Smokey Joe Thermometer Mod

by zydecopaws on July 26, 2009

The things you do on a Sunday when you’re alone… Get your mind out of the gutter, I modified one of my Weber Smokey Joe Platinum grills today and added a thermometer. Why do this to a portable grill, you might ask? So that I could experiment with smoking on a smaller scale and turn this portable grill into a truly all-around device.

The modification process used the same equipment and design philosophy as the WSM thermometer mod discussed previously. Here’s a picture of the unmodified kettle.

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I thought about mounting the thermometer in the grate vent, but was concerned about the ability to do so and still be able to open and close the vent. I might give that a shot in the future, as one of the concerns I have about placement of the thermometer directly over the coals and getting a lot higher temperature reading than over where food will be cooking. I will likely have to get out the old candy thermometer and wine cork to see how much variation there is at the vent.

The first step in the mod was to put some painter’s tape on the kettle to keep the porcelain from chipping. A few taps on a center punch to score the metal, and it was time to drill.

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As before, I pulled out the trusty Unibit and cordless drill and had at the lid of the kettle. And yes, I did wear my safety goggles.

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I got better results with the hole this time, and there were no signs of damage to the porcelain finish (other than the hole I just drilled).

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The thermometer was mounted, and as you can see from the picture the placement was just about right. Any further from the handle and there would be issues with the lid holder bracket on the back of the kettle.

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Inside clearance was good too.

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Here’s a shot of the finished product. Now it’s time to fire it up and see if the temps can be controlled enough to go low and slow.

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UPDATE: This placement of the thermometer is not optimal. I tested temps coming from the vent and the installed thermometer is running about 100°F hotter than measured at the vent. Since the vent is directly over the food and not the coals, this is to be expected (yeah, I know, should have seen this coming) and I will have to try a different location. SmokinManBBQ suggested putting it in the side near the grill so as to get a good reading where the cooking is going on, but there are some barriers to doing this that will have to be overcome to pull that off. Worst case is that I drill out the vent rivet and put it over the vent. Stay tuned…

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