Complete fail on my first smoke.

Discussion in 'For New Members' started by brandont, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. I can't get the picture of my smoker to upload to the page from my phone, so no go on the visual. Anyways, just got my smoker, a vertical with side fire box. It's a homemade one made from good thick plate steel. My dad had it lent out, and the guy put a grill burner in the bottom, I'm guessing to supplement heat. So I decided after getting everything I needed, I was going to do chicken leg quarters. I was on a tight time schedule because I had to bring my son back to his mom's, but I figured I had enough time. Brined the chicken for a couple hours. Fired up the smoker, let it get up to 170 when I threw the chicken on guessing it would keep climbing up over 300. Boy was I wrong. It peaked at about 180 or so, so I fired up the burner. I'm not 100% sure what was wrong but it kept going out. It would stay lit when I would cracked the smoke box door, so I'm wondering wondering if it's an oxygen supply issue. When the burner was going it boosted it above 300, but it would only burn for a minute before going out. At that point I had to give up all hope and finish them on the grill. They tasted pretty good, but they were only in the smoker for an hour and about 180 average.

    I learned a lot from all the mishaps and my mistakes today. I've never cooked with charcoal, so I didn't know how much to use. I think I can use another few handfuls to at least get my temp up to about 220-230. And I'm planning on next time while the charcoal is getting ready in my chimney starter, I will fire up the burner and preheat the smoker box as much as I can. Hopefully I can get a pic posted of the smoker soon so there are some visuals to go with my novel.
  2. Sorry to hear the smoke didn't go as well as you had hoped & yup - it will be a LOT easier to help you once we can see what you are using  [​IMG]
  3. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    So my first question is how long did you give it to get to temperature.  We normally don't load the smoke chamber with food until we have at least reached cooking temps.  The load of meat will act as a heat sink and stop the temperature from rising for a while.    So my first bit of advice will be to build a fire and see what temps you can reach without food in the chamber.  Check for cracks where the heat can be escaping.  You also probably need to get a separate thermometer.  Don't depend on thermos built into the smoker.  What does the smoke stack look like, was it fully open and did the smoke pass easily through the smoker.   What kind of dampers are on the fire box.  Is there sufficient air flow, you can look to see how well the fire stays lit to help answer that question 

    Next question is what color was the flame on the burner.  If you have an O2 problem you will have yellow, sooty smoke.  Bad thing all around.  As long as the smoke is blue  you should be ok.  Take the burner apart and make sure it is clean.  You could have a bit of rust bouncing around in the jet clogging it.   Make sure all your fittings are tight and there are no leaks.

    From what you said about being in a rush I think you need some quiet time with your new smoker, get to  know it, do some test runs and learn how to adjust it.  There are some pretty good builders on the board that may be able to answer any questions about fire box and vent sizes.

    Good luck and welcome to the forum
  4. bkbuilds

    bkbuilds Fire Starter

    If the flame goes out when the lid is closed sounds like the fire box isn't getting enough oxygen when the lid is closed. Try opening all your firebox dampers 100% and lite it.

    Assuming this smoker was used successfully in the past by others, its just a matter of learning the adjustments. If its never been successfully used, then the firebox might need more air flow. Which should be easy to accomplish.
  5. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    These guys got you covered, try to get some pics posted and I'm sure this problem will be fixed in no time at all.

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