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Convert electric to charcoal?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi. I got a little chief electric smoker that looked new and smelled like it got hot. Few weeks later and after buying 4 pounds of salmon, I found out the smoker didn't work correctly. I ordered a new element with over night shipping from Amazon and went it got here saw it was not the correct one. Called the company and they said the smoker was discontinued in the 80's and no elements for them anymore. Okay, so I canned the salmon without smoking first. I'm not willing to give up! Before I go to the expense of a new smoker I want to see if I can just remove the electrical out of this one and use charcoal in an aluminum pan at the bottom and then place a pan of chips on that. I'd still utilize the shelves in the smoker. Will that work? Thanks! I will be canning any fish I smoke.
post #2 of 13

It should definitely work, just going to be hard to control temperature with little or no vents. 

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

I can make vent holes if needed. Could even make a chimney for the top if that would help. 

post #4 of 13

There are a lot of people on these forums that have custom built a lot of smokers, hopefully one of them will chime in here.  I would think you would need holes at the bottom and some sort of chimney at the top to draw the air. 

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

Yep, I agree. I know I have that trap door for the chip pan :) I'm learning!

post #6 of 13

The insulation in the electrical units is not made for temps above 325 - 350.

 if you put a rack in the bottom and then charcoal pan on the rack you might get away w/ using coals .i would save the cabinet for cold smoking and build a UDS or something similar.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eman View Post
 

The insulation in the electrical units is not made for temps above 325 - 350.

 if you put a rack in the bottom and then charcoal pan on the rack you might get away w/ using coals .i would save the cabinet for cold smoking and build a UDS or something similar.

Hi

Insulation? There is none that I see in the little chief. What is a UDS? I'm really new to smoking as in I haven't gotten to actually do any yet since my smoker never worked! Can you point me to a thread or sticky that is like smoking for dummies please.

post #8 of 13
I have used little chief smokers for years. An easy solution to your problem is to use a hot plate instead of the original element. you should check out Craig's threads@cmayna
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtsailor2003 View Post

I have used little chief smokers for years. An easy solution to your problem is to use a hot plate instead of the original element. you should check out Craig's threads@cmayna

Absolutely ingenious! Thanks for info and I will be checking out more of cmayna's posts!

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eman View Post
 

The insulation in the electrical units is not made for temps above 325 - 350.

 if you put a rack in the bottom and then charcoal pan on the rack you might get away w/ using coals .i would save the cabinet for cold smoking and build a UDS or something similar.

Thanks. I should mention that I will be doing mostly cold smoking (I think). The plan was to lightly smoke the fish before canning it. Might try some lightly smoked beef as well before canning that. Long term, I really want to be able to smoke meats before putting them on the grill or in the oven to finish cooking. Might try freezing some overload to see how that reheats. I hadn't thought about fully cooking anything in a smoker yet. Even with jerky I figured a light smoke and then finish in my Excalibur dehydrator. I've read about lots of things people do because their grandparents did it that way and lived to 100 years old but I'm too cautious to risk intestinal problems.

I'm not up on the terms yet so you'll have to excuse my ignorance. 

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by jodi View Post
 

Hi

Insulation? There is none that I see in the little chief. What is a UDS? I'm really new to smoking as in I haven't gotten to actually do any yet since my smoker never worked! Can you point me to a thread or sticky that is like smoking for dummies please.

the only electric i have used is the masterbuilt . it has an insulated cabinet.

UDS is an up rright drum smoker or ugly drum smoker.

here is a list of abbreviations and acronyms . http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/a/smf-acronyms-definitions

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thank you eman!

post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by jodi View Post
 

Thanks. I should mention that I will be doing mostly cold smoking (I think). The plan was to lightly smoke the fish before canning it. Might try some lightly smoked beef as well before canning that. Long term, I really want to be able to smoke meats before putting them on the grill or in the oven to finish cooking. Might try freezing some overload to see how that reheats. I hadn't thought about fully cooking anything in a smoker yet. Even with jerky I figured a light smoke and then finish in my Excalibur dehydrator. I've read about lots of things people do because their grandparents did it that way and lived to 100 years old but I'm too cautious to risk intestinal problems.

I'm not up on the terms yet so you'll have to excuse my ignorance. 

Your Chief smoker will work great for what you are trying to accomplish. One thing to consider for the beef and other whole muscle meats is you need to get the internal temp of the meat from 40°-140° in 4 hours or less. This shouldn't be a problem if you smoke for 2 hours and then right into the pressure canner.

 

You can avoid this be truly cold smoking the beef or fish (pit temp @ or less than 40°). I do this with steaks & pork chops. I will give them 2-4 hours of smoke. Then Vac Pack and freeze for use later. I also do this with tuna that I want to grill. Typically though with the tuna I do that the same day I am grilling it. The only time I can do this type of smoking though is in the winter when the outdoor temps are cold enough.

 

Look into the AMNPS, and AMNTS smoke generators from A-Maze-N Smokers. Many of us here use them for producing smoke when cold and hot smoking.

 

https://www.amazenproducts.com/

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