Advice on Chubby options

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Advice on Chubby options

Postby DavidC » Sat Jul 09, 2011 2:55 pm

Everyone,

Let me start off by saying that I have always enjoyed cooking on a charcoal grill. Over the 4th of July weekend, I did my first pulled pork using a cheap smoker that someone gave us. It was great. I am now hooked and looking for a great family size smoker. After searching the internet for a quality smoker/charcoal grill, I’ve settled on a Chubby (and hoping that I don’t need a larger unit to feed the neighborhood). But, I still have a few questions. I have searched this forum for several hours and it has been very informative. It’s obvious that I want a Heat Diverter and a Cover. My questions are about what other options to add. Also down the road, I plan on getting a Guru DigiQ. But right now, I am concentrating on the Chubby. My questions are:

1) The Chubby product page shows silver lifting handles on the sides of the Chubby. Are these standard equipment, or are they the optional Tie Down Handles?

2) Fire Grates: I understand the advantages of a Commercial Fire Grate in adding coals during the middle of a smoke. But, how would I go about adding additional coals with the standard Fire Grate? In other words, will I be kicking myself for not getting the Commercial Fire Grate? (Even though it is not listed as an option, someone in the forum got a Commercial Fire Grate for their Chubby.)

3) The 180 degree door hinges would allow easy access to the racks. But, do you really need them for a household unit? I assume the standard doors work just fine.

4) Besides the appearances, I would like to hear a little more on the differences between the standard doors and the stainless steel doors. Is one better, or are they about the same.

5) I have not read very much on the stands. I am guessing I will build my own. But, I would like to hear what y’all do.

Thanks in advance,
David
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Re: Advice on Chubby options

Postby RickC » Sun Jul 10, 2011 8:33 am

DavidC wrote:Everyone,

Let me start off by saying that I have always enjoyed cooking on a charcoal grill. Over the 4th of July weekend, I did my first pulled pork using a cheap smoker that someone gave us. It was great. I am now hooked and looking for a great family size smoker. After searching the internet for a quality smoker/charcoal grill, I’ve settled on a Chubby (and hoping that I don’t need a larger unit to feed the neighborhood). But, I still have a few questions. I have searched this forum for several hours and it has been very informative. It’s obvious that I want a Heat Diverter and a Cover. My questions are about what other options to add. Also down the road, I plan on getting a Guru DigiQ. But right now, I am concentrating on the Chubby. My questions are:

DavidC wrote:1) The Chubby product page shows silver lifting handles on the sides of the Chubby. Are these standard equipment, or are they the optional Tie Down Handles?
They are standard equipment as far as I know. Every Chubby that I have seen has the handles.

DavidC wrote:2) Fire Grates: I understand the advantages of a Commercial Fire Grate in adding coals during the middle of a smoke. But, how would I go about adding additional coals with the standard Fire Grate? In other words, will I be kicking myself for not getting the Commercial Fire Grate? (Even though it is not listed as an option, someone in the forum got a Commercial Fire Grate for their Chubby.)
The commercial fire grate is nice but not needed. I just pull my fire box out some with a pair of water pump pliers and then with my oven mitts on I just set it on the ground reload and then set it back in the fire box and slam the door.

DavidC wrote:3) The 180 degree door hinges would allow easy access to the racks. But, do you really need them for a household unit? I assume the standard doors work just fine.
They work great, for a larger smoker, Fat Boy and up I would spend the extra for the 180 doors.

DavidC wrote:4) Besides the appearances, I would like to hear a little more on the differences between the standard doors and the stainless steel doors. Is one better, or are they about the same.
Its is just looks, they look nice, but not needed.

DavidC wrote:5) I have not read very much on the stands. I am guessing I will build my own. But, I would like to hear what y’all do.
If you are young enough, i.e., below 65 you just need to put casters on it, if you are an "old fart" you may want a lift table to set it on or build a stand.
Rick
"I carry a gun, 'cause a Cop is to [sic] heavy"
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Re: Advice on Chubby options

Postby DavidC » Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:36 pm

Rick,

1) I am glad the handles are standard equipment!! I was thinking I needed them.

