Seasoned new Master Forge charcoal smoker yesterday

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by wrigley, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. wrigley

    wrigley Newbie

    Assembled and seasoned just as the directions called for. I applied a light coat of spray oil and filled up my starter chimney with Kingsford Briquettes. Once I dumped the hot coals in the smoker and attached the top portion of the smoker the temp slowly rose and came to a rest around 400 degrees. I left it alone for about 30 mins then decided to experiment and see if i could alter the temp. This particular charcoal smoker only has the single side door and no other vents. I opened the door and left it open and the temp dropped to about 325 and settled there. I closed the door and left it alone. After near 2.5 hours the temp never dropped below 300ish.

    Will adding meat cause the temp to decrease into the 225-250 range or did i use too much charcoal?

  2. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Wrigly -- I am so sorry your post did not get a timely response!  [​IMG]

    My suspicion is that you had too many coals in your new rig.  Adding the meat will not drop the temps for very long.  Actually, your temps were great for seasoning it, but obviously too high for proper smoking.  I suggest another test run with about half the original amount of coals a to see how she handles.  Once you figure out how many coals get you your optimal temp, then you need to figure out how many coals to add and at what intervals to keep it there.  Some experimentation will help you dial your new rig in and get her holding steady 225-250* temps.  I would think adding 8-10 coals every 30-45 min. would be a good starting point for your experiment.

    You will have to tweak these guidelines if you use hardwood lump charcoal (burns hotter) or use chunks of wood instead of chips (chunks can also burn hotter, depending where you place them).

    Your final challenge will be to achieve that Thin Blue Smoke (TBS) we all strive for.  You do not want white, billowy smoke -- if you can smell smoke, you're smoking!

    Don't feel overwhelmed; these are things you will quickly figure out as you cook and learn how your rig responds to changes.  (BTW, allow 10 min. after a change to see how it affected your smoker.)  The good news is that its difficult to completely ruin a piece of meat with high temps or too little smoke.  It is conversely very easy to wreck a smoke with too little heat or too much smoke.

    Last -- but by NO means least -- test and calibrate your thermometers for accuracy!

    I'm not very familiar with your Master Forge and was quite surprised that it had no adjustable vents (kinda like an ECB, I guess, although your MF looks way better built than my ECB!).  Check the SMF for any suggested mods for your MF unit.

  3. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Sounds like James has got you covered. Good luck & don't forget the Q-view.
  4. wrigley

    wrigley Newbie

    Thanks James. I figured more trial and error. I'm going to experiment some more this week/weekend. Thanks again for the explanation, I really appreciate it.

  5. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    No prob!  Let us know how it works out!
  6. Don't be too disappointed.  After my experience with a Brinkmann vertical or barrel smoker, the first time I fired it up it ran real hot.    I found that I had air leaks around the access door on the side of the barrel and I spent some time bending it to fit tighter.  Next, there were air leaks around the lip of the fire pan and I finally had to use stove cement to hold a tape stove gasket around the lip of the fire pan.  And lastly, I made up a little slider vent valve to control the amount of air reaching the fire.  When I had all the leaks sealed I found that the air damper valve I made was almost closed with the smoker running at 225.  So, I will probably never have all the little air leaks completely sealed, but you will know you have the smoker under control when you can set the operating temperature at 225 or there abouts and it will stay at the temperature for many hours.  The amount of charcoal should not matter if you have all the leaks sealed off.  That is the whole game in slow smoke.  The only air coming into the smoker should be at the damper valve on the bottom of the pan...or on the side of the pan or wherever the valve happens to be.  If your smoker does not have a damper valve, by all means make one up so you can control the temperature.  You do not want air getting into the smoker from anywhere else.  Otherwise you will not have good control of the operating temperature.  Where is the exhaust on your smoker?   You will want to be sure that the exhaust area is not back drafting air into your smoker.  You might want to see this link where a man modified his smoker to get all the air leaks stopped.  Have a look.     You may have to copy and past this link or type it into a new browser page depending on you browser security settings.

    By all means, you do not need to add as many air damper vents as this fellow did.  I found that the hole already made in the fire pan was plenty big enough.  You may have to be creative in finding solutions such as searching for metal pieces that can me used in new ways.  Do not give up.  Once you get intake air under control, you will have a smoker you can brag on.  I remember finding some air leaks at night by hanging a light bulb on an extension cord and moving it around the outside of the smoker seams while looking in the top of the smoker and I saw some light getting in.  Then I put the light inside the smoker and walked around the outside of the smoker and found more air leaks.  Do whatever it takes to stop those air leaks.  You might have to use stove cement as a gasket in places.  Do experiment.  Do not sweat the mistakes.    It is amazing to me that some new smokers work at all....until modified.  Post your how your mods work out.  We will all want to know how well you did.
  7. mtb2005

    mtb2005 Newbie

    How is your smoker holding up? I recently bought the same one from Lowes. Based on the reviews it seems like everyone is holding heat well in their smoker. However, mine loses heat fairly quickly. It goes from 225 to ~190 in 1.5-2 hours. Is this normal? I noticed that a lot of smoke leaks out from where the lid sits and around the door.
  8. danbono

    danbono Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi All Newbee here.I was thinking of buying the Master Forge Smoker. This will be my first try at smoking.How are your's holding up and any tips for a first timer?/wood charcccoal?

    Will be smoking just ribs n brisket, at the beginning.

    Thanks Dan
  9. scott allison

    scott allison Newbie

    Hi I have the same smoker.  Actually one of the things I found is making sure you have a stable bowl of water.  I noticed on my thermometer that the heat was rising rapidly, and when I went out found it was due to the water bowl drying out.  So keeping water filled is also key point as well as all the tips on playing around with the amount of coals.

    I use lump wood charcoal to get started and when I get the temp down to about 180, I add a few chunks of mesquite wood to get the temp back up again and this seems to be quite stable for quite a long period.

    All trial and error but I have quickly got the hang of noticing which parts are not quite right and quickly adjusting.  

    I have to say a remote thermometer works wonders as you can sit in the house with a beer and keep your eye on it.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014

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