El Cheapo Brinkmann

Like many others I bought a Brinkmann smoker because it’s cheap and seemed to be a good way to get into smoking.  However out of the box it’s a pretty terrible smoker.   First, the charcoal pan doesn’t have a bottom grate which lets ash pile up around your charcoal.  Second, the gap between the lid & body is far too large which lets all the heat out.  I was barely able to get the temp past 200F (unless my wood flared up).

I fixed the charcoal grate issue in the standard way by using  a “Smokey Joe” mini-grill as the charcoal pan.  Elevating the smoker didn’t seem to be absolutely necessary but it did move the water pan high enough so that I could easily see into the charcoal bed via the smoker’s door.

Charcoal Grill and elevated smoker body
Charcoal Grill and elevated smoker body

The lid gap issue I fixed by fitting a lip onto the smoker body which the lid could fit into.  I made it out of a piece of HVAC duct cleat material.

HVAC Cleat
HVAC Cleat

HVAC Cleat Full View

A stick of this stuff cost about $2.70 at Lowe’s.  Using a ring spreader I opened up the entire length of the cleat into a “Z” shape.  In order for this piece to be able to bend into a circular shape I snipped slits into each side about every 5 inches.

Fitted Cleat
Fitted Cleat
Lip Outside
Lip Outside

The lid really only likes to fit into the lip in a few spots and might require a fist bump to fall in place.  As you can see this isn’t the most elegant or tidy-looking solution, but it does seem to seal well enough for me to hit a good temperature for a sustained period of time.

Finally a good, steady temperature
Finally a good, steady temperature

My ideal solution would be to add a circular lip to the lid making it fit over the body much like a standard charcoal grill, but I’ll save that for another day.

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