American BBQ Systems - All Star Smoker. My first smokes

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by mfalto, May 19, 2014.

  1. mfalto

    mfalto Fire Starter

    I Have been smoking on this smoker for the last three months and love it.  It hardly uses any lump charcoal to maintain a temp between 220 and 240.  Its easy to control temp with the two vents on each end of the firebox as well as a damper between the firebox and smoker box.  The build is quality is great with stainless steel grates as well as two outside stainless shelves.  I made a charcoal box ( see picture ) to better control the heat and more efficient use of charcoal.  I use Apple chunks to provide my smoke flavor. I always have two water trays in the bottom of the pit ( see pictures below) I have done several fatties, ribs and brisket so far.  All have turned out fantastic.  I have provided pictures below of some of my smoking results.   This is going to be a great backyard smoker for me. My picture only shows one shelf in the smoker but it has three pull out 15 by 30 shelves.  My next cook will be some pork butts  for pulled pork.  I do not use the in lid thermometer, as in most smokers it is not very accurate.  I use a maverick 733 to monitor my temp.  I highly recommend this be a consideration if you are looking for a quality backyard smoker.  

  2. Congrats on the smoker man!  [​IMG]   It looks like it turns out some great food for you  [​IMG]
  3. nice cooker I looked at them before I bought my big offset.
  4. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Food looks delicious! That's a very nice smoker...congrats!

  5. Nice set up food sure looks great
  6. mfalto

    mfalto Fire Starter

    I had a hard time deciding between the Lang 36 and the ABS all star.  I was replacing a cheap offset which I really liked.  I think I would have been happy with the lang too......however Im very happy with the ABS.    I visited Mark the owner of ABS and he gave me a tour of the ABS facility where they are made.  That put me over the top.  I think both are quality smokers.  What brand offset did you buy and why.  
  7. Great to see some ABS All Star discussion here.  Convinced me to join.  I bought one about 15 months ago and have been learning on it since.  I also made a charcoal basket and have been working on learning how to manage the fire for more efficiency.  My latest improvement was to seal both the firebox and smoke box with Nomex gasket.  It was really easy, and has made a huge difference.  I used 3/4" wide and 1/8" thick self adhesive gasket and it works perfectly.  Happy to share where I got it and how I installed it if anyone is interested.

    The results are excellent.  Charcoal usage at least cut in half and temperature stability is excellent.

    Also modified the thermometer.  Will post that shortly but need to gather the details.

    mfalto likes this.
  8. Here are the details on my thermometer mod.

    I removed the stock dial thermometer and replaced it with one of these:

    The 1/2 MPT is the one you need.  You can get it here:

    Then you can use any of the readily available highly accurate electronic probe type thermometers available.  I use this one:

    Available here:

    This setup eliminates the too-short, inaccurate stock themo challenges completely and is very accurate.

    mfalto likes this.
  9. mfalto

    mfalto Fire Starter

    James  nice to have another ABS user on line.

      On the thermometer did you just replace the probe that goes inside the smoke box and use the same dial on the outside.  I have found my ABS themometer to be accurate when tested in boiling is just does not accurately record the middle rack temp when inserted in my smoke box.  Tell me what you did.  I assume your probe is permanently connected to the dial on the outside like did you replace the whole unit.     I have learned to use mine knowing it consistently records the temp on the middle rack 50 to 60 degrees lower than actual.   I generally use a maverick digital for middle rack smoke box temp.  

    I have no trouble controlling my temp once I started using my home made 8 X 12 inch charcoal box and realized how little lump charcoal it takes to fuel the all star.  It works so well now its hard to believe the nomex would made a significant difference.  What did you notice and after installation.  Did you install on both firebox and smoke box lids.  Did someone recommend this? 

    I have not used the lower rack much yet.  Have you? When you use all three racks at the same time, do you rotate the upper and lower rack routinely during a smoke.  If so how often. 

    The only thing I don't like about mine is when all three shelve are in use there is only three and one half inch clearance which is not enough clearance to do pork butts when all  three racks are in use.  This happened on my cook for the fourth of July so I had to do the pork butts the day before.

    I'm really happy with my decision to get the all star.  I smoked up 22lbs of brisket, ribs and pulled pork for the fourth and it all came out perfect.  I love the quality and features of the all star.  mike

  10. Hi Mike.  The thermo that comes with the cooker is a Tel-Tru Pit thermometer which is an excellent and accurate thermometer.  My assessment is that the probe is not long enough.  I too was sneaking the wire of a digital through the side of the smoke box door, but was finding that when it got pinched, it too was not accurate and having do deal with it every time I opened and closed the door was annoying.

    So I bought the adapter I posted in the original post that replaces the thermometer completely and allows you the put the probe of your digital through it, and then tighten it down and it holds it tight.  This allows you to use your digital in place of the stock thermo.  It works great.  If you want I will take it apart and post a pic as it might be easier to understand seeing it together.

    Regarding the nomex, I sealed both the firebox and the smoke box.  I agree that once you get it to temp keeping it there is fairly easy.  The challenge I was having was controlling the air flow enough to prevent my wood from burning up as soon as I add it to the fire.  Rather than smoldering in the coals, it would light on fire and then would raise the temp and burn up really quickly.  Both were frustrating.  In my experience, this is an air control issue, so I sealed it up with the Nomex and in the two cooks since, it has used even less fuel (about half) and I can control the airflow better to allow my wood to not burn so quickly.

    I have used the bottom rack.  I did a 16lb brisket on it and have done ribs down there.  The brisket was easy, I just put the fat side down and it protects it from the heat.  I also make sure to keep the water full in the bottom.  For the ribs I move them every hour, even on the upper racks.

    I agree on the spacing of the racks.  Definitely not able to load it up with shoulders.  I have done two at once, but that was it, and I just took the top shelf out.  I did seven racks of ribs last fourth in it and just kept them moving and it worked great.  I think the more meat you load it up with, the better it cooks. 

    mfalto likes this.
  11. By the way, here are some ribs I did this weekend on the ABS.

  12. mfalto

    mfalto Fire Starter

    James your ribs look great.  Thanks for sharing all you have done to your ABS and how you use it.   Glad to hear your ribs came out good when you rotate the racks every hour. Sounds like we are both really happy with our All Stars.  I will probably try your fix for the thermometer.......all though I know  and can count on mine being 50 to 60 degrees off of actual temp on the middle rack so I use it that way.  When it shows 175 I know the temp on my middle rack is about 225.     I will add to this post when I come up with things that may be helpful for all star users plus pics of cooks.  I will appreciate hearing anything else from you regarding experiences with your all star.   Thanks mike
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2014
  13. mfalto

    mfalto Fire Starter

    On the July 4th I smoked 20 pounds of brisket, ribs and pulled pork in my ABS All Star.  Got great reviews.  Above are a few pics of the satisfied customers. 
  14. mfalto

    mfalto Fire Starter

    James   I just ordered a 1/2 MPT to use with my maverick digital thermometer.   Thanks for this tip.  I will let you know how I like it after I install and test out.  Have you been using your ABS smoker much this summer?   I have smoked lots of ribs, brisket and pork shoulder and am really enjoying the smoker.  I continue to be amazed at how little lump charcoal it uses and how easy it is to maintain the temp.    thanks mike

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