Insulating Timberline850, a Covid Project.

RemE

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I made my first Brisket a while back, it was so incredible I wanted to hug the grill, but didn't lest I end up with a Trager tattoo burned into my chest by the hot logo on the sheet metal! After discussions around insulation here about how it improves efficiency and safety, I dug deep into my Timberline. Also, there are many reported issues with max heat for reverse searing causing paint bubbling in the rear of the Timberline grills.

So my goals were this,
1- Fix the rear overheat issue.
2- Fix the overheated drip collection system.
3- Insulate the entire grill barrel.

I'll detail out what I did in the following posts over the next day or two as I have time. I don't have a metal shop so only used basic tools, vise, hack saw, tin snips, hand drill. I got the stainless steel sheet metal from my local metal fabricator, cut to strips as needed.

Warning, use gloves and a respirator or goggles/face mask while working with the insulation material. While it's ceramic and not asbestos, it is still considered dangerous material to handle.

1- Fixing the rear overheat issue and insulate the barrel bottom.
The dynamics of the airflow inside the grill go like this;
a. The firepot is covered with a baffle, heat blows mainly right and left.
b. 75% of the heat goes up the rear center, front center and up the sides, like a convection oven, recirculating inside the grill barrel.
c. 25% of the heat goes out two small exhaust ports on the right and left, below the drip pan.
d. Those two exhaust ports vent into the rear exhaust box to the outside world.

Looking at the rear of the grill, the exhaust ports are at the bottom right and left of the exhaust box. The grill is "double walled" however, those exhaust ports are single walled and get direct heat blasting into them, then up and out of the box. This is where the paint bubble issues are being seen because it's the hottest spot on the grill. I believe the Timberline 850's get this the worst compared to the bigger models because the grill barrel is shorter so the exhaust ports are closer to the fire pot.

I decided to insulate these corner ports so the hot exhaust could be deflected up into the box and keep these corners cooler. I used 1/2" ceramic wool insulation blanket material, then covered with thin 26 gage stainless steel to take the direct heat.

1- Remove one sheet metal screw from the outside of each each lower exhaust port. replace with a 8-32 stainless machine screw with two nuts, 1 inch long (will trim when done). This will be the post to slide the stainless port protector metal onto and anchor down the material. Insert the screw, add nut inside, then insulation, then sheet metal skin, then 2nd nut.
2- Remove the lower belly pan that surrounds the fire pot.
3- Get the strips of 26gage stainless, make a paper template for the narrow and wide strips, then cut and hand bend them to fit up unto the exhaust ports, drill the hole in each strip to allow them to fit over the stainless bolt, then remove and install the insulation.

This is the ceramic wool material that I used to insulate everything, I also used some foil lined material but I think the basic wool is fine for everything and easier to work with, cuts with scissors.

4- Insulate the lower belly, pack layers of insulation under the drip channel
5- Add the new stainless strips up into the exhaust ports vertically and down into the belly, then add the horizontal ones. (going 2-3 inches inside). Slide them over the stainless screw, add the 2nd nut and tighten enough to hold but don't squish the insulation too much.
6- I insulated the whole belly area, so I had to add additional stainless strips to cover any insulation that the belly pan metal didn't cover, on the right and left sides. Once in place, then replace the belly pan. I had to bend the pan's left side flaps up to allow it to go over the added insulation and stainless covering.

This cured the rear heat issues for me and was the hardest part to do, but wasn't very hard in the end. I can now touch those two corners most of the time, except at max heat but they are much cooler than the stock single layer of steel ever was.

Insulating the rest of the grill was a super easy, read on if you are interested.
 

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2- Insulating the drip system.

I had posted before about the front drip channel and how mine really didn't drain well out to the left and down to the pan, here's that post on constructing a stainless channel insert out of 16gage that has much more pitch to the left and really gets drippings drained away;


I have now also added insulation and shielding to the left side drip channel because my thermal photos have shown me that the left side of the grill gets blasted with heat and all of this usually ends up with burning up most of the drippings that get into the channels.

I used 26gage stainless strips again to hand form an outer deflection shield for the left channel cover. I used 1/4-20 stainless bolts and 3/4" stainless stand-off spacers to separate the cover and shield. I took more of the 1/2" ceramic insulation blanket material, wrapped in heavy duty foil to cover the fibers since this cover is handled when cleaning the grill.

