required maintenance?

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by drlouis, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. drlouis

    drlouis Smoke Blower

    I have a Smokevault that has performed very well for me, then after having a few months off (first part of the winter) I put it back into service. everything came out tasting good, BUT the color was not what I expected. It was more grey than that nice dark brown I was expecting. Almost looked like soot, and it had a ....charcoal-like smell. the next time I used it a week or so later I got the same results - on a chicken this time (the color difference was easier to notice - and profound).

    I did a search of the forums, and found one thread about soot being the result of not enough oxygen getting to the fire. I should mention that first time I got it out again there were little tiny baby spiders that came scampering out as it heated up... So I'm wondering if maybe it's not getting all the oxygen it needs? Is there is any maintenance or cleaning I need to do to get it back in proper working order, or do I just need to open the air vents a bit? Does a smoker need cleaned out periodically? [​IMG]

    I have a couple racks of spareribs, and a brisket I'm thawing to do and I'd like to have this ironed out first.

  2. bassman

    bassman Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You should clean out the burner and venturi. The owner's manual stresses keeping them clean. You probably have a flame that looks like this. This particular one was new and had to be returned as defective but you can get the same thing from clogged orifices.
  3. drlouis

    drlouis Smoke Blower

    yup, that's pretty much what it looks like. ok. nice that I find this out today too, since it's unseasonably warm, I wont have to freeze getting it cleaned up.

    ...owners ..manual? what's that?

    Seriously. I got a bunch of papers in the box, but I don't recall anything except the assembly instructions that could really be called an owners manual. I'll have to dig it out and see what I can find. If I don't have one, maybe I can find it online somewhere (not sure what a "venturi" is).

    Thank you for the help! I was afraid some of that fat and other junk building up in there needed washed out. I was NOT looking forward to THAT job - at least not while it's still winter. [​IMG]
  4. drlouis

    drlouis Smoke Blower

    wow. I finally found the exploded view of this thing, and the venturi looks like a job to get to for cleaning.
  5. richoso1

    richoso1 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Before a smoke, I clean the burner and all surrounding areas with a wet/dry vac. This keeps everything clean for me. Good luck.
  6. dacfan

    dacfan Smoke Blower

    A wet dry vac, heck of an idea you came up with there. I'll have to remember that one myself.
  7. LOL he sucks[​IMG]
  8. azkitch

    azkitch Smoke Blower

    Got up into the 20's, did it?
    sorry. Couldn't resist. Attended a wedding in Bloomington, IL just B4 Christmas, put up w/-3 + 30 mph winds, first time in 25 years. I was right, I didn't want to remember! I'd rather wear oven mitts to drive in August... [​IMG]

    PS I hope the burner cleaning went well. I keep thinking about just blasting up thru w/the air hose. Never really looked at what I'd have to disconnect to do it.
  9. drlouis

    drlouis Smoke Blower

    well, I wasn't able to remove it to clean it proper-like. I ended up using an old toothbrush on the holes in the burner, and was able to remove the dial from the front which gave me access to one end of the venturi. I hosed it out with my air compressor, but the results were not what I'd hoped. I have pics, I have to get them off my camera and upload them someplace so I can post them. bottom line is part of the flame is blue, but most is still yellow. I should have gotten this taken care of before I got all this meat out to thaw (2 racks of spares, and a whole brisket) [​IMG]
  10. minn.bill

    minn.bill Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Hmm,have had my vault over 3 yearsand have never cleaned it or even heard of a venturi.still works perfect and has never turned out grey meat.[​IMG]
  11. drlouis

    drlouis Smoke Blower

    ouch. that's cold to be standing outside! it was actually in the 50's here today I believe. not bad at all.

    to get the venturi off you have to remove and then partially disassemble the burner unit. tomorrow I think I'll try threading a pipe cleaner or two into the same end of the venturi in hopes of catching a spiderweb or something, and running one into each of the burner holes. I'll keep everyone updated. damn spiders. [​IMG]
  12. drlouis

    drlouis Smoke Blower

    well, I definitely developed a soot problem(I really think it was spider web), all of a sudden it's building up soot like nobodies business on the bottom of the chip tray and pretty much every other surface inside the smoker, but especially the chip tray. It was probably 3/16" thick on the bottom (hadn't emptied it from the last smoke til today). I'll get at it good with pipe cleaners and hope that'll do it. if not I guess I'll be ordering a new burner unit from Camp Chef (who've been absolutely amazing to deal with so far - had problems with shipping damage).

    Edit: here are the pics of the flame after cleaning:

    I'm guessing that's still not right. If I'm wrong please tell me. anyway I'll let you guys know how the more thorough cleaning goes tomorrow.
  13. bassman

    bassman Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If you have an air compressor with a blow gun, you could try just blowing it out instead of dis-assembling it. Worst case, you may have to take the whole assembly out so you can see what's going on. Good luck.
  14. oillogger

    oillogger Meat Mopper OTBS Member

    Hmmmmmm........this is a clear case of not smoking enough. [​IMG]

    You should not be getting soot unless the burner or regulator is not adjusted properly.
  15. drlouis

    drlouis Smoke Blower

    alright. that first pic above is pretty much what it looks like now, except the flames are more even now. but still about the same amount of blue/yellow.

    I tried the air compressor (that was last night before taking the the pics), and I used pipe cleaners on the whole works tonight (threaded one into each and every freakin' one of them **** little holes, and worked them into and around the venturi from the front to catch any spider webs that might be in there. Other than the flame being more even now I can't see any difference.

    So my question at this point is: do those flames look ok? if they do I'll give it a try and see if it comes out better. If not is there a way to adjust the thing, or do I need to call Camp Chef and order a new one?

    Edit: at the lowest setting there is now quite a bit less yellow, so I guess it might be a bit better than before....
  16. bassman

    bassman Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That doesn't look all that much different than mine and I just finished up a fatty this afternoon with no problem. Give it a try and let us know how everything turns out.
  17. drlouis

    drlouis Smoke Blower

    excellent. Thank you, I'll give it a go, and report back. I'll have to be sure to get some pics too. First time doing ribs! I'm excited.

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