Since I posted a review of the Masterbult Vertical Propane Smoker on November 11th, I have received several questions about how to setup and use. There are bits and pieces of the proper information all over the Forum as well as the internet. Between my experience and other relevant sources, I have put together the following to hopefully provide others, especially Newbies, with setup instructions and relevant tips.
Before you start get a roll of aluminum foil. I recommend the 18" wide as it can be used for the following procedures and makes wrapping meats much easier.
First do not use the provided chip pan as it is! The slots in the bottom allow flames to enter the pan and light whatever is in the pan. This was a patent gone bad!
This is how I solved the problem. First cut three pieces of aluminum foil about 4 1/2 inches long and fold each one several times.
Place a piece over the inside of the chip pan over the slots, pressing the center part of the foil into the slot.
Cut a piece of aluminum foil which will fill one of the chip pan sections with enough to tuck into the slot areas. Place in the section, making sure some goes into the slot section.
Do this for all three sections, then put another layer in all three sections. Cut a small piece and fold it a couple of times and tuck it into the center, wrapping some of the foil around the slot covers. this will help lock the other foil layers in place.
I have found this will help prevent flareups. Occasionally I will replace the foil. This sure helps to keep the pan clean!
The next step is to foil the bottom of the water pan. This is where the use of the wide foil really comes in handy. Wrap the foil around the pan and trim off the foil that goes over the rim into the pan. Make sure you always foil the water pan before you use. If you are planning a dry smoke, i.e. no water in the pan, foil the inside of the pan.
Before you use the smoker the first time, you should season it. Put a couple of wood chunks or a cup or two of chips in the chip pan. If chips are used, I highly recommend that you soak the chips for at least an hour before using them. Do not put any liquid in the water pan for this operation. After seasoning, you can use whatever liquid you like in the water pan. Open the door and light the smoker with the flame setting as shown.
Now turn the temp setting down to the area as shown in the next photo. I have found that if you leave the setting on high, you run a very high risk of flareups. This setting allows for a fairly quick heating without that risk.
Let the smoker temp get to about 200 and smoke for 2-4 hours. Your smoker is now ready to make some of the best meat you will ever taste.! When smoking, you do not have to wrap anything in foil or to put in charcoal. Some people like to put in a piece of charcoal, but I have not found any difference in taste and you still get a good smoke ring in your meat without it.
If you want good, consistent results, you need to be able to monitor your smoker temps. Some people have found the temp gauge on the smoker to be accurate, but most of us have found it is way off. In my case it was off 20-50 degrees. A cheap way to get a good accurate reading is to use an oven thermometer which is placed inside on a rack.
This gives you good readings, but you must open the smoker door to read it. I highly recommend you get a remote thermometer. I am using the Maverick ET-732 and really love it. You can get decent results by using cooking times for meats, but for more reliable and better results, use a good meat thermometer. Once again I recommend getting a remote meat thermometer to avoid having to open the door to get readings. Again the Maverick ET-732 reads both the smoker temp and also provides a probe to put into a cut of meat. There are other good units, but after reading reviews and inputs from other smokers, this is what I bought and use.
Maverick ET-732 with smoker temp wire in place. Note that I ran the wire through the hole in the stack.
Smoker probe in the smoker. I usually put it in a back corner on one of the upper shelves. I run the smoker and food wires behind the racks, so the racks can be pulled and pushed without affecting the probes.
We always have storage problems, i.e. where to keep our chips and/or chunks, tools, etc. A low cost way of doing this is to go to Family Dollar, Walmarts, etc. and purchase some storage bins. Pictured is what I am using.
Here is a picture of my Masterbuilt Vertical Propane Smoker. This smoker is not insulated very well, so I insulated it as shown. For the instructions go to http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/112976/insulating-a-propane-smoker and you will find how I did it. Also note that I have surrounded the bottom with bricks to form a wind break as I found that high winds affected the flame, including blowing it out.
For ideas and problem resolutions, a search of this forum will provide invaluable help. The people on this forum are here to help and will provide you all the enouragement you will ever need. In fact, I am sure others will fill in some of the gaps here. Let me know if I can answer any more questions or be of more help.
Edited by TT Ace - 11/24/11 at 9:31am