18 pounds of pork shoulder, 12-31 smoke

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Meat Mopper
Original poster
OTBS Member
Apr 19, 2006
Moberly, MO
Today's smoke was really important to me. This is the first time I'll be cooking for a big group. Tomorrow I'll be feeding somewhere between 15-20 guys. Its a pot luck poker game, but I'll be one of 3 guys bringing a main course. Because of this, I tried my very hardest to do the best that I could.


Today I used chips instead of chunks. Here my apple chips are soaking in water. No matter how much I soaked them, a handful would burn up in about 10 minutes. I was constantly throwing chips on my fire today.


The pitmaster is fired up and getting ready to go.


These were a christmas present from my dad. They're called bear claws and they really look like bear claws. These things came in really handy. I used them to move the shoulders in the smoker and later to pull the shoulders into big chunks.


All my other supplies. Some charcoal starting.


After about 3 hours. The one on the left is around 10-12 lbs. The one on the right is around 6-8 lbs. Also a good shot of the tuning plates. From the front of the butt nearest the fire to the back of the one farthest away I had a difference of 10 degrees. Not too shabby.


Thin Blue Smoke


7 hours: Internal temps hit 160 and I'm getting ready to wrap this one up and stick it in the oven. It started raining on me just as my temps were getting to 160. I'll finish them in the oven.


11 hours: This one is ready to pull!


One of two is pulled. There is no sauce on this yet.


My close up shots came out good.

I got started this morning at 9 am. I knew it would make for a long day, but the baby was sleeping in and I wasn't about to go waking anyone up on a weekend.

Finished pulling the last butt at 10:30 pm. Too tired to try it tonight, but the samples that I had were outstanding!

Boy that looks good!! I have a question on your tuning plates, I have the same smoker as you. I cans see where thos plates would help with things getting too hot near the firebox. How much of the hole connecting the firebox did you cover? And how are the other plates attached, and what are their dimensions? It looks like it would really help even things up for the cooking, and something I should do to mine.

Dang.. you've gone and made me hungry. Any leftovers? I like the bear claws, they look like a good tool to have around.

Keep Smokin
I was thinking of making a little write up about the tuning plates. The way I have done them requires very little mechanical know how. I don't have a lot of tools so I'm limited in what I can and cannot do. Here's how I did my tuning plates.

I found 12" x 24" sheets of steel at Westlakes Ace Hardware store. They ran $15 each and I used two of them.

One plate I cut every 8 inches, making three 8 x 12 plates. If found that 12" is a good width for my plates. They can sit in the bottom of my smoker and leave about 3 inches underneath them. No welding or ledges required for them to sit on.

The second piece of steel I cut off an 8" piece and I bent the other bigger piece in half. That is what I'm using as my heat deflector / first plate. I got it bent and set it in the smoker to mark the holes. Drilled them out and bolted it on. Easy as can be.

I had to have my dad help me cut the plates. I bent the heat deflector by hand, then used a hammer to make the crease a little sharper.

My heat deflector is covering about 2/3 of the opening from my firebox. I thought that might be too small, but it worked out well. Hitting 300 degrees might be challenging in my cooker, but I don't ever need it that hot.

Besides the heat deflector, the plates aren't connected to anything. They are just sitting in the bottom of the cooker.
Good looking smoke! I wasn't so lucky with the time. I smoked an 8.6 pound butt last Thursday and it took almost 17 hours. But ........... when done, it was delicious! Isn't this one of the greatest hobbies in the world??? And by the way, I hope you came out well in the poker game.
Thanks for the friendly comments. The pork was (in my own opinion) fantasic! Served up lots of sandwiches and everyone loved it. I put a bottle of SoFlaQer's finishing sauce on the side. I modified the recipe a little to my own taste, and its just awesome. I wouldn't dare to put a commercial tomato based sauce on this stuff.

All the knowledge and friendly advice here helped me to gain the skill needed to do something like this! Thanks guys!
Congratulations Pyre!

Very nice presentation with explanation and pictures shows you now have a full grasp on how to Que up Pork shoulders/Butts. I don't need to taste your product to know that it was magnificent. :mrgreen:

Your photo of the Thin Blue Smoke emanating from your stack shows us that you have learned how to make the smoke lovingly kiss the pork :)

I stopped using wood chips many years ago; I had the same problem you discuss in your thread and quickly changed to chunks which I also soak!

great Job! you get it! :idea:

So what's next on the "Smokin Agenda"? :mrgreen:

Thanks for sharing,


OTBS # 14
Thanks Ranger.

I think I'm going to start using chunks also. Sticks take a little work to keep burning, and the chips just burn up too fast. I'm hoping that chunks will burn just right :)

I'm hoping to do a full brisket next. Just waiting for the weather to warm up just a little bit. I don't mind the cold, but its too much work keeping the cooker hot when its too cold outside.

here is how I solve the cold problem where I live in Maine and believe me Cold is a way of life where I live!


I build a hardwood fire in a separate steel stove and then feed my pit smoker with the embers from it..In this fashion the smoker does not suffer from severe drops in temperature due to cold, windy weather and the feeding of unlit fuel (charcoal and hardwoods) into the fire box.

The temperature remains uniform by doing it this way! And I get to eat my favorite types of QUE regardless of the weather. :D

Try it! You'll like it!


ranger72 8)
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