Our side-firebox smoker has served us well over the last couple of years, but the firebox finally rusted off and I was faced with one of two options: get a new smoker, or memorize the phone number for the Salt Lick takeout. D.A. was ready for the first option ('tho not averse to the second - d.a.). I stopped to do what passes for thinking and figured I could fix the smoker. There were some "issues", however, in ordering the replacement parts. Mainly, the manufacturer website was not available. So instead of waiting for them to get their website fixed, I went ahead and sourced parts locally that I could re-purpose. In the process of "fixing" the smoker I learned a few tips that I would like to share.
Things you should NOT do while fixing your smoker:
1. Do NOT order the proper replacement parts from the manufacturer (i.e. think globally - purchase willy-nilly. ). Those parts you procure at greater cost locally might ensure that you can get the job started (if not completed) quickly, but who needs matching bits on a smoker anyway? The tack-welded parts give the replacement character, and the unsealed parts where smoke leaks out provide visual cues when you need to add more wood. After awhile the parts will all be the same shade of burned, regardless.
2. Do NOT test fit, mark, or otherwise take a methodical approach to your "modification" (a.k.a. butchering) of the new parts. Let's face it - when you get these non-similar and not-made-for-each-other parts finally together, you better leave 'em that way because ad hoc engineering is like a redneck divorce. If you let it drag on for too long there is a high likelihood of violent injury and something suspiciously catching fire. Anything that can can be bent, persuaded, or otherwise mangled in such a manner to achieve "good enough" results means you are that much closer to being done. Doing things the "right" way is overrated. I want the smoker working "right now" so I can sit back and take my time while the brisket gets warm and my beer gets cold. Wow - I miss beer.
3. Do NOT identify any possible hazards behind the items you are sawing through. Stopping to look means you might have to clear some stuff out of the way. Besides, it is called a SAWZALL for a reason. ("Sorry about the ladder, dear. I didn't know that fiberglass could be cut through that easily".) And if the reciprocating saw can't cut through it then you're just using the wrong blade.