My 2 cents:
The charcoal basket I made (expanded steel) for my mini "Smoker Joe" is 3" tall and slightly smaller in diameter than the SJ charcoal grate. I believe the idea of the charcoal/ring is to keep the charcoal tighter/more compact. My first smoke in the Smoker Joe was 2 racks of spares. It took maybe 2 1/2 hours, and temps were steady at 250. As far as whether or not a charcoal ring is necessary, I think there are enough threads written by folks who do NOT use them to say that you'd be fine without it. I'm glad I have mine, but I think I'd be ok if I didn't have it, either.
Originally Posted by frankie482
I have some extra charcoal baskets that came with an old Performer that I had.
Do you think if I take out the middle section of each one and push them together that would hold enough charcoal?
As someone with an old Stainless Steel Performer that does NOT have the old-style charcoal baskets, I hate to see them get put under the knife. But I'm sure that would work, if they're not too tall. If they are the old-style baskets, any interest in passing them on to a fellow brethren