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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 11-12-2013, 07:06 PM   #1
ag80n
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Default Greasyhill Customs Model 400 Smoker w/rib box: Review and Modifications


So I decided that if I was going to really be a serious competitor and vendor I needed a bigger pit that was more mobile that the backyard trio I have been using. I wanted a cooker that could give me added capacity but wouldn’t be one that I felt overly tied to because of a large investment. That way when I was ready to sell I could part with it and get the pit I really want (right now that would be like something from Pitmaker).After looking at several cookers and evaluating what the budget could handle I was about to postpone when I found Greasyhill Customs. The price was very attractive but reading posts here and elsewhere I was a bit concerned. Not living too far away, I decided to drive over to the shop to check one out. My wife and my competition teammate both came along to help evaluate. We arrived at the shop, looked the smoker over, did some bargaining and came home with a new smoker. So here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The good:
John was a very pleasant fellow who was easy to talk to. He showed us around the smoker and was not hard to negotiate with. He apparently is much aware of the negative comments that have been made about his past builds and has addressed many, but not all, of the concerns others have had with them.
· The smoker chamber is now rolled ¼ inch steel.
· The trailer is well built and balanced (probably the best part of the unit).
· He has increased the number of intakes to 2 both now even and low on the firebox
· The exhaust is 6 inch now (instead of 3)
· Mine also has a ¼ inch steel firebox (though he said that is not standard)
The bad:
· The most critical issue with the smoker is still airflow. The two vents don’t quite give it enough air
· The firebox is about 75% the size it should be for maximum time between fuelings
· The firebox grate is too high and the opening into the pit chamber too low which makes it harder to build a good fire and get draft going
· Attention to detail: Rough edges, skip welds and uneven cutouts lead to leaks, sharp edges, reduced performance and just not as professional a look close up (though none presented structural problems)
The ugly truth:
You may wonder why I decided to buy with some of the issues listed above and it comes down to three things.
1. The smoker has good bones. John was very honest about the smoker and said that he does them the way he does so that he can keep costs low and make them affordable. For instance he made no attempt to try to pass off the temp gauges as anything other than low cost gauges that I should probably replace before serious competition. So build quality is not in the same range as Lang or Tuscaloosa. That being said, it is built well enough that it will cook as is and with some work can be made into a very nice smoker.
2. The price is right. My teammate and I are still trying to figure out how he makes money on these things. Although some will say “you get what you pay for” I can’t complain one bit. If I didn’t think it was worth it I would not have bought it.
3. I have the resources to make this into what I want. I don’t have the money, the time or the talent to build a smoker of this size nor do I have the money to buy one at the level I want. However, I do have access to the tools and resources to take this one and improve it. And it really didn’t take much to make it into a really nice rig.
So my advice if you are looking at these smokers is: if you don’t mind not having a perfect smoker and just want a cooker at a low cost this is not a bad deal. You will have to work this smoker a bit more than say a Lang but that can be fun too. You may find that you have to at least leave the door cracked open or add an extra intake. You may even have to get a weld fixed or modify something. If you want a smoker that you don’t want to have to consider modifying this may not be the one for you. If you do decide to go with Greasyhills make sure to request the ¼ inch firebox.
Next up: what we did to improve the smoker
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Last edited by ag80n; 11-12-2013 at 07:07 PM.. Reason: added text
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Unread 11-12-2013, 07:13 PM   #2
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You said it right there. It's all about doing with what you have. I'm glad for ya.

3. I have the resources to make this into what I want. I don’t have the money, the time or the talent to build a smoker of this size nor do I have the money to buy one at the level I want. However, I do have access to the tools and resources to take this one and improve it. And it really didn’t take much to make it into a really nice rig.
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Unread 11-12-2013, 07:18 PM   #3
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Default Mods

Once I got the smoker home I did a few test cooks to verify the issues I was pretty sure existed and to identify any others that might exist. I then put it in the shop to get things taken care of.
Original pics:




Modifications:
  • seal welded everything- there were several places that had skip welds. I was most concerned about the ones around the firebox as it allow some air leaks but the welders also filled in the rest
  • moved firebox opening up 1.5", which is still too low but is as high as it can be moved.
  • removed expanded metal over opening into chamber from firebox
  • lowered fire grate to 3" above bottom of firebox
  • replaced fire grate with 1/4" cor-ten fire grate
  • finished and cleaned up all openings for pinwheel dampers – the cutouts for the dampers were done by torch and left some rough metal in obstruction of the air path
  • added 3rd pinwheel damper in back of firebox
  • added handle on trailer tongue
  • replaced jack with one that folds up out of the way and has a wheel
  • added 1/2" couplings for thermometers in the door and in the rib box and have better gauges on order
  • leveled up the top cooking grate in the main box (it was over an inch out of parallel with the bottom one)
  • added side dampers to the grill
  • added a counter weight to the main cook chamber lid – the door was quite heavy and this will make life much easier
  • replaced the stack outlet damper with a better one with a linkage that can be easily reached from the ground
  • replaced the handles on the lid with 2 on the outside edges so it didn't get in the way of the shelf – the original handle would have crushed anything left sitting on the shelf when the lid was closed
  • added handles to the cooking grates.
  • added latches to the main door both to help seal the unit and to deter people from opening it during cooks
  • painted the whole thing with industrial high heat black





