Dave's Smokefire EX6 Experiences

Jason in CA

TVWBB All-Star
Thanks for that encouragement, Chris. I know full well that this is a Weber oriented site. No problem, because I love Webers. But I have enjoyed contrasting them with various alternative ideas out there - yes, I admit some of mine have been right off the wall 😆 . It's fun to see what other manufacturers are doing and how there stuff compares.
If straying from Weber wasn't allowed we would not have the journey of The Judge among other things to enjoy. (y)
 

Rich Dahl

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Always use the link for Amazon on here, the least I can do to help Chris and we buy quite a bit from Amazon, including my Camp Chef.
 

Dave - Unixadm

TVWBB Super Fan
So today I didn't spend a ton of time on the Smokefire, but I did disassemble the innards and took the ash box off the bottom of it. I used a little RTV to seal a couple of leaks in the Nomex OEM gasket, along with folding a piece of aluminum foil over the large slot at the front of the ash box.

I also installed some stainless mesh, kind of like an SOS pad used for cleaning stainless steel cookware. I packed that into the area around the hard OEM drip pan. The rear of the ash pan is where the burned pellets dump. By installing that stainless mesh, about 80% of the ash that would build up on the lower front of the unit was eliminated. So that tells me the ash is blowing into the back of the ash pan and the air flow from the fan is pushing the ash/embers around the drip pan and into the front of the ash pan.

Ash inside of the cooker is still pretty significant and by design, I don't see how Weber was advertising lower ash in the cooking chamber. Their high speed fan and largely up flow fire pot doesn't really seem conducive to achieving that goal. I have some stuff on the way to see if I can limit ash within the cooking chamber.

I'm not going to post any pictures because I don't know the consequences of these mods or if it's even worthwhile. I'm just sharing for now. :)

Oh yeah, reinstalled the divider in a different place. Not sure it's working as intended, though no feed issues yet.
 

Tony-Chicago

TVWBB Fan
So I did something crazy. I just ordered a Camp Chef Woodwind 36 WIFI, Cover, Sidekick Accessory and the 36" Front Shelf. I figured it would be nice to have a pellet cooker I can cook on while screwing around with the Ashfire.
I figured it would be nice to have a pellet cooker I can cook on while screwing around with the Ashfire.
Ouchorama. ;)
 

Dave - Unixadm

TVWBB Super Fan
I'M BACK AT IT...

So after a few days of not doing anything too crazy to the SmokeFire while I mop up my tears, I decided what better to do on my day off than to go out and screw around with the SmokeFire some more.

I reinstalled the hopper separator in a further left and lower position. Going to see what happens with the pellets this go around.



I also decided that I'd reconnect the vibratory motor. I removed four screws below the LCD control panel where the power cord plugs in. From there, that piece drops down and holds the actual controller and a Delta 120/240V AC to 24V DC power supply. This was good news since it had power taps for me to take 24V into a DC to DC Buck converter. This allows me to take 24V and turn it into 12V for the vibratory motor. I had originally planned to rob 120V power, so this made it easier dealing with low voltage. I connected the DC converter to the original cycle timer I bought, though I do have a better cycle timer that will accept a 24V trigger. For the sake of today and the fact I'm not 100% sold on this solution, I kept the original cycle timer set to 600 seconds off, 7 seconds on.




So with power taken off of the unused taps (fused @ 5A), I ran it to the DC buck converter:



From the converter and into the cycle timer, everything is contained within the auger assembly area. To remove this, it would take me about 10 minutes. The converter is adjusted with a simple micro screwdriver, adjusting one of the pots and watching the LCD's voltage reading.

One interesting thing I noticed was the controller assembly. It is separate from the LCD which is a bit different in design. It actually uses a CAN bus to communicate with the screen and has provisions on the board for a second CAN bus connector.



I also mentioned yesterday about some work I was doing to the ash pan to see if I could reduce ash coming out of it. I'm unsure of the consequences performance wise, but I can confirm it drastically reduced the ash coming out of the unit. The reason is, it keeps the larger unburned pellets largely isolated to the back of the ash pan, behind the drip pan.



I uses some pieces of a stainless cookware cleaner that I bought a box of from Amazon years ago to plug the hole on each side. It still allows air to go through, but catches the ash and larger pellets. You can see how the ash is piled up around those pieces of stainless I installed. The gap on each side of the drip pan likely constricts airflow and actually accelerates the ash/embers shooting forward. I never saw an ember come out of the smoker after doing this, though I did see some red embers inside of the front of the ash pan. Those likely came down through the grease drip holes in the bottom of the cooking chamber.

