Got me a #2
During seasoning I never got the cut out temp when cranked to 250*. The wood ignited or came very close (supposedly there isn't enough oxygen for there to be fire, but I am not so sure) and contributed to a major temp spike beyond 325*. Happened too fast for the controller to recognize so I cut it off even though the element light was still on. Supposedly the hickory dowels are supposed to be good wood but I hope that is not the case because if it is then there is something wrong with my #2.
To make a long story short, I managed to get the temp cranked up over the weekend after all the wood had essentially burned up. It was at the end of a brisket smoke and chicken was in there and I was wanting to see about crisping up the skin. I got cut out ~265 and cut in ~220. Perfectly acceptable IMHO.
I am still concerned with wood scorching and having the wood contributing to the heat.
Below is what I posted in the Electric Smoker sub forum:
Got my #2 last week and followed the directions to season it. Put dowels in smoke box and turned to 250. I put a probe in the middle of the box to check temps. As the temp approached 230 or so the smoke became hideous and acrid and billowing grey plumes form the smoke hole. The temp continued to rise and shot up to 320+. Shut her down and let her cool and tried again with an apple chunk. Same result and I am getting the big belch from the unit as it is going through 250-260*. I let it cool a bit and set it for 225 and she seems to run between 190 and 240 at that setting. Temp spikes are obviously coming from the wood which is just about to catch fire or is catching fire.
So this week I did another test and put some chips in Foil and poked a few holes in it and put this in the smoker box with the hypothesis that the foil would starve it of oxygen and facilitate more of a smoldering effect. Set the dial for 225. Getting mostly TBS but as the box temp rises through the 220 or so range the smoke gets thick and slightly acrid. When the element shuts off the temp continues to rise a bit, about 15-25*.
Then I decided to soak some chips (which i never do normally) and wrap in foil. Soaked them for about 4 hours. I also set the temp a little lower, around 220*. This seemed to work a little better. I put on a brisket and went to bed.
So...............with all of that said, I have a couple questions and observations:
First off, my brisket was good but took about 16 hours and my chicken leg quarters took about 6 hours (I did open the box a bit since I didn't probe the chicken). I was hesitant to put the dial past the 220 mark and risk getting the nasty billowing smoke. There is a significant difference in the smell when this happens. Smells horrible.
Could this be an air flow problem (too much), a cheap dry wood problem, or an element/temp control problem?
My probe is dual probe and calibrated to 212 boiling water. I had both probes in and they read the same so I believe the temp readings I am getting. To me the temps don't seem unreasonable.
Shouldn't I be able to run the temps higher without the wood burning that badly and producing that acrid smoke?? My brisket was small and I'd like to think I can get it smoked in a 10-12 hour window. Not that I am overly concerned with time as I cook to IT, but still......
I am considering and AMNPS but I hear it is hit and miss with staying lit. Some don't seem to have a problem and some have problems and even drill more holes for air flow.
Any and all feedback welcomed.
Getting in here late, real late. It is not uncommon for you to seed smoke leak around the door, at the top or top sides. and It normally seals itself with residue after several smokes, or nearly seals itself. But few look at the bottom area, where air can get in and contribute to combustion. Get some feeler gauges, long flexible brass, latch the door and "feel" around for gaps. Add blades till your gauge will no longer move and/or penetrate. That may be a source of additional oxygen which can cause flame if you experience it. Smoke residue rises so that will not seal the bottom. You can get 3M high heat stainless steel tape and cut to fit to seal the gaps after insuring the area to be taped (I recommend the door) is clean. Remember, this is a friction fit. You can also remove the door and place a large straight edge like a framing quire along the area that contacts the box and look for hills and valleys. They will be minimal.
I did this with my Cook Shack 066 as I had some leakage. Overall, it was in good shape but I had enough variances in areas that needed flattening, and tape in others. Very minimal, but it did the trick. Residue fixed the rest. Just remember, these units seal by compression. No gaskets. So go lightly on the high spots, if at all. The low spots are what you are real after if you are getting flaming wood from too much air.
Just some thoughts from a tinkerer and smoker.
Edited by old sarge - 7/9/14 at 9:45pm
Many thanks for your input.
I have been having some good smokes with the #2 but was still getting some acrid smoke; thick and brownish gray and fairly heavy at times, especially if I smoked at 230+. As my taste became more discerning I was noticing it in the taste and I was getting a bit pissed. I tried several things like ramping up the temp (I use an Auber PID), putting the wood in different areas of the wood bin and using Fruitawood. The use of Fruitawood allowed me to get away with this issue, since bad smoke with Fruitawood is much better than bad smoke with store-bought wood. And I was getting a good bit of leakage around top and it never subsided as I used the smoker. Sooo..........
