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Help with the Camp Chef Smoke Vault

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hey all:

This is directed at owners of this smoker, although gosm owners or anyone really might be able to help me identify what happened on my recent smoke.

I had a fairly full smoker.

Top rack was a 5lb brisket flat

2nd shelf was (2) 6 1/2 lbs boneless pork butts

3rd shelf was 2 large racks of spares

4th shelf was some rib meat trimmed off the spares.

Started it about 7 - 730 PM with 3 chunks of pecan wood and a 3/4 full water tray. After 40 minutes of tweaking the temperature settled in at 225 according to my maverick ET -73 thermometer which was on the top shelf (probably my first problem). Temp in the door of the smoker said 175 and a freestanding oven thermometer said about 210 on the top shelf.
My maverick therms are tested to within 1 degree so i usually go by that.

After 3 hours I started squirting a mop on the brisket every 45 minutes or so. And after 4 hours on the ribs and butts. 6 hours into the smoke I didn't see any pull back for the bone, the brisket and butts were both around 140. I was figuring that at this time the brisket would almost be done. It was getting very windy and I let the temp rise to 250.

I added some more pecan chunks although the existing chunks were not consumed yet.

About 7AM. It starts to pour! Now 12 hours smoking time the ribs are done, the foiled brisket and butts went into a 250 degree oven.

The temperature of the meat quickly rises and I put the butts and brisket in a cooler. 2 hours later, brisket is done, had to cut thick slices. One but was perfect, pulled like a dream, the other I had to slice, wasn't done enough to pull.

What do you think went wrong? I'm thinking I'm getting a big temp difference between the top shelf and the bottom although the the Maeverick said 225-250 and I checked it in boiling after and it was right on.

Also, very little smoke ring on the brisket, no real smoky taste on anything, and I noticed I didn't reek like smoke as I normally do but then I used pecan instead of my usual hickory.

What do you think?

Thanks for the help.
post #2 of 7
Hi Hon -

First of all ... that was a very full smoker! That's going to slow things down considerably.

Secondly ... pecan is a very mild smoke especially if you use alot of hickory which I think seeps through your skin even after a shower!

The fuller your smoker is the bigger the difference from one shelf to the other. Sometimes it help to play musical chairs with the meat if you will ... put top meat down lower and lower meats up higher. I just pull the whole shelf out and slide in somewhere else to keep even cooking times when posible.

I don't get as thick a smoke ring which a full smoker - I added a few charcoals this weekend to enhance the ring and the flavor. Try it you'll love it! I guess the smoke just can't hit the meat as well when it's to crowded before it hits the vent.

As for the ribs I have had a few that didn't pull back even after they were falling off the bone. Check out these ribs ... Zero pull back! According to my notes they were smoked for 8.5 hours and nothing but smoke ring. You can see one bone laying on the fork.

You did good kiddo! Just a different smoke this time!
post #3 of 7
It would be easier to tell if you had a picture of how your meats were positioned to see if it was a criculation issue.

I have never used Pecan so I am completely clueless there.

The wind from the storms kicking up may have played a factor and barometric pressure and humidity along with everything else could also have played a role.

Camp Chef isn't my smoker, but I personally run just a little hotter than normal if possible when I am running at full capacity.

Live and Learn.... PDT_Armataz_01_18.gif
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks both of you for the advice.

Lots of things to keep in mind for the next time.

1) monitor temperature better
2) make sure there is air circulation
3) use a mix of hickory and pecan
4) get an additional thermometer


I don't understand why using the charcoal would change things. Isn't hardwood charcoal just wood that is burned till it's charcoal then extinguished? If I am using a chunk of wood, doesn't it become charcoal before it finishes burning and becomes ash? And do you just lay the wood tray flat on the burner?

Watery: I've attached a photo of how the smoker was loaded.
post #5 of 7
I think your smoker was indeed filled to capacity. All the meat, bet it at room temp or chilled was acting like a heat sink, along with your water pan. This causes your smoker to work harder. You also have to have good air circualtion around your meat. Maybe "stagger" the meat next time?
post #6 of 7
The ribs laid out flat were possibly a contributing factor as far as circulation is concerned. I would use a rib rack for all the ribs getting them vertical and take out one rack.

I know with my GOSM - if I put 3 large Butt-Birds in the bottom the temp has a hard time keeping the upper racks where I need it. You would think there is enough room, but heat and smoke act differently.

Live and learn..... PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #7 of 7
Ron -

I don't know why but I like the charcoal taste better than just propane and wood - could be mental? I did get more of a smoke ring Than just propane and wood.

Make sure there are spaces between your meats if you can help it to let the air flow through. If the smoke can't get to it it won't taste smokey. I throw one hickory chunk in with every two pecan chunks. Pecan is very mild compared to hickory. Cherry and pecan is really good too.

I laid the cast iron wood pan right on the big hole where the burner is and pushed it to the back just enough to let air in. Gets the wood going faster too because of direct heat to the pan. I just use the door thermometer (make sure the probe is clean if t's yellowed up it'll throw the temps off) and a long stemmed dial thermometer that I stick in the top vent hole to moniter chamber temperatures.
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