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Initial Setup and Using the Masterbuilt Vertical Propane Smoker

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by tt ace, Nov 23, 2011.

  1. tt ace

    tt ace Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Since I posted a review of the Masterbult Vertical Propane Smoker on November 11th, I have received several questions about how to setup and use. There are bits and pieces of the proper information all over the Forum as well as the internet. Between my experience and other relevant sources, I have put together the following to hopefully provide others, especially Newbies, with setup instructions and relevant tips.

    Before you start get a roll of aluminum foil. I recommend the 18" wide as it can be used for the following procedures and makes wrapping meats much easier.

    First do not use the provided chip pan as it is! The slots in the bottom allow flames to enter the pan and light whatever is in the pan.  This was a patent gone bad!

    [​IMG]                    [​IMG]

    This is how I solved the problem. First cut three pieces of aluminum foil about 4 1/2 inches long and fold each one several times.


    Place a piece over the inside of the chip pan over the slots, pressing the center part of the foil into the slot.


    Cut a piece of aluminum foil which will fill one of the chip pan sections with enough to tuck into the slot areas. Place in the section, making sure some goes into the slot section.

    [​IMG]                 [​IMG]

    Do this for all three sections, then put another layer in all three sections. Cut a small piece and fold it a couple of times and tuck it into the center, wrapping some of the foil around the slot covers. this will help lock the other foil layers in place.


    I have found this will help prevent flareups. Occasionally I will replace the foil. This sure helps to keep the pan clean!

    The next step is to foil the bottom of the water pan. This is where the use of the wide foil really comes in handy. Wrap the foil around the pan and trim off the foil that goes over the rim into the pan. Make sure you always foil the water pan before you use. If you are planning a dry smoke, i.e. no water in the pan, foil the inside of the pan.

    [​IMG]               [​IMG]

    Before you use the smoker the first time, you should season it. Put a couple of wood chunks or a cup or two of chips in the chip pan. If chips are used, I highly recommend that you soak the chips for at least an hour before using them. Do not put any liquid in the water pan for this operation. After seasoning, you can use whatever liquid you like in the water pan. Open the door and light the smoker with the flame setting as shown.


    Now turn the temp setting down to the area as shown in the next photo. I have found that if you leave the setting on high, you run a very high risk of flareups. This setting allows for a fairly quick heating without that risk.


    Let the smoker temp get to about 200 and smoke for 2-4 hours. Your smoker is now ready to make some of the best meat you will ever taste.! When smoking, you do not have to wrap anything in foil or to put in charcoal. Some people like to put in a piece of charcoal, but I have not found any difference in taste and you still get a good smoke ring in your meat without it.

    If you want good, consistent results, you need to be able to monitor your smoker temps. Some people have found the temp gauge on the smoker to be accurate, but most of us have found it is way off. In my case it was off 20-50 degrees. A cheap way to get a good accurate reading is to use an oven thermometer which is placed inside on a rack.


    This gives you good readings, but you must open the smoker door to read it. I highly recommend you get a remote thermometer. I am using the Maverick ET-732 and really love it. You can get decent results by using cooking times for meats, but for more reliable and better results, use a good meat thermometer. Once again I recommend getting a remote meat thermometer to avoid having to open the door to get readings. Again the Maverick ET-732 reads both the smoker temp and also provides a probe to put into a cut of meat. There are other good units, but after reading reviews and inputs from other smokers, this is what I bought and use.


    Maverick ET-732 with smoker temp wire in place. Note that I ran the wire through the hole in the stack.


    Smoker probe in the smoker. I usually put it in a back corner on one of the upper shelves.  I run the smoker and food wires behind the racks, so the racks can be pulled and pushed without affecting the probes. 

    We always have storage problems, i.e. where to keep our chips and/or chunks, tools, etc. A low cost way of doing this is to go to Family Dollar, Walmarts, etc. and purchase some storage bins. Pictured is what I am using.


    Here is a picture of my Masterbuilt Vertical Propane Smoker. This smoker is not insulated very well, so I insulated it as shown. For the instructions go to http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/112976/insulating-a-propane-smoker and you will find how I did it.  Also note that I have surrounded the bottom with bricks to form a wind break as I found that high winds affected the flame, including blowing it out.


