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toejam

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Dec 2, 2014
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I've been using MES's for the past decade. This summer my last MES bit the dust, now it's time for an upgrade. After reviewing the elec smokers I'm liking what I'm seeing with the Smokin-It models. Not really a fan of their door latches, but, everything else hits most of the buttons. I'm thinking I will get my mom a #1 for xmas (early delivery in time for Thanksgiving). Then, I'll be looking at getting a 3.5D early next year.
I run a marina and offer smoked baby back ribs about one weekend each month. In the past I've been able to smoke 8 racks of ribs in my MES. I'm betting I could get more in the 3.5D. I do have a few questions for those tenured members of these forums:

1. I noticed some folks put alum foil on the pan and over the wood tray. I'm guessing this is for easier cleanup?
2. If I fully load the 3.5D with racks of ribs, how much wood should I be looking at putting into the wood tray?
3. I realize the SI units are starved for air, but, will the amzn tubes work in these units? or, do I have to look at drilling holes for more air flow?
4. Should I consider inserting a water tray, much like the tray that's included with the MES?
5. Is there an chance the owner might make an offer if I purchase 2 units together?

Thank you in advance for your insights and I hope to have some wonderful experiences with my new si 3.5D and my mom's #1.
 

JckDanls 07

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1. I noticed some folks put alum foil on the pan and over the wood tray. I'm guessing this is for easier cleanup?
Yes... that's one of the reasons... Another is.. some fill the pan with sand and then cover with foil...
2. If I fully load the 3.5D with racks of ribs, how much wood should I be looking at putting into the wood tray?
I'm thinking it would be the same amount as if you were doing one or two slabs... I see in question 3 your asking about using a pellet tube... Planning on using both ?
3. I realize the SI units are starved for air, but, will the amzn tubes work in these units? or, do I have to look at drilling holes for more air flow?
Another thing to consider about air flow... When you pack it full of ribs this will block the air flow even more... Considerably more ...
4. Should I consider inserting a water tray, much like the tray that's included with the MES?
As I said in question 1... most users here fill the water tray with sand instead of water... And cover with foil... This does 3 things in my opinion... Creates a heat deflector... Creates a heat sinc... And the foil will catch most of theh drippings...
 

bdawg

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Dec 30, 2011
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To add to what Keith said above, the sand serves to soak up and store up a bunch of heat. This helps to keep the temps more stable kind of like a shock absorber.

Water does a similar thing but it also adds moisture to the chamber. Depending on what you are trying to achieve, this may or may not be desired (ie, Poultry Skin will tend to get rubbery if you use a water pan).

A lot of folks use brick(s) instead of sand for the same purpose.
 

Lonzinomaker

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I don't use sand, bricks or water in my #3.
I cover the woodhouse and bottom of smoker with foil to make cleanup easier.
I've done 6 racks of ribs in my #3, there was room for another rack so I could do 8. But I think I would have to rotate top to bottom for even cooking. With 6 I didn't have to rotate.
The smoker airflow exchange is slow enough you shouldn't have to adjust the amount of wood very much. I would try 6 oz of apple, and maybe go to 8 oz if you want a LOT of smoke.
You could use the amazn tray, but not with chunks. Only do one or the other. It is easy to get to much smoke with the SI.
 
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toejam

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Dec 2, 2014
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Thank you for the thoughtful answers to my questions. I primarily do ribs and turkey. Have done a pork loin and fish, but, that's an extreme rarity. Absolutely love smoked turkey - for some reason the store bought smoked turkey pales in comparison to doing it yourself.

Ok, now the engineer in me wants to kick in with thoughts around the amount of wood to use. The si 3 and 3.5 have the same depth, but, the 3 is 25" high, vs 33" high for the 3.5. As the si units increase in size I assume the wood box increases in size to compensate for the larger volume inside the smoker, however that may not be the case for the 3 vs 3.5 units. Hence, if the 3.5 has a larger smoking volume should it require larger smoking wood content? I've seen repeatedly on the forum, you only need 4-6 oz. of wood, is that the case as the smoking volume increases (as well as the amount of meat that is being smoked). BTW: love the apple wood suggestion for ribs!!! In any event, it may take some trial-and-error to determine how much wood to put in the bin.
.
I neglected to mention that i never got a smoke ring with my MES, even when using the amzn tray and putting charcoal in the wood bin. Has anybody had any luck getting a smoke ring from si smokers, mainly on turkey or ribs. The turkey readily absorbs smoke, the ribs seem to never get much smokey flavor.

