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Help with Smoker Temps

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Post Sat Dec 27, 2003 5:21 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
I'm still having trouble getting desired temps in my bullet smoker. While Queing a Roasted Garlic Butter Chicken yesterday, for only a few short moments did I achieve 170+ then it dropped back down. I'm thinking of drilling a few more holes in the fire pan for ventilation and if that doesn't work I'll be in the market for something new. I know low-n-slow is the philosophy and all but I would like to be able to maintain 200-250 at least.

I did a few mod's to my Mr. Meat Smoker to see if they would help and although I like the changes the temps are still down. I took the legs out from the inside and attached them on the outside. Since the fire pan rested on the legs, I made new legs out of bolts for the fire pan. Now I can lift the entire smoker off the fire pan for full access without having to open the smoker and let the heat out.

I also tried gravel in the water pan as a thermal mass instead of using water this time. I know this doesn’t raise the temperature but it helps to regulate a more even temperature.

Being an older smoker, the fire pan was manufactured with a hole in the center for ventilation. They’ve since stopped putting a hole in fire pans because people were setting their wooden decks on fire when hot ash fell through the hole. I am on concrete so it’s not a concern.

I do notice a nice low fire in the coals when I tend the fire, but how can I get hotter temps??? Do I need to drill more holes in the fire pan? This smoker doesn’t have any vents…do you think adding an after market vent would help or just let out the rest of the heat?

I’m open for ideas and from what we’ve see if earlier posts, even simple ones that may be considered insignificant could make the difference.

Thanks, Bob.
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Post Sun Dec 28, 2003 3:54 am
dkirn well done
well done

Posts: 388
Location: St. Louis, MO
Bob -

I am not familar with your particular smoker, however it seems that you need a vent of some sort so that you can generate a greater flow of air across your coals so they will burn hotter. Remember fire needs oxygen to burn, this is why most smokers that I am familar with have a vent near the fire and a vent across from the first vent to create air flow. Anjusting these vents is what regulates your temps.

Hope that helps!

Post Sun Dec 28, 2003 6:00 pm
PostOakSmoke

I'm actually smoking a shoulder/butt roast and beef ribs today on a brand new Char-Broil ($29 Home Depot model) so I can help you out. First, fill the charcoal pan with Lump Oak charcoal (or Kingsford briquettes if thats all you have) and burn to slight flame/ash grey, Add a lot of large hardwood chunks and then burn for fifteen minutes. Add the water pan and all meat at this point. The temps will be high (350-400) for a half hour or so, but then will drop to 225-300 for the next 3-4 hours. Add more hardwood, NOT charcoal as necessary to get as much smoke as possible into the meats. If the temp in the smoker goes below 180 before your meat is done, simply move it to your oven and finish it at 200 degrees. It will have plenty of smoke flavor by that time.

Post Sun Dec 28, 2003 7:23 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
Yeah Dave, that's whats been puzzling me. This this was manufactured without an upper vent. Air and smoke just leaks around the lid. I'm beginning to think that over the years smoke has begun to seal the gap around the lid and it has become a tighter fit, thus less air flow. When it was new I had no problems maintaining temps.

That does it! I'm going to clean it!!! :shock:

And if that doesn't work I'm installing a vent.
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Post Mon Dec 29, 2003 6:56 am
LowRider

I grill/smoke a lot with my various 22.5" weber kettles. I can consistently get the 300-350 degrees. Can I play with the lower vents to get a consistent 200-250 degrees required for the lower/slower smoking? are the charcoal briquettes replenished at the same rate (8-10 unlit coals per hour ). Thanks!

Post Mon Dec 29, 2003 4:09 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
Hey LowRider, glad you decided to join us!

Closing off you vents a little should bring down your temps like you want. If you are smoking you should try to adjust the lower vent first allowing smoke to exit the top vent. If you are not using smoke then you can close off both vents a little until the temperature drops to desired level.

Adding 8-10 coals an hour sounds about right as that is what I do when using my smoker. As you've probably read, I am looking to get hotter temps on it. My cooking times are longer than called for and in a few cases I've had to finish in the oven.

I hope this helps. By the way you have a wonderful BBQ arsenal!
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Post Wed Dec 31, 2003 2:17 am
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
Well, I gave up.

I broke down.

I threw in the towel.

