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Modified Char-Broil Smoker - Looking for Input

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

So, I recently acquired a Char-Broil Electric Smoker for free.  Not knowing anything about them, I brought it home, thinking I made off like a bandit.  Little did I know what a hot mess these things are.  This may be a long post, so bear with me.

 

The original owner told me what he didn't like about it - the door wouldn't stay closed and it never kept consistent smoke using the standard chip tray that it came with.  I thought no-problem - a couple over-center snaps and one of those sweet pellet smokers I saw on the internet would fix that for sure.  So, last weekend, I gave it a test burn.  Thank god I was smart enough to do a dry run without food in it.  I ended up with a smoker full of eye-watering, acrid white smoke.  I'm kinda stubborn, so I came here and did a lot of reading and ended up putting the Mailbox Mod on the darn thing, along with a 1.5" black steel pipe for exhaust.  I couldn't come up with anything better on short notice, so I put a tractor exhaust cap on it for a make-shift damper.

 

Fast forward to this weekend - last night I did a second test-burn and the smoke, while better, was still a bit on the heavy side.  This morning, I tried baking the pellets in the oven at 250 for an hour to drive out any excess moisture.  Again, a little better, but not by a lot.  For round 3, I went ahead and drilled 5 1/2" holes in the bottom of the mailbox door (in addition to the 8 or so 3/8" holes that were pre-drilled in the bottom for mounting), to see if that helped it get a little more air.  Again, a little better, but still on the heavy side.

 

For reference, this has all been done with an AMNTS, Hickory Pellets, and the heat turned off.  I have the heat on now, and it seems to have cleaned up the smoke a little bit - so maybe the heat is helping the pellet tube get a better draft, but its hard to tell - there's some leftover crud in there that's burning off the element.  I'll be able to get a better assessment of smoke quality as soon as that's gone.

 

If anyone has any input for me that might help me get a little better smoke quality out of my setup, I'd be much obliged.  The summer holidays are coming up, and I hope to be able to produce some top quality smoked meats for the family to enjoy.  I will attach some photos of my setup for reference below:

 

 

 

 

 

While smoking, I set the mailbox on the ground - its 2' below the deck level, so the pipe is at a roughly 45 degree angle.  Thanks again for reading and thanks in advance for any advice you might have for me!

post #2 of 4
Thread Starter 
Update, in case anyone is interested: it really seems to draft well, when the heat is on. I get a nice consistent thin blue smoke that's not too pungent or offensive. I guess since the pellet smoker has to make its own draft when cold smoking, it's a lot more finicky about air flow. The one thing Char-Broil did right on this thing was put a 1500 watt heater element in it. I have it dialed down pretty low, and it's holding 225 for the chicken I put in it, no problem. I suspect it'll work fine on colder days, even though it's not very well insulated. I just wonder if it will run low enough on a good hot day.

Anyway, I'm happy to be making some progress, but I'd still be happy to hear any suggestions y'all might have.
post #3 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjclemens View Post

So, I recently acquired a Char-Broil Electric Smoker for free.  Not knowing anything about them, I brought it home, thinking I made off like a bandit.  Little did I know what a hot mess these things are.  This may be a long post, so bear with me.

The original owner told me what he didn't like about it - the door wouldn't stay closed and it never kept consistent smoke using the standard chip tray that it came with.  I thought no-problem - a couple over-center snaps and one of those sweet pellet smokers I saw on the internet would fix that for sure.  So, last weekend, I gave it a test burn.  Thank god I was smart enough to do a dry run without food in it.  I ended up with a smoker full of eye-watering, acrid white smoke.  I'm kinda stubborn, so I came here and did a lot of reading and ended up putting the Mailbox Mod on the darn thing, along with a 1.5" black steel pipe for exhaust.  I couldn't come up with anything better on short notice, so I put a tractor exhaust cap on it for a make-shift damper.

Fast forward to this weekend - last night I did a second test-burn and the smoke, while better, was still a bit on the heavy side.  This morning, I tried baking the pellets in the oven at 250 for an hour to drive out any excess moisture.  Again, a little better, but not by a lot.  For round 3, I went ahead and drilled 5 1/2" holes in the bottom of the mailbox door (in addition to the 8 or so 3/8" holes that were pre-drilled in the bottom for mounting), to see if that helped it get a little more air.  Again, a little better, but still on the heavy side.

For reference, this has all been done with an AMNTS, Hickory Pellets, and the heat turned off.  I have the heat on now, and it seems to have cleaned up the smoke a little bit - so maybe the heat is helping the pellet tube get a better draft, but its hard to tell - there's some leftover crud in there that's burning off the element.  I'll be able to get a better assessment of smoke quality as soon as that's gone.

If anyone has any input for me that might help me get a little better smoke quality out of my setup, I'd be much obliged.  The summer holidays are coming up, and I hope to be able to produce some top quality smoked meats for the family to enjoy.  I will attach some photos of my setup for reference below:











While smoking, I set the mailbox on the ground - its 2' below the deck level, so the pipe is at a roughly 45 degree angle.  Thanks again for reading and thanks in advance for any advice you might have for me!
The AMNTS puts out more smoke than the AMNPS. I hold the AMNTS on end and fill half way then shake sideways to level the pellets across the tube. That more closely matches the smoke output of the AMNPS. Without a draft from heat it appears that the Mes exhaust vent is too small to let smoke escape freely so I run the flex pipe from my mailbox mod into the charcoal door on the front of my grill. I made a little shelf in the mailbox mod to allow air to circulate under the AMNPS/AMNTS. All the holes are sealed in the bottom that were factory made and plenty of air gets in from the bottom of the door even with the exhaust vent half closed. The charbroil vent may be different. At least with the mailbox mod you can fill holes with magnets but ultimately controlling the draft with the exhaust vent is the way to go because no smoke can get in till smoke exits.
-Kurt
post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

Well, I manged to fumble my way through my first couple cooks with my custom rig.  A couple weekends ago, I did my first "real" cook - a couple of pork loin roasts.  I didn't get a chance to take any pics - I had some hungry family members waiting to be fed.  They turned out very moist and tender, but didn't take on much smoke flavor.  Not a failure by any means, but there was room for improvement.  On Sunday, I did some St. Louis ribs and they turned out pretty good.  Again, I'm not getting quite as much smoke flavor as I'd like, but I was pretty close to the mark on temp and cook time.  Its been a steep learning curve, but I am learning, and that's a good sign.  Hopefully it won't be too long before I can start turning out some top quality Q!

 

Here's a pic of the ribs:

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