First disaster

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by tf bbq, Jun 19, 2008.

  1. tf bbq

    tf bbq Fire Starter

    Need some help trying to figure out my new smoker which is an SNP I got for Father's day. This is my first smoker not blessed with a whole lot of home made engineering. Maybe MODS will be up my alley. More importantly the snp also portable.

    I did chicken and ribs at the same time. I was hoping I with that much space would be able to run both simultaneous. The chicken turned out great but the ribs were a little under done and I had to finish them in the oven. I don't think I will be able to do both at the same time on the same racks. Has anybody done both well?

    I think I might be able to do ribs and butt well together on an SNP. Any thoughts, advice? I think I underestimated the amount of times I was going to have open the lid for chicken and the amount of heat loss for ribs.

    I only ran hickory and charcoal in the fire box and left the chamber free of charcoal or wood. My grate in my firebox is now the shape of the fire box. I flipped it over, I will see if it goes back the other way.

    I was only wanting to have smoke on my meat. This was my first attempt at indirect smoke cooking. I can clearly see I will have to put wood and charcoal in the main chamber to cook ribs and butt. Or I will have to get a smoker with a bigger thicker firebox.

    I have been reading all over the forums about baffles and plates. What is the function of a baffle. I think one could be constructed quite easily. I would like to know what they are going to do for me. I have seen a description I have understood yet.

    I have seen pictures of using dryer venting to lower the stack down to the grate. This is primarily done to increase circulation in the chamber correct?

    All in all, my first venture with a real smoker was not that bad but was not that great either. I have my first competition with it on July 11th. Would appreciate what help I can get. It is just one at work for bragging rights and a day off but I would still hate to lose.

  2. shooterrick

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

    First let me say that if the grate was sagging from the fire you either need to have smaller fire and more time or a heavier grate. I have smoked poultry along with butt but you have to stagger the entry times and the poultry should be on the hot side or upper rack where it is hotter to get it to temp past the danger zone quickly. (see threads about poultry in the meats section.) Also I should say I am not familiar with your smoker so hope this helps. You also need to know how hot your smoker is actually running. This is where a good meat thermometer will help also as it is the internal temp that tells you when your done. I use remote thermometers with a dual chamber prope as temps can vary with location in your smoker. All this said, I have finished brisket and ribs in my oven and they stilll taste great. Good Luck

    Someone rightfully so pointed out to me I shoud have warned you not to put anything under poultry if you use the top shelf. I isnt safe to have drippings of undone chicken on your beef or pork or anything else.
  3. tf bbq

    tf bbq Fire Starter

    It was a decent sized fire. It was a whole bag of charcoal with soaked hickory chunks added every 30 minutes. Since I did not have any fire in the chamber, I made the firebox fire a little bigger since my cooking surface is the largest I have ever used.

    I had the chicken on the hot end. I think I may have also needed a seconday but smaller set of coals under the ribs. I moved the ribs more towards the middle after I took the yard bird off. The ribs were still a little under done and chewy.

    I planned on staggered take off times. I was going to eat the chicken as an opener and have the ribs later.

    Maybe I just need to work it a little more and understand my equipment a little better.

    Thanks for the response.
  4. A whole bag of charcoal fired up can get pretty hot. I used 2 chimneys full of unlit and dumped 1/2 chimney of lit + a few chunks of preburned on top of that. It went well; of course butts will take longer = more fire management (dump ash, shift fire, add more unlit, etc). Also, I believe the coal tray in the Brink can be flipped over to create a good baffle, which helps equalize the temps across the surface of the grate (no hot end, cold end, etc)

    What temps were you getting with the whole bag in there?. I would say that is why your firebox grate got all melty, although others more experienced may have more insight.

    Good luck!
  5. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  6. packplantpath

    packplantpath Smoking Fanatic

    Yea, sounds pretty hot..... Ok for chicken and ribs I guess, but I'd hate to see what a brisket would have come out like. Heck, a butt may have been a bit tough with that kind of heat.

    There is no need to put a fire in the actual chamber with the meat. That's a sure fire way to get temps in the 400 to 500 range. Did you have a grate level thermometer?

    Here is an easy route to keeping temps right and getting TBS.

    Keep a metal pail or small grill nearby with hot coals always burning. When the temp drop at the grate, shovel a few more into the firepit. Works perfect every time. You do waste a bit more heat, but it's almost sure fire with an offset.
  7. capt dan

    capt dan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yes that is very true, and there is alot of info in the charcoal smoker section of these forums.There are also some"sticky's" that are a must to read there. If ya get a couple minutes/hrs read about the mods and the reasons for them. It is very enlightening/informative. It will make perfect sense to you then.
    You want to win that lil comp in July? You gotta spend some time reading about your smoker, and smoke on it as often as you can till then. Its not something that can be learned just from reading, you will hafta learn the personality of your rig. Its a fun process, and the rewards are :good food, and the satisfaction that you are creating something unique.

    There are a ton of good folks here who will help ya if ya stumble of have a question. But if ya start with some research in those areas I listed, you will have a huge understanding on the direction you need to go.[​IMG]
  8. seboke

    seboke Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well said Dan. Gotta know how to use the tools!
  9. rivet

    rivet Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I understand your frustration. The SNP is definitely a "hands-on" smoker but a wonderful device with mods and once you get the hang of it.

