SmokinTex 1400 owners out there?? Help me get TBS.

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by snorkelinggirl, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Well, those 'branches' look like the real deal to chunks outta the bag for you (lucky) but I see no assume it's REAL thin. Throughly got a great laugh outta your comment about the missus says you know
  2. Thanks, Chef Willie,

    Completely the real deal.  I do the neighborhood a service, by picking up fallen branches, and get free wood for the smoker to boot. 


    As for the wife, I have been married long enough to know who's boss....

  3. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You Texas guys got that wood wired down there...pecan, mesquite etc...just go pick it up off the ground. I'm in the PNW so will be pruning some plum, cherry and pear branches to dry out some for future use....and maybe some hazlenut
  4. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi guys,

    OK, I went ahead and made the drill hole modification to the bottom of my ST as described by Pcallison, TJohnson, and Scarbelly (RIP). My rationale was that as long as the additional holes could be covered back up (as described by Pcallison), then if the modification didn't work I would just cover them back up. No harm, no foul. 

    Here is the bottom of my ST. I neglected to take a "before" picture, so the picture is the "after" picture with the red markups showing what it looked like before. I made no other modifications to the ST.  Because I am a wimp and a sissie, I had a local machine shop do the drilling for me. I bought the step bit, and then gave them the bit in return for drilling the holes.

    I covered the bottom of the ST with aluminum foil and then punched out holes in the aluminum foil over about 1 and 1/2 of the holes, approximately doubling the area I had for airflow over what the ST would normally have. I then just cold-smoked some cheese using the AMNS to make sure I was still getting nice looking smoke with the extra airflow. I had to put the AMNS on a rack above the element housing, as the 6x6 AMNS doesn't fit on the bottom of the smoker. Here is my cheese getting cold-smoked.

    Cold-smoking looked good. So then I tested the unit with the element turned on, but still using the AMNS for smoke-generation (so leaving the ST wood box empty). Temp control of the ST was less accurate with a much bigger temperature overshoot with the 2 heat sources running. Not too surprising, I guess.

    Here is what the smoke looked like when using the AMNS + ST heating element when the chamber temperatures was around 230 deg F.

    What I found is that if you place the AMNS on the rack directly above the ST wood box (and both the wood box and the rack had aluminum foil over them), that the AMNS will still work just fine for TBS smoke generation without the smoke "jumping rows" even up to a temp of 240 degrees or so.  However, when the temp inside the smoker got above 240 degress, the smoke changed from a blue color to a gray color, and was pumping out much faster than it did at lower temperatures.  I tried to get a picture of this, but with the evening light I couldn't capture the smoke in a picture.

    So!  Tomorrow I'm going to smoke a pork butt using the "foil pan/smoke to 165 deg IT/cover with aluminum foil to 200 deg IT" approach laid out by Jeff Philips. My plan is to use the AMNS for smoke generation, and set the ST controller to try and keep an average chamber temp of around 200 deg F. Worst case scenario, I'll just apply smoke using the AMNS for 2-3 hours, then cover the butt with foil, remove the AMNS from the chamber, and then crank the heat up to 250 deg F until done.  

    How wrong do you think I can go with this approach??   Can't be any worse than my spare ribs.

    I'll post tomorrow to let you guys know!


    P.S.- I still need to try just using wood chunks or chips in the ST woodbox for smoke generation with the extra drill holes for more airflow. For right now, I've had better success creating tasty smoke using the AMNS. So far, all of my attempts to use the ST for smoke generation have resulted in creosote flavor and my husband looking at me like he can't quite remember why he had wanted to marry me. I'll play around with the airflow using the ST woodbox to try and dial in the smoke when I have some more time.
  5. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Whoops!  I missed acknowledging Smokinjoe and DaveOmak in regards to giving advice on the ST modifications as well. Sorry, guys!
  6. scubadoo97

    scubadoo97 Smoking Fanatic

     I have a good friend that was using a Cookshack with same vent hole in the top.  He used chunks only and not much wood at that. Maybe a couple of smallish chunks.  Que was excellent.
  7. Snorkelinggirl - Sounds like you are having fun!

    Here are my thoughts about what you recently posted.

    I believe Todd recommends dust up to 180* and pellets up to 275* so am not surprised that the smoked turned gray above 240.

    The 5x8 AMAZEN does fit on the bottom of the smoker, and works great there.  I don't think there is any issue with jumping rows with the AMAZEN 5x8.

    I have smoked 4 Boston butts.  The first one I did not wrap in Al. and only took it to about 190.  Not very tender, and not very juicy.  All the remaining ones have been smoked for around 8-10 hours to an IT of 140 - 150.  They were then wrapped in Al. left in the smoker to an IT of 205. That takes maybe another 4-6 hours. I took them out and let them sit on the counter for 1.5 hours.  No cooler or blankets, too much trouble.  There was quite a bit of juice in the bottom of the aluminum foil.  I pulled the shoulders, then tossed the juice back in.  Moist, tender and very tasty.

