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Smoke Vault 24 Product Review & Mods

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

AT the suggestion/request of Mikey and old poi dog, I have a compilation of findings for my new Smoke Vault which I recieved from my family as a gift for Father's Day.

I can't personally vouch for the assembly process, though I did ask my son for info on that.

Browning Smoke Vault 24 Product Review

Fit and Finish: very good

Time required: approx 2 hours
Assembly difficulty: moderate to easy
(It is recommend that the instructions be read completely prior to assembly).

Disclaimer: measurements and capacities are as measured on my unit. Slight manufacturing variances may result in minor differing measures/capacities. Additional reported data is from in-use testing on my unit. This information is current after 3 days of use (approx 20 hours) and one day of rack temperature testing (approx 4 hours). Any differences between the Browning and Camp Chef brands are unknown to me at this time.

Assembled dimensions: 21-¼”D x 30”W x 44-½”H

Door Swing minimum clearance requirement for rack removal: 18” beyond left side of cabinet.

Capacities and dimensions:
Quantity of Rack Positions: 5
Quantity/Type of Racks with Purchase: double-bar framed, 3 regular wire bar, 1 Jerky
Rack spacing interval: 3-¾”
Rack dimensions: 14”D x 21-5/8”W
Rack Area (Sq In), each: 302.75
Maximum Cook Surface Area (Sq In): 1,513.75
Space between Rack Supports: 20-1/8”
Useable Cook Chamber dimensions (btm rack to top of unit): 15-½”D x 24”W x 18-½”H
Useable Cook Chamber capacity (Sq In): 6,882
Total Chamber dimensions: 15-½”D x 23-7/8”W x 29-5/8”H
Total Chamber capacity (Sq In): 10,963.1
Cast Iron Smoke Tray dimensions: 10-½”D x 11-7/8”W x 1”H
Stainless Steel Water Pan dimensions/capacity: 10-½”D x 14”W x 1-7/8”H / 3-¾ Qt
Water Pan approx. run time per filling, dependant on burner output: 3.5-5 hours
Chamber Drip Pan: Porcelain Enamel coated with raised lips, ¾” deep
Burner output: 20,000 BTU
Temperature Gauge: 2” dial, 50-550* range.

Temperature recovery w/approx. 30 seconds opened door @ 225* and 2/3 full water pan: 3-4 minutes
Temperature range (above ambient): approx. 50* - >350*.

Burner ignition: first attempt lighting is approx 95%

So, far I'm really pleased with the smoker. I did have some temperature variances on the racks that I investigated in an attempt to find the cause. I have just put together a spreadsheet this morning for analysis of the recorded data, which was gathered from a series of 4 runs, with pics of the thermometers.

Thusfar I have not determined the cause of the temp variances, which could actually be caused by the shape and internals of the chamber.

There are drip edges attached to the lower walls of the chamber to direct grease into the drip pan. The lower vents are partially covered by the drip edges. Whether this is a contributing factor or not is unknown to me.

I'll have to post the spreadsheet on a reply to this thread, as I have too many characters to fit. Hopefully the format will work, or else I'll have some work to do to make it ledgible.

Wish me luck!


Edited by forluvofsmoke - 4/18/12 at 8:37am
post #2 of 34
Thread Starter 
I have 4,225 characters too many to post the spreadsheet. I guess this one is going to be eyes only...icon_redface.gif.

I'll try to look this over more today and see if I can make a conclusion, or at least a theory from it. I can post pics of the therm readings if someone would like, though some are difficult to read, as I was getting multiple therms each with shot, so I could get it all before the thermometers began to cool down while the door was open.


post #3 of 34

Smoke Vault 24

Eric, you're the man! That's a very informative review of the Smoke Vault 24. I'm sure that new members as well as the "seasoned veterans" of this site greatly appreciate your time & effort in reporting your findings. Keep up the good work, along with many more q-viewsPDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #4 of 34
And besides all that, it puts out some pretty darn good smoked meat!biggrin.gif Thanks for the review. Browning is just a stamp on the door. Everything is exactly the same as the original except the stamp.
post #5 of 34
Thread Starter 

Here's the Spreadsheet

Please understand, this thread is not intended to make recommendations to anyone on the purchase of a smoker...only to inform you of my findings in the event that you own one or are considering buying.

I am very satisfied at this point with this rig, I'm just looking for a possible way to get the most out of my rack space...and possibly the most even temps all the way through the chamber.

This gets a bit scientific, so bear with me if you're not accustomed to this type of study. Very informative.

I printed the spreadsheet and took a pic so I could share what I've put into this so far.

