Disappointing Butts on the new smoker Need suggestions!

Discussion in 'Pork' started by rbranstner, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Well I did the first butts on my new smoker I built and they are very disappointing! They sat in the rub and injection for two days before I was able to smoke them so I thought they would have lots of flavor but they don't and they have Zero to little or no smoke ring. I want to run this by you guys and see what you think. I don't have a seal around my door so most of my smoke is escaping out of the door so I am thinking that is why my meat isn't getting any smoke flavor. I have smoked twice on this new smoker and both times they meat has little to no smoke flavor. Also as I brought up in a different thread I have my air intake in the bottom right of my smoker and the air exit is in the top rear of my smoker. Do you guys see any issues with this? I know normally you will have the intake in the bottom right and the exit in the top left but I couldn't because of my grate brackets so I just put them in the top back. I would think that the air should come in the bottom then rise up and exit out the back just fine and flavor my meat nicely. This is where I think the leaky door is screwing me. Also I have my wood chip pan to close to the propane flame so they are burning up really fast I think this is also contributing to my lack of smoke in my meat. Sorry this got kind of long but I wanted to run this by you guys and see what you think.
  2. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    This is the Smoker set up I have.
  3. bandcollector

    bandcollector Master of the Pit OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Assuming that the cast iron pot on your burner holds your wood chips/chunks I would start with removing the lid from the pot and raising the pot up from the direct flames when smoking........maybe that will allow more smoke to permeate the meat.......just a suggestion.

    Good luck, John
  4. bbq engineer

    bbq engineer Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Let me qualify this post up front in that I don't have a smoke shack like this.

    Having said that, I do believe that you will need to get a seal on your door. That way the smoke will channel as you intended, and your food will bask in the smoke as well. I don't believe that the placement of the intake and exit will make a big difference as to whether the placement is right or left. Just my $.02
  5. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ah yes I should have also mentioned that my wood chips are in the cast iron pan and they were smoking a little while and they they would turn all black (like lump wood) and they wouldn't produce any more smoke. I removed the lid half way and then they would burn all the way to ash like I wanted. The only thing is I need to put new chunks in ever hour when I spritz because the wood was all burned up. I could probably put new chunks in ever half hour or so. This is why I think my pan is to close to the fire my chips are burning up at a very fast rate which is also helping cause my little smoke flavor on my meat. I am using good size chunks as well to try and make them last longer. There is good smoke for a while but most of it escapes out the door and then they burn up and there is no more smoke.
  6. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I am going to head out and try and find some type of seal for my door. Anyone have any suggestions?
  7. randya

    randya Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    I have never built one like this, but if I was going to I would place a ¼” plate on top of the burner and set my chip pot on it. Don’t have the flame hit the chip pot directly. Then seal the door, install an intake and chimney with dampers to be able to control the flow inside the box.

    I do like this. Let us know what you do differnet for the next smoke.
  8. tn_bbq

    tn_bbq Smoking Fanatic

    Chimney gasket/rope. Ought to be able to find it at big box stores this time of year. If not, try Ace or some outdoor furniture/patio store.

    In a pinch, I suppose a rubber weatherstripping would also work.

    Plain jane rope w/ staples and rivots might also work for you.

    Get a spring and/or some latches too (or bungee chord) so you can really keep the door tight.

    You mentioned something about spritzing and adding chips and such every hour. I'd recommend keeping the door shut if possible.

    Find a way to move the wood farther from the flames (new shelf, use the pot lid as a spacer, etc.).
  9. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well, let me answer your question with a bunch of questions. [​IMG]

    First, since it's propane fired, you won't have the pronounced smoke ring that you would get if you were using charcoal or wood. If smoke is coming out your door, you have plenty of smoke in there. Was it white and billowy or thin, wispy and blue? Also, you don't necessarily have to see smoke. You just have to smell it. What kind of smoke wood were you using? Some wood like apple has a very light smoke flavor. When did you assess the smoke flavor -- right after you pulled it off or the next day? Often times when I have been in and around the smoke all day long, I have trouble tasting any smoke flavor either. But the next day, I notice it a lot more.

    Your intake and exhaust locations should be fine. I'd be concerned about trying to seal the door up too tight because then your burner may be starved for air and flameout. You really don't want that.

    As was mentioned earlier, I think you need to move your wood chunk holder farther away from the flame. Either higher up or off to the side. I have to move the wood around on my propane fired SnP depending on what I am smoking. If I am smoking something at relatively low temps like Canadian Bacon, I can have it closer to the flame.

    If I'm smoking butts at 250° or so, I have to move the can farther away.