I am sure we will come up with a few more things to do to it after our first competition with it but I am very pleased with how it turned out and I can’t wait to fire it up. Special thanks to GT-Q for his knowledge and assistance with the project.

mods still to come:
ash pan for the fire box
water pan for the rib box
seals for the door
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Unread 11-12-2013, 07:19 PM   #4
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Cool-I want a Nice Insulated Cabinet Smoker.... What I got is a CL Special Double Walled propane rig I converted to Charcoal and am fixin to insulate so I understand......
Lets see the mods and some Live Action Shots
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Unread 11-12-2013, 07:31 PM   #5
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GT-Q got to cook on it for his birthday and posted the live action shots here: http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/sh...d.php?t=175151
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Unread 11-12-2013, 07:38 PM   #6
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The pit is a joy to cook on compared to our previous pits. Having so much room is a true luxury. It also recovers heat fast after you've opened it up to check how the meat is doing. Thanks for letting me use it. I'll give it back soon, I promise!
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Unread 11-12-2013, 08:12 PM   #7
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Nice cooker and mods...Looks like it will be a fine cooker for you...

Skip the ash pan and get a fireplace shovel...My .02
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Unread 11-12-2013, 08:25 PM   #8
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Nice work improving that rig!
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Unread 11-12-2013, 08:36 PM   #9
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The ash pan was one idea but I am open to others. I have yet to find a good way to get ashes from a pit to an ash barrel at competitions. I have seen some interesting attempts and have been surprised that I have not seen more folks setting themselves on fire. (and nothing beats the premature gray you get from the team next door's ash storm)
I use a shovel at home for the brick pit so I may very well put it to use with this pit.
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Unread 11-12-2013, 08:52 PM   #10
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Great looking mods! It won't be long before Ill be replacing my firebox to 1/4" and adding dampers to the grill. Enjoy it!
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Unread 11-12-2013, 09:00 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ag80n View Post
The ash pan was one idea but I am open to others. I have yet to find a good way to get ashes from a pit to an ash barrel at competitions. I have seen some interesting attempts and have been surprised that I have not seen more folks setting themselves on fire. (and nothing beats the premature gray you get from the team next door's ash storm)
I use a shovel at home for the brick pit so I may very well put it to use with this pit.

Shovel ash and coals to a smallish metal bucket(w/lid)...The bucket should fit under the fire box so you just scoop, drop and cover...easy peasy...
Beats pulling out a 800* metal pan full of coals and ash to dump...
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Unread 11-12-2013, 09:07 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeatCandy View Post
Shovel ash and coals to a smallish metal bucket(w/lid)...The bucket should fit under the fire box so you just scoop, drop and cover...easy peasy...
Beats pulling out a 800* metal pan full of coals and ash to dump...
Yep...

I use this one.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Behrens-6...1#.UoLsw_kgcTk
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- Weber Kettle 22.5 OTG w/ Craycort Cast Iron Grates
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Unread 11-12-2013, 09:28 PM   #13
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Bingo...Answered my question I posted a few days ago. I have the same pit that I was having trouble with airflow having to keep the door open...I'm going to have mine modified...How is it cooking now? Does the other vent help considerably? How big of an opening do you have in the firebox going into the smoking chamber now? The old one like mine is huge...Thanks for posting :)
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Unread 11-12-2013, 09:31 PM   #14
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What does the 1/2 inch coupler consist of?
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Unread 11-12-2013, 09:34 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fatmike View Post
Bingo...Answered my question I posted a few days ago. I have the same pit that I was having trouble with airflow having to keep the door open...I'm going to have mine modified...How is it cooking now? Does the other vent help considerably? How big of an opening do you have in the firebox going into the smoking chamber now? The old one like mine is huge...Thanks for posting :)
The opening is the same size. We just cut 1.5 inches higher on the top and added that same steel back on the bottom. We also removed the expanded metal as it serves no purpose that I can determine, and it blocks up about 20% of the open area. Let it breath!
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