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New Guy Question - managing temp on a Masterbuilt GS40

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I have a propane Masterbuilt GS40...had some failures this weekend, and I think they were mainly due to bad temp control.

 

I can't seem to get this puppy to live in the sweet zone of 220-225. If I set it low, it seems to idle at 210-212. If I barely turn it up, it seems to shoot up to 230-235. Nudge it back down a little and it dips below 220 again. Touchy control...

 

I think I overdid some meat this past weekend (both brisket and ribs came out kinda dry and tough)., so I figured I'd try some dry runs this week and try some meat again this coming weekend.

 

My setup for the dry runs:

 

Using a cast iron skillet on top of the stock wood pan to keep the chips from burning up

about 2 cups of applewood in the pan

Air vents in the back open all the way

no water in the water pan (just for the tests)

 

My initial questions:

 

1) Is the vent in the back a more effective way to manage temperature?

2) Am I overthinking the temperature? Am I better off just allowing it to run a little on the low side, and just expect a longer cooktime?

3) Do you folks run the smoker a little hotter at first to get the chips to start burning, then back it of to the target?

 

 

As I've been compiling this, my remote is telling me the smoker is running right around 216-218. Maybe I should just relax, huh?

 

Sorry for the newbie questions, and thanks for any guidance. I am on "high receive"...:-)

post #2 of 6

Slidedude,

 

I have a Masterbuilt 30 inch & I have the same problem with small adjustments being either higher or lower. There seems to be a mod to add a needle valve inline to help with those adjustments. However, you did answer your own question, in that that small of a temperature differential is not the end of the world. A little low & your cook will be a little longer & a little higher (I think to 240 or so) is fine as well. I really like the smoker & so far everything I have on it ( pork butts, brisket, wings, & jerky) have turned out great. I'm not sure if I saw the mod info on this site or another. When I find it, I will shoot you a link

 

Kevin

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks Kevin!

 

Yeah, even with the temp fluctuations, it never got above 240 - mostly high 230's. This is when I was doing a brisket, and it came out dry and tough....but it was small 6 lb. piece that had been all trimmed down by Safeway. I'm reading that smaller briskets will end up tougher and more difficult to smoke effectively...and "garbage in, garbage out", so next time I know what cut to get and I will get it at a local Kinder's. 

 

My St. Louis ribs came out a little dry too - I think I just cooked them too long and a bit too high. I kept them around 235ish, sprayed them with apple cider vinegar/cooking oil every 45 minutes or so...let them go 4 hours. Again, I think it's a simple as overcooking.

 

I'm going to brine some chicken thighs and give them a try this weekend.

 

I'll look around for the mod you mentioned, and I'd appreciate a link if you find it first...:-)

 

Thanks again!

post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slidedude View Post
 

Hi all,

 

I have a propane Masterbuilt GS40...had some failures this weekend, and I think they were mainly due to bad temp control.

 

I can't seem to get this puppy to live in the sweet zone of 220-225. If I set it low, it seems to idle at 210-212. If I barely turn it up, it seems to shoot up to 230-235. Nudge it back down a little and it dips below 220 again. Touchy control...

 

I think I overdid some meat this past weekend (both brisket and ribs came out kinda dry and tough)., so I figured I'd try some dry runs this week and try some meat again this coming weekend.

 

My setup for the dry runs:

 

Using a cast iron skillet on top of the stock wood pan to keep the chips from burning up

about 2 cups of applewood in the pan Use chunks instead of chips...even though the manual says to use chips

Air vents in the back open all the way

no water in the water pan (just for the tests) Put water in the pan for the tests...it will work as a heat sink and help even out temps.  Why test different than you are planning to cook? (other than the first seasoning when needing to run hotter)

 

My initial questions:

 

1) Is the vent in the back a more effective way to manage temperature? No, keep it wide open.  You don't want creosote building up on your food when the smoke can't escape.

2) Am I overthinking the temperature? Yes Am I better off just allowing it to run a little on the low side, and just expect a longer cooktime? No, I would run it hotter. I did two pork butts yesterday shooting for a temp of 250-275.  Most of the time it settled in around 260.  I do babybacks at the same temps.  It's preference, but many prefer "hot & fast" to "low and slow".  Two 9lb butts were done in 7 hours.  I did wrap them at 160* though.

3) Do you folks run the smoker a little hotter at first to get the chips to start burning, then back it of to the target? No, but I preheat my cast iron skillet in the oven for a few minutes.  I also preheat my chunks on top of the smoker while it's running.

 

 

As I've been compiling this, my remote is telling me the smoker is running right around 216-218. What thermometer are you using?  The one in my door is at least 25* off from my Maverick ET-732. Maybe I should just relax, huh?  Yes, you'll have much more fun that way.

 

Sorry for the newbie questions, and thanks for any guidance. I am on "high receive"...:-)

My responses in red.  Hope they are helpful and didn't come off rude. Thumbs Up 

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by toddmog View Post

My responses in red.  Hope they are helpful and didn't come off rude. icon14.gif  

Rude?? No way man - VERY helpful! I am using the Maverick thermometer. I was concerned about creosote buildup - thanks for that. I'm interested in a mod I keep hearing about (needle valve?) that may allow me to regulate the temp better. I'm also going to get a gasket to help seal the door a little better.

Thanks for all the comments!
post #6 of 6

This is the gasket I use.  I bought the wool instead of nomex since I have no desire to run that hot.

http://bbqgaskets.com/catalog_2.html

 

The needle valve will allow you to more fine tune your temps...though most seem to use them to get lower temps.  I have one sitting in the packaging still since I'm able to hit my target temps with relative ease.

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