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going to dump my pit boss

masssmoke

Smoke Blower
111
61
Joined May 8, 2016
so today was the last straw. I have had a Pit Boss for 2 years but I have struggled with it the whole time. I like to smoke ribs but no matter what they come off this smoker dry (to me), crumbling and look like mush meat. I have gone from butcher paper to foil, tried lowering the temp and everything else I can think of, but I can't get the results I want. I had a cheap electric smoker before and I am going back to electric.
 

ostrichsak

Meat Mopper
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32
Joined Oct 4, 2013
Have you checked/calibrated your smoke chamber temperature? What was your electric?
 

whistlepig

Smoking Fanatic
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Joined Dec 23, 2011
There is a lot of valuable and available info on this site. Most of what I have learned came from here and cooking temps and controlled temperatures can make or break the smoke. Relying on the temperature gauge from the smoker manufacturer has never worked out for me. I have always purchased quality after market remote thermometers.

No matter what brand or type smoker you choose for your next purchase consider a quality temp gauge that monitors both smoker temp and meat temp(s).
 

MJB05615

Master of the Pit
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708
Joined May 12, 2018
so today was the last straw. I have had a Pit Boss for 2 years but I have struggled with it the whole time. I like to smoke ribs but no matter what they come off this smoker dry (to me), crumbling and look like mush meat. I have gone from butcher paper to foil, tried lowering the temp and everything else I can think of, but I can't get the results I want. I had a cheap electric smoker before and I am going back to electric.
I was in a similar situation. 2-3 years ago, I went astray from my MES 40 Gen 1 for a Pitboss 700fb. It's the lower end of the PB line. Got a cheap deal from Amazon. I thought I would get better flavor from it. The first year I had only a few problems. Around the end of the 1st year and into the 2nd year it went from bad to worse. Didn't heat up, then flamed up, no pellets feeding into flame pot, too much smoke, not enough smoke, etc. A friend and I took the hopper and auger apart, cleaned it out, etc. Then I cooked everything on it in aluminum pans, so literally no grease would get into the auger or firepot. After the 2nd cook it started doing the same things again for no reason. So it went into the shed, (I gave it to a friend that converted into a manual unit), brought my MES 40 back out of retirement. Fired right up after almost 2 years of non use. Made some mods and tweaks, all learned here, and it's working better than ever. Now because I'm a glutton for punishment, I just got the MB 40" charcoal smoker last week. Just to have the choice of charcoal/lump smoking instead of the MEs chips/pellets in the AMAZN tube. So once I have it up and running, I'll post pics and results. I got busy last week so didn't have the chance to build yet.
 

MJB05615

Master of the Pit
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Joined May 12, 2018
And I agree, definitely get your own therm, never trust the onboard ones.
 

drunkenmeatfist

Smoking Fanatic
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Joined May 28, 2017
Instead of going back to electric why don't you try charcoal or wood? Drum cookers turn out some awesome ribs and they can be as "set and forget" as electric or pellet.
 

MJB05615

Master of the Pit
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708
Joined May 12, 2018
Instead of going back to electric why don't you try charcoal or wood? Drum cookers turn out some awesome ribs and they can be as "set and forget" as electric or pellet.
That's possible. But I've just gotten the MB Charcoal Smoker last week. It should also be set and forget, which is what I prefer. If it doesn't work out, I'd look into a Drum Smoker. If they'd truly be set and forget. This new Charcoal only uses electricity for the fan that keeps the smoke flow and the temp set and timer. I haven't had a chance to put together yet, but hoping to do this week.
 

Fueling Around

Master of the Pit
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I guess I have to point out the ...
Often results from the smoker are more the operator than the equipment?

I got a pellet pooper this spring. Outside of my error a couple times it is a great platform.
 

SlickRockStones

Smoking Fanatic
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Joined Mar 12, 2018
Maybe we can help but we’ll need more info on what PB you have. Did you buy it new with a warranty? Baby backs or spares? I’m with TnJake in that my Austin runs great and temps fluctuate 15-25 degrees on average when monitored with a remote thermometer. Don’t trust any temp given by the controller or the grill gauge. There’s mods and fixes out there but if you’re determined to dump it I suggest a kettle and a bag of charcoal.
 

