Parts To Repair, Modify, And Upgrade Your Grill Or Smoker
It can occasionally be a lot cheaper to modify, patch up,or upgrade your current smoker. Here are some tools to help you. Then again, sometimes you just need to haul the old clunker into the alley and get a new one.
Convert a drum to a smoker/grill. BigPoppaSmokers.com sells a kit that you can use to convert a drum into one heckuva nice smoker for under $200, and assembly is easy. You can even say "I built it myself.
Seal doors. If you have a cheap offset smoker (COS), or a gas smoker, chances are they leak badly around the doors. You might be able to mitigate the problem by making a gasket. One option, suggested by reader Davidhag1 is to buy a replacement gasket designed for a Big Green Egg. It is a feltlike material and has an adhesive on the back. You can get it from one of their dealers, or from the website.
Rutland Gasket Kits and Gore-Tex Gasket Tape are good for making gaskets for doors and lids. Pay attention to thickness and max temp. Another option is Rutland High Temp Silicone Sealant or use a high temp auto silicone that is rated for 500°F or more. You can make a really thin bead around the door rim or the smoker body where the door contacts it. Lay a thin strip of kitchen wax paper or kitchen parchment paper (which is actually silicon impregnated) on top of the bead. Gently close the doors until the goo spreads out and the paper makes contact with the opposite surface all around. Lift the door and let it set. Peel off the paper. The sealant can be trimmed with a knife. Rutland Products are in hardware stores, furnace and wood stove stores, and online.
Another good spource is BBQgaskets.com. They carry a wide range of gaskets and sealants.
Convert to gas. Turkey fryers online sells parts that you can use to convert a charcoal cooker to gas, or install a gas igniter for charcoal.
Fix leaks. J-B WELD, readily available at hardware stores, is pretty good at filling gaps and leaks, but it is not rated as food safe, so keep it away from cooking surfaces. A new product, Master Bond EP21NDFG is FDA approved and looks like a good choice. Other products that might work, but I haven't used, are Victor Exhaust System Sealer, or other muffler cements, or high temperature silicone sealants. Just steer away from anything that might melt and drip on the food.
Retain heat. Cheapo smokers are made of thin metal. That means the heat escapes quickly. If you put bricks in the bottom and cover them with foil, the cooking chamber will take more time to heat up, but it will hold heat longer and distribute it more evenly. This will also help dampen temperature spikes. You can also cut down on the heat loss by draping the cooking chamber (not the firebox) with a welding blanket or a foil insulation blanket.
You can put bricks inside a cheap offset smoker to hold heat and even temp spikes. You'll need fire bricks for things like pizza ovens. H.C. Muddox sells special high temp fire bricks and tubes.
Occasionally you may need to replace grates, burners, knobs, or other parts. The first place to start is with your manual. Get the part number and then look on the manufacturer's website. If you can't find the manual, it may be available in downloadable form on the website.
If the producer doesn't have the parts you need, there are companies that supply replacement parts, even for older cookers: