Smoke Vault Lessons Learned

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JRC

Newbie
Original poster
★ Lifetime Premier ★
Feb 26, 2024
23
30
Moraga, California
I wanted to take a moment to give a shout-out to the Smoking Meats Forum, and no, this is not paid advertising.

When my Smoke Vault arrived I could not wait to put it to use. Needless to say my first attempt was an unmitigated disaster. The meat had bitter tones, and there was black gooey liquid all over the place.

I hit the internet and this forum popped up. After reading a number of threads I was impressed by the knowledge and sharing that was occurring. I was also impressed by the effort folks made to not attack, demean, or put down folk's who are less experienced or new to smoking and may not have had the "requisite base knowledge".

I joined the group. I took a lot of what I read and put it to use. You will notice in the photos a number of things I implemented based on what I read here.

  • Digital temperature monitoring with multiple probes (out through the top vent as suggested).
  • Wood under the digital thermometer to keep it from the heat (with magnets to hold it in place).
  • Bayou classic propane regulator, with an aftermarket ball valve (better temperature control).
  • No water pan (likely a contributor to the black gooey liquid).
  • Foil on the catch tray.
  • Removed the inside tabs from the vent covers (not seen in photos).
  • Replaced the thermometer on the front with a more reliable one (although with digital, this is a waste).
  • Longer hose feed to the propane tank (although 12' is a bit much).
  • A tray underneath the smoker to protect the deck (from a rabbit hutch no less).
I still need to get to the hardware store for some sheet metal to add around the legs to knock the winds down and keep them from snuffing out the flames.

So I just wanted to say thanks.............Now let's get smokin'
 

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Looks like you did quite a bit.
Waiting to hear how much of an improvement they made.
 
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Looks like you are learning your cooker. I suggest you revisit water pans at some point. In all likelihood you need you are controlling heat and burning clean water pans offer many benefits.
 
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Dang, we slipped up and taught ya a little something!!! :emoji_laughing: When I first started 4 yrs ago I was a level below a noob. I bought a smoker (MB gasser, like yours) off FB for $50 still in the box. And much like you, I spent hours reading the threads here. I ran across it after doing a google search for info on my smoker and the first handful of hits were all SMF!!!! Glad you have found some useful info here. Look forward to more posts and pics of what ya cook!

Jim
 
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Glad you're getting it dialed in, I know I have no room to say anything negative. I've screwed plenty of times lol. I'm sure we all have.
 
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As a follow-up.........I visited the hardware store yesterday and picked up a 2'x3' piece of sheet metal to complete the wind block for the legs of the Smoke Vault.
 

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Sounds/looks good

Let me add... Looking at your pictures... I'm really in disagreement with your temp probe placements on the side walls like that... What happens is... The heat comes out from under the water pan/heat difuser on sides... Well, the heat then travels up the sides/walls and across your probes... The temp out in the middle of the grates will be much lower than what the therms. reading... I suggest you place the probes out in the middle of the grates...

Also... Have you calibrated your thermometer ? It's very easy to do... Hold the tip of your probe in boiling water (not touching sides or bottom)... It should read what ever temp water boils at at your elevation...
 
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Sounds/looks good

Let me add... Looking at your pictures... I'm really in disagreement with your temp probe placements on the side walls like that... What happens is... The heat comes out from under the water pan/heat difuser on sides... Well, the heat then travels up the sides/walls and across your probes... The temp out in the middle of the grates will be much lower than what the therms. reading... I suggest you place the probes out in the middle of the grates...

Also... Have you calibrated your thermometer ? It's very easy to do... Hold the tip of your probe in boiling water (not touching sides or bottom)... It should read what ever temp water boils at at your elevation...

Thanks for the advice on the probe placement. I'll move them closer into the middle of the rack. Yes......the probes are calibrated. Thanks for the suggestion.
 
All looks great to me also, and learning your smoker is the fun part also.
I like Jim JLeonard JLeonard and others have started with same style smoker and after finding this place SMF have done many mods to my smoker that were suggested here.

And I have had some nice cooks/smokes and some not so good. But 99% of them were still an eating curve.

Let us know how it is running for you now and the progress of the foods and the smoker.

David
 
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Thanks for all the advice. SMF is an incredible resource.

The ribs last night were good. not much of a smoke ring, but the flavor was there. Smoked with apple wood pellets and apple wood chunks. Pellets were mostly to get things going.

The ribs were cooked 2-2-1 (actually 2, 2 1/2, 1/2). The thicker slab came out "perfect". Moist, juicy, tender, and with a very small amount of tug the meat came off the bone. The thinner slab was not as moist. Still tasty. The next round I'll likely go 2, 2, 0 on the thinner slab and just leave it in foil until serving.

The ribs were a St. Louis style cut, and were cut into two pieces. The thicker end was rubbed Texas style. Salt and pepper. 1/2 ounce each, Morton course kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. The thinner end was rubbed with Jim's rub. Paprika, salt, and brown sugar mostly, with some secret herbs and spices. :emoji_slight_smile:

As to which was better in terms of flavor? Linda put sweet store bought BBQ sauce on both, so who knows.........which begs the question; Why do I smoke? :emoji_smile:

Oops........wait a minute................did I just start a sauce/no sauce debate?
 

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Thanks for the advice on the probe placement. I'll move them closer into the middle of the rack. Yes......the probes are calibrated. Thanks for the suggestion.

The pictures below are where I settled for the probe placement for yesterdays smoke. Both are in a couple of inches from the edge of the shelf. There is a 15 degree variance front to back, with the front being the cooler side. I'm not sure if it's related to the door.

I'll hang the probes off the bottom of the shelf for the next go-around, so they are not interfering with the meat placement.
 

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Good looking ribs! I’d take a few bones of them. As far as saucing them goes….i do em both ways. Kinda depending on my mood and who I’m cooking for. As far as your smoker goes….the more you cook in it the more you learn it As far as hot/cold spots.
keep on cooking and posting…We’ll keep drooling and advising were needed.

Jim
 
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