Shed-Headz Grill Masters
Pit Boss Austin XL must have Mods & Accessories
Last fall, Matthew, Mark, Stroh and I each picked up a Pit Boss Austin XL pellet grill/smoker as Wal-Mart was clearing them out half price during an end of season clearance sale. The normal price of $798 (which for what you get is still a great value) was slashed to only $350! We have all been very pleased with the units, but along the way we've picked up some accessories and made some modifications to make them perform even better. First, Mark and I added a plastic sheet to cover the controller if it happens to rain during a long cook. The controller is marked water resistant, but this is Newfoundland and if the controller dies you are dead in the water. I keep my cover taped up out of the way on clear days.
Matthew and I both keep our units outdoors year round as garage storage space is just not available. When I purchased my grill I also picked up the factory cover. It fits great, keeps water off the machine and is well constructed. Out of the box even with the elastic strap secured, it's no match for Newfoundland storms. A ratchet strap installed as in the pic above works perfect in keeping the cover in place even during the worst winter storms. It also keeps the cover tight so it doesn't billow and wreck the finish on the grill.
My deck is fairly open, which is something I'll address when I eventually have to replace it. For now, when smoking on moderately windy days I put up a temporary windbreak which really helps the grill maintain low temperatures on smoke setting, and keeps smoke inside the unit. When BBQing on higher temperatures the machine seems just fine.
Mark and Stroh both picked up the optional Pit Boss insulated blanket for smoking on cold days. I find the Austin XL has no trouble maintaining temperatures of 250F and up. However, when smoking at lower temps on really cold winter days it will sometimes throw a low temperature error code & shut off. This means that the machine adds a measured amount of fuel to the fire but it doesn't reach the expected temperature set point. The insulated blanket all but cures that problem for winter/cold weather smoking. Another option is to wrap the unit in a welding blanket, which although more cumbersome will achieve the desired effect.
The Pit Boss insulated cover fits great and attaches quickly and easily with magnets.
Matthew found this mod online and stuck 2 magnetic hooks on the rear legs of his Austin XL on which to store the removable upper rack which its not in use.
The next accessory we frequently use are smoke tubes. There are many designs out there, Mark and I both have this triangle shaped Lumberjack unit. You fill the perforated canister with pellets and light it with a torch. It burns for about 2 hours to add extra smoke flavour during the initial stages of a cook. This is great for longer cooks such as bacon or brisket when you want to infuse smoke flavour before heavy bark develops.
The next Austin XL mod was made to my machine. These units have a sliding plate that when opened reveal a searing station for cooking meat over open flame. As originally designed, you have to remove the centre grate and slide the searing station cover to the right by hand and reinstall the cooking grate, all while the grill is screaming hot.
I drilled a hole in the tab of the sear cover and another in the right side of the pellet grill body. I installed a length of 5/16" smooth round bar securing it to the sear cover with 2 removable cotter pins. This will allow me to disconnect the rod easily and without tools when the whole heat disperser is removed to vacuum out the firebox.
One cotter pin on each side of the tab allows the plate to be pulled and pushed open and closed.
The bar exits the right side of the grill. I heated the round bar with a torch and bent it 90 degrees to form a nice big handle to easily operate the sear plate cover.
The searing station is fantastic for cooking steaks!
Other general smoking accessories that work very well include this dandy rack Mark picked up at Costco. He grills near his garage and can roll this station anywhere he needs. It stores all his commonly used BBQ items and provides a work top for seasoning and wrapping meats during the smoking process.
Fuel pellets need to be kept very dry, I store mine in 3 & 5 gallon buckets with sealed lids. Since we have a cricket and an ample supply of vinyl I created custom labels for my bucket lids which keep all my different fuel pellets organized.
That's it for now, but stay tuned, as we continue along our journey and learn new tips & tricks we will certainly share them hear on the Shed-Headz Grill Masters page!
Copyright © 2011 Michael Smith