This data was compiled from temp testing and pictures of the thermometer readings. The therms were placed on the 2nd and 4th rack positions. The oven rack therms in the corners were positioned approx 3" from the walls & door of the chamber. Probes were placed with the sensor tip in the center of the racks.

If you wish to duplicate this process, here's the rack therm/probe positions:

Interpretation of the data is not too difficult as long as you reference the vent positions and door temp readings for a starting point. Don't let yourself get overwhelmed with the amount of data. Just look at one piece at a time.

Note: the door gauge was used as a baseline reference temperature, as well as the probe temperatures for the purpose of getting a more controlled measurement analysis. In the event that the chamber temperature did not match from one set of sample readings to the next over a 20-30 minute stabilization period, I needed to have a reference for comparison.

How to read the data:
Section 1 shows the various temp readings in all of the sample areas, with each of 4 intake vent positions.

Section 2 shows the percentage of the sample readings in reference to the door gauge, based on section 1 readings.

Section 3 shows the differences between the sample areas and the probes on the the same rack in percentages, based on section 1 readings.

Vent Position Legend: L=left, R=right, O=open, C=closed

By reviewing the readings in section 1, you will notice the warm/cool area on the two rack levels, and how they change with vent positions.

I haven't completed a review of this data yet in order to access the entire process of internal gas flows, thermal energy transfers, etc. That data would determine if there is insufficient or excess gas flow/venting of the cabinet, which is my suspiciaon at this point in time. I just don't know which, yet. Looking at the whole picture of what's going on inside the chamber is pretty detailed. I may be able to come up with another tool for data analysis by generating charts from this sheet.

If I can manage to bring out some valuable info from this, I will post it.

For a reference to possible temp variations which can effect your smoking, this is good info to have.

If you wish to duplicate this testing process on your smoker and need help, let me know. The spreadsheet set-up and formulation is not difficult if you're experienced with spreadsheet development, but, it's not for the novice, it will be very time comsuming.

post #6 of 34
I gotta give a thumbs up to you Eric PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif. That's a lot of data that you've compiled in just a few days! I would be interested in how much temp variance would there be from left side, middle and right side at the various grate levels at with the 2 vents at the bottom in the full stock open, middle, and stock closed positions.

I guess what matters will be what the percievable results would be if the variations in temp across the grates cannot be corrected......You cooked up some mighty find grub these past few days. Did you percieve any difffeerence in taste?

I was able to do a chicken this past weekend in my new Smoke Vault and it came out mighty find according to my wife. Next week I'll try to do 4 racks of ribs and keep an eye out on any effects uneven temps would incur on the ribs.

I'll end here....I don't want to get too serious...Smoking is supposed to be fun and not work...take care and thanks for sharing your observations. I look forward to your posts.
post #7 of 34
Thread Starter 
Thanks Opd. Don't worry about length or seriousness...this is fun to me!biggrin.gif Most of the work on this was done just yesterday afernoon (doing the temp testing for this report). And then today, to put the spreadsheet together and take measurements on the rig. All together, about 8 hours...not too bad. I didn't have much else going on, and I had the mind-set for it today, so I just went with the flow.

I'm still curious about the temps on the additional rack levels myself, as you mentioned. Now that I've gone this far into it, it wouldn't be too difficult to duplicate those measurements and record onto the sheet as well. I think I would just stay with the full open/full closed (stock as you mentioned), but on the additional rack positions. My thoughts earlier about the turbulance of gas flows could prossibly be confirmed by doing more rack temp tests. But, here again, when food is on the racks, everything seen on an empty rack may possibly just go away.

I'm doing all this mainly out of curiosity, and I figured it wouldn't take much extra just to toss a thread together so others can benefit from this as well.

My initial temp tests during seasoning indicated a bit of trouble on rack temps, so I knew to keep a close eye on things and compensate as needed. It didn't seem to effect my smokes adversely, and yes I did notice especially with the ribs I did, that something was different, in a good way. I actually had the best foiled ribs I've ever done to date, bar none. The tenderness and bark were absolutely perfect. And my methods were very similar to previous foiled ribs, including the use of OJ for a brasing liquid.

I think that the overall temperature of the racks during a smoke is probably much better than I think, once there is food on a few of the racks. It's difficult to say for sure at this point. I'll keep probes in the Vault and a few rack therms where I can fit them to keep things in check until I find out for sure.

I remembered finding hotter spots on the left end of the grates, so I just took advantage of that by putting the heaviest portions of the ribs onto the hotter areas, and that worked out great!

