Frustrated - Problems With Cabelas Smoker

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by m5allen, Apr 5, 2010.

  1. I am fairly new to the forum and have been smoking for about a year now, using the stainless steel Cabelas 7-in-1. I bought this smoker because I fish a lot and like the fryer option. But over the course of my smokes, I have found a lot of issues with this smoker. And just a note – I only smoke with the propane.

    For the wood, I usually use chips and I chop off chunks from some pecan and oak logs I have. The chunks I use are usually about 3-4 inches long and about a half inch thick. I like the chips to get the smoke started and the chunks to keep the smoke going for a while. IMO, the 7-in-1 has a huge design flaw in that there is barely any space between the water pan and wood bowl, so I try to avoid frequently refilling the wood pan.

    The problem I have been having lately is that I get a lot of flare ups from the bigger chunks, which send the temps in my smoker to 300+ degrees. This is a huge pain because I have to either wait for the chunks to burn out or douse them with water – which emits a burnt smelling smoke. And I do cover my wood with hole-poked foil.

    The supplied fire bowl is steel and has 3 vents (my smoker can also be used as a charcoal smoker so I am guessing the vents help keep the charcoal burning). I can try to take a picture to show what it looks like. Should I replace the stock wood pan with a cast iron skillet and cover it with foil or some type of metal cover with a couple drilled holes?

    The other major issue I have is that if it is windy, the propane burner tends to blow out. I’ll be doing something and come back to check on my smoker to find that the propane is spewing out unlit and the temp is down to like 100 degrees.

    So all in all, smoking has been a frustrating experience lately. I don’t expect to throw some meat on and leave for the day, but I really don’t want to have to worry about babysitting during the entire smoke and spend 8 hours sitting in front of the smoker. I am wondering if it is time to retire the 7-in-1 and move on to something different. It would be a shame though to have spent so much money on a useless smoker.

    If anyone has a 7-in-1 that has modified it to overcome these issues, your advice is appreciated. And I am sure some of the smoke experts who don’t own the 7-in-1 can offer some suggestions. Thanks in advance.
  2. que-ball

    que-ball Smoking Fanatic

    Bumped. Can somebody help this new member? I can't, but there are lots of MES users here.
  3. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I had one of these and what I did was put foil over the wood box and poke some holes in it. I also soaked the wood in water and that worked too. In my GOSM I only put minimal wood in there and it smokes good.

    Hope that helps.
  4. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm with him brian on this one.
  5. Thanks for the help so far. I do usually soak my wood, I even soaked it overnight this past time to try and avoid the flare ups). It is just the larger chunks of wood that are catching fire and the small chips burn up too fast.

    For reference, below is the wood pan that came with my smoker. You can see the 3 "vents" on the bottom of the pan that let air in. I wonder if this is one of the reasons for my wood catching on fire? Maybe going with just a cast iron skillet with the handle sawed off would help. Would a cover that fits over the skillet with a few holes drilled in it be ideal?

    If I could solve this and the flame blowing out issue, I would have a more relaxing and productive smoke.


  6. dirt guy

    dirt guy Smoking Fanatic

    I don't have experience with this type of smoker. So, take my ideas for what they're worth. You could try lining the wood pan with some heavy duty foil to close up the air vents on the bottom might help reduce the amount of oxygen that gets to your wood chunks.

    Combining the the foil on the botton with foil on the top with holes poked in it with a fork should reduce how quickly the wood burns up. You might try it--before you cut the handle off of a perfectly good cast iron skillet.

    The problem with the combo rigs is while they can do "everything", they tend not to do "anything" as well as a dedicated fryer, smoker, or grill will do.