Then I went and bought two new smokers. :D One is a gas fired Smokey Mountain Series and the other is a charcoal fired GrandMac by Masterbuilt. So I am officially retiring the Mr. Meat Smoker to overflow if I ever need it.
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Post Wed Dec 31, 2003 10:17 am
hickory pete well done
well done

Posts: 403
Way to go Bob!! I was given an electric water smoker, but have to go up north to get it. I can hardly wait. This site sure is contagious. On my last visit to Gander Mountain, I spent the entire time in the BBQ section instead of the other departments in the store. There is so much that I want to buy, that it is driving me crazy. :shock:

Two smokers, and one back-up..I could only wish..

Post Wed Dec 31, 2003 11:54 am
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
My wife does not let me go into Gander Mountain any more without adult supervision...
I agree that place is the best. Although they opened a Cabela's Mega Store withing a days trip from me and that is going to be like a trip to the Holy land for me...If she ever lets me go...
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Post Wed Dec 31, 2003 6:24 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
Well I'm having quite an ordeal with my new smokers. The gas smoker had a broken temperature gauge. The probe was loose from the gauge and was hanging by the needle. It took two more trips to Lowes to get it fixed. I finally had to trade out the door for their floor model. They were helpful in getting things straightened out and gave me a ten-percent discount for my trouble. It test fired and seasoned it this morning and had no trouble controlling the temps. We’re planning to smoke ribs and a block of cheddar cheese this afternoon for dinner! Woohoo!!!

While the gas unit was curing, I “attempted” to assemble the Masterbuilt GrandMAC Triple Crown Deluxe Charcoal Smoker. But to my dismay it also incurred some damaged during shipping. Don’t I have all the luck?!? The middle and base sections of the body were dented in pretty bad causing a good portion of the porcelain finish to flake off and the body won’t fit together. I contacted a half-dozen local Wal-Marts and no one has another. I really like the design on this unit so I contacted the manufacture. The person responsible for getting me the parts is off until Monday for the holidays. So I must be patient. Why??? I want smoked everything and I want it now!!! Oh…I suppose I can wait…if I have to. http://www.masterbuilt.com/store/gmdcs.html This smoker has upper and lower vents and the charcoal sets on a grate just like a grill. The middle section of the body can be removed so the smoker can be used as a small grill. The lid fits onto the base. It’s very similar to the seven-in-one units that I’ve heard some of you mention. I know that I’ll like this smoker as soon as I get the new parts.
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Post Thu Jan 01, 2004 10:55 am
hickory pete well done
well done

Posts: 403
Bob,
Gander Mountain carries the Masterbuilt 7 in 1 unit. It looks pretty much the same as your GrandMac. I think it is the one that Grand Scale has. Just wanted to let you know, in case you are looking for a similar replacement. You shouldn't have to go through all that with something brand new. Good Luck!

Pete

Post Thu Jan 01, 2004 4:54 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
Pete,
Unfortunately Gander Mountain is a northeastern chain and is not located in my area. They do carry the Smoky Mountain Series 3600 Smoker that I just bought http://www.gandermountain.com/outdoor/n ... rodID_E_76 . Smoked some ribs in it last night and they were good. I wanted to leave them on about another hour and a half but we were pressed for time. I've got two chickens in it right now; one with the leftover 'jerk' marinade and the other a Coke Can Chicken.

As for the GrandMac, the folks at Masterbuilt are working with me and I'm sure we'll get it fixed.

Bob
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Post Thu Jan 01, 2004 5:05 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 12904
Location: Texas
Well, I finally figured out a use for a smoker that won't get hot enough to smoke meat.

When life throws you a lemon... you make lemonade.

When life throws you a cold smoker... you smoke cheese.

I tried smoking some sharp cheddar cheese last night and it worked pretty well. Next time I'll use only eight briquettes because the smoker got a little too warm with sixteen. The cheese has a very good smoky flavor but it melted to fit the foil I had it on. Cheese should be cold smoked no hotter that 70-80 degrees.
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Post Sun Jan 04, 2004 11:25 am
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
Pete you're right thats my boy.
Bob glad you seem to have gotten everything worked out. If something changes, try Cabela's they have a 7-in-1 thats similar.

But what I really want to know is more about cheese. I've never done any but would l like to try. Start a new thread and share some pointers if you would.

Thanks
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Post Sun Jan 04, 2004 8:27 pm
dkirn well done
well done

Posts: 388
Location: St. Louis, MO
I would also like to hear more on smoked cheese... sounds very interesting


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