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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 04-03-2012, 09:44 AM   #1
rabeb25
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Default Some Pitmaker Vault Mods

So I REALLY Like my vault, but I thought there were a few things that I could improve upon.

First it bothered me that the water pan was getting a beat down from the firebox, I poured water in the pan one time to correct an overshoot, and it warped it quite a bit. I noticed that there was a channel in the firebox, almost like it was meant to hold a diverter plate, so easy enough I went and got some 1/4" steel plate and put that in. SO much Better!




Next up was finding a suitable place for the Stoker and the Wifi. I wanted this as neat as possible, and I wanted to semi-protect it from the elements. I chose to mount everything underneath the unit. I then taped all the probes together and routed them cleanly. Here is what I came up with.






Next up was a BIG one for me, I REALLY disliked the vault's air intake setup. It was a slide, but it was loose and full of air gaps. And even when completely shut the pit would go until it was out of fuel. I was also having some issues with temp control with the stoker if it was windy out. I like ball valve controls, so I set out to fab something up. I came up with this.


Orange line being the slider pipe that sticks out on the vault and the pocket is for the welds.

I went out and had it CNC'd for free (helps to have friends!) out of a block of billet Alum. It came out great and I just put a light coat of high temp silicone, for a perfect airtight seal.






Its nice to have precise control over your smoker. I am testing it now with out the stoker, I have a nice 15mph wind so lets see what this thing can do.



Thanks
Bryan
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Unread 04-03-2012, 10:18 AM   #2
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Those are some nice mods! Gives me some idea for the Fatboy, especially the cable management for the Stoker.
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Unread 04-03-2012, 10:33 AM   #3
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I think it looks great but I don't think that is ideal placement of your fan. The stoker fan has a flap gate on it that closes to block airflow when the fan isn't running. I'd have to look closely but in that position I don't think the gate will close and it will allow air to continue to be drafted in even when the fan is off.
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Unread 04-03-2012, 10:59 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TTNuge View Post
I think it looks great but I don't think that is ideal placement of your fan. The stoker fan has a flap gate on it that closes to block airflow when the fan isn't running. I'd have to look closely but in that position I don't think the gate will close and it will allow air to continue to be drafted in even when the fan is off.

Yes you are correct, there is a flap. But to be honest, I never thought it did much of anything anyways, my gurus never had one, and I never had any issues. It takes just a minute to switch to the other Ball valve if I have a problem. Thats why the other is straight.

Thanks!

Bryan
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Unread 04-03-2012, 12:27 PM   #5
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Before mounting the electronics, did you check to see how hot it got down there? Between heat radiating from the cooker, and heat radiating back up from any sort of pavement I'm thinking my may have some issues over time.
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Unread 04-03-2012, 12:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorge View Post
Before mounting the electronics, did you check to see how hot it got down there? Between heat radiating from the cooker, and heat radiating back up from any sort of pavement I'm thinking my may have some issues over time.

Yes, I did. Barely warm to the touch.
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Unread 04-04-2012, 06:39 PM   #7
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Hey Bryan, what kind of improvements did you notice with the diverter plate? My safe has the same track but I wasn't sure what benefit it would provide. I'm still trying to figure out ways to lower my fuel consumption. Hozman's neighbor welded me up a maze to drop in the firebox, but it is still burning more fuel than I think it should considering the thing is insulated as well as it is. I like the mod. Please post with more results...I'm curious. Thanks!
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Unread 04-04-2012, 07:50 PM   #8
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Here are the results of the mods:

Light the pit with 2 handfuls of charcoal briquettes, 1 chunk of hickory and 1 weber starter cube.

Both ball valves were open until the temp of 220 was hit, once that was hit one was fully closed and the other was 3/4 open.

This is the resulting graph, the valves were not touched.



I was shooting for a pit temp of 220, I had about a +-5f Swing, and went about 18hrs. At about the 12hr mark I opened the other valve, as it was dropping a bit.

Here is what was left this morning.


I am going to do a stoker test this weekend, and get more in depth times and weight of charcoal to get some burn times.
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Unread 04-04-2012, 07:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by podidol View Post
Hey Bryan, what kind of improvements did you notice with the diverter plate? My safe has the same track but I wasn't sure what benefit it would provide. I'm still trying to figure out ways to lower my fuel consumption. Hozman's neighbor welded me up a maze to drop in the firebox, but it is still burning more fuel than I think it should considering the thing is insulated as well as it is. I like the mod. Please post with more results...I'm curious. Thanks!

I don't know what I noticed, because I did a bunch of stuff at one time. What does the smoke look like coming out of you cooker? I used to have quite heavy smoke, but with making this thing so airtight now, it was BARELY noticeable. I had to get in the right light at the right angle to see wisps of blue.

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Unread 04-04-2012, 08:59 PM   #10
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My smoke is fairly heavy too. I would be pleased as punch if I could get 18 hours out of two handfuls of briquettes. Last weekend, using a maze, I filled my entire firebox up with unlit briquettes with a few chunks of hickory and added 10 lit briquettes in the corner. I also preheated the cook chamber with a torch. The lit briquettes went on at 7pm and by 2am I was adding fuel. It just doesn't make sense because I can have the cookchamber at 250 and completely pull out the firebox and it will still be 200+ two hours later. Were you consuming a lot more fuel before your mod?
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Unread 11-25-2012, 10:46 PM   #11
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Your using more fuel because it is escaping out the exhaust stack. If you use metered amounts of wood, close down the exhaust to a airtight 10-15% open, you can get 20 hrs out of a single load of charcoal and 2 sticks, Because I used to. These cookers have to be starved for air and the exhaust should stop most of the draft except for when the fan is on
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Unread 11-25-2012, 10:51 PM   #12
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I like the set up on the intake, nice job
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Unread 11-26-2012, 12:57 AM   #13
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rabeb25, are those new burn times with or w/out water? Also what is that ball valve w/the blue handle for? That comes stock right? Thanks.
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Unread 11-26-2012, 06:04 AM   #14
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I like the intake bracket and ball valve setup!

While I don't own a Vault I do have the BBQ Guru adapter on a BWS Gater. I don't always use the Guru and had been thinking of a way to adjust the intake without removing the adapter pipe & bracket.
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Unread 11-26-2012, 07:24 AM   #15
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I think rabeb25 is on the right track. FIRE is the product of three things, Heat, Fuel and Oxygen. If you take away one of the three items the fire goes out. ( I was a firefighter for 17 years ) By controling the air intake, I have much better control of the fire. If I try to control the fire with the exhaust, that is kind of an after thought and when you do open the door to check on the fire, it will really take off. ( backdraft on a smaller scale ). Also you stand a great chance of over smoking the meat when controling the fire with exhaust. I only choke down the exhaust is when I over shoot my temp. The fire needs to burn clean to get thin blue smoke.
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