Fellow meat hounds,
Sorry for the long post, but I'm trying to share all the details of what I know and don't know...
I have the Master Forge 2 door smoker. I've been smoking with it for 3 years now. I've been super happy with it until my last two cooks when i couldnt get it up to 225 or above. Took 2 hours to break 200 and then only hit 215 or so with the gas wide open. I should say that both of these cooks were large batches with 30-40lbs of meat. I never struggled to get up to temp in the past but im not sure i've done cooks this large. I am wondering if this is a matter of heat output limitation of the smoker or if something is wrong.
I've included pics of the smoker for reference at the end of this post. I just used it yesterday so it's still dirty... my apologies for that.
How I smoke:
- Chunks (not chips) in the wood pan
- Water in the water pan
- I generally keep the doors closed but open it once every 1.5 hours to spray water / juice mix
- Vents on side of wood pan wide open. I've noticed with the master forge that I have to keep these open or i make charcoal of my wood instead of getting a full burn to ash. This suggests to me that the design may have some airflow limitations in the firebox area in general.
- I've been running the stack vent at about 1/2 open. Not sure why I do this really.
- I have noticed that the tips (last third) of the flames at the burner are pretty orange instead of a nice hot blue. Not sure if this could be a sign a burner issue resulting in less heat from inefficient burn? (see pic below)
My current thoughts on addressing the problem(s):
- Already got some great feedback (thanks to Dave Omak!) that I should probably run my stack wide open to increase airflow and help prevent 'charcoaling' of my wood. Maybe if I ran this vent wide open I could run the lower vents more closed?
- Insulate the doors with high temp rope gaskets as lots of you guys on the forum with Master Forges suggest. I am considering insulating the doors, sides and top of smoker as well, but this seems like a big hassle. Thinking it'll keep the heat in and on the meat where i need it. My guess is that I may save on gas as well which over time could pay itself off pretty quickly.
- Also (thanks to Dave Omak) I've head that maybe the steam smothers the wood burn causing charcoaling and I should switch to sand in the pan?
- Is the water pan for temperature control through evaporation and moisture for the meat or just designed to provide thermal mass / heat sinking?
- Based on others experience am I pushing the limit at 40 lbs of meat or should this smoker be able to handle it without all of this fuss?
Thanks in advance!!!
All thoughts are appreciated!