    Let us know how things work out for you.
  7. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Mine was a older model but didnt have the vents in the bottom. I would put a cast iron pan in there. It will hold the heat better and works great. Also if your using the thermometer in the door Dont. You could be smoking at a much higher temp and that would cause the flare ups with the wood. I know in my GOSM I have had that happen doing chicken at high temps.
  8. boiseque

    boiseque Smoke Blower

    I have this same smoker, though mine isnt stainless. I have many of the same issues as you and find smoking to be frustrating at times. I have come to keep a spay bottle of water next to the smoker at all times for the flare ups. I have noticed that soaked chunks dont seem to flare up as bad as soaked chips do. I try to use only chunks now and soak them for at least 1 hour before smoking, sometimes longer. That has seemed to help for the most part. Most of my flare ups lately have been occuring when adding more chunks to the pan, which as you said is a huge pain in the rear with the water bowl in place. I have seen where people have shimmed the water pan up various ways to allow easier access to the wood pan. As far as the wind blowing out the burner I understand your frustration there as well. Last smoke I actually moved it to the front porch, sort of an alcove covered and wind blocked on 3 sides. That worked wonders, when smoking in the usual location on the back porch I try to keep it close to the house, not too close though, and that seems to work for me. I would say maybe build a wind break from a hinged piece of plywood that will allow you to block 3 sides to prevailing winds. Or even place a 3 or so cinderblocks on end around the burner, I have seen some people on here do that with other smokers. I also find flare ups occur much less in this smoker with less, read minimal, chunks in the wood pan. This means you have to reload from time to time but I have found that if I use a BBQ fork i can place them on the rim of the wood pan and push them in with the fork. Hope some of this helps you out, this smoke will turn out some great BBQ though if you can get these issues under control.
  9. Thanks!

    I have a couple mods in mind and if they work, i'll post pics and share.
  10. unclejoe

    unclejoe Newbie

    m5allen:  I posted this problem on another page about this particular smoker, but I'll add it here since you mentioned some of the same flaws that I found. (can't say for sure they're flaws, but it seems like it)  The "flame disk bowl" that holds the charcoal or and/or wood chunks sits too close under the water bowl. There's so little room for charcoal that I had to add to it constantly. That would be tolerable, but the rim of the lower bowl is so near the top of the door opening that I could barely get the charcoal in, one at a time, then try to turn the bowl with tongs, and so on. The small space between the bowls and the poorly aligned door made this a 6-hour nightmare. I don't know how any decent sized wood chunks would even fit in that small space.

    So...reading some of these answers made me brave enough to modify my brand new smoker. I bent the legs of the lower (wood) bowl flat, so the bowl now sits on the bottom of that section of the smoker. This added an inch or two of space between the bowls and the door will be more usable. It seems like the wood will get just as much air. I'm anxious to try it again to see if this was the reason I couldn't get the temperature up. The other problem I had was keeping the coals burning. Maybe they were too packed in there, or maybe they weren't getting enough air through those little slots in the bottom of the bowl. (This sounds like the opposite of your problem with the flare-ups.) We'll see what happens.

    If this fix doesn't work, I'll be way past frustrated. Hope someone reads this old thread.
  11. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I owned the electric version of Cabela's vertical smoker and found that I would just lift off the top/center ring to reload wood chunks, placing it on the deck for a few moments then replacing it, not bothering to try and fit the wood in thru the door.  Heat loss was minimum and it worked well for me.  I used wood chunks from Wally World, those being smaller and didn't flame up that much, it'd add wood every 30 - 45 min. or so.

    As far as the flame going out, obviously i didn't have that problem but I would use a baffle or windbreak to keep the draft down.  I now have a propane smokehouse but it is protected from the wind and don't have that occurance (see smokehouse thread below).
  12. plj

    plj Meat Mopper

    Sounds like you already know this, but I'll say it anyway.

    When I use my cheapo propane smoker, the wood chunks will catch on fire - so I wrap them in foil, dont poke holes in it. Sometimes I double-wrap them. The idea is to eliminate the oxygen.
  13. does anyone have pics of the mods they made to their Cabelas 7 in 1? Just got one and am seasoning it now! Cant wait to smoke!!!

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