    For ideas and problem resolutions, a search of this forum will provide invaluable help. The people on this forum are here to help and will provide you all the enouragement you will ever need. In fact, I am sure others will fill in some of the gaps here.  Let me know if I can answer any more questions or be of more help.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011
  2. pops6927

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

    Great step-by-step and very detailed!  A great contribution to the forum!  Thank you for the post and I'm sure it will be a great help and timesaver to the owners!
  3. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I really like the bricks around the bottom idea. I'm going to do that to my Smoke Vault!

  4. tt ace

    tt ace Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    The bricks definitely help.  The windbreak will help almost any kind of smoker, allowing enough air in but keeping the wind from affecting the flame, charcoal, or whatever.  Probably would not make any difference for an electric smoker.  [​IMG]Glad you like it SmokinAl.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011
  5. scooper

    scooper Smoking Fanatic

    TT Ace,

    Thanks for the tutorial on the chip pan.  I cannot stand it's design, yet I was too lazy to hammer the raised pieces down. 

    I have been wrapping the wood chunks in foil, but that uses way too much foil.

    Going to do this to the chip pan for today's turkey.

  6. tt ace

    tt ace Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Scooper glad you like what you see.  This method of foiling the chip pan has really worked for me.  I have an occasional flareup if I let the pan get too hot.  I have found that having a spray bottle with water near is always a good idea.  However, if there is a flareup, I find that spraying the flames down quickly the first time or two seems to eliminate any flareups from that point on, including on future smokes.  Doesn't happen often though.  Just monitor the temps and if you see a sudden rise in temps, check to see if you have a flareup.  Another reason I recommend the remote thermometer.  Have a great Thanksgiving and a better smoke!
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011
  7. minden man

    minden man Newbie

    I know it has been mentioned before, but a #8 cast iron pan set onto a grate from a gas stove is really the ticket to keep the temperatures solid. The pan holds temperature terrifically and the chunks burn a long time. I loaded mine with "fist sized" chunks and got good solid smoke for about two hours. I got a large foil roaster pan and filled it half way with water and after two hours I still had about half of the water left. I am smoking a 16 pound brined turkey today, and can't wait to see how it turns out. This only the second time I have used the smoker (I very recently bought it)  and I am sure I will get great results. The fist smoke was four brined 4-1/2 pound chickens, and they were just great. I followed the suggestions of the members here and only had a "wisp" of smoke, and the chickens were not as smokey as I would have liked. But, the next day the chickens tasted more smoked and I'm not quite sure why but that is okay with me. I really do recommend this smoker to others. There is enough room to smoke at least 12 tri-tips. I would have said 16, but the giant water pan uses the bottom rack. I didn't even bother to check the factory thermometer, I pulled it out and used a remote reading thermometer that I knew was correct. The wind is blowing here in Nevada, and the smoker is holding 225 F like a champ. Happy turkey day!
  8. scooper

    scooper Smoking Fanatic

    I was wondering what I could support a cast iron skillet with.  Thanks, Minden Man.  That will be my next scavenger hunt item.  I use a disposable 1/2 hotel pan for the water pan.  It squeezes right into the rack the small factory one goes into.  I put a 1/2 gallon of water and it's only 1/2 full. 

    For now the foil on the chip pan is working great, Ace!  I have the smoker riding at around 285 - 290 with the turkey parts in.  The apple and cherry wood that usually burn up quick are giving great TBS right now.  Doesn't the spray bottle stir up ashes when you spritz a flare up?

    I use the Maverick dual probe.  I love being able to know the temp from inside the house.  The factory therm is usually accurate, but I still prefer the digital.
  9. tt ace

    tt ace Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Scooter, glad the foil is working.  I have not had a problem with the ashes when I spray a flareup.  As far as the cast iron skillet, yes it would work fine.   If you do use the skillet, I have seen a couple of places where it is just put on top of the present chip pan. I haven't tried that but it should work fine.  However, I have found that using the foil has solved the problem.  The wood chunks last a very long time and give off a good smoke.  I have seen the complaints about the small water pan, but I find that the water lasts quite a long time in it as is and I don't lose shelf space.  By the way, Scooter the water pan holds a gallon just like the 1/2 hotel pan.  Here is a tip I did not include in the original writeup.  Get a pair of Ove Gloves.  They are much more flexible than most other gloves and you can handle even a hot chip pan or skillet.  They make it easy to put in more chips/chunks while rotating the pan or putting more wood in a skillet with them still in the smoker.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2011
  10. kielbasa kid

    kielbasa kid Smoke Blower

    TT Ace,

    What is that outside insulation????  I hope it isn't foil faced styrofoam house wall insulation.

