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.
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:
- Amazon.com Grill Parts
- Weber Grill Parts
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.
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.
Seal doors, fix leaks
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.
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.
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.
Extension Cords For Pellet Smokers, Electric Smokers, And Electric Grills
The built-in cords on outdoor cooking devices are often not long enough, and although regular household extension cords will work for rotisserie kits, they will not carry enough juice to keep you pellet smoker or electric smoker going. They could become a fire hazard as they heat up trying to deliver power to the unit. To extend the cord you need a large capacity cable as measured in amps. Here's how to figure out what you need:
Watts ÷ Voltage = Amps
If your smoker needs 500 watts, and typical household voltage is 110 to 120 volts, then you need a cable that has a capacity of 4.17 amps.
A rule of thumb: For home models, get at least a 10 amp 12 gauge three prong cord (oddly, 12 gauge is higher capacity than 14 gauge). That's more than you need, but better safe than sorry. Commercial models may have different requirements.
The best solution: Have an electrician custom make a cord the proper length for you. Don't buy a cable much longer than you need it because the longer the cable the higher the resistance and the power diminishes. You don't want to see the equations for that.