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  1. mgnorcal

    New build, never smoked before, looking for input.

    I've had 2 of those vertical propane smokers.  I don't think they would work as a heat source for another horizontal cooking chamber. They do fine work on their own though. Some ideas for what they're worth You can get a side-fire box for around $70 that goes with a char-griller or other...
  2. mgnorcal

    Do you heat your brine?

    For just a salt + sugar brine and no flavoring I use just cold tap water. For a  gallon of brine with 3/4 cup each of salt and sugar I do the following: Add measured salt and sugar to a pint pyrex pitcher Add  3/4 to 1.5 cups tap water and stir for about 10 sec or more, let it settle for about...
  3. mgnorcal

    Seasoning the outside of a smoker??? Input please!!!

    Seems like you'd get a sticky mess on the outside that would trap dirt, though it theoretically would be an extra waterproofing layer. If you really want to go the extra mile to protect the exterior and extend the lifespan, I'd suggest regular black BBQ paint from a spray can instead.  Heat as...
  4. mgnorcal

    Black Residue on Meat in Smoker

    I had the exact thing happen to me on my vertical gasser. Check your flame, if you have too much of a long flame with orange flickering tips, you'll get a sooty incomplete combustion.  This will deposit on your meat. Getting a clean blue flame has to do with the air mix at the venturi, some...
  5. mgnorcal

    Tile backer board as insulation

    I don't have the references handy, but when I was studying someone's backer-board mod I concluded that (1) backer board is a really lousy insulator and (2) when heated it could give off some chemicals I don't want near my food. On the outside, it at least increases the thermal mass, but on the...
  6. mgnorcal

    Hello, New here and need some help with new smoker

    As far as charcoal, no it is not necessary, but lots of us add it to the wood pan with the wood because it gives better results. Using charcoal in this way is not for the heat, it is for improved quality of smoke production and thus flavor of meat.
  7. mgnorcal

    Trash can build - HELP!!

    Temp drop after closing lid means not enough air / ventilation, very simple. I can't tell what the intakes look like, but it seems you need bigger vents on the top for sure. Model your dimensions on the UDS plans available everywhere. Consider using the combination electric + charcoal + wood...
  8. mgnorcal

    Electric ECB Questions.

    I got one of these about a year ago and used it several times before using the element in a different smoker. The lid does leak, mostly by design.  What I did was drape a towel across the top to insulate a bit and slightly plug around 2/3 of the gap along the perimeter of the lid.  This was in...
  9. mgnorcal

    Would this work as a valve?

    That's not what I've seen people use.  I don't think that's a needle valve, looks like it works more like a ball valve with a 90 degrees range of motion. A needle valve is needed if you want fine control to get a small flame.
  10. mgnorcal

    what type plywood for a smoke house?

    Yes, from what I've read all plywood contains toxins including formaldehyde and and solid boards are suggested instead. Various state universities have released suggested plans and every one I've seen uses solid wood boards; none uses plywood. See here for an example...
  11. mgnorcal

    Smoking Jacket

    A quick look at the website will tell you that unit is for fish, jerky, sausage -stuff smoked at lower temps (<200). Even with a insulating jacket, you're not going to get hot enough to safely cook a roast. A great insulating jacket can easily be made from Reflectix though. If you're dead-set...
  12. mgnorcal

    The much sought after TBS aka Thin Blue Smoke (LESS IS MORE)

    Thanks for sharing the experiment. Those black blocks should burn like lump charcoal -try em in your grill. One reservation I have about the theory here is that I kinda consider the TBS from stick-burners to be the gold standard. (and that's a quite different kind of combustion) I've also...
  13. mgnorcal

    where's my smoke ring

    Use lump charcoal instead. Small pieces work best, gravel to golf-ball sized. I do it every time. Don't know if you've tried lump before, but I'd be very surprised to find someone who likes the smell/taste of hardwood smoke but not that of hardwood lump charcoal. Kind of a contradiction really.
  14. mgnorcal

    New Stainless smoker

    Electric+charcoal can be done too. I do that in a converted GOSM type smoker. You put the electric coil above a small bed of charcoal and wood chunks. The coil starts the coals and gets the wood smoking, and then you adjust temp by switching power on and off to the coil. An ordinary oven...
  15. mgnorcal

    chips too small?

    Red oak is a good thing to blend with flavor woods like hickory. Optimum chip/chunk size depends on what type of smoker you're using and what temps you're cooking at. Chunks like richlife describes are best for gassers. Woodshop chips will be gone way too fast.
  16. mgnorcal

    how big is too big?

    No direct experience, but I agree air-flow and even-ness of cooking would be a problem. Rotating your grates is one way to even things out, but it would be nice to not need to. A small circulating fan would do wonders. I've been looking for something like that. So far I've not been able to...
  17. mgnorcal

    My first smoker build-Need some advice

    I've seen that kind of thing done before. They put a (propane) pipe burner below the wood grate where it can double as a firestarter too. I've seen pretty detailed instructions on the web for building a pipe burner.
  18. mgnorcal

    Smokin-It brand smoker?

    Nice build, but too tiny and weak for me. The MES is probably a better route to go.
  19. mgnorcal

    Lowes Dual Door Propane Smoker

    I like your ideas. You do use up a few of the racks though, I often cook on 4 racks at once. Not sure your ceramic briquettes are that helpful, but you could instead just toss a few in with the smoke wood and get the same effect while reducing space used. I'd definitely cook one rack further...
  20. mgnorcal

    Adding PID controller

    A general question: Does the PID work better for smoking meat than either an ordinary oven thermostat or even a range-burner infinite switch (where the operator occasionally checks the temp and adjusts the knob)? I see lots of people here talking about PID's and I'm curious about what...
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