Lastly I decided to replace the screws in the hopper from the torx or hex head, to stainless shallow head screws. In total, I replaced seven screws with what you see in the foreground:




No cooks planned for today, though I will burn through the rest of the pellets in the hopper.
 
Last edited:

Dave - Unixadm

TVWBB Super Fan
:oops: What the hell do you do for a living? CIA? You got skills and really need to do something big with YouTube, I’d watch every episode.
If I told you, I'd have to kill you and I like you, so I can't tell you. LOL. I worked in Information Technology for about 20 years and have always been moderately into tweaking with computers and electronics. I used to solder my own boards together back in the day for little projects. Today with the advent of China (kidding) and Amazon, you can buy things cheaply which can do a lot of things. I had never worked with cycle timers, so I thought this would be a fun project to learn. However, as a little kid, I was the one who was like 6 years old with a toolbox. I was fixing the kid's bikes who were about twice my age at times. I reroofed my mom's house (removal, dry rot repair, fascia boards and sheathing) when I was 18 years old and working full time. I've build entire garage structures, to doing wiring, refrigeration, BBQ, welding/fabrication, rebuilding cars and then have my nerd day job where I pound away on the keyboard. I've always been very mechanically included and my skillset leans towards being a problem-solver/troubleshooter. When people would toss away their broken VCR back in the late 80's or early 90's, I was the kid who'd take it and fix it. When I'd buy broken things from the auction, I'd normally always make them work again. Where some people are phenomenal at math for example, I'm not. However, when it comes to working through a problem, not being afraid to experiment and wanting to share knowledge, that's me. Heck, I don't even have a degree. So there, that's a bit more about me than I'd normally share, but it's motivating to me when people take interest in things that I do. Being largely self taught, raised by a single mother with no siblings, that independence likely contributed to my can-do attitude. I didn't have many others around to help me out. Then when I started making good money in IT, I used it to buy my house and then buy way too many toys/tools/geek stuff, so I normally only need to walk to a room or the garage to get what I need. If I don't have it, I'll usually just buy it. LOL.

If you want a fun fact that I feel silly mentioning, but I'm sure some of you recall a TV show called American Chopper. When that show debuted in the early 2000's, I was fascinated by fabrication. I had never welding a thing. I ended up spending about $25k on equipment and later on actually leased a commercial space to put all of my equipment in. All because of that show. I loved the concept is creating something from basically nothing or raw materials. That led to me building my own CNC plasma table in 2010, which gave me a lot more capability in my home shop:



During the build, I attracted the attention of a representative of Hypertherm (they build plasma cutting equipment) and they actually CNC cut some parts, like for the caster plate you see in the picture above and send them to me at no cost. Fabrication is one of my favorite things to do, but the plasma table was a lot of fun because I combined welding with electronics.

One project I tackled was building a CNC plate scriber with a pneumatic scribe. It ended up working great and I was pretty proud of myself with that one:






In the photos above, you can see how the plate was CNC cut, but scribed first. That's 16GA CR steel sheet. I'm strongly considering producing video content, but the problem is I'm a single guy and recording/editing solo, is a daunting task. That's been my main reason for not doing it. Anyhow, you asked so I thought I'd share.

<DarthVader>Impressive.</DarthVader>

Dave, you got some skills.
Thank you sir!
 

Tony-Chicago

TVWBB Fan
Spark arrestors. First thing I thought of. I assume more is needed. They need to fix and stop any loose embers, nothing escapes. Use spark arrestors only to keep the interior right. Make sure no embers can escape....
 
Last edited:

Dave - Unixadm

TVWBB Super Fan
Feeding of pellets wasn't perfect, but I am going to inspect something that might have to do with this. Weber's reversing auger. I want to inspect the down-feed tube to the auger to see if there's a bunch of sawdust in the auger tube. With the auger reversing, it's forcing the pellets backwards with know where for them to go. The pellets do not seem to feed well on the back edge of the down-feed tube to the auger. I took a number of pics, but for now, I need some lunch, so I'll get back to this later today.
 