    My fire grate looked like a tank ran over it the first time I used it. Not a big fire either. Go with a sturdier model if you can, or flip it over every time. Currently I have yet to have a better one manufactured for me, so I just flip it over and rest it on 1/2 a brick on either end of the firebox.

    For a good smoke start the fire in the box with about 1/4 bag of charcoal (abour 30 briquettes). Once going add 1 smoking "log" of your choice of wood, or 3 or 4 chunks of wood. If using chunks you will have to add wood every 45 m inutes or so. Every hour and a half you'll also have to add about 6 or 7y briquesttes. If using a log, add a new one everytime the old ones burns down and add only about 4 or 5 briquettes about every 2 hrs.

    Definitely need a better thermometer. One with a probe. Brinkmann sells a very good analogue screw on probe thermometer that I replaced the chintzy one with.

    Until you make a baffle, just raise the firebox side of the tray to its highest position, leaving the chinmeyt side low. PLace your water pan under the cooking grate, on the tray right up against the firebox aperture.

    Make a chimney extension. I had a local muffler shop make it for me for 15 bucks. Send me a PM and I'll give you the details and dimensions, angles needed.

    You must monitor and regulate your incoming air constantly to control the temps in your smoker. The original door will warp too.

    Good luck to you and your smoking. With a little more practice you'll get the hang of the SNP!
  10. Rivet said it very well.. I have a SnP also, and can verify everything he said. As someone else stated to get everything done at the same time you need to stagger the starting times. Your ribs will need at least 5 hours to cook. and, they need to be foiled after the 2nd hour for 2 hours and then uncovered for at least one more hour. Dont give up, keep experimenting and keep coming here for questions. I cannot imagine not having this site available for help when I need it. There are some great people here who are always glad to help.
  11. I've got the SnP and love it. Fire sounds way too hot. I usually run through 1/2-3/4 bag of royal oak over a 8-10 hour smoke.

    The analog therm that brinkman sells (I think this is it:
    plugs into the lid and runs between 10 and 30 degrees hotter than your cooking grates when they are set at the hightest settings.

    I added a baffel and heat/smoke distribution grates to my brinkman which helped equalize cooking between the two ends of the smoke chamber. Check the mods out here:
    There are many great modifications that you can see there, maybe get some ideas.

    A great idea I was given on this board was pushing the probe end of a thermometer through a cork and laying it on the grate, making sure the probe did not touch the grate. As long as your thermometer can go up to 300-350 this should work well for you. See it here:

    Try to keep your temp between 225 an 250 for ribs, higher for chicken. You must have had that puppy up around 350-400 at least with all that wood.

    Hope this helps.
  12. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One mod you will want to do that will make your life much easier is to build a charcoal basket out of expanded metal.

    Make sure it sits high enough off of the bottom of the firebox to let the ash fall through.

    This will keep your fire from getting choked out by the ash and will also contain the hot charcoal so that it is not resting against the firebox sides. As you no doubt have already noticed, the new SnPs aren't the heaviest built things out there.

    You may also want to find some lump if you are using briquettes. Lot less ash and burns hotter. Don't use Cowboy though.

    As Capt Dan said, do some dry runs to learn how the smoker likes to run. I like mine but it took awhile to get used to the way it operates.

    Good luck.

  13. Low and Slow Smoke-hoppa. Yoda says start small in fire and heat and grow from there.......this ain't no microwave.
  14. tf bbq

    tf bbq Fire Starter

    I am not sure. I have not gotten a better thermometer for it yet. The stock thermometer never got above the mid point in the ideal range. It may have gotten hotter had I not been opening often to rotate the chicken. The yard bird cook fairly fast. The ribs still were not done an hour later. After the bird was off, it never got much above the first line of ideal range.
  15. tf bbq

    tf bbq Fire Starter

    Well, I just found out today, yet another comp I am gonna miss. Work moved the comp once so I could to a meeting with my Uncle. My Uncle changed the meeting date today and added some days. No reason for my luck to change any now. Oh well and Hoorah.

    Gives me more time to prepare for the next one I am gonna miss.
  16. tf bbq

    tf bbq Fire Starter

    Thanks, I'll read through it.
  17. tf bbq

    tf bbq Fire Starter

    Thanks for the visuals.
  18. tf bbq

    tf bbq Fire Starter

    Thanks for the links.
  19. crockadale

    crockadale Smoking Fanatic

    Man you have got to get a decent thermometer. That thing that has an "ideal" reading ain't worth a d*&mn. You need to know your temp at the rack and the internal temp of your meat. Otherwise you're cooking blind.
  20. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ditto what crockadale said. The stock thermometer is a piece of junk. Heck, Brinkmann only charges $2.95 for them on their website. If I recall correctly from using my digitals, the first "D" in the first "Ideal" is about 250. If you were in the middle of the Ideal range you were probably in the 300s at the top of the chamber -- probably higher at the grate. The other thing I noticed about the stock thermo is that it is not very consistent. One time the "D" may be about 250 and other times it is something else. It is so inconsistent I really don't bother looking at it anymore.


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