It's been a while but 1st smoke done - comments/guidance please!

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mymatejim

Newbie
Original poster
Aug 8, 2016
13
11
Hi all,

I initially posted months ago as I had ordered an offset smoker and was raring to go, however things took a while longer than expected!  I'd be interested in your thoughts on my first smoke and what I've done up to now...

Started the build at work in August...I'm the boss so that helps :-)


I read a few threads about air flow and other offset smoker builds so while I was at it I took some measurements and did a bit of sketching for a firebox baffle, tuning plate and chimney:


Which I had a metalwork friend of mine make up:


I was conscious of trying to shape rather than restrict the air flow too much, and made the baffle so that it could be adjusted (if you look at it you can see that the diagonal part has a separate metal plate which can be opened and closed)

While I was waiting for the metalwork to be done I built a bit of decking for it to go on, and grabbed a bargain:


So, all ready to go I decided to do some ribs on Boxing Day (and set my new decking on fire too lol):


I used an adaptation of a dry rub from Pitt Cue & Co book, essentially salt, pepper and sugar based which drew out a great amount of liquid from the ribs, and then indirect smoked them at 100-105degC for about 4.5 hours.  I finished them off direct by coating in BBQ Mop Sauce by Meat Lust (I'll probably get slated for that but my intentions for making my own sticky sauce on xmas day went out of the window I'm afraid between kids presents and a drink or 3...) and grilling for 30 mins.


I was surprised how well they turned out - I'd have liked then to fall off the bone a bit more than they did but the flavour was great and the mother in law couldn't get enough of them - always a good test!

Some points that I've picked up on:

- With the tuning plate installed I struggled to get the temperature above 105degC.  This wasn't a problem for these as (luckily) that was the temp I needed, but removing the plate increased the temp in the chamber by a good 20 degrees.  I'll play about a bit with the plate and the baffle vent I mentioned.  Also it was pretty cold on Boxing Day so that will obviously have had a hand in keeping temp down.

- I'm going to get some gasket tape for the door - a lot of smoke, and presumably heat, escaped from it

- I really need a basket for the coals too, the grill that comes as standard with the Oklahoma Joe is useless as they fall about everywhere

- I've invested in a second temp gauge at there was a noticeable gradient through the chamber which I want to be on top of.

Anyway, that's me done for now.  I hope (if you've read this far down!) that it was of some interest and any comments well appreciated!

Next smoke will probably be a chicken I reckon, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it...

Jim
 
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Jim.  Hello.  Welcome!  I am sorry you have not had a response before now.

That food looks GREAT to me!  Fine job.  My invitation must have been lost in the mail.  
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Offsets:  Well they fall into 2 catagories.  Cheap and custom made.  I have used them and built them for years.  I could never afford a custom offset.  I used cheap.  Custom offsets are like using an oven.  Temp. is easy to control.  CHEAP! will have you doing a dance.  NOT A BAD THING!  You will learn how to control the temp. in YOUR smoker.  You can make the mods. to help but I think it will always be a dance.  What your are trying is smoking 101 to a Texas boy but you didn't grow up watching GrandDad making Bbq.  I will send you a PM on Mods. you should make.

I think you did a fine job!  Keep up the good work.

Keep Smokin!

Danny
 
Cheers Danny,

Much appreciated; I had kinda thought I'd either posted on a ghost forum or I'd upset the smoking gods!

I'll make sure I get the invites out earlier next time - must have been the postal delay because of Christmas haha :)

Thanks also for the PM, much appreciated!

James
 
Hi James, sorry I can not comment on your smoker, as I do not have that type or any experience in using one.

Some comments on points in your thread.

The use of oven rope around doors etc is a great idea.
A good fuel basket would help you a lot.
A second thermometer is good, but even better would be something like a Maverick that takes the chamber temperature and also the meat temperature.

If you are struggling to maintain temperatures in cold weather, a welder blanket placed over your smoker will be your best friend!

