This Brinkman Gourmet Smoker is the first outdoor grill I've ever bought. The cost was a modest $39.95. It's a serviceable model, but with a few modifications it becomes a premium model. There isn't an accurate thermometer, the body leaks air and smoke, and the controls are lack luster. I can fix all of this.
I found this guide online. The craftsman behind the guide is using a slightly different model smoker than the one I purchased. As near as I can tell the main differences are in the area of the charcoal pan. Having the charcoal pan as the base pan makes my life slightly harder.
The first modification I made is as simple as drilling a single hole in sheet metal. Adding an accurate thermometer is as easy as that. I drilled a hole and placed a one inch feed through in it's place. This part can be found at the local hardware.
Next I added air controls, this is in the form of adding two dampers. I made these from aluminum. They were simple to make and cut out with a pair of tin snips. Don't be intimidated; if you can work safety scissors you can work tin snips. Then I used a 1 inch hole saw to cut out the holes. This creates 2.355 square inches of airflow through the damper. Obviously for this to work you have to drill holes in the lid and the charcoal pan to mount the dampers and to let the air flow.
To further modify the charcoal pan I added a charcoal rack. The rack allows air to flow evenly up through the damper and to reach the charcoal evenly. Then I closed the half inch gap that surrounded the charcoal pan with more aluminum. The final modification was to put a seal around the top. The lid and the body sealed poorly but a piece of graphite coated fiberglass rope sealed it right up.
I smoked 4 racks of ribs, 2 pork tenderloins, and a pork shoulder. I also grilled a bacon fatty.
The pork shoulder and pork tenderloins were rubbed down with Sweet and Smokey rub. These were smoked overnight for eight hours at 250 degrees. I smoked them on a mix of lump charcoal and cherry wood. Both pieces of meat came out looking great. They had a thick black crust of smoke, and a quarter inch pink smoke ring. The meat was flavored perfectly by the smoke. I served the Tenderloins sliced with Asian BBQ Sauce(recipe to follow) and white bread.
The pork shoulder was pulled and served on pretzels with Asian BBQ Sauce. The pretzels were purchased from a local bakery. If I were making pretzels at home for this meal I would use Peter Reinhart's recipe.
The Bacon Fatty is a one pound bacon weave stuffed with one pound of mild sausage and a half pound of cheddar cheese. The whole thing was cooked on low until it was cooked through. I grilled this because I was worried that smoking it would be too intense. The Fatty was sliced and served on a Chibatta Roll.
The Ribs aren't pictured because I didn't have a good picture; I'll post again when I make the next batch with a more complete recipe.
Asian BBQ Sauce(makes about one liter):
2 & 2/3 tablespoons cornstarch
5 & 1/3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 cup corn syrup
1 & 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup Sriracha!
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 & 1/3 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons garlic powder
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer until it's homogenous. Thicken to your desired thickness.