Jason in CA

TVWBB All-Star
If I told you, I'd have to kill you and I like you, so I can't tell you. LOL. I worked in Information Technology for about 20 years and have always been moderately into tweaking with computers and electronics. I used to solder my own boards together back in the day for little projects. Today with the advent of China (kidding) and Amazon, you can buy things cheaply which can do a lot of things. I had never worked with cycle timers, so I thought this would be a fun project to learn. However, as a little kid, I was the one who was like 6 years old with a toolbox. I was fixing the kid's bikes who were about twice my age at times. I reroofed my mom's house (removal, dry rot repair, fascia boards and sheathing) when I was 18 years old and working full time. I've build entire garage structures, to doing wiring, refrigeration, BBQ, welding/fabrication, rebuilding cars and then have my nerd day job where I pound away on the keyboard. I've always been very mechanically included and my skillset leans towards being a problem-solver/troubleshooter. When people would toss away their broken VCR back in the late 80's or early 90's, I was the kid who'd take it and fix it. When I'd buy broken things from the auction, I'd normally always make them work again. Where some people are phenomenal at math for example, I'm not. However, when it comes to working through a problem, not being afraid to experiment and wanting to share knowledge, that's me. Heck, I don't even have a degree. So there, that's a bit more about me than I'd normally share, but it's motivating to me when people take interest in things that I do. Being largely self taught, raised by a single mother with no siblings, that independence likely contributed to my can-do attitude. I didn't have many others around to help me out. Then when I started making good money in IT, I used it to buy my house and then buy way too many toys/tools/geek stuff, so I normally only need to walk to a room or the garage to get what I need. If I don't have it, I'll usually just buy it. LOL.

If you want a fun fact that I feel silly mentioning, but I'm sure some of you recall a TV show called American Chopper. When that show debuted in the early 2000's, I was fascinated by fabrication. I had never welding a thing. I ended up spending about $25k on equipment and later on actually leased a commercial space to put all of my equipment in. All because of that show. I loved the concept is creating something from basically nothing or raw materials. That led to me building my own CNC plasma table in 2010, which gave me a lot more capability in my home shop:



During the build, I attracted the attention of a representative of Hypertherm (they build plasma cutting equipment) and they actually CNC cut some parts, like for the caster plate you see in the picture above and send them to me at no cost. Fabrication is one of my favorite things to do, but the plasma table was a lot of fun because I combined welding with electronics.

One project I tackled was building a CNC plate scriber with a pneumatic scribe. It ended up working great and I was pretty proud of myself with that one:






In the photos above, you can see how the plate was CNC cut, but scribed first. That's 16GA CR steel sheet. I'm strongly considering producing video content, but the problem is I'm a single guy and recording/editing solo, is a daunting task. That's been my main reason for not doing it. Anyhow, you asked so I thought I'd share.



Thank you sir!
Dang. Impressive. I want to sit and watch you tinker on things. Like you I'm interested in a lot of things. I am mechanically inclined, but Unlike you I don't think I have the skill set and I know I don't have the funding to do the stuff.
 

Dave - Unixadm

TVWBB Super Fan
Back to the fun world of testing. I decided to clean out the auger down tube completely of pellets because I noticed that pellets seemed to be hanging up on the back of the chute down to the auger. The front would clear, but the back wouldn't. I never looked all that closely at this area before I started using the EX6, so what I found was interesting.



Apologies the image a bit blurry where I wanted focus, but if you look at the right side of this picture, that represents the back of the down-feed tube to the auger or, or a chute. On the right side of the slop right at the auger tube, there's a mechanical lip. This lip protrudes outwards by about 3/16" and then there was silicone sticking out from that another 1/16th of an inch or so. On the bottom of the image, which would be the right side of the down-feed chute, there's another significant lip which goes from about 3/16" to 1/4". Both of these lips would catch pellets and now allow them to smoothly flow into the auger. I don't know if that's what happening, but iI was surprised by the design here.

So to make my next test, I used some extremely rare test material. This is material I normally don't use, but I felt this called for drastic measures. Any ideas? If you guessed pieces of an Amazon cardboard box, you would be correct! I cut a piece and started to shape it into the back of the chute area. I then cut a couple more pieces to place into the triangular area at the right side of the chute. I then used some hot glue to join them together and/or attach them to the chute walls. You might be thinking that this will be a pain to remove?!? No. Hot glue can be removed with rubbing alcohol very easily if you didn't know that. After my arts and craft work was completed, the chute looked like this:



This has eliminated the lip at the back side of the chute and drastically reduced it on the right side of the chute (bottom side of image). I went ahead and disabled the vibratory motor, moved the hopper separator further left and down and refilled the hopper with Cookinpellet.com 100% hickory. These are older pellets and I don't mind burning through them for testing. I want to see if the pellets feed more smoothly now.

I also notice that on the long ramp, pellets will stop feeding when there's about 2-3 pounds left in the hopper. I'm going to see if I can come up with anything to help with that, but the shallow slope is surely the cause. However, the bridging and lack of feeding in the down-feed tube seems to be a major issue and could be contributing to a lot of the pellet feeding issues.

Long term if this works, this is not a fix. However, it gives me enough to go on to build a permanent solution out of appropriate materials.
 
Last edited:

Top