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Modifying and tuning my Char-griller

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Post Thu Jun 24, 2004 11:02 am
SRH_21 medium
medium

Posts: 104
Location: Attleboro, MA
I am new to grilling and would like to get more even heat distribution from the side box of my Char-griller. I have a Char-griller Super-Pro with the fire box. I am also trying to modify the grill to retain the heat better. I have seen fire brick on the bottom, but what can I do to the lid and the sides. I have done a few searches, but have not found anything on modifying this particular grill. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Scott

Post Thu Jun 24, 2004 12:32 pm
goldenbear medium-rare
medium-rare

Posts: 52
Location: Southern California
I have had my Chargriller for a month now and I've cooked on it a few times. I haven't done anything to modify the Chargriller and am able to maintain the temperature pretty well. I even measured the temperature at the grill level using a polder probe thermometer inserted in the hole on the side and the temperature reading I got was pretty close to the hood temperature guauge. I use regular charcoal briquettes with a little mesquite for smoke and I usually add around a handfull of fresh charcoals every 45 minutes or so.

But if others out there recommend anything to make my smoker even better than it is, I'm always willing to listen!

Post Thu Jun 24, 2004 12:36 pm
BBcue-Z well done
well done

Posts: 3062
Location: Atlanta-GA
Scott,
Welcome to the board. I have the same grill as few of us here do. I found the best way to maintain even heat distribution is by leaving the charcoal try inside the smoking chamber during the use of the side firebox. You’ll have to leave it at its lowest position, and then place a foil-dripping pan on top of it. This acts as an insulator for the bottom of the grill. The tray also becomes almost like a tube between the firebox opening and the body of the grill. I’ve never had any issues with heat retention. Mine keeps a consistent temp through out cooking time and with very little efforts. If you can gives more details on your climate, fuel type, amount of food you’re cooking..etc, maybe we can give you a more accurate suggestions.
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Post Thu Jun 24, 2004 1:12 pm
SRH_21 medium
medium

Posts: 104
Location: Attleboro, MA
I have been using briquettes and hickory chunks for smoke. I have, thus far, only attempted beer can chicken using the side box. I kept the temp at 250-275 for a 5 pound bird. The chicken took 2.5 hours to cook and was still a little under cooked on one side. The weather was a little rain and in the high 70's. I made pulled pork last week, which took 6 hours, but didn't use the side box, and it came out perfect. The weather was the same as the chicken.

I will try the drip pan idea, next time. I didn't think of that when making the chicken. I just picked up some lump charcoal and some apple chunks, for my next attempt.

I may try re-assembling the grill. The grill was a b-day present and was a floor model. The lid doesn't fit quite right, I get smoke comming from the sides and front.

I have read about inserting some rolled flashing into the stack to lower it, what does this do for the grill?

Post Thu Jun 24, 2004 1:40 pm
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
First let me say that I have tried none of the following (I've only had my Char-Griller a short time too) but I found these out on the web after a google search. The URL is to I site I've seen referenced on this site before.

Personally before I would do any of these things I'd want Z's opinion.

It seem that some are easilly solved with the try idea and inserting a turkey thermometer in the side hole. I may think about the chimney idea though.

This is taken EXACTLY as I found it and it isn't necessarily how I think or feel.

Smoker Mods

OK...here are the simple mods you can make to most "cheap" off-sets.......

Your exhaust vent needs to be extended down to the grate level....it is currently fixed at the top of the unit. This can be done easily with some aluminum flashing....just roll it up and shove it up into the exhaust pipe and make sure it comes all the way down to the grate. It makes opening the top a little more difficult on some models, but you need this to be done.

Why??? Heat will follow the path to the nearest exhaust opening. In this case it goes directly from your firebox, thru the opening and directly up to the top of the unit. Thereby passing OVER your meat. The temp difference between the grate and the top of the unit can be 100º! By getting that exhaust opening at the grate....the heat will now flow horizontally to the far end of your cooking chamber.

Check the opening between your firebox and cooking chamber. Look to see where it is located in reference to the grate....is it above the grate or half way above or below. Here again, your hot air will come blasting out of that opening and go directly thru your meat over to the now extended exhaust. That means it will be very hot at that opening. A simple solution is to put a large pan of water right at that opening. This will deflect much of the heat and will tone down that hot spot.

A surer fix is to attach a "baffle plate" to the top of the opening and bend it downwards so it deflects the heat UNDERNEATH the grate. No welding required but you would have to drill a couple of holes and simply use nuts and bolts to attach. The thicker the metal the better the baffle.