Steve
 
Cheers for the thermometer advice Steve, and the welders blanket is inspired!

Thank you
 
<<Sorry Jim - I put together this reply the day that you posted but have just seen that it had remained as a draft>>

Hi Jim

That is looking great so far and the ribs looked delicious. I see you have learned that the heat from the starter chimney goes down as well as up
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. It has given your decking some character though.. That was certainly a good price on the Weber chimneys 
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There will always be a temperature gradient in the offset smoker - both lengthways and from bottom to top - and once you learn how to measure/manage it you can use it to your advantage.

Regarding the temperature, what were you using for fuel? You should not have a problem getting the temperature up higher. This will be due to one of several things.

The size of fire and the type of fuel. If you do not have sufficient energy being released by the fire to heat the cooking chamber and overcome the heat loss through the chamber walls and flue it will not reach the desired temperature. The amount of heat required will vary on the outside air temperature and any sun/wind that is directly affecting the smoker. As Boxing Day was cold then more heat would have been required than, say, on a midsummer afternoon. To achieve the addition heat you can use a fuel with a higher energy output. Good quality briquettes are usually best for this. You should also use more of them in colder weather and manage the heat of the burn through the firebox air vent. You should also invest in a good dual probe digital thermometer (e.g. Maverick ET-732/733 as this will give you a more accurate temperature reading than the thermometer in the lid.

Ribs are very forgiving and will be fine over a range of temperatures. At 100-105 C they would probably have needed a little longer than 4.5 hours. I usually smoke mine at 110-115 C. The 3-2-1 method is also a good method for fall off the bone ribs. 3 hours uncovered, 2 hours in foiland mopped in sauce and then up to 1 hour again unfoiled. At 110 C you usually do not need the whole of the last hour. A good rule of thumb to tell when they are done is when you get about 1/4"-1/2" meat pull back on the bone. 

Looking forward to seeing more from your next smoke

Wade
 
<<Sorry Jim - I put together this reply the day that you posted but have just seen that it had remained as a draft>>
No worries Wade, it took me approximately 3 months between my first post and my first smoke!
what were you using for fuel? You should not have a problem getting the temperature up higher. This will be due to one of several things.

The size of fire and the type of fuel. If you do not have sufficient energy being released by the fire to heat the cooking chamber and overcome the heat loss through the chamber walls and flue it will not reach the desired temperature. The amount of heat required will vary on the outside air temperature and any sun/wind that is directly affecting the smoker. As Boxing Day was cold then more heat would have been required than, say, on a midsummer afternoon. To achieve the addition heat you can use a fuel with a higher energy output. Good quality briquettes are usually best for this. You should also use more of them in colder weather and manage the heat of the burn through the firebox air vent. You should also invest in a good dual probe digital thermometer (e.g. Maverick ET-732/733 as this will give you a more accurate temperature reading than the thermometer in the lid.
I was just using lumpwood charcoal - will definitely look at the briquettes for the higher heat output.  And a good dual probe is definitely on my shopping list.

Quote:
Ribs are very forgiving and will be fine over a range of temperatures. At 100-105 C they would probably have needed a little longer than 4.5 hours. I usually smoke mine at 110-115 C. The 3-2-1 method is also a good method for fall off the bone ribs. 3 hours uncovered, 2 hours in foiland mopped in sauce and then up to 1 hour again unfoiled. At 110 C you usually do not need the whole of the last hour. A good rule of thumb to tell when they are done is when you get about 1/4"-1/2" meat pull back on the bone. 
Yeah in hindsight an extra hour or so might not have been a bad idea, and since doing them I've read a bit about wrapping on other threads so that is good advice. 3-2-1 sounds good, I like things that are easy to remember!
 
good thread, well built smoker, its always more satisfying eating off a home build, I've never bought always built!!

ribs look great, keep it up and show us whats next!!

lee
 
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