My Smoker Must Die!

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Big_Ted
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2009/05/24 18:52:38 (permalink)

My Smoker Must Die!

Having cursed about my smoker all day, somebody will more than likely tell me this is an operator-error issue and that I should learn to do it right. 
 
I have a CajunKing Smoker, which looks like a black R2D2, has two racks for meat and a pan for drippings/water, plus one that sits on the ground for the coals.  I cannot get it hot enough for anything larger than a piece of chicken and if I do get it hot, the heat will not last. 
 
I've used charcoal, wood, briquettes.  I've used combonations, various different stacking methods. 
 
There's chicken quarters on there right now and it looks like I'll have to finish the bird pieces on the grill because I just cannot get enough heat in the stupid thing.  Sure, they'll be smokier than a drunken barfly, but they won't be done.   And leaving chicken for a couple of hours in that kind of environment is a bad idea.  I like not being sick. 
 
Is this operator error or do I have a POS that needs replacing with something that actually works?  I want to smoke roasts, etc, but as it stands it just ain't happening. 
#1

20 Replies Related Threads

    brickie
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/24 19:38:08 (permalink)
    Do you use a chimney to start out?


    #2
    Big_Ted
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/24 20:14:05 (permalink)
    Yup! 

    Also, something happened.  I was filling the fire pan with all kinds of dry wood--anything combustible.  After 30 minutes, the damn thing just about burst into flames.  So, the chicken was a little too done on the outside.  The inside looked done, though, after more than 3 hours. 
    #3
    mar52
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/24 21:07:23 (permalink)
    Are you top vents open all the way?

    You use charcoal and just a little piece of wood.  You want a low and slow burn.  You do not want flames.
    #4
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/24 22:06:07 (permalink)
    Golly gee! The Fairy Flagger must be on vacation.
    #5
    Big_Ted
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/25 00:26:35 (permalink)
    Something just flew over my head.  I'm not sure what it was but if it comes back around, I'll make sure to pay attention. 

    No, my R2D2 smoker doesn't have lid vents.  It has a side door for cramming combustibles inside, which I did--a lot.  Then, I left the door open, lifted the lid, just to let some oxygen inside.  That was reason for my flame-up. 

    Do you think maybe I should drill a small hole or two in the top? 
    #6
    RodBangkok
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/25 00:48:03 (permalink)
    I think you are expecting about the same cooking times and temps from your smoker that you get on a grill.  The smoking process is a low temperature process that takes time and cooks at around 225-240 degrees.  Thats why the water pan is there to help temper the temperature.  You do not want any vent holes in the top.  Actually you never want to open the top, as it takes a lot of time to get back up to temp.  3 hours for chicken is about right when smoked properly.  A pork butt cooked to 190 can take up to 14 hours to smoke.  You normally want to add chips for smoking for about the first 3 hours for larger pieces of meat, then just keep the charcoal fire going.  Best to have a thermometer to check things.  Here's one site that has a lot of info:

    http://www.amazingribs.com/tips_and_technique/bullet_smoker_setup.html


    #7
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/25 11:43:24 (permalink)
    If there are no vents in the lid how does the smoke escape?

    Weber sells vent discs as separate items.  You could order one or buy one at a local Weber dealer (click here to find one) and drill the lid to fit it.

    I'm not familiar with your smoker so I can't comment on whether or not it's a POS, but I can say that for that style it's tough to find anything better than a Weber Smokey Mountain...

    Brad
    #8
    Food_Fan
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/25 12:14:49 (permalink)
    Big_Ted said:
     
    “I have a CajunKing Smoker, which looks like a black R2D2, has two racks for meat and a pan for drippings/water, plus one that sits on the ground for the coals.”
     
    You put the charcoal pan on the ground?
     
    It should be placed on the bottommost tabs inside the smoker not on the ground like this:
     

     
    The water pan is placed on the next higher tabs and the lower grill grate on top of the water pan. The top tabs are for the upper grill/grate as you can see here:
     



    The first thing to do is to read the instructions that came with the smoker. They will tell you how long it should take to smoke/cook various types of food. If you can’t locate them go to the manufacturers website. You use charcoal for heat and soaked hickory, apple, and other wood chips for smoke. What you put on the bottom grate will cook to a higher temperature than what you put on the upper grate as evidenced by my report as linked below.

