Electric smoker element went out! Looking to go propane. Which 2 door model should I choose?

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by vikings8480, Jun 11, 2015.

  1. vikings8480

    vikings8480 Fire Starter

    Last weekend, my heating element went out in my MES 30.  It happened in the middle of the night, with two pork shoulders going!

    So, I decided, in addition to ordering a new heating element for my MES 30, I'd also buy a propane smoker so that I can always have a viable option to smoke, with or without electricity.

    I've been looking at a ton of reviews on different 2 door models.  I definitely want two doors so that I can add water and chips while minimizing heat loss.

    I'm torn between Masterbuilt, Charbroil, Master Forge and Landmann Smoky Mountain.  Can anyone here, give me any advice on which brand/model to choose?  I'm looking to keep it under $250, if possible, which it appears that shouldn't be a problem.

    I typically smoke at 225-240 degrees, so decent temperature control is a must.  It sounds like I'll need to put seals around the doors on pretty much any model and add the needle valve.

    Any insight would be much appreciated!
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You shouldn't need a needle-valve mod for temps above 200*, so test it out before you make any mods, which ever you go with.

    I just read today of a great response from Landmann's customer service for a complete replacement of a shipping-damaged smoker, so if customer service is a priority then I'd recommend that you consider a GOSM.


    I still have my old 3405-GW GOSM...gutted it to clean-up the burner, etc a few years ago and never finished it...probably going to give it to my son. I just don't need it anymore...good old smoker, she is.

  3. vikings8480

    vikings8480 Fire Starter

    I think I am leaning that way.  It looks like they make some quality smokers.

    Thanks for the input!
  4. jirod

    jirod Smoke Blower

    I have the Master Built 2-door propane smoker, used it for years until I got my MES40.  I always like it, and didn't have a lot of problems.  Went to the MES because I was having trouble with lower temps, when making ring bologna and summer sausage.  So the electric just seemed easier for that (and I got a heck of a deal on it, too good to pass up).  

    But I smoked a lot of meat on the 2-door Master Built with an AMTS.  Only thing I didn't like was it was too narrow for a full rack of ribs (could go diagonal but then it's one rack per shelf).  
  5. vikings8480

    vikings8480 Fire Starter

    Well, I didnt have to buy a propane smoker, I came home from work today to an early Father's Day present from my wife and kids, a Smoky Mountain Series 3405GW. I set it up tonight and Im going to season it tomorrow so that it's ready for the weekend!
  6. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Well then, I guess your quest is over, and the time to start developing a new friendship has come. I haven't used mine for years, but I'm sure it's pretty much the same rig as my old girl, so give a shout if you have any issues. Conrats, and happy (early) Father's Day!!!

    Be sure to spray or brush the cooking grates with cooking oil when you season it, and before each use...I learned the hard way that this is important (new to smokers and didn't know any better). Let the residue build up and this will protect the grates.

  7. vikings8480

    vikings8480 Fire Starter

    Thanks!  I seasoned the smoker last night using chips.  Whoops.  I think I'll move to chunks for actual smoking.  I had a good part of my culdesac enveloped in smoke.  Lol.  The chips seem to smoke waaaaay too much.
  8. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yep, she was a smokin', then...LOL!!!

    I find that a handful of chips along with small and medium chunks works quite well. The chips pick-up the heat faster and bring you a quicker onset of smoke, then, as they slack off, the small chunks start to take over, then the larger ones. It pretty covers you from the start, and the small chunks don't last really long (just a few hours), so that's where the medium chunks come in for the finish. For really long smokes (pork shoulder, brisket) you can add a forth and larger size of chunks to carry the smoke for hours into the night. Size matters on how slow they smoke and how long they smoke...small goes quick. Sometimes you may need to regulate the heat or air getting to the smoke wood to really fine-tune it the way you want, but that will come later on down the road...when you start to get choosy and have learned more about what the smoker likes and doesn't like...then creativity sets in, and you're in for one helluva ride...LOL!!!

    Have fun, and keep your smoker warm and happy!!!

  9. inkjunkie

    inkjunkie Master of the Pit

    Solved THAT problem...
  10. vikings8480

    vikings8480 Fire Starter

    Thanks!  I went out over my lunch break and picked up some hickory chunks.  I'll use them the way you suggested this weekend.  I've got a big pack of country style ribs to break in the new smoker!
  11. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Nice!!! Sounds like you're about ready to roll with it.