It may seem to alot of folks that going this far into these tests is redundant, and un-neccessary. But it gives me piece of mind to know that I've done the best I could to find out what makes this beautiful smoking machine tick. And it gives me something that suits my interests, being technical and challenging, which to me is fun and gives me a chance to keep a few of my skills sharp. I have the mind for it, I just wouldn't want to do it professionally anymore...been there...for 8-1/2 years. That takes the fun and excitment out of it!

I'll keep things coming when I have more updates.

Thanks again Opd...and don't worry, this isn't work to me...if it has anything to do with cooking, it's gonna be fun!

Good smokes to ya!

post #8 of 34
Nice work Eric. I've been pleased w/ my smoke vault so far. I've had it since January of this year and have produced some of my best smokes. I was using an electric ECB so anything is better. Anyways once I got an extra digi probe I used that to monitor my temps on the same rack as my main piece of meat I'm cooking and that has helped me tremendously and stops me rom opening up the smoker to check the regular oven thermo I had in there. Obviously the temps run warmer on the lower racks so I tend to smoke my chicken there when I have other things smoking. I'm gonna do 2 butts next week for the 4th so I'll see if there are any big temp variations when doing these.

My issue is getting consistent smoke. It seems my chips stop smoldering after a while and I have to raise the temp up for a few to get some smoke and then turn it back down and repeat every 45 mins or so. For the last several smokes I've added lump to the stock chip plate for flavor and to help the chips stay hot. They will ignite after an hour or so and I think it adds to the smoke. I've also put some lump in from a chimney but the were very hot and it took a while for my temps to stabalize. So I'm trying to find a happy medium. I've pestered Bassman and got some good advice from him and I'm no longer soaking my chips. I think the stock plate is the issue and might try a aluminum cake pan as some do in the GOSM mods. Anyways are you having any issues getting smoke?

Sorry to ramble on but I like the idea of having a Smoke Vault thread!

Some other things I do is put my ABTs on the mesh rack on the top and then I try to put ribs, briskett and butts in the middle of the vault.
post #9 of 34
Thread Starter 
Hi Mark! Thanks for the input. Glad you like your's, mine's a sweet rig too. Don't sweat getting long-winded...I'm notorious for it!!!!!!!PDT_Armataz_01_12.gif

I did notice my smoke came on a kind of heavy at first using smaller wood chunks, and then it disappeared after 5 or 6 minutes. I could still smell it for quite awhile afterwards though. I was adding small amounts of these smaller chunks (3 or 4) at a time about every hour during the smoke. I'm going to try larger chunks next smoke and see what happens there. If that doesn't work very well, I'll try a foil pouch with a larger amount of wood in it.

According to what I observed during smokes, and during the temp tests that I recorded, I have the hottest rack on top, and then each rack beneath gets sequentially cooler. I know it sounds strange.

In my GOSM, the lowest rack is the coolest, because of the water pan deflecting heat out and around that rack. Then the 2nd rack gets quite a bit hotter, and the 3rd is about the same. The 4th is generally a bit cooler than the 2nd and 3rd. I'm guessing that the heated gases are rolling somewhat as it rises past the first rack, and that causes the hottest areas to be where the gases are returning towards the center of the cook chamber. then, as they continue to rise, the the food on the racks will absorbe some of thermal energy, causing the top rack to be slightly cooler. That's my theory on that issue, anyway.

My Smoke Vault has a progressively higher temp in higher rack positions, top being about 20* hotter than the bottom. This makes me wonder if there is alot of cool air entering the cook chamber, which is preventing the thermal energy from being released sooner. Sort of like the cooler air is forceing the heated air to rise up out of the cool air's path. Think of what happens in a thunderstorm, with updrafts of hot air, and down drafts of cool air, just to put it into perspective...the air masses don't mix very well, and where they start to mix can become extremely violent (heavy rain/hail/tornadoes).

My main concern is trying to get the rack temps between each end and the corners closer to the temp at the center of the rack. Hotter and cooler rack levels can be a good thing when you're smoking a variety of foods. Right now, the temps are all over the place on each rack, at least with empty racks.

I'll do some more checks in the morning while I burn a brisky. I'll keep probes going on the racks for as long as I can, and also put oven rack therms wherever I can fit them. I had some time to look over my spread sheet data more since I posted the pic of it.

It does appear to me that there may be a problem with the side vents letting too much air into the cook chamber. It seems to be causing a chaotic flow (turbulence) as the heated air/gases from the burner mix with the intake vent air. I want to put a piece of pipe around/over the exhaust outlet to build a higher draft, and then bend the tabs flat on the intake vents so I can close them. This way, the only air coming into the cook chamber will have to pass through the burner housing first. That will mean it will be pre-heated before entering the cook chamber.

