Best ECB Mods?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by mike5150, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. mike5150

    mike5150 Newbie

    Hey there!  I just got an ECB Gourmet smoker and I found a website a week or so ago that suggested putting a 13" grate about an inch off the bottom of the charcoal pan.  I did this mod, but after my first attempt at smoking my ECB was keeping a steady temp over 400 degrees with a full pan of charcoal.  I wound up shoveling most of the charcoal out and cooking with about 10-15 briquettes (I was using regular kingsford charcoal, but just bought a bag of Kingsford competition for my next attempt).  I was able to maintain an ideal temp, but it meant adding a few briquettes fairly often, but the main thing is that I got the food cooked and it wasn't completely cooked much faster then I would have liked but all in all it wasn't a complete bust.

    After frantically searching these forums while trying to keep my temps down, it sounds like there are more mods that I should do.  Unfortunately, I found several links to posts describing the mods that should be done, but the links did not work for me they just kicked me back out to the forums home page.

    I am assuming that I am getting too much air flow through the charcoal tray which is causing the temp to spike.  I got the ECB from a friend who never used it, but there is a decent sized gap when the lid is is about 1/2" at it's widest point and tapers down to nothing covering about half of the lidded area, maybe that's letting too much air in also.  I tried stuffing aluminum foil into the gap to seal it, but it didn't seem to help much.

    Anyways, I was hoping someone could point me to some links that work which describe the best mods to the ECB.  Hopefully the links I found were just too old to follow and it's not something goofy with my computer!

    Thanks a bunch!
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2010
  2. soafung

    soafung StickBurners

    try this page.  it's not a forum post, but this is what i was gonna do, before i got the cash for the WSM.

    Brinkmann Gourmet Mods
  3. I went a slightly different route and bought a ECB version without the grill as firebox.  Then I ordered the ECB charcoal grill that normally comes with the Gourmet version of the ECB from Amazon.  That way I got handles and the smoker legs and I did not have to build them as the fellow did in the link provided by SoaFung.  That link was my inspiration to try doing a similar mod.

    Everything went together just fine following the mod link, but I encountered serious air leaks.  First, the side door had to be carefully bent to lessen leaks.  The lip or top rim of the grill or firebox had to be straightened as it was not machined to be a flat surface.  Finally, I had to use tape stove gasket around the top of the fire pan to get a decent seal.  The seal or gasket went between the pan and the firebox and was affixed with stove dope to the lip of the fire pan.   At night I used a light bulb hanging on an extension cord and slowly moved it around the outside lip of the firebox while looking down inside the barrel to try to spot air leaks.  And I did the reverse and hung the light down in the smoker and crawled around the outside of the base of the smoker looking for air leaks...and I found the air leaks.  It was a challenge closing off the air leaks.  The tape gasket did help most of all.  Finally, I laid down a layer of Saran Wrap on the barrel over the open side door and adding a bead of stove gasket dope around the lip of the side door then closed the door to get a good mating surface with the stove dope forming a good sealing surface for the door.  The Saran Wrap burned off when I test fired the smoker.

    Whatever else you do, do not follow the mod of installing four air dampers on the bottom of the fire pan you see on the mod site.  The original hole in the base of the fire pan is plenty large enough.  All you need to do is fabricate a sliding vent valve or damper control so you can control the air intake.

    On the first test fire of the smoker the temperature shot up over 400 degrees real quick with the vent damper closed.  As I closed off all the air leaks I got the smoker to finally cruise at 220 degrees.  Getting the smoker to cruise at 220 on a hot day is quite a challenge.  You will know you have closed off most of the leaks when you can get the smoker to work at 220 without the water pan.  I was pleasantly surprised at how stable the smoker ran.  It would hold a very steady temperature until the charcoal was totally consumed 12 hours later.

    On the lid of the smoker I cut a 2 & 1/4 inch hole and installed a flag pole base mount I found at Home Depot.  That was neat since it did not involve cutting four holes and using the Webber damper.  Instead, I looked around and found a metal jar lid and secured the lid to the mount with a short section of light weight chain used with window blinds.  That is all you need for the top vent as it will be open or closed.  I have never needed to 'adjust' the exhaust vent for any kind of smoking/cooking activity with this smoker.  Try to find that flag pole mount at Home Depot where the flags are displayed.  It has been a year since I bought that mount.  It makes the vent on the lid look very neat.

