A few mods for the Chargriller Kamado Kooker

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by toby bryant, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. Was a beautiful weekend is central Ohio, so I got a few things done on the Kamado Kooker. Cut some expanded metal to fit the bottom charcoal grate to stop the smaller pieces of lump fr ending up in the ash pan. Also cut an expanded metal charcoal basket for reverse searing on the top charcoal grate.

    I also made a few mods to try and make the smoker more airtight at the bottom. I started with placing some hi temp RTV sealant around the bottom air vent.

    Also added a hi temp nomex gasket to the top of the ash pan and the top of the bottom half of the Kooker.

    Finally I sealed the underside of the factory thermometer with RTV sealant. I had noticed smoke escaping the Kooker around the thermometer.

    I am hoping these changes will make the smoker a little easier to control on windy days.
  2. I've been considering these mods for awhile, time to go buy the Nomex and RTV.  I was going to seal around the bottome vent when I assembled the unit, but I could only get one of the screw out...Need a little more elbow grease I guess.
  3. What width Nomex did you use? I'm really looking forward to getting one of these, I just missed a sale two weeks ago and I'm trying to wait for another, not sure if I'll make it lol. These things are very impressive for the price. I already bought a cast iron "diffuser" for low and slow which will double as a cooking surface. I'm also thinking about making a charcoal basket, but I'm not sure if it's necessary

  4. I bought a roll of self adhesive backed nomex recommended for a small BGE.
  5. I just got my chargriller komado kooker and appreciate your leak advice. I have trouble getting the temp below 275°. I'm using maverick digital. I purchased a stone like the one in Toby Bryant's pictures. Can I put a water pan right on the stone before starting the grill - or will it crack it?  I wrapped the stone in foil before first use.

  6. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Dan, try the minion method when it comes to using charcoal.....  Seal up all air leaks....  everywhere.....  it is air leaks that cause high temps...  Trying to lower the temps with water does not solve the problem of air leaks......  

    In my opinion, a water pan will still allow the fire to get hot, really hot as the upper temp zone where the meat is, will not reflect the temp in the fire zone..... 

    The Komado's original design, when everything is operating as designed, will provide excellent control.....   An UDS, 55 gallon barrel, when built properly, will cook all day and into the next at 160-180 degrees....  of course all the air leaks need sealing.....   

  7. Thanks Dave.

    I used the minion method on second try with a little better results. I also used the diffuser stone for the first time. I believe that I used too much fire at first. Next I am going to use a smaller starter amount and adjust vents before it gets too hot. I also believe I was over adjusting the vents and both at the same time. I am going to set top vent at 1 or 2 and adjust with bottom vent a little at a time trying to react sooner before the temp blows past 250° I also used a mix of lump and Stubb's briquettes. Maybe I should just use briquettes and see how one fuel source at a time works out. Trying to eliminate as many variables as I can.

  8. I sometime use a foil pan as a water pan in mine or the water pan outt of my MES 30. I place them right on top of the smoking stone and have never had any trouble.

    Definitely start shutting the vents down early and let it creep up to temp. It is very easy to raise temp almost possible to bring it down. Don't overshoot!

    I also found that Stubb's all natural Hardwood Briquettes burn a little cooler than the lump, I use lump for grilling and briquettes for baking and smoking. After the mods I can hold 225° with the hardwood briquettes Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2013
  9. Thanks for the help. I did just try the briquettes and was much better at keeping the temp low and slow. I tried a smaller amount to start the fire and got on the vents right away. Roast came out a perfect medium/rare. I like the idea of a pan below the meat so I can capture some of those great juices!

  10. I have a BGE and I can set the temp at what ever I want and walk away. It holds with in 5 deg for hours. I use Ozark Oak lump. With a few Pieces of wood. The trick to temp control is air. If you have it sealed up. Then just open the bottom vent as needed to hold temp. As said earlier Don't let it shoot past your target temp. I have had mine long enough to know where to set the draft for what ever temp I want. I also got a small metal pan and a wire cooling rack that will fit over the pan. I can add water or what ever. I also have pan drippings that way.

    Happy smoken.

  11. SUCCESS!!!!

    I wanted to update my June, 2013 frustration with getting my Char Griller Akorn to cook low and slow. Some readers have offered modifications to the Akorn, but I decided to not make any until I had exhausted every attempt to learn how to control my temps.

    Items Added to Grill:

    I got a dual probe, electronic remote thermometer and dispersing stone from Char Griller. I started using a water pan on top of the stone.

    Persistence Pays Off or Practice Make Better:

    The first 6 cooks were very challenging and I could not get under the 375° range (Yes, I know I am a slow learner, LOL). I wanted to see if I could maintain 220° range. But I stayed with it an got great results using the volcano method, using a mixture of all wood char and mesquite all wood briquettes. I also used the Char Griller dispersing stone and a water pan. So finally the 6th attempt I was able to maintain 220° to 230° consistently.

    Volcano Method and Vent Control:

    I switched from the minion method to the volcano method of fire building. I also found I was adjusting the vents too radically and too often. I learned from this forum to get ahead of the temperature by setting vents to 2/2 at 160° and then gradually adjust the top vent to control temp. It will either settle down around 200° or it will keep dropping so all I have to do is open back up a little. I usually leave bottom vent about 1.25 - 1.75 and control more consistent temps by adjusting the top vent only. I also found the tip in this thread to make half increments when making adjustments and only moving the top vent if possible. Now instead of getting up every couple minutes, I find myself only checking the remote receiver every 30  mins or so. After getting to the low 200° I don't make any changes for hours on end or only if there is a 10° degree swing. 

    Thought I would post a few pictures of the "volcano" so folks could have a visual. You can see the mix of sizes used and the hole in the middle. The bottom of the hole doesn't need to be cleard down to the grate but it should have a clear air path to the grate.