I realize I'm taking a big leap in performance from MES to SI, but, am curious the results others get wrt a smoke ring from their electric smoker.
 
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zwiller

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I think the SS electrics excel at sausage/hams so if that were me and wanted a rib rig I'd try a good pellet grill like the Weber Smokefire. The larger one should accommodate your needs. MANY folks getting smoke rings on them. I bet it's easier to cook on it too.
 

toejam

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Dec 2, 2014
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I think the SS electrics excel at sausage/hams so if that were me and wanted a rib rig I'd try a good pellet grill like the Weber Smokefire. The larger one should accommodate your needs. MANY folks getting smoke rings on them. I bet it's easier to cook on it too.
Sorry, but, I'm trying to stick with electric smoker. Avoiding the pellet grills.
 
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Lonzinomaker

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Smoke ring is only a visual enhancement, does nothing for flavor, so I never worry about it. There are 2 ways to get a ring, #1 is to try putting a brickett in the wood box and #2 is to use a little cure #1 with your rub or brine. I usually put cure #1 in my dry turkey brine and pork butt rubs for safety and get a ring.

I have a #1 and a #3 and use the same amount of wood in both for all my smokes. The air exchange is slow enough that when you see the smoke coming out of the exhaust vent, the chamber has filled with smoke. The only variable would be if you block the smoke from circulating evenly by having the meat to close to a side or the edges overlapping. A half inch opening is enough to allow circulation. I always try to stagger things to promote lateral movement ( IE: 1 in on one side bottom layer, 1/2in on next layer above).
 
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toejam

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Dec 2, 2014
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Smoke ring is only a visual enhancement, does nothing for flavor, so I never worry about it. There are 2 ways to get a ring, #1 is to try putting a brickett in the wood box and #2 is to use a little cure #1 with your rub or brine. I usually put cure #1 in my dry turkey brine and pork butt rubs for safety and get a ring.

I have a #1 and a #3 and use the same amount of wood in both for all my smokes. The air exchange is slow enough that when you see the smoke coming out of the exhaust vent, the chamber has filled with smoke. The only variable would be if you block the smoke from circulating evenly by having the meat to close to a side or the edges overlapping. A half inch opening is enough to allow circulation. I always try to stagger things to promote lateral movement ( IE: 1 in on one side bottom layer, 1/2in on next layer above).
Mucho Gracias for the answer. That is just the info I was looking for and it sounds as though we will have similar setups: you #1 and #3, me #1 and #3.5. Perhaps we can share notes/experiences down the line wrt our smokers.
I realize the smoke ring doesn't indicate flavor, just a visual confirmation. However, I'm deep in redneck territory and hear it all the time "there aint no ring on them ribs! You sure they is smoked!" Can't convince these folks otherwise, so, trying to see what I can do to accommodate their expectations.
 
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Lonzinomaker

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Tell them to close their eyes before trying a bite or two so they can guess what you used for a rub. They'll decide the ribs are really good and then won't care there is no smoke ring. Or tell them your marinade masks the smoke ring and they can't see it.
 

toejam

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Dec 2, 2014
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Tell them to close their eyes before trying a bite or two so they can guess what you used for a rub. They'll decide the ribs are really good and then won't care there is no smoke ring. Or tell them your marinade masks the smoke ring and they can't see it.
Unfortunately, we're dealing with truly banal folks. But, your suggestions might get through the thin grey matter of some.
 

clubmanager

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Nov 19, 2020
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In on this thread; trying to decide on an electric and narrowed it down to the Bradley and cookshack. Interested in hearing how it goes for you.
 

toejam

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Dec 2, 2014
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In on this thread; trying to decide on an electric and narrowed it down to the Bradley and cookshack. Interested in hearing how it goes for you.
From the forum comments, i get the impression that the bradley is not as reliable as the si or cookshack. The si is a cookshack clone, so, it is almost identical, but, is made in China. I went with the si because it was cheaper, yet included stainless grates and a longer cord - more features, lower cost, but, still made in China.

