing shield that acts like heat/smoke defuser to disapate well... heat and smoke.
Made my own grate for the fire box to keep the ambers from falling through.
And that is about it. If you have noticed that most is on the smoking side, it needed it the most. This way more heat less smoked where you want it. I have been practicing with my smoking and with smoking at least twice a week and I am loving it (as is everyone else).
Though I am still working on trying it to get and keep steady heat (and consequently transitioning from elec to a coal/wood smoker) I have made a few mods not listed here.
Kind of a no brainer, i put a few bricks (foil wrapped) in the base of the smoker,
I bought a shipping blanket at harbor freight and pretty much cut and trimmed a snuggie for the smoker. double layer of blanket.
I also bought a used broiler pan, and made a water pan that fits perfectly on the charcoal basket that is adjustable. I did have to bend the edges of the pan up to get it to fit- but it fits like a glove.
Though i am not sure how i feel about this mod yet;) I did use an angle grinder to cut a hole about 3"x10" from the smoker side into the gas side. My goal was to see if i could make the unit 1 large smoker. Ends up it mostly vents through the gas size and the temperature remains about 120 degrees cooler, when the smoker side is fired up. I have never experimented with cold smoking but that could perhaps be close to that temperature range. I did fabricate a plate that i can put over the hole with some strong magnets if i wish to reseal that area.
I am still undecided if the best route is coal with wood chips or chunks or a strait wood only fire- I personally am just trying to get it steady and constant and easily maintainable.
I have noticed, at times the smoker can take quite a bit of time to recover. I think being in michigan (and its getting colder cause it fall) that the weather probably is why. The blog mentioned above has also been quite helpful, I am trying a few of his mods- and i will test it and see how they work!
Hey guys just picked up the 4-1 on Friday. I assembled it today and cured it before direct heat cooking some chicken breast and some butternut squash that turned out great. I choose this pit based on reviews compared to other combo pits and then reading you guys comments. I got some mod questions though. Jace, can you explain your chimney mod and maybe put up some pics. Also wear do I get the BGE gasket. Lastly would using a metal cooking tray in the fire box to hold the charcoal work just as well?
I have several posts about modding the 4-in-1 on my blog, complete with pictures and walkthroughs. Be sure to check them out and read the comments. Good stuff in there that'll really help you out. Let me know if it does. http://blog.truthdialogue.com/category/cooking
Ok i see it now the Chris G blog. Thanks again for the info. I read that some owners where having issues with melting the knobs off of the front of the unit. Have you heard of this? Like i said i cooked on it last night and even got the temp up over 400 during the curing process and I didnt have any issues with any knobs.
Nope. No problems like that whatsoever. The only problems I've had with this unit are getting heat to travel efficiently from the firebox to the food chamber and keeping the temperature steady. After all the mods I've done (JB Welded seams, chimney extended down, deflector plate, BGE gasket, firebox heat deflector, and charcoal tray) I finally have this unit running really well. It takes a LOT of charcoal to sustain higher smoking temps (250 degrees and up), but if you're running 225-245 most of the time you won't burn through too much coal (relative to other smokers).
I'm working on putting together my 4-in-1 and have read about the mods. I got the nomex gasket and will install. I'm curious about the corner seams though. On here and other sites it sounded like each corner had pretty obvious gaps in it, on mine it actually looks like there is a corner piece welded into each corner. I'm also unsure if the best way (or necessity) to seal the holes in the lower corners between gas and charcoal side. I've read that JB Weld is good sealant for small gaps but requires mixing and I'm a little concerned ill mess it up. Does z high temp caulk, or the RTV high temp stuff work? As you may have guessed, not a lot of mechanical aptitude for me. Thanks.
dpr3244- yes, I use a fire(welders) blanket and it won't burn. Might become discolored from the smoke but I use one on my SH 44 vert, ECB or Weber if needed. Got mine from Harbor Freight cos they're pricey at a welding supply. Sometimes you can check at a farm and garden store in the welding section. But they will not catch fire and insulate well.