1st Propane Smoker

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by jmccrack, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. Just picked up my 1st propane smoker (Masterbuilt 2-door).  Got tired of the continuous battle of keeping a constant temp on my cheapo charcoal smoker.

    Read a few forum threads, but have a few questions to help get me started..  Hope you can help.

    1. As many probably know, the Masterbuilt water tray is very small, however I will likely do as others suggest and use sand/gravel.  Is this small pan big enough when filled with sand for this heat sink purpose?

    2. If using water tray for sand, do people suggest still adding a tray (disposable foil pan or something) filled with water?

    3. The smoker instructions say do not use wood chunks.  Any idea why this is?  Seems like on these threads most people suggest chunks.  I am going to add something on top of the cheap wood chip tray to prevent flareups either way.

    Thanks for the help.  Looking forward to first smoke!!
  2. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Congrats on the new smoker!  I don't have any direct knowledge of your rig, but I'm sure someone who does will be along to give you some specific advice for that model.  Good luck, and get smokin'!  [​IMG]
  3. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    JMC, asking about water is like asking about the membrane on ribs or "soak or don't soak"  in that you are going to have people on both sides swearing to you that their's is the way to go.

    Luckily, there's an easy and tasty way to settle the issue.    Throw something into the smoker while using water.  Taste it and see what you think.   Then, not so strangely, try and duplicate the cook using a dry chamber and see what you like better   :)
  4. I also have a masterbuilt 2-door that I recently acquired and thought the water tray was too small.  Surprisingly, it seemed to last 8 hours or so at 225 on my last two smokes.  I've also used an aluminum tray on the lowest shelf which was more than enough water and would recommend that for any long smokes.  I've actually never heard of trying sand or gravel, is that just to add thermal mass? The nice thing about this smoker is the two door design which lets you add wood or water (only if you use the stock water pan) without having to open the main smoke chamber and lose a ton of heat.

    I use an 8-inch cast-iron skillet placed on top of the stock chip pan for my wood.  I use chunks and not chips as the chips seemed to have a greater chance of flair up and don't last as long.  On my last smoke I used 3 decent sized chunks and it gave me good smoke for 12 hours. 

    I would recommend the other mods on the smoker like sealing the door, and replacing or just ignoring the stock thermometer.

    Good luck!
    enzo likes this.
  5. Thanks LegacyofBob...

    Yes, I am planning some of the other mods suggested on the forums.  I am definitely going to pick up the recommended dual probe Maverick thermometer for more accurate temps.

    The sand suggestion is for adding thermal mass, but you have a point that it may be less necessary with the 2 door setup.

    Thanks for the confirmation on using wood chunks.  Your setup with skillet and chunks was my plan, so good to hear from someone with same equipment that it works well.
  6. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yeah, sand and gravel are better at absorbing and radiating heat. They can reach higher temps than water and don't have to be refilled.  Additionally, some are of the opinion that using water puts too much moisture into the chamber and that it has a negative impact on whatever you are cooking.

    Of course, many would argue the exact opposite and would point out that if you are concerned about flareups, then water is the best thing to use as it will hold the heat down to some degree. 
  7. Ge here: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/...using-the-masterbuilt-vertical-propane-smoker   <-- clicky

    As for the wood chunks.... it might appear that it's the ultra-crappy design of the chip pan. 

    Use the tin foil trick outlined in thread above, or replace than pan altogether with something more appropriate. 

    I'm still a major novice myself, but I smoked salmon yesterday with a cast iron frying pan instead of the oem chip pan, and a combination of wood chips and wood chunks. 

    Chunks work just fine. 
  8. humdinger

    humdinger Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    [​IMG]  It's best to experiment with both ways until you nail down what you like. I change up my method depending on what I'm smoking (water pan for brisket, "yes". for Jerky, "no") Truth is there is a decent amount of H2O released from the combustion of propane, so you have some built in wiggle room if you go with sand/pebbles.
  9. feedingacrowd

    feedingacrowd Newbie

    I'm new to this too. Just got a 2 door masterbuilt. I'm using a skillet for the wood.
    Having a really hard time keeping the temp low. I know the door ones are always off, haven't used another yet but couldn't get the door temp to even drop below 250-300. A full brisket I halved was done in 3hrs....
    Of course I went through a lot of wood for three hours.

    Looking for some tips on heat regulation and other pointers.
  10. humdinger

    humdinger Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    First, get yourself a new, better thermometer. If yo uneed recommendations, let me know.

    Second, search this forum for similar issues with your model. I don't have your model, but I did have problems with my propane smoker running too hot, and this forum helped me out. You may also have to modify your gas line to include a needle valve.
  11. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    I got the same model this spring, and we love it. We used the stock water pan for a while and really didn't need to add water much, but finally I just removed the stock pan and lay an aluminum disposable on that rack. Plenty of water and you just throw it away when it gets nasty. IMO the water helps keep the meat from drying out, but it could be my imagination. As you can see, there are a lot of opinions :)

    Try to just ignore the built in thermometer and rely on a digital. Just be sure you have a way to keep the probe from touching a grate or the food (I use a small block of wood with a hole drilled to hold the probe). I can use chips or wood chunks (no matter what the instruction manual says). I don't even put them in foil, though I do soak them.