masssmoke

Smoke Blower
111
61
Joined May 8, 2016
hi thanks for all the replies.
I do monitor the chamber temp with a separate probe and not rely on the smoker display temp. The smoker runs a bit hotter than the displayed temp but not by much. I purposely temp down to keep the temp around what I want 200-225
I have the smaller Tailgater Pit Boss.
The reason I liked electric and thought to try pellet was to limit variables to meat selection, rubs etc. rather than all that plus temp control with a wood or charcoal set up.
These were baby backs, but I have done spares too with similar results.
What is frustrating is that I used to get exactly what I'd want pretty consistently and now I just can't seem to get a good result. Yesterday I did 2.5 hours then foiled for 1.5 then 30 mins with sauce to firm them up . Bend test was good. Went to cut them up and it's hard to describe but the meat doesn't cut clean and they like fall apart to the point you get a bunch of loose meat and it seems dry. In addition to lowering temp and closely monitoring the chamber temp with an external probe, I have tried to cut back on time on the smoker but then they lack a clean bite (which is how I like them, just short of FOTB). There have been some times I have gotten decent results with the PB, but not like I used to be able to get almost all the time.
Obviously my first post was a bit of post-smoke frustration.
 

bill1

Smoking Fanatic
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Joined Apr 25, 2015
Couple thoughts although I tend to do ribs on something other than my pellet machine:
  1. I think most PB's have a curved flame spreader/diverter so it might be difficult to implement a water pan but you could consider it. (Note many on this forum don't care for water pans no matter how easy they might be to implement.) When you used an electric smoker for ribs, did you use a water pan?

  2. Pellet machines move a lot of air. I've added an 8-position speed control to mine because the default settings tends to be hurricane force. Maybe good for high-temp cooks but I find it unnecessary for low 200's. I'd love to hear from other pellet users as to what kind of cfm they tend to move. If your only outlet is a smoke stack, how long does it take to fill a flattened trash bag? A kitchen bag is ~1cf and a 30gal garden bag about 3 cf.
Finally, if you're having better luck with your electric, go back and use it. There's no crime having two tools for the same job. Do you find the pellet useful for at least some cooks?
 

SmokinEdge

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I have to ask where you get your ribs? Home raised? Store bought, and if so what brand? Are the the “extra tender” kind that Smithfield markets? You know meat selection has a huge play in final product especially with slow and low.
 

masssmoke

Smoke Blower
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61
Joined May 8, 2016
hi thanks, I could try a water pan. My electric smoker is no more, so I'd need a new one.
My old smoker was an electric Brinkman that I bought knowing nothing about smoking. But I learned a ton (mostly from this forum) and was able to get really good results from it.
I switched to the pellet world thinking I would get better flavor with the wood pellets.
The Brinkman had a huge water pan that I always used.
I have read that pellet smokers should not need a water pan, but it can't hurt to try.
The ribs I buy are store bought, I try to avoid Smithfield, but generally buy what is there. Over the years I have been able to cook really good ribs (before PB) so I have learned at least for me what to look for in a rack of ribs before I buy.
I think maybe for baby backs I will next time try a small water pan and cut down smoke times to 2-1-1 (30 mins less than last time).
 

masssmoke

Smoke Blower
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61
Joined May 8, 2016
BTW I do think that the air flow has something to do with the dryness. I think the "convection oven" like aspect of the pellet dries out the food- but then that would happen to everyone! that is what is so frustrating when everyone else raves about their pellet smokers...
 

SmokinEdge

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I’m thinking you might be cooking hotter and faster than you realize. What temp are you pulling the ribs, and how long are they at that temp?
 

masssmoke

Smoke Blower
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61
Joined May 8, 2016
I’m thinking you might be cooking hotter and faster than you realize. What temp are you pulling the ribs, and how long are they at that temp?
well I did monitor the temp on the grill using a separate probe and not relying on the smoker temp display and I never deviated much from the temp that was set 200 and some 225. I checked often because I was thinking too hot was the issue.
 

SmokinEdge

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I was talking more about the internal temperature of the meat. That’s what you want to watch.
 

Inscrutable

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I was talking more about the internal temperature of the meat. That’s what you want to watch.
^^^this^^^
I also noticed all your process comments we’re about time, pit temp, wrapping .... never mention of IT nor probing. As SmokinEdge SmokinEdge said, different samples can vary, let alone between different cuts. You may want to look at IT to then tell you when to start checking bend or probing for tenderness.
 

Little-m

Meat Mopper
161
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Joined May 27, 2019
Interesting conversation. I too have a 700 and I swear, I've replaced every component on it once over. The 700's fan runs flat out non-stop. This is unlike the smaller Tailgater I had and sold to get this one. I actually like Bill's idea of adding a triac to the fan to control speed. I too observe the issues of near flame-out and then huge swings as the unit tries to get back up to temp.

Frankly, I think the 700 is simply a bad design. I had no issues like this with the Tailgater and wish I hadn't had sold it. So OP, I don't blame you for throwing it in the corner and looking elsewhere. I snagged a Brinkman coal smoke for the cottage this past summer and really like what it produces. It's too bad I can't get more than a 3 hour smoke from it without having to add more coal.

Mark
 

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