Just did my first smoke over the weekend. My name is Mark, and i just got a Masterbuilt 30 inch 2 door unit from Kohl's (30% off coupons work!).
I read a lot of posts on these forums before the purchase and today decided it was time to create an account.
I did one "mod" and got an 8 inch cast iron pan for the wood, but i had some difficulty getting any smoke out of it at 225. All i did was place it on top of the stock pan so i think it wasnt getting hot enough as it was too far from the flame. Any ideas? I dont have the resources to mount carriage bolts through it but i thought about hammering down the 3 little openings in the stock pan so the cast iron could sit flat on the bottom.
Also, regarding a heat sink instead of water. I bought a concrete paver brick from home depot for 39 cents. it seems a little porous. any thoughts on if there are chemicals that can leech into the food? I know i would wrap it in foil. http://www.homedepot.com/p/7-3-4-in-x-2-1-4-in-x-3-3-4-in-Concrete-Brick-25100130/100350234
Any thoughts on using ceramic briquettes instead? my local ace hardware had a bag for $9.99. Do people just normally fill the water pan with the briquettes/brick and then put a foil pan for drippings on the bottom rack? I saw one post where they put the briquettes in the stock pan and just put the wood on top of that. that would mean every time i'd have to dump out the briquettes and clean the ash out and put them back in?
Also, i see a lot of posts about a needle valve but a lot of differing opinions. Some people mention the pre-made solutions from Bayou classics, some mention getting the NPT parts and building one that comes out from under the smoker. I had a hard time getting the smoker to stay around 225 so it seems like this thing is necessary. I took really detailed notes of the temperatures and they fluctuated from 208-260 for the first hour or two.
Anyway, my food came out really tasty anyway, so here's some pictures for you! I smoked a 3.25lb corned beef, rinsed, dried and wetted with a 50/50 blend of yellow and dijon mustard, then a dry mixture of peppercorns, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, paprika. Smoked for 4 hours then cooked to 195 degrees, refrigerated overnight and then sliced for sandwiches. Steamed the meat over a pot of boiling water to warm up the slices.
Thanks for all your help!