  11. scooper

    scooper Smoking Fanatic

    I don't lose any space with the aluminum water pan.  It fits right in the rack I took the factory one out of, and is just a tad taller.  I don't cook down that low, so no lost space.  I guess I like it because there's no clean up.  Use it then chuck it.  Although the factory one will probably hold enough water now that I don't have a bonfire below it.

    I agree, the foil on the chip tray really works.  If the chip pan rusts out before the smoker, then I will use a skillet.  And I am loving the mileage I'm getting out of the wood chunks now.  I owe you a bag of hickory for that!

    Thanks for the tip on the gloves.  Adding them to my x-mas list now. 
  12. tt ace

    tt ace Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Kielbasa Kid.  No that is not foil faced styrofoam house wall insulation.  This insulation is found back in the plumbing section for covering hot water heaters, etc.  It has a layer what looks like a bubble wrap in the middle with a layer of foil on both sides.  It works great!  You will find the complete instructions at http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/112976/insulating-a-propane-smoker#post_716376

    Scooter, glad the foil on the chip pan worked for you.  It has really been great for my smokes as well.  Someday I will take you up on a bag of Hickory.  I have oak, alder, mesquite, and various fruit woods that have been given to me.  However, there is no place around here that grows Hickory.  I have found the best place to buy it is a either Loews or Home Depot.  The Ove Gloves really work well.  They make things much easier without fear of burning your hand or fingers.  I am really pleased that you found something of use in this tutorial. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2011
  13. bakerman

    bakerman Fire Starter

    T T Ace,

    Thanks! That was really helpful. 1st smoke is in progress.
  14. tt ace

    tt ace Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Good luck on your first smoke.  Be aware that it is habit forming!  Let me know how it goes.  Don't forget to post pictures![​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2011
  15. kielbasa kid

    kielbasa kid Smoke Blower

    Thanx TT

  16. bakerman

    bakerman Fire Starter

    No pix sorry I was way too busy watching football. However 1st smoke worked out okay. I pulled the chickens too early and had to finish in the oven. At least I understand a bit better on how to prepare ahead of time.I got started too late and my birds were not done until 9. Plenty of smoky flavor though. We are going to eat them tonight.

    I did notice my door thermometer was over 20 degrees high. This attributed to the lengthy cook time. I put an oven thermometer inside and once I got the smoker up to 250 degrees it was okay.

    I did have one bird that would not go above 150 degrees on the meat probe. The chicken right next to it was 160, weird huh.

    Thanks to this forum I now know how to attain TBS and next smoke will be a lot less nerve wracking.

    I'm gonna do ribs next. Should be a lot less work and worry.

  17. tt ace

    tt ace Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Not bad for your first smoke.  The stall can happen at different temps for varying lengths of time on different pieces of meat.  There are many reasons for this occurrence.  However, it is the end result that counts!  Good smoke, Good food!!! 

    If you are going to smoke ribs, I recommend the spareribs.  They have more meat and more flavor than babybacks, though babybacks are not a bad choice either.  Take a look at the 3-2-1 method (2-2-1 for babybacks), i.e. 3 hours smoke, 2 hours wrapped, and 1 hour unwrapped.  Works great for me!

    The important part is that you have now joined the Clan of the Smoking Fanatics!!!!!

  18. hernando

    hernando Smoke Blower

    Ah, just what I was looking for. Just acquired one of these smokers today (Wait til the wife finds out) for an unbeatable deal and knew there were a few issues with the wood flaring up. With this being the single door model, do yall notice a huge loss of temps when adding wood/water?
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2011
  19. scooper

    scooper Smoking Fanatic


    I did some spares (trimmed to St. Louis) last night in the MGS with the foil lined chip pan.  No spritz, no foil.  Just 5.75 hours at an average of 215 smoker temp.  TBS was perfect.

    Wife and I both agreed they were the best I have ever made.  Very moist and tender, with a slight pull to them.  I don't foil because I don't like them soft.  They were perfect!

    Thank you again!

  20. scooper

    scooper Smoking Fanatic

    It does drop but it recovers quickly.  Especially if you do like I do and crank the burner all the way up for 30 seconds or so.  [​IMG]

    It's a great smoker.  I really like mine.  I've done an all night pork butt, and it stayed fine all night.  I had a major thunderstorm pop up during a chuckie smoke.  Winds were gusting to 35, raining sideways, and the burner never blew out.