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Red-eyed Weekend

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I finished putting together my BVS Friday night. Saturday morning, I followed the directions for curing the BVS and lit my first fire. Got the temp up to about 500°-600°F for an hour or so, then let it cool down slowly. Around lunchtime, I cleaned out the ashes and wiped down the interior with a towel. I started a new fire, put in the water bowl and waited for the temp to come up. I experimented with the vents but I could not get the temp over 200-220°F for very long. Highest temps were acheived with the botoom vents open fully and top vents open about 1/3. Fire was burning vigorously (charcoal & cherry), thin smoke, a nice hot fire. The water was boiling hard. Lots of leakage around the upper door - may need gasketing. Air temps were in the mid 60's and a light breeze. I couldn't believe that the water pan could absorb that much heat but obviously, from my experience with the curing fire, it can. So I went ahead and put in some store bought sausages (upper shelf) and just kept feeding the fire. The square wok fire pan did an 'OK' job... but it did require periodic shaking to get the ash to fall, stirring up an ash cloud at the same time. Maybe a gasketed smoke chamber will help because I had to use what I thought was a lot of fuel to keep the temp up, resulting in a lot of ash. About two hours before dinner, I put in some skewered shrimp (lower shelf), some more fuel & some more water. The sausages were beginning to brown at this point but for the rest of the smoke, the meat temperature never got above 155°F. The shrimp turned pink and opaque, but no more. So the sausages and the shrimp went into the oven to finish cooking thoroughly. Everything tasted great. The low temps have me concerned about safety.

Sunday, I started the smoker early. A nice piece of brisket (2.5 lbs) went in (lower shelf) and I kept the fire fed all day (charcoal & oak). Again, lots of fuel, lots of water and lots of ash but the smoker rarely got to 225°F. After 6 hours, the meat was still not getting tender. I grew tired of the mopping, turning, fire tending, etc., My eyes were reddened from staring into the smoke for two days so I decided to give it up. I foiled the brisket and into the oven for about and hour an a half to get the knife and fork tenderness I wanted. I had some ABT's in on the top shelf too and although browned from the smoke, the cream cheese never melted so I ran them under the broiler and we downed them with a few beers while waiting for the brisket. Again, everything tasted great but the low temps have me concerned about food safety.

In two days smoking, about 12 hours total, I used approximately 15 lbs of charcoal and 6-7 lbs of wood. Am I doing something wrong or is there something I can do better to get the smoker temp up? Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 21
Hmmm I'm at a loss here...what is a BVS smoker? Not familiar- but it sure sounds like an air/heat flow problem. Got a picture?
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
I'm sorry.
BVS = Brinkmann Vertical Smoker
post #4 of 21
G'morning Irish

I feel your pain since I watched my son struggle with the same problem. I now know why I got an ecb. Much less headaches and much more positive results. I can't honestly say why you're having such a heat problem, but what I do with my ecb is fill the water bowl with hot water right out of the tap or if I use wine or cheap cola I preheat it first. Sounds like a venting situation for sure. Good luck & Happy smoking! One other thing; if you have the time, you might want to jump into chat and throw your situation out there for discussion.
post #5 of 21
Welcome Irish to SMF. Also, are you going by temp. gauge on the door? Most people find that they are not accurate. Some of the other folks that have water smokers use sand instead of water I think it helps hold the heat better.
post #6 of 21
While I agree that the temp readings in doors & lids are far from accurate, I disagree with putting sand in the water bowl. The purpose of water or the liquid of your choice in the water bowl is to create a moist environment so the items being smoked don't dry out. Once you figure out the right combination of venting, you'll be fine and use much less charcoal & wood.
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies so far. I figured the door thermometer might be off, but the digital wireless meat thermometer I used in the sausages has always worked reliably in the past. Plus a little 2.5 lb piece of brisket would be falling apart if it was in an oven at 225°F for 6 hours. I used small stuff this first go 'round to keep from wasting food if I messed it up. I'm glad I didn't grab the whole brisket. biggrin.gif I would not have posted this yet.
post #8 of 21
You said you were able to get the temps up to 550° to 600° to season it, what did you do differently when you went to smoke your brisket?

I'd also get a differnt thermometer and compare the temps, the therms that come with that unit are known not to be accurate.

As far as the water pan goes, there's a lot of debate on them. I can't tell the difference in my smoked meats when I use one or not. I do notice that when using one, my smoker takes a little longer to get up to temp, so now I just put enough wine in it to cover the bottom, so the drippings clean up easier.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
I didn't use the water pan when seasoning. I know I can get it plenty hot enough without water in the pan. I will check the calibration of the door thermometer. And maybe next time try just a dry water pan lined with some foil to make clean up easier?
post #10 of 21
If you cover the water pan with wide aluminum foil the clean-up is nothing. Just pour the remaining liquid down the drain and wad up the foil, pitch it in the trash. What clean-up??? As I stated earlier if you preheat what ever liquid you're going to use in the water pan, the smoker should get to temp quicker. Just my thoughts
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
I appreciate your comments Mikey, thanks. I was refilling with hot water, but even after the water was at a rolling boil, the temp was still between 200-220°F... mostly it stayed right around 200°F. Even when I stuffed the wok pan full of charcoal and it really got going as hot as I could get it, the temp would top out at 220°F and I had condensation running down on the inside of the lower door at one point. I will check the door thermometer tonight to see how far off it is.
post #12 of 21
I find that only putting a very minimum of water in the ECB water pan helps. Like, keep it at most with 2 to 4 cups of water, and just keep adding every few hours.
post #13 of 21
Why you wasting wine? Unless it's undrinkable, of course.
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
After talking to another Brinkmann owner, I think my upper door is not fitting tightly enough to hold the heat. I have smoke leaking all around the upper door and that shouldn't be the case.
post #15 of 21
you can run your water pan dry and spray it with a little PAM; just did a smoked chicken yesterday and it cleaned up fine, and I'm just using one hand! Chicken was super moist and juicy too (had to have the wife cut it up tho).
post #16 of 21
We're talking about a $4 to $5 bottle of wine that I use for cooking, plus it gives off a nice aroma.
post #17 of 21
OK. As long as you have a reason. Because is does not affect the food in the smoker much if at all.
post #18 of 21
I like to use applejuice mixed with shiner bock in mine.biggrin.gif
I will give the wine a try sometime. Thanks!
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
They're talking about in the water pan Jeanie, not your glass. biggrin.gif
post #20 of 21
LOLOL...That's where my wine is... I am gonna try switching. Put the shiner in my glass and the wine in the smoker.biggrin.gif
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