I did it for the first time this weekend, and it worked fine. Since
the meat was done by nine hours, I put out the fire at that time. I will
definitely be doing more experimenting with this method, since it eliminates
the hourly tending of the fire.
My smoker is a Brinkman SnP. I put probably 10 lbs. of lump in the fire
box, then dumped a half-chimney of coals on top. Because some of those
hot coals fell lower than I'd have preferred, next time I think I'll try
starting by using a propane torch on a few upper lumps. It may take a little
longer to get up to temperature, but I'd expect an even more regulated burn.
Regarding air regulation, because the SnP is so leaky, I had to close the
inlet air almost all the way. Got a nice clean burn, all the same.
Film at 11:00...
I tried it on my modified ECB/Sunbeam over the weekend. I used a single
chimney of hot coals (not quite fully burning) over enough lump in the
sunbeam so that the water bowl was resting on the coals when I put the
body over the fire pot. It started out at 190 and took the better part
of an hour to make it to 240. It then chugged along, untouched, for
another three hours. At four hours, I shook the ashes down and the temp
went up to 270-290 for nearly another hour.
The net result was that I got a nearly perfect five hour burn from the
initial load of lump. That's a record for me. Previously the longest
burn was 2 hours. The next time I do brisket or pulled pork, I will
alternate between 2 sunbeams, using the remaining coals in the first to
start a full load of cold lump in the second. If I can get 9-10 hours
with one refueling, I will be quite pleased.
This kind of long, and this is probably only of interest to those with an
SnP with a leaky firebox.
I decided to write this down since others might be trying the same thing.
I've started using the minion method in my SnP. It's a lot less work, but it
requires good firebox control.
The problem with the SnP is the firebox is leaky.
The fire burns too hot and is difficult or impossible to control when using
a full load of coals.
Here's my temporary fix. It took me about 20 minutes to do, but it proved
that this was the problem. Later I will seal the seams with my welder and
use some fireplace gasket material when I have time.
But for now this works pretty good.
Of course do this only when there is no fire.
Step 1 : The Tweak
The SnP has a round firebox. First, make sure your door fits the curve of
the firebox pretty well.
Out of the carton, I had to bend mine down a little at the hinges to get it
to conform to the curve.
If you see large gaps, or if the door handle feels kind of "springy" when
it's down and closed, you probably need to tweak it a bit. Be careful, you
can really mess it up if you bend it too far out of shape.
Step 2 : The Cupped Butterfly
Take a look at the "butterfly" air vent. Mine was bent or cupped inward a
bit, and left about 1/16 or 1/8 inch
gap at the edge of the vent opening. If necessary, take it off, bend it
slightly, and then reinstall it.
It should now press tightly against the firebox, even at the furthest edge
of the butterfly "wing." I also had to redrill the
1/4" bolt hole in the butterfly to get it to seal completely. Check the
full closed position. There should very little leakage.
Also, tighten down the bolt good. It will loosen slightly as the bolt heats
up. Check this fit again after your box it at temp.
Step 3 : Foil Caulking
In daylight, peek into the firebox from the cooking section with the firebox
door closed. Look for slits of light leaking in.
Take some small squares of heavy duty alumimum foil and slip them, from the
outside, into the slits and gaps around the perimeter of the round firebox
ends. The idea is to caulk from the outside using foil.
Peek in again, and repeat until you are satisfied.
Step 4 : A Cheap Gasket
Next take four 14 or 16 inch strips of foil and create a "gasket" around the
firebox door opening. Double fold the strips
lengthwise and wrap the edge of the opening. Don't pinch it down too flat or
it won't create a good enough seal.
The idea is to let the door push the foil down to conform to the shape.
Close the door a couple times, then
again look for light leaks and pinch and fluff the foil in those areas until
it's good enough. If you're careful you
can open and close without disturbing the foil gasket.
Step 5 : Fire it up!
With this temporary fix I can load up the firebox with about 5 or 10 lbs of
briquettes to burn above 250 in the food box,
and I can drop the temp well below 200 by fully closing the vent. I haven't
tried it on purpose, but I think I can even extinguish the coals, since I
almost did this accidently once. It will burn evenly for several hours, with
vent adjustment and ash removal. (Also, the minion method seems to require
less coals over the full cooking session
for some reason. Has anyone else noticed this, or is this just my
Another thing I use is a charcoal ring (like in the WSM). I made my own by
welding up a four sided grate "box."
This keeps the coals away from the sides and in a pile for more even burning
down thru the pile.
The WSM charcoal ring might even fit in the firebox, though i'm not sure.
This is optional, but it does help
if you have one available.
One last thing, I also use the water pan from my ECB in the firebox on a
grate above my charcoal ring.
I didn't realize the water pan was so important in the ECB. I got great
result in the ECB, and couldn't figure out why my chicken skin was so dry
and leathery in the SnP until I added the water
back into the equation. If you have a problem with tough chicken skin, try
adding a water pan to the firebox.
Another way around this is to wrap the chicken in foil for the last hour or
two of cooking.
I've used my SnP twice now with these gaskets, once with chicken and once
I don't know if the leaks in the cooking chamber matter to temp
control of the firebox, but I'll probably gasket that door and seal it as
well when I get to welding.
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