After your post I did some research. I have some feeler gauges and indeed I had some gaps in the bottom and in fact other places too. Not sure how you could start putting gauges together, as you suggest, since putting them in requires a sharp angle, but the thin flexible ones slid in at several places. I decided to use some High-temp RTV sealant. Cleaned the outer edges of the door and put a thin coat around it. Put some wax paper over it and latched er up for a day. Today I did a test run and jacked her up to 240 with some fruitawood. I got the fairest wisp of smoke from a small area at the top, so I suspect that is just a bad seal job by me. I may scrape off the sealant and give it another go at some point, but overall the improvement was dramatic. Nice, thin smoke at 240. There was obviously a good bit of air getting in around the door.
So beware you Smokin-It owners and potential owners. You may very well have leakage around your door affecting your smokes. Kinda disappointing since its damn near $500 big ones with delivery charges and all. Frankly, if anyone is considering one of these, I'd say just seal her up as soon as you get er. Don't wait til you get some less than stellar smoked meat before you do it.
And yes, I would still recommend one of these, just do your homework when you get one and you will be fine.
Update to the Update: Hold the phone. Something still isn't right. Put on my butt last night around 9:00pm. Used some Fruitawood hickory and wild cherry that I just received this week. This is what I used for the test run earlier in the day. At the 170* mark started getting some belching. I shut her down and waited a bit to cool. Then I removed the wood and placed it in some foil with only a couple holes. As temps got above 200* nasty smoke still.
Maybe I am crazy, but this does not look like thin blue smoke to me.
The pics don't do it justice. This smoke it heavy.
However, my butt turned out........well, fantastic. I haven't used hickory and/or wild cherry before since the initial seasoning of the #2 with the hickory sent. I may try a reseal on the door since my caulking was fairly shabby. I will also continue to wrap my wood in foil, no matter what. However I am truly perplexed that I even have to do this. My my idea of thin blue vs thick gray smoke may be askew, though I have had some slightly bitter tasting food come out of this thing so I am pretty sure there is some combustion and/or scorching going on.
Pics of the butt. Sorry I had to eat some when I took it off. Couldn't wait to take pics.
I get a lot of smoke initially with the Amerique, and then it tapers off which I assume is due to the lack of oxygen. Don't know for sure. As for thin blue smoke, elsewhere on the forum here are descriptions, and I gather it is rare. I would still recommend 3M high temp SS tape, cut to width and length to seal gaps. Layer it if necessary. That should reduce the oxygen and hopefully reduce the thick smoke. It is an 'iffy' thing: too little or too much. You could try the tape on the outside of the smoker and just tape over the door to box area and see if there is any improvement before going to the trouble of cutting and layering. Be advised, once the smoker heats up you could have problems removing the tape and residue.
My gauges are cheap brass, from PepBoys. Blades are very flexible. You may need to open the door and then close it on the blades but I think you will find that unnecessary. You found some gaps, so you are on the right track.
When these smokers are put to gather, and welding is used, the metal will expand and can buckle somewhat, but is hardly noticeable. Thus you can have high and low spots. Just be sure to not solve one issue by creating another. It is the low areas that are happy and need some attention.
Your high temperature spikes could be the result of your wood burning whether it is actual flames or just a red hot glowing ember. Hard to tell. But as with the smoke, the more wood you have generating heat, the higher your temp may read.
Belching happens. Mine belched, once that I know of. I was sitting right next to it about 3 hours into a smoke. Wasn't expecting that and nearly spilled my Pabst. And it cost nearly nearly 4 times what you spent. Spending more does not guarantee zero issues. I have learned to live with the little anomalies.
Also keep in mind that multiple chunks of wood, all of them smoking at once will produce a lot of smoke. I stand my chunks up on end, which makes no sense except that the surface receiving the heat is less than if I laid it on it's side. I also weigh my wood and cut it to 1, 2, and 3 ounce pieces. I rarely use more than 3 oz. Typically just a single two ounce piece. And no bark. After the meat reaches about 140 degrees, it won't absorb any more flavor, so if there is still smoke being produced, it just layers up and can make the meat bitter.
Overall, I think your smoker is working fine. The photos of the butt look good, and the presence of the smoke is not thick white. So I think you are ok.
Hope some of this is helpful.
Edited by old sarge - 7/18/14 at 8:34pm