    I shoot for really thin wisps of light blue smoke.

    My SnP lid is not sealed at all. If I see smoke coming out around the lid, I interpret that as too much smoke and I move the can away from the flame a bit. But then my wife does not like heavy smoke flavor.

    I think you're on the right track, you just need to make a few tweaks. Remember, the smoke shouldn't BE the flavor, it should enhance the flavor.

    Good luck.

  10. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Well I went out and pick up some door sealer that I will nail onto the inside of the smoker that should hopefully seal up the door. I also picked up two more hinges so I can really get the door nice and tight. As far as worrying about my fire not getting enough air. I have four intake holes in the bottom of my smoker that I can open or close as I need more or less air so I am not worried about sealing the door up really well.
    I was using Hickory chunks and a little but of apple shavings when I was smoking. I tried the meat the next day and my wife also tried a fatty that night and we both agreed it didn't taste like smoke at all. I would have guessed that my pulled pork was done in the oven if you just gave me a piece to try. I wasn't getting huge amounts of white smoke just a normal amount but I couldn't really tell if it was thin blue or not. I also picked up some fire bricks which I will place on the edge of burner stand to raise the chip pot up several more inches. Hopefully that will help as well. I will keep you posted. I plan on smoking every day this week except for today. I need to get this smoker tweaked before my bacon is ready to go on which is this Friday.
  11. indyadmin1974

    indyadmin1974 Smoking Fanatic

    I love this home-built smoker!

    I think BBQ Engineer has a good point about the seal...as long as you have decent exhaust. If you don't you're going to have soot build up and your food is going to taste awful.

    I've never had a problem with my gas burner and the smoke ring. The challenge you're going to have is keeping the wood from burning up too quickly.

    I like the ideas of giving some separation from the pan and the burner. You also have to have enough air going into the pan to fuel the fire just to a smolder. If the chips/chunks are burning too quickly, you can try soaking them before you put them in.

    I would suggest that you give yourself a bottom door that allows you to get in and add more wood as quickly as possible. Since that looks to be plywood, you can steal BBQ Engineer's idea of putting in some lines to spritz your meat without even opening the door!

    There is some truth to the 'if you're lookin', you're not cookin' mentality. Keeping temps is key.

    Again, I like this build and wish you good luck!
  12. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I do have great recovery time on this smoker. If I open the door it is usually back up to temp within a few minutes.
  13. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Just a thought but I noticed that the door on the smoker is wood and not covered. It may be absorbing some of the moisture. I have been doing some reading lately on the importance... especially in electric smokers... the humidity level in smoke absorbsion. I would make sure that you have your water pan going to create more humidity. There have been some posts on the forum debating water pan or no water pan... and how important if any it is. The reading I've been doing is teaching that the humidity level in a smoker is going to directly effect the ability of the meat to absorb the smoke. I'm thinking that maybe in your newly built smoker with the wood exposed on the door may be absorbing a lot of the moisture robbing the meat the humidity to readily absorb the smoke. Something to think about.
  14. I would think also along the "Keep The Door Shut" group seems that when you look ,stoke ,sprits or anything involving opening the door of that size your going to dump all the heat / smoke too.
    You didn't get any "Bark " on the butts either.I just did my first butts Christmas day and wow,I have already been asked to do it for new years and just picked up 2 more butts from Sam's, I said yes.
    Good luck with your smoker you have a great looking one and I'm sure you'll get it dialed in .Bill
  15. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I ended up with lots of great bark on my butts but it just didn't have much of a smoke flavor at all. I am going to upgrade the few things I mentioned tonight and smoke something tomorrow and see how she turns out. .
  16. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sounds like a plan. [​IMG] Keep working at it.

  17. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Well I think I fixed the smoke issue. I installed the seal around the door and just fired up the smoker. There is no smoke leaking out of the door like last time. It all appears to be coming out of the exit vents on the top back of the smoker. I also installed 4 fire bricks on top of my turkey fryer stand to raise my chip pan. I am waiting to see if that will slow down the woods chips from burning to fast. I am just going to put a ham on so I will see how that turns tonight. Hopefully these few tweeks will really make the difference in my new smoker.
  18. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Man everything looks pretty good to me and with a few minor adjustments you;ll be well on your to a great smoker for sure.
  19. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you are able to adjust the distance between the pan and the burner (and it sounds like you are [​IMG]) I would suggest switching to wood chunks in the future. They less tendency to burst into flame due to their larger size.

    I'm not saying you can't use chips, I just think you will get better control and longer smoke times with chunks.


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