The firebox also leaves a lot to be desired. They have a problem with nowhere for the spent ash to go, so, they eventually drown the live coals out. Resulting in a fire that will burn for a very short period of time. This can be remedied by placing bricks underneath the corners of the fire grate. This raises it above the bottom of the firebox and allows those ashes to drop out of the way.

Second problem is the coals get too spread out on the grate. If you could somehow “stack” them, you could take advantage of a technique that would allow for much longer burn times. I have seen charcoal baskets that help to keep the charcoal all in one place and allow for some air circulation. This can be an actual extruded metal basket or a “ring” that is designed to keep the briqs in one place while burning. Even the high-end Klose smokers lack this critical piece of equipment. Folks using these have much longer burn times and much easier temp controls. Why?? Once your charcoal starts to burn down, the live coals get smothered and choked out by the ash. By allowing airflow, your temps will stay where you need them and are much easier to control because of the added air.
Here is a link to charcoal baskets and also pics and further explanation of the mods for some specific cookers...........

http://www.teddybearbbq.com/smoker_modifications.htm
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Post Thu Jun 24, 2004 6:34 pm
BBcue-Z well done
well done

Posts: 3062
Location: Atlanta-GA
Let me just say that the Char-Griller is a very good grill/smoker. It performs well on its own without any modifications. If it were not a good grill, I would’ve gotten ride of it long time ago. There is no reason to cook on bad equipments if cooking is your passion. Now it may use some enhancements, but what grill dose not? That’s the reason stores carry grill accessories.
Here is what I think about these mods:
1- I’ve never tried to extend the exhaust opening, so I’m not going to knock it down. I never put down any idea before trying it. The only thing I’d be careful with is trapping the smoke in the chamber for too long. It would make the food taste bad, I believe the call it stale smoke. My Char-Griller browns food evenly from one end to the other, so I don’t see the need for this.
2- The water pan method works real well. In fact, I mentioned it in several posts. I usually place 2 water pans to cover the entire surface of the charcoal tray. Water prevents temp spikes and even out the temp.
3- As far as heat deflection, I line up the lower half of the grill with aluminum foil. Foil helps to distribute the heat in the main chamber and it reflects the heat at the food. It also makes cleaning a snap, not to mention, it’s easy to install (No, YB I don’t own any stocks in Reynolds :) ).
4- The firebox does get full of ashes after a long smoking session (over 8 hours). I’ve done the brick trick and it works well. I also use the larger grate that comes with the firebox (supposed to use it for cooking inside the firebox) for charcoal. The grate sits higher in the firebox and provides more room. You can also place the smaller grate on top of it to prevent coals from going through it. And don’t forget that the firebox has a removable ash drawer. You can always empty the ashes without any interruptions in cooking.
5- The charcoal basket is a good enhancement to any smoker; it makes the process much easier. But I’ve never had any problems with the coals getting scattered. Char-Griller sells a pair of charcoal rails for $8.00. I just got a set, but I have not tried them yet.
Now I don’t claim to be an authority on this grill, but I have experimented with it and got very familiar with it.
I hope this helps.
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Post Thu Jun 24, 2004 7:19 pm
Wolfpackbbq well done
well done

Posts: 2631
Location: San Ramon, CA
Z,

Quick question on stale smoke for you. Wouldn't dropping the exhaust decrease the amount of stale smoke as compared to leaving the stock exhaust? My thinking is with the exhaust exiting above the food the coolest air/smoke will settle at the bottom with no place to go while the warmer air exhausts out of the pipe, hence forth stale smoke at the meat. It would seem the the top quarter would get great circulation the stock way. The modification would push out cooler air and increase circulation, and decreasing stale smoke. You have way more experience doing this than I do, so I trust your opinion. I also just installed that big 4" pipe below my cooking grate that seems to work great, but can change it back easily if need be.