If I get more even rack temps with this idea, then I'll go with it and keep checking temps to see where it will take me. I know now after reviewing the data and having time to think about it, that the temp issues have to be related chamber air flow being erratic. So, I'll take a look at that this evening and get started with the brisky smoke in the morning. With any luck I'll have it pegged down before the end of the smoke.

Thanks again Mark...enjoy that new smoker! I already love mine! I'm getting really great smokes off this thing in the short time I've used it.

post #10 of 34
Eric, We'll be looking forward to the posting.

post #11 of 34
Thread Starter 
Apparently my analysis skills are still faily sharp, maybe just a bit slower now days. I did set an outdoor fireplace chimney over the exhaust vent this morning to pull a better draft, as well as bend the tabs on the lower intake vents and fully closed those.

I'm in the middle of a seperated flat & point brisky smoke right now. Within the first 2 hours I knew I was heading the right direction when I opened the door for a few quick pics. I now have very nice rack temps compared to a few days back. There is a cool spot on the bottom rack, right front, and a warmer spot above it on the 4th and 5th rack positions, which I'll check into the cause. Possibly just the door not fitting super-tight against the chamber. The rest looks pretty darn nice. I'll get more readings in different positions before this smoke is over.

Door therm just before opening for a check of the oven therms:

Temp probes on the 4th and 3rd rack positions, 218/223 respectively:

Left-hand side, 5th rack:

Right-hand side, 5th and 4th racks:

Left-hand side, 3rd rack:

Left-hand side and center, 1st rack:

Center and Right-hand side, 1st rack:

I'll go re-postion oven therms for more readings now, and get that posted later.


post #12 of 34
Thread Starter 

2nd temp test for the day

Temps are still pretty reasonable @ 6-1/4 hours into the smoke today.

Left-hand, 5th rack:

Right-hand, 5th rack:

Left-hand, 3rd rack:

Right-hand, 3rd rack:

Left-hand, 1st rack:

Right-hand, 1st rack:

Unless something else shows itself in the very near future, I'm thinking a vent stack mod will be in order.

post #13 of 34
Hey Eric, why are you fully closing the bottom vents again?
post #14 of 34
Thread Starter 
This is a copy/paste from post #9, towards the bottom:

It does appear to me that there may be a problem with the side vents letting too much air into the cook chamber. It seems to be causing a chaotic flow (turbulence) as the heated air/gases from the burner mix with the intake vent air. I want to put a piece of pipe around/over the exhaust outlet to build a higher draft, and then bend the tabs flat on the intake vents so I can close them. This way, the only air coming into the cook chamber will have to pass through the burner housing first. That will mean it will be pre-heated before entering the cook chamber.

post #15 of 34
Thread Starter 

Temporay Mod for temp checks today- vent stack

This is just resting on top of the chamber. No other changes were made to the rig, except bending the tabs on the lower intake vent louvers so they can be fully closed:

post #16 of 34
Great detailed review. More data than I can ingest, but am sure I can help you ingest the BBQ. LOL
post #17 of 34
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Rick. Yeah, it is alot of info. And, it keeps growing everyday, which is a good thing, too.

As for the Bbq ingestion, I guess the best I can do since we don't have smoke delivery with our PM's is give you the link to her most recent smoke, the 4th one of her life (today's, in case you missed this one):

Good smokes to ya!

post #18 of 34
Man this is one informative thread, I compliment you on you patience. I have prayed for more patience but I want it right now!! Good job.PDT_Armataz_01_34.gif
post #19 of 34
After you attached the Chimmney, did you close the side vents completely? Were the temp checks that you posted the first and second time results of of the side vents closed? Looks like you've got your smoker dialed in.
post #20 of 34
Thread Starter 
Yep. I closed the lower intakes for the whole smoke. The pics on posts 11 & 12 were also with lower intakes closed. Once the stack went on, the vents stayed closed.

Unless I plan to do a little playing with things, just to see what happens, I don't see any reason to open the intakes back up again...that would seem to be a step backwards to me.

I guess my theory a couple days ago about the cold air not mixing with the heated air was for the most part correct. I'll most likely hunt down a 4" pipe and possibly a damper to install on the top of the chamber to replace the stock vent. No rush on that right now, but, I'll be thinking about it, for sure.

Take care, OPD.

Oh, cman...this wasn't a major ordeal for me. It wasn't broke, so-to-speak, I just wanted to know for sure what I was dealing with...and then, whether or not I could make it better...I could, so I did. PDT_Armataz_01_12.gif

Stay safe, my friend!

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