Are you using the smoker for personal or business?
 

clubmanager

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Nov 19, 2020
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Personal. Still looking at options but it will be Electric or Pellet one way or the other I think. I like the idea of gravity-fed charcoal but the Masterbuilt seems to not be fully kink-free just yet.
 

toejam

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Dec 2, 2014
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I used the MES for over a decade, made lots of good meat in it. There is a major design flaw in the MES:

It is insulated -> holds heat very well -> the heater does not need to run all the time -> the heater makes the wood chips burn/smolder/smoke/etc -> if heater is not running you are not getting smoke.

This drives you to use the amzn pellet tray, which (when it works) is wonderful. Only problem, it does not work all the time. I've played with the amzn for a decade and probably got it to work < 25% of the time. Tried the AMZN pellet tube, same results.

I'm sure others have gotten better results with the amzn, but, there's LOTS of comments on smoking meat forums on problems getting the amzn to work in XXX smoker - if it were foolproof there would be a lot less comments on the forum boards.

I personally prefer a smoker with an electric heat source. I have bought one 40 lb bag of pellets in my decade of use. I've talked to users of pellet smokers, they use at least one 40 lb bag of pellets each year. It is cheaper to use electricity as your heat source instead of pellets.
 
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old sarge

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Late to the comments here. You will do well with either the CookShack or the Smokin-it (I have both). They are rock solid and have dedicated forums specific to their smokers. A third all stainless steel smoker is SmokinTex. They had a forum but it looks like it was taken down.
 

801driver

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Dec 10, 2013
312
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East of Tulsa, OK
Late here also, have had a Smoke-it 2 for several years. I have never had a need to think about adding an extra smoke generator device. I do everything at the analog 225' and have had absolutely zero complaints or issues of any kind. One thing it will not do is crisp chicken or turkey skin or crisp bacon. About 250' is the max temp limit it will produce. I have to singe skin or bacon wrapped stuff on the grill for doing that. Hope you find something that you can learn to make work for you, sometimes it takes a little experimenting.

Yep latches are a little different, but provide a great airtight seal with no sealing materials etc. I found them easy to get used to.
 

PulledPorkSandwich

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Jul 8, 2020
153
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North Texas
Late here also, have had a Smoke-it 2 for several years. I have never had a need to think about adding an extra smoke generator device. I do everything at the analog 225' and have had absolutely zero complaints or issues of any kind. One thing it will not do is crisp chicken or turkey skin or crisp bacon. About 250' is the max temp limit it will produce. I have to singe skin or bacon wrapped stuff on the grill for doing that. Hope you find something that you can learn to make work for you, sometimes it takes a little experimenting.

Yep latches are a little different, but provide a great airtight seal with no sealing materials etc. I found them easy to get used to.
I have a model 2 analog as well; I've had it for a couple years now and love it. The build quality is good enough that I would not have guessed (and did not know) it was made in China.

The Smokin-It folks advise against wrapping or spritzing with their smokers because they are built so tightly, the meat remains moist, and opening and closing the smoker causes it to lose a lot of heat. I followed these instructions for several cooks of spare ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket over the past couple years and have been slightly disappointed by the results. I've ended up with dry and slightly tough meat a few times.

I've started wrapping and spritzing, as recommended by many, and the results have been superior. No more complaints about dry or tough meat.

So, my advice, ignore the "no wrap" and "no spritz" recommendations and you're likely to have no complaints.
 
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801driver

Smoking Fanatic
Dec 10, 2013
312
67
East of Tulsa, OK
Yep, we all have different equipment and in some cases use the same or similar equipment and methods to produce products to suit our own texture desires and taste buds of how we like our finished product. Some want a firmer meat to chew and pull off early, some want a softer "fall off the bone" texture by smoking longer to soften more. Some like a more crusty "bark" and do not wrap, some don't. Some like me ocassionally switch around just for fun depending on outdoor humidity or put a little foil around the thin end of a brisket flat after the stall to prevent drying while everything else is still getting up to temp.

One thing we all have in common is that we enjoy "doing it ourselves" tweaking as we go and in most cases smoke it better to suit ourselves than we can go down the street and eat something someone else smoked for 2-4 or more times the $ price.
 

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