I took my time, made paper templates, then cut out the stainless pieces. I packed insulation all under the drip channel.

I have blasted this at max temp, 500F for an hour straight with no issues. I have found, the hard way, that only stainless is the way to go. I had tried a piece of scrap aluminum angle stock for this and it melted into a blob in the bottom of the grill! Aluminum melts at around 1300F, Stainless is well over 2000F, I had no idea that the firepot area is really quite a little furnace.

Thermal photo shows the hot spots in the 850, notice the cooler areas like the gap in the internal liner plates, that is solved with the whole barrel insulation coming next.
 

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3- Insulating the whole barrel, sides, rear, and lid.

In the spirit of over doing things, I was so encouraged by the first steps at insulating that I decided to just do it all. It turns out that the internal shell plates are just stainless sheets, screwed in place with stainless screws into stand-offs with threaded inserts. It was pretty easy to do this last step.

I used four of these 1/2" Ceramic blankets;

The order I found to do this was this, remember gloves, mask/respirator, and goggles!;

1- Remove the side plates first (6-7 screws each), on the right side be careful handling the thermocouple, you need to remove its holder in the process.
2- Now remove the rear/top plate (4 screws).
3- Lay the rear/top plate on the blanket material and use scissors to cut the blanket to fit the shape. I kept the blanket on the plate and re-installed them into the grill. It took some pushing to get the screw holes lined up, could have used a helper!
4- Now take each side plate and lay them on the blanket material and cut them out with about 1" extra around the edges. Insert each blanket into its side, press on the stand-off areas, then cut a hole in the blanket material to allow each stand-off to poke thru.
5- Re-install the side plates.
6- Now, the lid. It turns out that the lid liner can be pried out without touching the gasket clips. Just remove the two handle bolts and handle, don't loose the two insulating washers between the handle and lid. With the lid fully open, slip a screwdriver under the edge of the top of the plate (the handle end) and gently pull the liner plate out. You will see that the plate has cutouts to miss the cover gasket clips. The bottom end of the plate will un tuck as you pull down the plate. Now lay it on the blanket material and cut to shape, also cut out holes for the handle bolts. Take the plate with blanket on it and insert the bottom first, then tuck the top edge back into place. Replace the handle bolts and you are done with the plates.
7- Plate gap filling is the last step. I didn't like seeing raw ceramic blanket in the gaps so I chose some nice looking 1 inch, graphite impregnated, fiberglass rope for wood stove door gaskets. It takes 6ft per side, so two packages;


With gloved hands I worked the rope into the gaps between the plates on the right and left sides, pushing slack around the thermometer cable port etc. The rope was easy to cut with garage scissors. I don't know of there is a clear heat proof sealer that would seal the rope but I just vacuumed it and don't plan on touching it with bare hands.

That completed the insulation project, I can pretty much touch the grill anywhere at temps below 450F. Even going to 500F the outside is pretty cool for the first half hour. I smoked a brisket yesterday and at 200F overnight, the outer shell was cool to the touch except the top of the exhaust box. It is using less fuel for sure and is less affected by sun and wind, thumbs up!
 

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4- Curing the dreaded Drip Pan Liner MELTDOWNS!

Something I've been plagued with, melted drip pan liners. I have melted the stock heavy duty liners, and plain BBQ foil liners anytime I go over 450F. They only melt on the left side of the pan, which is the hot side due to the air flow design from right-to-left.

I've had great luck with 26ga stainless sheet stock, easy to cut with tin snips, fold by hand, and can take full firepot heat. I picked up a 16" square piece from my local sheet metal shop, made a paper mock-up heat deflector, then cut and folded the metal.

This add-on deflector goes under the drip pan and has two tabs that clip onto the right side of the stock fire pot cover. This distributes the heat better on the left side and protects the drip pan from direct fire. It also adds additional heat protection to the drip channel system.

This project took about an hour to make the template and cut the metal. I tested it at full 500F for an hour and the single sheet foil liner had no signs of melting!!

This was an easy fix, no screws, just tin snips and hand folding.

Stock FirePot Cover.jpgCliped In Heat Deflector.jpg
 

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SpeedQuest

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Very nice mods... Haven't purchased my Traeger just yet, but do you think doing these mods on a grill before using it would be any easier than after using it for a period of time?
 
