I've had a hard time maintaining temp but I do peek waaaaay too much. It's that undisciplined itch. What can I say?
Am i correct to say that there are mods for this smoker?
How many people use a steam source while smoking?
Just got one myself...
After using a wsm/stoker, I thought I would give this a shot. I added vent extension down to the grate and sealed it up the best I could. It's pretty damp, cold and windy up here in New England, so I threw a blanket over it for my first run with meat in it. I had already run it twice to practice using it and also to season it. I also have a little experience running the previous char griller offset model, which is now just my grill. The first run was really good - easy to keep temps and used very little fuel. The second run was a disaster. It was windy and cold that day too, and it was all over the place and I was using some old wood, which was wet and was tough to keep lit.
So, for today's smoke I threw on 4 thighs and some sausage. I started it with a small pile of lump and a couple splits (well seasoned apple). Most folks seems to think small splits work best, and I couldn't agree more. The goal for today was a hot, fast burning fire. I left the door open and the vent also wide open. The small splits made temperature control easy. As the cooker was running, I cut my splits (which I thought were pretty small) even smaller, leaving a couple to warm on the FB as I went along. Finally, I also put a pan of water in the smoker.
The pace of adding wood was pretty quick (every 10 to 20 minutes) but it really was no big deal and I like the connection with the fire. I was able to maintain reasonably consistent temps, despite the weather and my inexperience. A couple of short dives and spikes, but they were easily recovered from. The blanket was really key, I think.
Overall, I like the smoker, so far.
Here are the thighs, which I just marinated in some store-bought mojo:
I over-shot em' a little, but this was more about getting a handle on the process, not the quality of the Q. They were still pretty good and quality of the smoke was way better than my wsm. The sausage came out beautifully, but I didn't get a pic of them.
My sense of all this is that you really need good, seasoned, dry wood and a good sense of how to use air flow to help you out. Because it was so windy, I positioned a chair to block the gusts, but I also used the wind occasionally, to help with recovering from a dive. It's seems finicky, but I suspect I'll get better at it as I go along. It seems like a really intuitive process.
As far as peeking goes, just don't. But I did find my self opening the FB often. Both to load, but also to dump temp from time to time.
One last thing..I did by a piece of sheet metal and made a baffle, but I just took it out and will try the next smoke without it.
Well, that was a rambling mess!! lol!