    I have a water smoker that is similar to yours and I have smoked turkeys and hams for Thanksgiving and Christmas many times as well as other foods. The turkey comes out with a beautiful crispy skin and wonderfully moist and juicy meat. A 22 lb. turkey will take around 12 hours to cook and it’s ends up similar to deep-frying but with a great smoky flavor.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, my deep fryer is way faster than the smoker or standard oven and the skin is crispy and the meat moist but it ain’t smoked.
     
    This is my report on the homemade pastrami that I made. I think you’ll find that our smokers are similar.

    Since it is a WATER smoker, always keep the water pan filled with water because it keeps whatever you’re smoking from dehydrating while being smoked/cooked. You can also put some beer or other liquid in the water pan if you like. You will have to add more liquid during a long smoke. Never run that water smoker without liquid in the water pan!!!
                          
    There is no control over the draft with this kind of smoker. I’m toying with the idea of drilling some holes in the side of the charcoal pan but won’t until I find a replacement for it. Another idea I have is to insert a grate above the bottom of the pan so that the ashes have somewhere to go. I’ll see what happens.
     
    You will have to keep poking the charcoal as it burns and creates ash and add more as it burns off. It’s good to do this in-between adding the wood chips because the wood chips should be added when the coals are nice and hot. I wear a leather work glove and reach under and rotate the charcoal pan as I poke the coals and add charcoal or chips. Sometimes I’ll even use a hair dryer to energize the coals, but you must be careful not to blow ashes into the air and then onto the food. Again, I slide the charcoal pan around while I do this.
     
    This is the most basic of smokers but still produces great results if tended to during the process.
     
    Happy future smoking!!!


    #9
    mar52
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/25 12:42:12 (permalink)
    Looks great, FF!

    My WSM is coming up to temp.  Today is it's maiden run.

    Wish me luck!

    My top vent is wide open which is what I've read everywhere I could find.
    #10
    edwmax
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/25 13:49:45 (permalink)
    Michael Hoffman

    Golly gee! The Fairy Flagger must be on vacation.


    The Fairy Flagger must be asleep!

    Big_Ted,    your smoker should work just as good as a grill.   1st, fully assembled with the body and lid it should be a smoker.  And work about 200 - 250 deg.  .... if your lid does not have a vent, then usually it does not fit tight and smoke will escape around the sides. 

    You can cook/grill without the lid and/or water pan,   Also, I think you should be able to start your charcoal in the bottom, place the grate over the bottom & charcoal as a grill without the middle (tall) section of the body. Maybe use the lid over this for a while for smoke flavor; then remove to finish grilling.
    post edited by edwmax - 2009/05/25 13:50:59
    #11
    Food_Fan
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/25 14:28:12 (permalink)
    Can you use this as a grill? Absolutely!


    Just place the charcoal pan where the water pan goes (The middle) and grill on the uppermost grill/grate or directly over the coals. You could also see if the charcoal pan will fit on the top tabs and grill right over them.

    I would tell you if it does fit or not but my pan is full of hot coals and my water pan is heating up and I'm about to put my future pastrami on the grill.
     
    Since I use mine exclusively as a smoker, I’ve never done it but I’m guessing that it will work just fine.


    Enjoy!
    #12
    Big_Ted
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/26 00:17:59 (permalink)
    Ok, now this makes sense. 

    I was figuring two hours for chicken instead of three.  I understand now. 

    My smoker had a thermometer in the lid, but it popped out and I can't find it anywhere.  Now, I have a hole in the side of the lid like it or not. 

    I was putting my fire pan on the ground.  I see the problem.   I checked my smoker and there are no tabs to keep the fire pan off the bottom.  I have two tiers of tabs, which is enough for the waterpan/first rack and the second rack. 

    Also, I'm going to try putting extra stuff in the water.  thanks for the pictures. 

    Oddly enough, everybody loved the chicken and thought it was the best they ever had.  Personally, I thought I needed to do something different. 

    My smoker didn't have instructions.  It was a salvaged piece I got for 5 bucks.  I'll have to see what else I need to do with it.  I might use my degree in hillbilly engineering to rig something for the huge hole in the lid where the heat gauge used to be.  I'm thinking a pop can crushed in a specific way.   

    This isn't the first post I've made about my total confusion smoking food.  I guess without rolling papers, I can't smoke anything. <rimshot>
    And what the hell is a fairy flagger?
    #13
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/26 01:53:58 (permalink)
    Big_Ted

    And what the hell is a fairy flagger?