    Speaking of smoke woods, don't be afraid to mix them up. I use combinations a lot, mainly with hickory, cherry, apple, pecan, and mesquite. Mesquite is a heavy, earthy smoke, so use it sparingly with pork and poultry...beef is a bit more forgiving, especially brisket. Hickory is sharp and sweet...goes with everything but fish, unless very light. Apple is sweet and a bit milder than hickory...very good with pork and poultry...tried it a few times when hot-smoking milder fish and it was a nice pairing...a touch of hickory is good with fish, too. Cherry is a heavier/stronger fruit flavor and aroma than apple, a bit less sweet, IMHO...similar to mesquite in strength of flavor. Pecan adds a sweeter aroma and lighter flavor...more of a pungent aroma that seems to dissipate more quickly leaving behind a nice back-ground finished flavor when blended with other woods. I didn't really like it solo, but it's nice for blends.

    Anyway, just some trivial smoke for the future when you want to play with the variables a bit.

    Enjoy the weekend smoke and CSRs...oh, if they're thick cut, give 'em a good 3+hrs smoke @ 225* , then foil (2+hrs if thin-cut) or pan/cover to finished tenderness (doesn't take very long)...CSRs are a nice and easy first smoke for a new rig...no stress and they don't take all day to cook. You chose well!!!

  12. My master forge still runs like a champ. I made 0 mods to mine other than buy a maverick. Figured out the best way for me to get TBS out of it was to soak wood chips for at least 24 hours I'd put the chip pan in have water in the water pan start it up to a spot I marked myself on the propane adjustment about 30-45 minutes later I could maintain 225-235 for hours with my chip pan full it would give you all the TBS you would need for anything you smoked it lasts me around 4 and a half hours on one chip pan.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2015
  13. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Soaking smoke wood has been debated and discussed many times here before...can't recall the thread, but is has been debunked as being beneficial. Marketers/manufacturers of backyard smokers may state in their manual to do so...they really don't have a clue. It just adds more water vapor to the smoke chamber, seen as steam, and thought by many to be white smoke in cooler weather. It really only delays the actual onset of smoke when you want smoke before the food even hits the grates to get the most exposure. Once the additional water has evaporated (which is very little, as hardwoods take on water VERY slowly), then the chips take off like a rocket. But if it works for you, roll with it. Some swear by it, and I used to be one of them...until about 6 or 7 years ago.

    I searched for the thread I mentioned...no luck...here's 195 threads on the subject to sort through if you wish:


  14. No soak = big puff of white smoke soaked = thin blue smoke. I tried this over and over with the same brand of chips you can say what you want but I'm telling you it was beneficial to me.I do not soak my wood chunks for my charcoal smoker as there is no need but for the propane set up I was running soaking chips worked.
  15. vikings8480

    vikings8480 Fire Starter

    So much for easing into the new smoker with a few CSR's.  I had some family in town, so my first smoke on the GOSM was 7 lbs of CSR's and two racks of spare ribs for 13 people.  Trial by fire!  I trimmed the ribs up St Louis Style and smoked the racks and the tips as well as the CSR's.

    I had a hard time maintaining the temps, but it could be due to the large amount of meat in the smoker, but I held it between 225 and 240 pretty well.  Everything turned out amazing, first time I've ever had a smoke ring in my finished product.  I went 3-2-1 method and everything pulled right off the bone.  I'll definitely have to practice my temp control, but that will just take time!  So far, I'm loving the GOSM propane!

    Also, I called Masterbuilt regarding my old electric smoker and they are going to send out a replacement unit for free.  So, I'll still have the electric option when I want to make jerky or do an overnight smoke.
  16. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey, sounds like you're falling into the groove with the GOSM already...and a good meal for your efforts was had as well. Keep rolling and you'll be ruling the propane smoker in no time. Good on MES to send out replacement parts...nice!

    Ah, the beloved smoke ring...can't get that with an electric rig, unless you add a fuel of some type, which burns to create Nitric Oxide on the surface of the meat, which leaches into the meat, given enough time and proper cooker temps. Humidity plays a role in this as well.

    Cool to see when you get a nice smoke ring...doesn't speak for flavor or aromas, but cool, none-the-less. Any fuel you burn to fire a cooker will produce the smoke ring when it's exposed on open grates...either wood, lump, briquettes, propane or natural gas can produce it...electric smokers don't burn fuel in the cooker, so NO is formed. If I recall it takes something in the order of at least 600* F at the source of heat to produce NO, so smoke wood alone is not likely to be a significant source for NO.

    So, there's your smoke ring trivia for the evening.

    Enjoy your new toy...er, uh, I meant smoking tool...LOL!!!


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