    The name of the game is low and slow.  I start my ~9lb shoulders at 10pm at 210*.  They are ready to be wrapped in the morning.  I increase the temp. to 225 until the IT gets to 205.

    It might be possible that the nasty stuff you have been getting is due to the use of dust at too high of a temp.  I don't have a dust burner so can't be sure. Maybe some folks that have had experience with dust can chime in.

    Based on my experience, I would recommend going to the 5x8 AMAZEN and burning pellets when you want to run above 180*. Use the dust for cold smoking, which is what it was originally designed to do.

  8. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi Smokinjoe,

    Thanks so much for your comments and specific info about cooking your pork butts.  Yes, I didn't intend to use the dust smoker at 240+ degrees, but the ST made a pretty wild temperature overshoot when it first came up to temperature. I had set it for 180 deg, and it got up to 280 deg before it started coming back down. I haven't seen that big of a temp swing with it before, so I hope it was just the fact I had the dust smoker going in there as well rather than the temp controller getting flaky on me.

    I'll pursue getting the 5x8 AMNPS and hope to get pork butts as good as yours following your cooking recommendations.  The one I am going to do today is only a boneless 3 lb-er, so I can hopefully get away with just using the dust at a low temperature to get some smoke on, then will wrap and finish cooking for appropriate IT.

    Thanks again for all of the great info you have passed along to me! 
  9. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Looking forward to the updates & pics on the butt smoke and any temp swing issues.....hang in there
  10. Plug your extra holes, that should resolve the temp swing issues. The SmokinTex was not designed nor engineered for the extra air flow.

    As for pork shoulder roasts (butts). Set your smoker for 225, use a digital temp probe, smoke to an internal temp of 195 - 200. Pull and let the meat rest at least 30 minutes. Resting of your Q is vital for all smoked meat.

    Incredible results.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2013
  11. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Good advice old.  I generally pull mine when the internal temp hits 190, get it in a large pot, pull the bone and have a beer while it rests. I have also found that less wood produces a lighter smoke and better flavor.
    oldbbqdude likes this.
  12. I agree that if you are smoking with all 3 holes wide open, you are asking for trouble.  I have experienced very uneven cooking results with too much airflow.  Ideally, you want only enough airflow to keep the AMAZEN burning, which in my case has been 2 holes open about 1/2". Keep in mind that this is with the AMAZEN on the bottom of the smoker, which places it right by the air holes.  The uneven smoker temps are worsened by breezy conditions.

    I use more airflow for drying jerky and cold smoking cheese. Essentially, those smokes where you do not want to preserve moisture in the smoker, and are at low temps.

    I should also mention that the only reason I start at 210* is because I start at night, and don't want the IT to rise too high before morning.

  13. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Clarissa, evening.....  Looks like great air flow and TBS to me....  No more sour meat from stale smoke....  [​IMG]  ...


    Here is what the smoke looked like when using the AMNS + ST heating element when the chamber temperatures was around 230 deg F.

  14. Along with PCALLISON and Scarbelly I modified my Smokin-IT #2 and use AMNPS all the way.  I did a 5 hr salmon the other day and TBS the whole time.  No creosote and great flavor.  I wouldn't cut any other additional holes in your smoker.
  15. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi moxaman,

    Welcome to SMF and thank you for chiming in. Glad to hear the mods recommended by Pcallison, Scarbelly (RIP), TJohnson, smokinjoe52, and others, are working out for you. So far they are working fine with my AMNS for hot smoking < 200 deg F. I'm looking forward to seeing (and tasting) the smoke when I get my AMNPS and can use it for hot smoking > 200 deg F.  

    Your salmon sounds great!
  16. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Not sure what the extra holes have to do with the hot temp swing????

    The intake holes can only take in what the exhaust holes exhaust

    Heat or convection speeds up the process, but the airflow is limited by the diameter of the exhaust

    The larger the exhaust, the more draft

    Most electric smokers are starved for oxygen, and therefore produce smoke in a low or no oxygen atmosphere.  The result is creosote and excess moisture.

    The trick is to apply just enough oxygen for proper combustion, but not too much, to introduce too much cold air.

    What most likely happened, is the sawdust jumped a row, and spiked the temps

    I could be wrong

    When Scar and I tested the AMNPS in his SmokinTex, (2) 3/4" holes were not for good combustion.  (3) holes worked good.  He did not report any unusually temp swings in any of our testing.

  17. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Update on ST temp swing issue:

    Hi folks,

    For any following the discussion around modifying the SmokinTex/Smokin-It by adding extra airholes, I did have some further info to post regarding the temp swing issue I mentioned earlier in this thread.

    What had gotten me alarmed was when I took the SmokinTex, added some extra airflow, and set the temp dial to 225 deg F. Initially the temp went up to 300-305 deg or so before starting to come back down. After this initial overshoot, it started stabilizing out to a temp swing of say + 50 deg/-30 deg.  When cooking a pork butt a couple of days ago, after 2 hours of running the smoker the temp swing was around + 35 deg/-15 deg. It was suggested by an ST owner that the initial temp swing might have been caused by the extra airflow in the smoker due to adding the extra drill holes.  This is a fair point, so I decided to talk to Scott Wallace at SmokinTex to find out what is normal regarding temp swings and temp overshoot in the ST1400.

