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Lesson Learned

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Newbs (like me) listen up. I had the opportunity to visit w/Fired Up a couple of weeks ago and saw that he had a couple of meat therms that he could leave in the smoker.

I've always used therms to check the temps on my meat, but relied on the built in therm on my BBQ Grillware smoker. 225 degrees is 225 degrees right?


I bought 2 new therms this weekend. They're actually cheap ones from Ikea (cause I didn't really think they were all that important). I did check that they were calibrated somewhat close and luckily enough they were within 1-2 degrees of all other therms in the house.

So I was excited to use them. But, I relied on the smoker's therm to get it up to 'temp'.

So the smoker was at 230 (or so I thought). Now it was time to get the meat in and use my new therms.

I had one in the smoker to check the temp of the smoker itself and one in my largest piece of meat.

To my surprise, I saw that the new therms were 'broken'. They were reading ~20-25 degrees off of the smoker's therm.

So I checked the new therms again. They were still showing between 1-2 degrees of the therms in the house after I let them cool down to room temperature.

So I was shocked, needless to say. It still didn't sink in though. I still assumed that the meat would take the same amount of time but the smoker just got heated up quicker. Right? Wrong.

Dinner wasn't so hot tonight! Literally. The burgers got done (medium rare) The ABTs that were not wrapped in bacon got done and the fatty was done. That's about it. I had to cook up the beef wrapped hotdogs in the skillet and the ribs were a total loss as were the ABTs wrapped in bacon. Good thing it was just me and the wife tonight.

Thought I'd share my dee dee dee moment so maybe some of you new guys and the folks who think they are just doing it by look and taste need to pay attention.

Next time I'll be prepared. Thanks for the indirect lesson Brad and my wife loved the Baconcheeseburgdogger!

Sorry no Q-View...it wasn't pretty...
post #2 of 18
Sorry to hear some things didn't go so well, at least you were able to save and enjoy some of it. Live and learn though, hope the next smoke works out better.
post #3 of 18
I calibrated my stock smoker gauge with boiling water. Had it dead nuts on. Started smoking early in the morning, and the gauge mirrored the one digital probe I have, so after an hour I put the digital into the meat and made a bad assumption that the stock smoker temp was on the money. Well I learned nearly the same lesson. Turns out when the stock probe gets direct sunlight on it, it will read differently than when shaded, so when the sun got over the yardarm, the smoker gauge started reading 30 degree's high. didn't figure that out until late in the afternoon. The meat still came out good. Just took 3 hours more than expected. Keep the faith brother. I went out and bought another digital. found my MES is 10 degree's higher than the read out is too.
post #4 of 18
keep trying! i've had a wild day but thanks to help from my kids and also lots of good advice here, two out of three projects have come through so far (1lb breakfast fatty - sausage stuffed with cheddar, and my 2.5 lb greek fatty, reaad bout it here http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/for...ad.php?t=75219) my pork shoulder is doing well and we're going to be eating just a little late, but it should taste good.

the main thing to do is what you've already done - get advice here and learn from experience!

good luck!
post #5 of 18


post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Definitely not giving up! I hear a lot of seasoned folks on here talk about temp and everything being accurate, but always assumed that the stock therm was doing it.

I'm doing a big smoke next weekend for Easter so I'm glad this weekend was the learning weekend!
post #7 of 18
on both my ECB and SnP, i still have the stock ("ideal" heat indicator. i don't really rely on it, but have learned what the position of the needle indicates by observing temps at the grate with a thermometer. for example, when it is on the A in IDEAL at the indicator level, it is at such-and-such a temperature at grate level. this can be helpful as a reference for relative temps, but should not be relied on too much without backing it up using something at grate level.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Agreed...I figured this out after I got hit in the head with the Duh hammer. Trust, but verify.
post #9 of 18
indy - it might be that after a time you will be able to say, well if it says 210 on the stock thermometer, then it translates as (fill in the blank) at grate level. can be helpful as a quick reference. i know one things for sure - even with three analog oven thermometers and an analog probe thermometer, i'm going to get a digital probe with two probes soon - preferebly one with an alarm when desireed temp is reached!
post #10 of 18
This is what I use in my ECB wattburner. Sure cuts down on the disappointment factor. As a general rule, the therms that are in smokers are as useless as airbrakes on a turtle. Not accurate & not in the proper location (grill level). I guess smoker manufacturers think that "bling" is the thing. Live and learn.

post #11 of 18
One important lesson is that a stock thermometer is almost never accurate. Even after I calibrated mine on the Smoke Vault, by the time it gets to 225 it's already 25-30 degrees off. I just use the remote. Good luck on your Easter smoke.
post #12 of 18
Airbrakes on a turtle... now I don't care where you're from, that's funny. First thing I did was replace the stock door therm on my GOSM, then I added two more at different rack levels. It's all good my friend.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
It's funny what kind of good ideas you think of when you dork something up. The door is fine on mine, but I'd love to have it cut down by the water pan and firebox. That way I wouldn't have to open up the entire door just to put more water or wood in...

The only real downside to yesterday was having food that went to waste. Some disappointed people here, but they'd be even more disappointed if they were in the toilet all day from undercooked meat.

Now if I can get the snow to stop here, I'm ready to try again.
post #14 of 18
Sorry to hear that your smoke wasnt a big hit. You will get it next time.
post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks Brad...I'm just glad it happened yesterday and not next weekend. I'll be good for the next one. Not too worried about it.
post #16 of 18
Yea, the only truly bad mistakes are the ones that do not teach us anything. Sorry about your troubles, but it sounds like you'll get things ironed out. Good luck with the Easter smoke.
post #17 of 18
As a start you can replace your water with sand. You can get play sand at any local lumber yard. Cover with foil and you will have a better heat sink imo.
As for wood replacement I have 2 9X9 cake pans for wood chips or chunks what ever I am using. Cover them with foil and a few pin holes from a toothpick and it last much longer. Then if I have to replace open, pull, replace and shut.
As for thermometers I use a Nu-Temp which has 3 wireless probes with a base unit. Has alarm for high or low temps. I use 1 for smoker temp and the other 2 for meat.


You should still be able to ge the discount off this url addy. I just recently purchased these for another smoker friend and he got the discount. I think it was $86.00 out the door.
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 

Why I love this forum

You know any other forum would just flame me with how stupid I was and not here anything from there. This place is like moral support on speed! You guys rock...q-view to come this weekend from the Easter smoke.
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