    Like a lot of folks, I use a cast iron pan to hold the wood and I filled the goofy wood tray with lava rock to kind of break up the flame.

    Keeping the temps low is the biggest challenge to me. The best way I've found is to leave the door(s) open a little. The latch is actually adjustable to accomplish this.It also helps to keep it out of the sun if possible. A lot of people recommend a needle valve in-line, but I worry about blowouts. Like I said, we love ours and with a few little tweaks, you can't beat the price!

    Happy Smoking!!
    feedingacrowd likes this.
  12. ricbaker

    ricbaker Newbie

    I just finished the assembly on my first smoker; Dyna-Glo two door. 

    I appreciated the ideas for the modifications. One thing I haven't read yet; what is the best way to season the smoker? The manual says 20 minutes at low temp with wood. If there is a better way, please let me know.

  13. dwhite1031

    dwhite1031 Smoke Blower

    When I seasoned my Char-Broil vertical propane smoker, I cleaned the inside with some Simple Green & a brush & rinsed it well. Once it had dried out I brushed the inside with safflower oil & ran at 350 for a few hours.
    ricbaker likes this.
  14. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    I just sprayed the inside with "Pam" and ran it at around 300 'til it stopped smoking...
  15. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    The PAM will also work to keep the firebox on a offset smoker from rusting. Just spray after each use. On yours just spray the inside and run it wide open till it quit smoking., should seal it off and season it fine.

  16. smoke n brew

    smoke n brew Newbie

    Okay, here is a crazy idea... I must be blind or stupid because if I put an 8 pound cast iron pan between my burner and the the airspace I am trying to heat, I am going to use an incredible amount of fuel to get the airspace as hot as I would like it. Here is my brain problem: all the heat I put into the cast iron pan has to go somewhere and since heat rises, and wood does not smolder at 235* F, I am going to guess I am going to have "heat/temperature control issues", unless any of the rest of you grill masters have a way to make hickory or apple wood smoke at this low temperature.

    I had the above described heat problem once upon a time, and I decided cast iron wasn't gonna cut it, and neither was adding another heat sink in the way of a tray of sand... I decided to go the other way; I tried a light weight pan to just hold my foil covered chunks and hit gold. A dollar store round cake pan with chunks of wood covered in foil with a 3/4" hole in one side and an old round BBQ grate as the rack to hold the pan remotely level. I heat up the smoker with the pan of water just below a boil, add the wood pan offset from directly above the burner, and the the wood starts to smoke I slide the pan almost off the burner add my meat and walk away for two hours. If this sounds at all confusing, check my previous posts with the pictures of my modification. I use the same propane tank for both my smoker and my gas grill, and I maybe buy propane every other month or so, as I don't need to burn a lot of propane to get the job done.
  17. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    I'm not sure about the thermodynamics and all, Smoke n Brew, or what kind of smoker you have, but I've had no problem with wood smoking in a cast pan. Maybe it's because the wood is directly above the flame? I use a small piece of 2 by 4 to hold the thermo probe and it doesn't even char. I don't even use foil, just dump the chips right in the pan. Nothing but ashes in around a half hour..
  18. smoke n brew

    smoke n brew Newbie

    I am seldom ever left with ashes; I always end up with these big pieces of lump charcoal. Thin metal heats faster than thick metal most of the time, right? So my idea was to put the chunks not on the side of the pan directly over the fire, but on the far side of the pan, that way the contact area of the with the highest temperature would, or could be exactly how much I want based on how much of the pan is sitting over the open flame. If you want to add chips every thirty minutes or so, and you have worked out a system that produces the exact final product you want, then please ignore what I have said because my method isn't for you and that is completely okay with me. The difference in our smokers is you have the 2 door model I believe, and I have the 1 door XL-40. If I had to open my door every 30 minutes to add chips ( which I did in the beginning) ; it took 6 hours to smoke a batch of ribs
  19. smokeymose

    smokeymose Master of the Pit

    Actually it sounds like we're pretty much on the same page, Smoke N. My pan doesn't sit square over the fire since I'm using a 10" pan when an 8" would be better, but a 10" is what I had lying around. The outside edge furthest from the fire doesn't always burn up. Using chunk wood lasts longer than chips also. I got the 2 door when I switched from electric to gas for exactly that reason! you still lose a little heat when you open the bottom door, but I've gotten it down so I can pull the pan and reclose the door in about 3 seconds☺
  20. smoke n brew

    smoke n brew Newbie

    So SmokyM, we are pretty well on the same page. Would you be willing to try an experiment and invest $1.00 plus tax, maybe $2.00 you will need foil... Get a dollar store cake pan, some foil, some wood chunks. You say an 8" pan would have probably been better, well $1.00 round cake pans are 8", how about that? Foil over the chunks, make a vent hole on the side opposite the heat, and see what happens; I would really appreciate somebody else trying my method as an alternative to the cast iron way. If it doesn't work for you, I will Paypal you a refund of your investment. How does that sound?[​IMG]

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