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RemE

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Very nice mods... Haven't purchased my Traeger just yet, but do you think doing these mods on a grill before using it would be any easier than after using it for a period of time?
Yes! It would be easier AND cleaner. Also it would protect your paint during the break in run up.
 

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Thanks ReMe! Will take that into consideration as I move towards a purchase!
 

Greg G

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I have had to return a couple of ironwood 650s because of paint issues, I think I am going to insulate the bottom of the barrel under the heat shield and extend that out to the edges. Someone else showed how they used an extra heat shield and cut the ends off to extend the existing one, might try that to lesson the metalwork needed. Excellent build, thanks for posting.
 
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I have had to return a couple of ironwood 650s because of paint issues, I think I am going to insulate the bottom of the barrel under the heat shield and extend that out to the edges. Someone else showed how they used an extra heat shield and cut the ends off to extend the existing one, might try that to lesson the metalwork needed. Excellent build, thanks for posting.
Frankly, that might be more work than just getting some 26ga stainless strips cut. It's super easy material to work with, hand bend, trim to fit with tin snips. The stock heat shields are some kind of treated steel I believe and might rust. The stainless strips were easy to bow to the shape of the barrel by hand.

I'm no metal worker and this was easy to do.
 

Greg G

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Frankly, that might be more work than just getting some 26ga stainless strips cut. It's super easy material to work with, hand bend, trim to fit with tin snips. The stock heat shields are some kind of treated steel I believe and might rust. The stainless strips were easy to bow to the shape of the barrel by hand.

I'm no metal worker and this was easy to do.
Thanks! I'll look into that.
 

Fisty

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This is a pretty damn good idea. Glad to know it is in fact possible to do something like this.

Thanks for sharing all your information... including all the links to the products. Very informative. \m/
 

John S.

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I made my first Brisket a while back, it was so incredible I wanted to hug the grill, but didn't lest I end up with a Trager tattoo burned into my chest by the hot logo on the sheet metal! After discussions around insulation here about how it improves efficiency and safety, I dug deep into my Timberline. Also, there are many reported issues with max heat for reverse searing causing paint bubbling in the rear of the Timberline grills.

So my goals were this,
1- Fix the rear overheat issue.
2- Fix the overheated drip collection system.
3- Insulate the entire grill barrel.

I'll detail out what I did in the following posts over the next day or two as I have time. I don't have a metal shop so only used basic tools, vise, hack saw, tin snips, hand drill. I got the stainless steel sheet metal from my local metal fabricator, cut to strips as needed.

Warning, use gloves and a respirator or goggles/face mask while working with the insulation material. While it's ceramic and not asbestos, it is still considered dangerous material to handle.

1- Fixing the rear overheat issue and insulate the barrel bottom.
The dynamics of the airflow inside the grill go like this;
a. The firepot is covered with a baffle, heat blows mainly right and left.
b. 75% of the heat goes up the rear center, front center and up the sides, like a convection oven, recirculating inside the grill barrel.
c. 25% of the heat goes out two small exhaust ports on the right and left, below the drip pan.
d. Those two exhaust ports vent into the rear exhaust box to the outside world.

Looking at the rear of the grill, the exhaust ports are at the bottom right and left of the exhaust box. The grill is "double walled" however, those exhaust ports are single walled and get direct heat blasting into them, then up and out of the box. This is where the paint bubble issues are being seen because it's the hottest spot on the grill. I believe the Timberline 850's get this the worst compared to the bigger models because the grill barrel is shorter so the exhaust ports are closer to the fire pot.

I decided to insulate these corner ports so the hot exhaust could be deflected up into the box and keep these corners cooler. I used 1/2" ceramic wool insulation blanket material, then covered with thin 26 gage stainless steel to take the direct heat.

1- Remove one sheet metal screw from the outside of each each lower exhaust port. replace with a 8-32 stainless machine screw with two nuts, 1 inch long (will trim when done). This will be the post to slide the stainless port protector metal onto and anchor down the material. Insert the screw, add nut inside, then insulation, then sheet metal skin, then 2nd nut.
2- Remove the lower belly pan that surrounds the fire pot.
3- Get the strips of 26gage stainless, make a paper template for the narrow and wide strips, then cut and hand bend them to fit up unto the exhaust ports, drill the hole in each strip to allow them to fit over the stainless bolt, then remove and install the insulation.