2) It sounds like the commercial fire grate is a nicety, especially on a long smoke. Since I will be smoking on a wooden deck, I am still considering it. If I had a concrete patio, I would go with your suggestion.

3) 180 degree doors sounded like a good idea. It just gets the doors out of the way when you are tending the meats. I could easily see a forearm touching a hot door.

4) Someone had mentioned that the Stainless Doors were a little less solid than the standard doors. I assumed from that comment that they were made out of a lighter gage. If it is just bling-bling (even though it looks cool), I will probable pass on it.

5) Large casters or a mobile tool base for large (woodworking) equipment with a vertical spacer would be an easy way to raise the smoker up to a comfortable working height. I am not an old fart yet, but I am getting close. I just hate getting on my knees. Adding a little height to the unit would make a world of difference. Nice suggestion!!

Also, my wife and I like your signature block quote.

Cheers,
David
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Re: Advice on Chubby options

Postby RickC » Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:50 am

Thanks, the quote originally came from a retired NY policeman who carried a concealed weapon after he retired. I asked him if I could use it and he approved as long as I didn't include his name in the quote as you normally would do.
Rick
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Re: Advice on Chubby options

Postby DavidC » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:38 pm

Chubby Update from a newbie

I have been using my new Chubby now for 8 months and I am EXTREMELY happy with it. I had to work through a few operator errors on temperature control and timing, but once I got those figured out, I can now smoke meat better than any of the local BBQ joints. Also, the Chubby works just as well on a cold 10 deg winter day as well as a hot 90 deg summer day. If I had it to do all over again, I would still order a Chubby with the same options and one or two tweaks.

I ordered the standard Chubby with the following options:
1) Silver lifting handles are standard equipment. Yea!

2) Commercial Fire Grate (not listed as an option for a Chubby, but you can order it and I did) – my smoker is on a wooded deck. So, I need to have a good method for adding and handling coals, especially hot coals. I thought the Commercial Fire Grate was the answer because it slides in and out on (angle irons) rails. However, the ash pan and fire grate are separate units and work independently of each other. My problem is adding the initial hot coals. There is a chance that some of the hot coals can fall through the fire grate and onto the wooden deck. So when starting up the smoker, I place the (cold) ash pan on the deck under the fire grate. This works most of the time, but I do have a couple of burn marks on my deck. However, the real problem is adding coals during the middle of the smoke when the ash pan is too hot to place on the deck.

A second problem with the Commercial Fire Grate was that I only had about 2.25 inches between the top of the fire grate and the bottom of the heat diverter for charcoal. This was not enough room for a long smoke like pulled pork.

To fix these two problems, I redesign the fire grate using angle iron for the frame and added a J-hook to the front to capture the ash pan handle. I also added a spacer underneath the ash pan to raise it above the front lip of the fire door. Now when you pull out or push in the fire grate, the ash pan goes with it. I also gained an additional inch of depth between the top of the fire grate and the bottom of the heat diverter (now 3.25 inches). (See Pictures)

3) Heat Diverter – Because I initially had problems with the height between the top of the fire grate and the bottom of the heat diverter, I used to start a smoke by leaving out the heat diverter and over filling the fire grate with charcoal. This would help to heat the water pan and bring the unit up to temperature a little quicker. I add in the heat diverter once it was up to temperature. Even thought I am now not as limited on charcoal, I still doing this to bring the unit up to temperature a little quicker.

4) 180 deg doors – It is really nice to swing the doors completely out of the way. However, you must swing the doors open at least 135 deg to get any of the sliding units passed the doors. I have plenty of room to swing mine 180 deg to get the doors completely out of the way. I really like this one.

5) Standard Doors – Next time, I may change my mind and go for the Stainless Steel doors. I know they are just for show, but they are starting to grow on me. My wife, however, still likes the standard black doors.

6) Cover

7) Raising the unit up – I have not made a cart for my Chubby yet. My knees are still good and I have had other pressing matters.