    Here you see the small flame from the fire cube. Once it is lit I just set a few pieces over the hole but I don't fill it. Filling the hole would only smother the starter. You also see the randomly placed smoke wood.

    When trying this remember that you are preparing for a slow and low cook and that it will take some time to get to temp. Maybe 30 min but if you try to rush it you will end up overshooting your target and lighting too much lump at once. This will make it hard to keep the temp down. 

    Volcano Pictures courtesy from philpom, Texas

    BBQ Journal:

    I use the vent numbers as a reference to make notations of the adjustments I make (and other pertinent information) in my BBQ Journal and for easy reference to other smokers looking on in this thread. The journal (and this thread) taught me to make fewer adjustments and to discover I had better control with the bottom vent usually between 1.5 and 1.75 and tweaking the top vent in half increments only when necessary.


    I started mixing all wood Mesquite  briquettes  with all wood char because I read I could better control temp with briquettes due to size and material uniformity. Yes I know there are a lot of opinions out there, but I chose what made the most sense to me and what was available at the time. I also tried to make fewer changes to this fuel source until I had better success at controlling the temp. I also need to say that I can't believe how economical this Akorn is on fuel. There is always enough left over the next smoke with adding only a few pieces char. I have not tried adding wood to the fire yet as I have not really found an economical source yet Grocery store only has apple and it is expensive. I want to try Pecan and Hickory. I will say now that I am more confident, I am planning on moving towards all wood char and wood chips as I use up the rest of the briquettes I already had on hand.

    Still A Lot to Learn:

    I am still a beginner, but I want to give my personal feed back because I see some are a little skeptical of conquering the Char Griller Akorn. I'm getting it down. AND I am having fun and really enjoying smoking. Last smoke I cooked 3 different  meat items and veggies by staggering cooking times and consistently maintaining low temperatures over 12 hours. Longest smoke so far. Sorry no pics. There is always net time.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  12. I have read of all the trouble some have had keeping temps low when using the Akorn Kamado.  I had no problem with my first smoke on the Akorn because I found a method called the

    Ring of Fire technique. Discussion follows:

    I placed a softball-sized river rock in the middle of the charcoal grate. I placed a smaller rock alongside it.  I then filled the surrounding area with lump charcoal and wood.  I lit one end of the broken ring of charcoal with a Weber cube and controlled the temp with damper adjustments. I had no problem maintaining 230-240 degrees. See attached photo.

    However you choose to do it, the key is not lighting too much charcoal at any one time. Hope this helps.

    Thanks to all for your comments.  
  13. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Fire Starter

    Hey Everyone,

    Thanks for all the info, I just purchased the Akron Kamado Kooker and will be making mods to keep air leaks to a minimum. I also have the stone diffuser, and plan on the volcano method of lighting using cotton balls that were soaked in alcohol. My question is hardwood for low and slow or chunks, which do you prefer?

    Also if you would refresh my memory, at what temp do I need to get to before I pull and wrap it for pulled pork.

    Thanxxxx and happy grillin
  14. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    SW, morning....  Most folks, add smoke until the meat gets to 160 ish, when the "stall" will generally start....   Wrapping the meat prevents the stall from happening by limiting the evaporative cooling to the meat...  smoke can be discontinued once the meat is wrapped, and concentrating on getting the temp to 200 ish for a great pulled meat...
  15. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Fire Starter

    Thanxxx Dave for the help, what is your preference hardwood or lump?
  16. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I use pellets in my electric...   In my fish smoker, I use cookies cut from alder logs about 4" in diameter..    In my pig cooker I use splits.. mostly apple and pear... that's what my neighbor has mostly from his orchard...   All are hardwoods, I think ??  As far as charcoal goes I bought a new BBQ grill...  Kingsford has an odor I don't care for...  I tried this EXPENSIVE charcoal to go with the new grill...  I has no discernable odor...   cooks hot...  but it will be saved for special stuff like lobster, shrimp, scallops etc...

    I been looking at 55 gallon drums for an UDS....  I'm sure I will be using lump along with what ever I can get for free from my neighbor...

    Wish I knew more about lump..  I know folks have some distinct thoughts on different brands...  I guess you have to use it to figure out it's good and bad points and which brand suits your style and taste..

    My other neighbor has Angus...  Mighty Fine Angus at that.. (Sunny Okanogan Angus ranch)  I get free hearts, livers, tongues and oxtails from him when he slaughters in his feed lot..   Ain't that something !!!!  I pay it back with welding up his farming stuff...

    .........Yakitori grill....


    ..  fish smoker and cookies ...

  17. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Fire Starter

    Update on mine...I sealed all the air leaks and cranked it up to 500 on my first run to see if I missed anything...I saw no leaks anywhere...now to master the low and slow temps lol
  18. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    [​IMG]....   Keep us up to date on what's happening...
  19. I was a good boy last year, and Santa brought me a Vision Grill Pro C kamado. My reading on lump charcoal took me to http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lump.htm

    I've consumed the last of my Cowboy (which I'll never buy again). Currently working through Royal Oak which I like a lot better. The nearest BGE store sells 
    • Big Green Egg
    • Forgo
    • Basques Sugar Maple (Canadian)
    • Rock wood
    I'll give them a try. The BGE lump looks interesting as it's made from oak and hickory. Most lump simply states "hardwood". 

    Still working on keeping temperature down for smoking, but the results have been very edible so far. Leg of lamb from last weekend.

  20. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Fire Starter

    OK Folks I am having a southern duh moment...I see above that the fuel is in the ash pan, and I see a fire grate that came with this smoker...do I hang the fire grate in the shop and just put the fuel in the ash pan?


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