    What is most surprising is just how small a burn is required to make a 220 degree burn.  At night looking down through the top lid vent at the fire, (with the water pan removed), all I could see was just a very small area of the lump charcoal glowing.  On warm days it takes very little air for the smoker to cruise at 220.  The damper valve on the bottom of the fire pan was almost closed.  You will need more air if you are using the smoker on winter nights.

    One other thing I learned was how big a difference the evap rate of the water pan is against the rise in temperature from 210 and up.  At 220 the water pan only needed some water added just once on a 12 hour burn.  Run the smoker at 250 and the evap rate shot up very quickly.  So, it does make a big difference in how long the smoker can run unattended before having to add water.  At 220 the smoker could go almost 8 hours before adding water was needed....and I am not sure but that the smoker might have ran almost the whole 12 hours on one pan of water.  You will want to find some kind of pan to sit the smoker on to catch the water the boils over if temps run high.  Water running through the fire box will be black and nasty when it reaches the ground.  I found a plastic stepping stone that when turned upside down would catch all the run off.   A large flower pot base might work.  Look around.  Another mod was moving the water pan up two inches away from the fire.  No reason for that water pan to ever boil over.  I have not used this smoker in the dead of winter.  Just assume you will not get that 12 hour burn on one load when the snow is flying.  You can figure on a reload or two.

    The temp gage that comes with the ECB is useless.  A good long stem candy thermometer will work just fine. 

    Good luck with your smoker.
  4. branson

    branson Newbie

    OldSmoke, you have any pics of your set up? I've learned how to maintain mine from 210-260*F for a good while with the occasional stoking, but your way sounds better :)
  5. Hello Branson,

      Yes, I think I have photos of that smoker.  Question for me is, how do I upload the pics to this thread.  I have not a clue, but I will try.  So, give me some time and I will see if I can do it.

  6. [​IMG]




    In the top photo you can see where I drilled some extra holes for more air volume.  Later I learned that was not necessary because with the smoker cruising at 220 the vents were almost completely closed.  No extra holes were needed after all.

    I am letting this smoke go at a neighborhood garage sale.  In its place I bought an ECB two drawer vertical cabinet smoker.  Same kind of problems with it as well.  There is that awful temptation to just go with the popular electric smoker and be done with it.  The cabinet smoker in many ways is more delicate than the above barrel smoker.
  7. I found some photos and up loaded them.  Since I am a new comer to this forum the moderator will look at them first before they are posted....I hope.
  8. branson

    branson Newbie

    Thanks for the pics. Looks like I have some work to do...
  9. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    Totally removed the legs from mine and set it on 3 concrete blocks. Depending on how I position the opening of the 3 blocks, the air flow increases or decrease. More air, higher heat. Easy to get to the fire pan without losing heat in the dome.  Also drilled holes in fire pan and top dome and added vent to release stale smoke. Gotta watch how much charcoal I put in the pan now, cause it can get pretty dang hot if I want it.

    Last edited: Jul 11, 2011
  10. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I just love that photo Flash!
  11. The third photo down of the red & black barrel smoker you will see that the smoker is turned upside down.  There is a large air leak that is obvious to the eye.  Fixing that leak was a real challenge even with the tape stove gasket installed.  Spent hours bending the red fire pan into some kind of level surface.  Maybe I should have tried using aluminum foil rolled into a gasket shape, but it would not be easy and you would have to toss it every time the barrel was separated from the fire pan.  I had a great operating smoker when there were no air leaks.  Otherwise, lots of frustration.
  12. carbon

    carbon Newbie

    Last edited: Jul 17, 2011
  13. Carbon,

       That is an elegant solution.  Very nice.  I hope you have many easy smokes.

    I checked the Home Depot and Lowes stores and could not find that Flag Pole base I used on my smoker as an exhaust.  No longer around apparently.   I was nosing around the Ugly Barrel Smokers and was amazed that many people would only need one medium sized ball valve to control the intake.   I would like to know if that would work in the dead of winter.  

    And, the thought crossed my feeble mind that using an MES 30 with an added lump charcoal fire assist might make a fabulous smoker.  Of course, I do not have one or I would probably know the answer to that question.  It just seems to me that an insulated cabinet smoker really solves a big heat loss problem.  So, a super small fire with an electric heater would get the best of both worlds.

    Want to bet somebody already knows the answer to that question?   I am keeping my eyes open on that one..  But first, I now want to get the ECB Vertical cabinet smoker moded so I can use it.  Right now I am so lazy I can just sit and watch that smoker do absolutely nothing......endlessly it seems.

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