    I just wanted to update this thread to let people know what Scott at SmokinTex said regarding temp swings on the 1400.  First, he said that when you first turn the smoker on and set it to 225 deg, that to have an initial overshoot to 300 deg or so is not uncommon. It relates to the design of how the thermocouple connects to the thermostat....I'm afraid I didn't entirely follow the explanation, but Scott did assure me that an initial overshoot to 300 or so was normal.  Second, he said that after this initial overshoot and maybe another cycle of the heating element turning on and off, that the temperature swings do stabilize out to something around + 40 deg/-15 deg.  He said that it takes around 1-1/2 hours for the temp swings to stabilize out, but that the unit gets more stable as the cook time goes on.  He also said that the swings do tend to be bigger in amplitude to the high side of your setpoint.  He said that the thermostats are supposed to be accurate to around 5-7 deg F, but that is based on the average temp in chamber after that initial 1-1/2 hours of stabilizing time.  The way to check this would be to place a temperature probe right on top of the ST thermocouple at the back of the unit. Turn the unit on to your setpoint, and then go away.  Come back about 1-1/2 hours later. Start recording your chamber temperature as often as you can tolerate.....every 30 seconds, minute, 3 minutes, whatever.  Do this for a long time.  Calculate the average temperature and compare it to your should be within 5-7 deg.  Don't include data from the first 1-1/2 hours when the temperature was still stabilizing.

    Another interesting point......

    The SmokinTex manual specifically says not to preheat the smoker. I asked Scott about this, as it seems like giving the smoker time to recover from its first overshoot wouldn't be a bad thing. Scott says that you can do this, but to leave the woodbox out of the smoker during the preheat time. He said the reason why is that the SmokinTex chamber is starved for oxygen. If you open the door while the wood is still smoldering you can cause a fire.  If you let the smoker preheat without the woodbox, then open the door and put in the woodbox, it will be fine. The chamber will just lose a little heat and the heating element will kick on. 

    So. I'm sure I didn't improve the temperature stability of the ST by adding extra airflow, but according to Scott Wallace (who is an absolute peach, by the way), the variation I am seeing is not abnormal.  So I probably haven't effed-up the unit too badly by this modification, which I find really reassuring. 

    I would also like to say to any considering buying an electric smoker, that Scott Wallace and SmokinTex customer support is absolutely amazing.
  18. If anybody interpreted my input as implying that more holes in the bottom would cause temperature swings, I want to clarify what I meant.

    What I have experienced is that with too much air flow, meaning all three holes open in the bottom, I get uneven cooking results (temps) inside the smoker, even though the Auber display tells me the temperature at the AUBER PROBE TIP does not vary by more than 2 degrees. 

    Now keep in mind that I have been smoking in ambient temperature ranging from 10* to 45* F lately. I had some beef sticks that were laying horizontal on racks, and the variation in doneness (IT) and appearance varied quite dramatically rack to rack and even L-R and F-B on the same rack when all 3 holes were open. Breezy conditions worsened the unevenness.  Closing one up, and opening the other 2 to about 1/2" seemed to greatly reduce the uneven cooking, and still allowed the AMAZEN to produce nice TBS. 

    Todd and some other folks determined that they needed a little more air flow than 2 holes open at 1/2", but that has not been the case with me.  I am assuming that during the summer, when COLD air is not being blown or at least drawn, into the bottom holes, this problem will be reduced even more.


    BTW - I have never operated my smoker without the Auber, so can't comment on exactly what Clarissa is seeing.
  19. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey smokinjoe,

    2 degree variability at your probe tip is really amazing.  I am definitely going to start hinting to my husband that a PID controller is a great Valentine's gift!

    Based on what customer service says, it sounds like the temp swings I have been seeing are within what is normal for a SmokinTex, and also are typical for an electric smoker (sans PID). So I shouldn't even refer to them anymore as a problem or issue, but more as a design "feature".

    Have a great day!

  20. Clarissa,

    You would really like having a PID, although most folks do great without it.  I would suggest the Auber dual probe versions so you can also monitor the meat temperature, and program the PID based on either TIME or INTERNAL TEMPERATURE.

    After much searching on this thread, there are cases where you REALLY do NOT want the smoker to spike 50* above your set point.  Those that I have read about so far include:

    1. Smoking sausage or other items where you do NOT want the fat to render out.

    2. Salmon - Degrades texture, taste, etc.

    3. Jerky - You want dried meat, not cooked meat, and thin slices cook fast.

    4. Cheese - It melts!  This applies only if you use my method of setting the PID to 60 degrees when it is at least 10 degrees cooler outside.

    I'm sure there are others, but these are the ones I remember.


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