This is the ceramic wool material that I used to insulate everything, I also used some foil lined material but I think the basic wool is fine for everything and easier to work with, cuts with scissors.

4- Insulate the lower belly, pack layers of insulation under the drip channel
5- Add the new stainless strips up into the exhaust ports vertically and down into the belly, then add the horizontal ones. (going 2-3 inches inside). Slide them over the stainless screw, add the 2nd nut and tighten enough to hold but don't squish the insulation too much.
6- I insulated the whole belly area, so I had to add additional stainless strips to cover any insulation that the belly pan metal didn't cover, on the right and left sides. Once in place, then replace the belly pan. I had to bend the pan's left side flaps up to allow it to go over the added insulation and stainless covering.

This cured the rear heat issues for me and was the hardest part to do, but wasn't very hard in the end. I can now touch those two corners most of the time, except at max heat but they are much cooler than the stock single layer of steel ever was.

Insulating the rest of the grill was a super easy, read on if you are interested.
I have a T 1300, how many rolls will I need to duplicate your efforts....
 
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I have a T 1300, how many rolls will I need to duplicate your efforts....
I've no idea! Measure the width of you grill, the 850 is just a shorter version. The 1/2 in ceramic wool comes in different sizes. I used the 24" x 25" size, five of them for $109. One for each side, bottom, back, and hood. That was 125" of material and I trimmed off excess material.

The next size is 24" x 600" $170, which would leave a lot of extra so I would bet that a 1300 might need 6 pieces of the 24" x 25" wool.

Remember to wear gloves and a good face mask when handling this stuff!

This remains one of my best mods, the grill is usually cool to warm to the touch. The only operational change I've made is when done cooking, I open the hood, pull the food, clean the hot grate with a wet "GrillGrubber" then leave the hood open for the duration of the shutdown. I found that with the hood closed, the inside of the grill would still be very hot well after shutdown was complete!
 
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I see you have a Timberline 850, does the Ironwood 650 need the insulation as well?
I don't believe that the Ironwoods have internal double wall plates on the sides, top, and hood like the Timberlines so you can't insulate those areas as easily.

However, I believe that you could insulate the bottom and rear exhaust ports if you wanted to lower the exterior temps and save some energy and pellets as well as perhaps the paint around the bottom rear of the exhaust box when cooking at the higher temps.
 

Greg G

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I don't believe that the Ironwoods have internal double wall plates on the sides, top, and hood like the Timberlines so you can't insulate those areas as easily.

However, I believe that you could insulate the bottom and rear exhaust ports if you wanted to lower the exterior temps and save some energy and pellets as well as perhaps the paint around the bottom rear of the exhaust box when cooking at the higher temps.
The sides are partially double walled. So you can probably add some insulation there. The hood is not double wall.
 

John S.

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4- Curing the dreaded Drip Pan Liner MELTDOWNS!

Something I've been plagued with, melted drip pan liners. I have melted the stock heavy duty liners, and plain BBQ foil liners anytime I go over 450F. They only melt on the left side of the pan, which is the hot side due to the air flow design from right-to-left.

I've had great luck with 26ga stainless sheet stock, easy to cut with tin snips, fold by hand, and can take full firepot heat. I picked up a 16" square piece from my local sheet metal shop, made a paper mock-up heat deflector, then cut and folded the metal.

This add-on deflector goes under the drip pan and has two tabs that clip onto the right side of the stock fire pot cover. This distributes the heat better on the left side and protects the drip pan from direct fire. It also adds additional heat protection to the drip channel system.

This project took about an hour to make the template and cut the metal. I tested it at full 500F for an hour and the single sheet foil liner had no signs of melting!!

This was an easy fix, no screws, just tin snips and hand folding.

View attachment 2895View attachment 2896
Does this address the right to left temperature gradient in the timberline ?
 
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RemE

RemE

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Does this address the right to left temperature gradient in the timberline ?
This helps for sure as the cure for the melting liners shows. I folded the deflector to direct some heat towards the right. Next cook I'll take some infrared pictures and compare from previous shots.
 

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