    The Fairy Flagger is a gutless creature who goes around flagging posts as inappropriate because he or she does not like where people post some things. For instance, you posted this in the Barbeque section because it was about -- surprise -- barbeque. But the Fairy Flagger objects to you doing that because, you see, the Barbeque section is not for posts about barbequing, smoking, etc. It is specifically set aside for the following:
     
    BBQ
    Discuss ribs, brisket, pulled pork, smoked meat and other BBQ you’ve encountered during your search for Roadfood BBQ.
     
    So, you see, you have upset the sensibilities of the Fairy Flagger by not posting it in a section devoted to such things as barbequing and smoking and such.
     
    You must understand that the Fairy Flagger is a weasel without the guts to post something that might give away his or her identity. What is difficult to understand is why that "person's" identity has not been revealed by the moderators who know who is doing this.
    #14
    Foodbme
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/26 02:27:29 (permalink)
    Contact Weber's Customer Service Dept. I'm sure they can help you troubleshoot all your problems.
    http://www.weber.com/support/ 

    post edited by Foodbme - 2009/05/26 02:30:27
    #15
    Big_Ted
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/27 00:35:54 (permalink)
    I should have posted this in the ice cream section and at the very bottom, said the ice cream for dessert was great. 

    I'm going to make some changes to my smoking technique.  There used to be a great smokehouse in Freeport, Illinois called Hog Wild.  I miss the rib tips and the sauce became an addiction.  Plus, they had deep fried pickles and jalapenos.  You just can't go wrong with those!
    #16
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/27 09:20:07 (permalink)
    Big_Ted

    I should have posted this in the ice cream section and at the very bottom, said the ice cream for dessert was great. 


    Ah, but you see that would have drawn the Fairy Flagger's ire as well, because that section is for where you went to enjoy the ice cream that you bought
     
    I'm telling you, the Fairy Flagger does not give up!
     


    #17
    rjb
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/27 09:59:24 (permalink)
    If you're concerned about the Fairy Flagger, just mention hotdog carts in your post and all will be forgiven.  For instance, if you had said you're having problems with your smoker in a hotdog cart, you would be granted flagger immunity.
    #18
    Big_Ted
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/29 01:00:03 (permalink)
    Tomorrow's smoking adventure is going to be a butt roast.  They're on sale right now for $.99 a pound.  Armed with my new knowledge, I'm going to tackle that hunk o' meat and smoke it with actual heat.  I might even post pics.  Only the most depraved person would object to photos of a smoked pork butt. 
    #19
    Food_Fan
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/05/31 13:25:07 (permalink)
    Big_Ted.
     
    I hope that you post some pictures of the smoker and your process. I think the Mod’s would encourage you to post them in the Recipes & Cooking Techniques forum.
     
    I’m glad to see that you’re making another attempt. How are you getting the charcoal pan up into the bottom of the smoker body?
     
    You should be able to buy a new temperature gauge at a Home Depot, Lowes or a hardware store. I got one on clearance at a Home Depot around 5 years ago to have as a spare.  As I describe in my pastrami report the gauge shown on the smoker is new. The brass threads were considerably larger than any drill that could fit in a 3/8 drill so I had to file it larger with a big rat-tail file.
     
    So there are no tabs on the interior, near the bottom of the smoker that would suspend the charcoal pan above the ground. Interesting. Are there legs on your smoker?
     
    If there are legs on the smoker they should be held on by screws and nuts. You can fashion your own tabs from 90-degree angle brackets by drilling them to match the hole pattern of the legs and cutting them to match the outside diameter of the charcoal pan under the lip of the pan.
     
    Mar52,
     
    Thanks. I see your maiden voyage into WSM smoking was a good one!
    #20
    NascarDad
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    Re:My Smoker Must Die! 2009/06/02 20:33:12 (permalink)
    Brad_Olson


    I'm not familiar with your smoker so I can't comment on whether or not it's a POS, but I can say that for that style it's tough to find anything better than a Weber Smokey Mountain...

    Brad


    Big +1 here

    I have had mine over a decade through 5 moves and after the first 3 or 4 times (a break in period I guess) it basically became set it and forget it.  I can leave it alone for hours and it stays right at 240-250, depending on how much I dampen the lower air vents.

    And even when I take the lid off the temp builds back up fairly quickly so long as the meat and grill is still hot (thermometer in the lid)

    The legs are starting to get a little crooked.  One of these days with all my  spare time I will get down there and see if I can reset them. 

    As far as the OPs rig, I suggest a perusing of the faq of the BBQ group on usenet, they have ideas about mods for alll kinds  of smokers and might have his specific model.
    #21
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