Post Thu Jun 24, 2004 8:23 pm
BBcue-Z well done
well done

Posts: 3062
Location: Atlanta-GA
I have not really experimented with the exhaust, so I can tell you for sure. I was thinking if the exhaust was too close to the grate, it might limit the opening, and thus trapping the smoke. Since the firebox opening is below the grate level, and the majority of the hot air will be coming from underneath, it will keep the cooler smoke from settling at the bottom. So I wouldn’t really worry about the stale smoke in this case.
As far as the pipe, if it’s working for you, then I would keep it. I was just wondering how you would use it as a grill? I find the charcoal tray topped with foil pans- kind of- act like a pipe. And this way I don’t have do anything when I decide to use it as a grill.
I hope I answered your question.
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Post Thu Jun 24, 2004 8:56 pm
Wolfpackbbq well done
well done

Posts: 2631
Location: San Ramon, CA
My new exhaust exits under the grate so restriction is not a problem. I don't use my smoker as a grill so I don't know how the pipe would affect it. I would think there would be some cross flow but wouldn't affect it much. Maybe I'll give it try sometime and see what happens. Thank's for your input Z, it is always greatly appreciated.

Post Thu Jun 24, 2004 10:49 pm
Yankee Bill medium
medium

Posts: 115
Location: Norfolk, Va.
Z, Grand Scale, or other Smokin' Pro owner's,

I haven't had a chance to play with my sidebox on my Char-Griller yet, and am planing on doing a low & slow cook on Sunday. Going to do up a couple of Butt's for Pulled Pork.

I'll be using Kinksford Briquette's to light the Pitt, then maintaing temp's using Lump. And I like to maintain 225 - 240 deg. for my Butt's.

The question I have is: what amount of Briquette's would you recommend I fire the pitt up with.... 1 Weber Chimney.. 2 chimney's. If Initially get her up to 200 deg. or so, I imagine I can control it fairly well from there with the Lump. Just don't want to overheat it from the start. Thank's for the help. YB2
I'll eat anything that won't eat me first !!!

Post Fri Jun 25, 2004 6:12 am
BBcue-Z well done
well done

Posts: 3062
Location: Atlanta-GA
I always start with 2 chimneys full of combination of briquettes and lump. Once he coals are lit, I dump them in the firebox forming a mound. Then I surround the charcoal mound with unlit lumps. This usually gives me a temp range of 225-240 degrees, and usually last 3-4 hours (depending on the weather). I’ll be using mine this Sun to smoke some ribs, chicken and sausages. I’ll check the site often incase you have any questions during smoking. Let us know how it turns out.
Good Luck!
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Post Fri Jun 25, 2004 7:11 am
SRH_21 medium
medium

Posts: 104
Location: Attleboro, MA
Thank you, everyone, for your input. It sounds that I just need a little more experience with the grill, before I go changing anything around. I will probably add the brick to the fire box and that will be about it. When I made the beer can chicken, I had just enough smoke flavor, for my taste, so I will leave the stack alone.

I am going to my brother's place in PA this weekend. I am going to try some chicken with the cranberry BBQ sauce from Sauces, Rubs and Marinades. I am going to try smoking over apple.

Thank's again,

Scott

Post Fri Jun 25, 2004 7:55 am
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
BBcue-Z wrote:
Now I don’t claim to be an authority on this grill, but I have experimented with it and got very familiar with it.
I hope this helps.


I Claim Z to be an authority on this grill!
And I don't think anybody else will argue.
This is a great thread.

I agree, I'm very happy with this unit as is. That cheap crack just got me P.O.'d too.
I'm going to give it time until I mod mine, or at least until a mod gets the BBcue-Z stamp of approval. :wink:
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Post Fri Jun 25, 2004 7:57 am
Yankee Bill medium
medium

Posts: 115
Location: Norfolk, Va.
Thank's Z, that should get me going in the right direction :lol: , I just hate to get a fire too hot right from the start.

SRH_21 WELCOME to the board. Glad to hear you are beginning to grill, and in case nobody has mentioned it yet, there's "no turning back now ... you addiction has begun " :lol: . Just keep practicing,referring to Steven's book's, and of course, as you can tell, there aren't many question's that the guy's here cannot answer for you.

I see you're from Attleborro, that's my old neck of the wood's :lol: . My Mom's family are all from S Attleborro and Pawtucket, I grew up in Johnston, R.I. where the other side of my family is from, but spent a good deal of time in your area. Good Luck. YB2
I'll eat anything that won't eat me first !!!

SRH_21 medium
medium

Posts: 104
Location: Attleboro, MA
Not to get off subject...

Yankee Bill-
My mom lived over by Lee's pond in S Attleboro, then moved to Cumberland, RI. My wife and I go to Johnston quite a bit, for cruise night at the A&W. Now I undestand your name a little better.

Back to the subject...

I have HTG, BBQ USA, and Sauces, Rubs and Marinades. I have not noticed any of the books mention the general maintenance of a grill. Other than the annual seasoning, is there any other preventative steps to take?

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