New Member that really needs help!

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knocked kneed

Original poster
Jan 8, 2007
First of all, I wanted to say hello to everyone here! Looks like this site is going to be great.
I just got a Mr. Meat Smoker for Christmas. It's nothing special, but a great gift to start LEARNING to smoke with. I also have a fresh pork farm right down the street that I pass weekly. I asked the man how fresh his ribs were last week and he told me, "they were walking around the field yesterday"!
I was hoping for some suggestions, so here it goes. This past Saturday was my first attempt. It started off great! Charcoal went great. My Hickory went on great after soaking a good while. I put a dry rub on the spare ribs and straight onto the rib rack.
I gave them an hour and a half and checked them. They looked great! Almost like it was time to eat them. But I know everyone had told me it would take almost 6 hours. My temp was ideal too at under 230 degrees, but when I check them right before the third hour. They were completely BLACK and DRIED OUT and had to go straight to the trash can.
Sorry for such a long message, but wondering if you guys could give me some suggestions of what I could do this coming weekend to avoid this! I have planned on smoking again this Saturday. Even though my meal had to be thrown away, I sure did have a blast smoking those ribs!!

Thanks for any advise in advance!!!
Knocked Kneed

Welcome to the forum...this is the right place to get your questions answered...lots of great people here, always ready to help..
I am not familiar with your smoker, but some very basic questions come to mind...
How accurate is the temp gage you are using?
Where in the smoker are you measuring the temp? Anywhere or at the rack where your meat is?
Vents....Are there vents on the smoker so you can have a nice flow of smoke thru the smoker? Or is the smoke trapped inside and just rolling around in there?
How heavy was your smoke? Nice thin blue? Or heavy billowing white smoke? Heavy white smoke is a no no..Nice thin blue is what ya want...and you want the smoke to flow thru the smoker so you don"t get a build up of creosote on your food...
I'm sure there are others here that know your smoker, and can offer additional help...
Hope I have helped some...

Sounds like you either had too much smoke or too much sugar in your rub. How big were your pieces of hickory? Pellets, chips, chunks, logs? I wouldn't soak anything bigger than chips.
Knocked Kneed

BTW...forgot to mention...If you haven't signed up for Jeff's 5 day e-mail smoking course...try it...its free...and it gives you a lot of great ya get going quicker..

Thanks for the input.

I just signed up for the 5 day course so hopefully it will help me a lot!!

Richard, I can already see some major mistakes. I'm not sure how accurate the temp quage is but, its a newwer smoker, so I just assumed it worked. The temp guage is at the top of the smoker, right where I placed the ribs. I don't have vents, which sounds like it might be a major problem. The smoke was trapped inside. Can I make a vent, or is that a bad idea?? Also, the smoke was heavy. I now realize I put ALOT of wood on when I should have just used a piece or two.

Pyre, I was using Hickory Chucks. I was using way too much it seems, because I had ALOT of smoke!! How much would you use when you start??
Welcome Knocked Kneed, you have some the best knowledge available here. These guys will get you and smoking great meat. Its all about trial and error I think we all have been there a time or two. Good luck on the up coming smoke.
Welcome to SMF Knocked Kneed!!! I hate to say much about what you need to do or not do because I'm not familiar with that smoker either. If you are using charcoal and flavoring with wood you only need like 4-6 chunks for the whole smoke and probably 2 to start depending on type of wood and how smoked you want them. Most likely soaking them was a mistake as well. Your gonna have to have somekind of exhaust or something. Sounds like a creosote build up.

I went and found one on Ebay. It looks like a basic ECB bullet type. There is no exhaust holes in the lid?
Knocked Kneed

If indeed your smoker is bullet type like the ECB..then it is also very similar to the charbroil h2o smoker I have...may I suggest that you go up to my album and look at all the mods I made to the charbriol....most are on page 2...made it work 200% better...these were all mods suggested and proven by others before me...

Good luck

Hi Knocked Kneed,

My first smoker was a Mr Meat Smoker. Didn't know they still made them.

My first suggestions would be to do the modifications suggested by vulcan.

Also, do not trust any thermometer that comes with a smoker. I personally don't care if it is a $49 ECB or a $1000 Klose, check it against a known good thermometer.

When I smoked on an ECB I would use about 1# of charcoal for every hour I wanted to smoke. Make your fire in the Minion method. It seemed to work out pretty well and it is easier to add more later than it is to burn your food up and have to start over.

Keep the amount of wood to a minimum and don't soak your chunks.

Keep your water pan at least half full all the time. Add cold water if the temps go up too high and Hot water if they fall.

Can't think of anything else right off the bat, but if I can help at all let me know.

Welcome to the SMF by the way. :D
Thanks for all the feedback, it is truly appreciated!

I do have the basic Charcoal Water Smoker with no vents. So looks like I'm going to do some things different for round 2 this Saturday. I'm still going to try spare ribs, but I'm only going to start with a couple of pieces of Hickory (unsoaked). Also buying a Thermometer and going to at least make the venting modifications.

Can you buy spare vents or parts at Lowe's??

I will be done with the 5 day course to by Saturday. This smoking stuff is addicting isn't it!?!? My wife had to talk me out of trying to smoke some chicken tonight. I told her I had to learn sometime!!

Thanks again everybody!
Knocked Kneed

All the parts I used in the mods I made on the charbroil, I made myself....used all stainless steel... nuts, bolts screws... everything...I'm sure you can get some sheets of material at Lowes... sheet metal or aluminum should word of caution...DO NOT use anything that is galvanized...

Thanks a lot Richard.

I'm going to make some modifications Saturday morning before my next rib attempt.

Funny thing is, I couldn't wait until the weekend to try again. I have me a nice Pork Tenderloin on the smoker right now for round two!!
Hope this helps :) ! My husband drilled a circular pattern of large (1/2 in) holes in the lid of our ECB that could be covered by a Ball canning jar lid and used a self-tapping screw through the rim to be the swivel point. He also drilled a concentric circle of same diameter holes in the fire pan. These mods came from the suggestions on this site and worked great :D ! Keeping an eye on the ash level in the fire pan and keeping the air flowing helps also. Best of luck and please send some good Karma this way since we're smoking our 1st batch of BB's this weekend :) . Again, good luck! Daun is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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