“Paying Forward” with some other misc tips I learned the hard way:
1) Put the guru temperature probe in the thigh of a whole turkey and not the breast. The thighs take longer to cook and will be undercooked when the breasts are done.
2) Leave some of the marinade juices on your beef jerky. They not only impart flavor, but extend your cook time so that you can render more of the fat out of the jerky.
3) For lower temperature smokes, like beef jerky (150 deg), stack your charcoal in a fuse burn to control the amount of lit charcoal. For more info, See viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6185
4) Coat the water pan and food racks with PAM, before you start your cook. It makes cleanup a whole lot easier.

Thanks for everybody’s help in this forum. You have been a great help and much appreciated!!!

Smokin’ in Kentucky,
David
Attachments
New Fire Grate 1s.JPG
New Fire Grate 1s.JPG (205.11 KiB) Viewed 2976 times
Last edited by DavidC on Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Advice on Chubby options

Postby DavidC » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:39 pm

Another picture
Attachments
New Fire Grate 2s.JPG
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Re: Advice on Chubby options

Postby smokytoes » Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:54 am

Nice post David C. I like your fix for the ash pan as it bugs me too, i was noticing how close it is to your heat diverter now though. How long of a burn are you getting from it?
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Re: Advice on Chubby options

Postby DavidC » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:45 pm

Smokytoes,

You know, I am not sure. The picture is showing the coals after a 4 hours smoke at about 230 degree plus a 20 minute preheat. I topped off the charcoals, added hickory chips, inserted the heat diverter, and inserted pork ribs at the 20 minute mark. I still have about 60 percent of the coals left.

I generally go 4 or 5 hours and top off the coals again. I am guessing I could stretch that to maybe 8 to 10 hours. But opening up the fire box door doesn't drop the temperature like opening up the cooking compartment door. So, it is easy to open it up, slide out the fire grate/ash pan with a pair of pliers and add new charcoals or wood chip at anytime.

I am guessing it is a whole lot harder to pull out a hot standard fire grate/ash pan during the middle of a long smoke. Which is probably why you were asking the question, and why I don't think about it.

Cheers,
David
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Re: Advice on Chubby options

Postby smokytoes » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:08 am

DavidC,
Currently I just pull out the ash pan and fire grate with some welding gloves to fill but I have my smoker on the ground. Will move it to the deck once completed so this is a great idea.

Thanks for the great post!
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Re: Advice on Chubby options

Postby Over Dunn » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:12 pm

smokytoes wrote:DavidC,
Currently I just pull out the ash pan and fire grate with some welding gloves to fill but I have my smoker on the ground. Will move it to the deck once completed so this is a great idea.

Thanks for the great post!


A SS table works wonders! :D OD

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Re: Advice on Chubby options

Postby DavidC » Sat Jun 23, 2012 2:54 pm

Smokytoes,

an update on the duration of burn before refilling with charcoal.

I am doing a pulled pork today, so I can test the duration before adding coals.

First, I want enough hot coals going to keep the fire rolling along without an interruption. So, the fire grate is about 20% full of hot coals. I found out that I need to add new coals about every 5 hours.

Cheers,
David
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Re: Advice on Chubby options

Postby xentrik1 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 6:03 pm

DavidC. Where did you get the spacer?
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Re: Advice on Chubby options

Postby DavidC » Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:30 am

Xentrik1,

You will have to make a Spacer as well as a Fire Grate. The Spacer is just some C-channel welded to flat bar. The critical measurement on the spacer is that it has to be a bit taller than the flange at the bottom of the door. That way, the ash pan can slide in and out without contacting the door flange.

Cheers,
David
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Re: Advice on Chubby options

Postby xentrik1 » Sun Mar 31, 2013 12:08 pm

Thanks David,

I measured it, it looks like about 1" would do it. Does that sound about right?
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Re: Advice on Chubby options

Postby DavidC » Sun Mar 31, 2013 12:32 pm

xentrik1,

I think my spacer was 1-1/8" tall so the Ash Pan could clear the 1" flange.

Cheers,
David
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