I Failed the Smokenator Test

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by vision, May 1, 2011.

  1. Well this morning I enthusiastically followed the directions for a test run on a Smokenator in a Weber Gold and...nothing worked correctly. Specifically the temperature was not measured correctly and the charcoal burned way too fast.

    Per the instructions of a test run I closed the bottom vents half way, opened the top vents to 3/16 put 40 coals in the smokenator, used 12 coals to start it, and added water. I put the thermometer with 2.75" from the tip to the clip in the dome and awaited things to act according to the instructions.

    At 11:26am the lid was closed and we're off.

    At 11:36 the dome thermometer read 225f and for a moment it looked like all was well.

    At 11:51 dome temp was 350 and rising...at which point I closed the bottom vents to 5/16 to keep the temperature down and then I noticed the top vents for some reason were more 3/8 than 3/16 so I closed them to 3/16 again.

    At 12:47 the dome temp was still a little over 350f. Suspicious, I put a polder thermometer through two radishes on the cooking grate and the temp was 247f. That's interesting!

    At 2pm almost all charcoal had been burned and temp on the grate was 217f.

    So did I do something very wrong in measuring the dome temperature? The instructions say there should only be a 20 degree difference between the dome and grate temp. Why did the charcoal burn so quickly? From the instructions the cook should have lasted 5 hours and this lasted  2 1/2 hours.

    The only good news is maybe the temps were 225-250 on the cooking grate.

    Another question, is it ok for there to be a small gap between the kettle wall and the rounded top of the smokenator?
    Last edited: May 1, 2011
  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  3. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Have not seen one in action but basically what I see is an insert that fits into a kettle to try and turn it into a smoker.  I dont have the specifics on how to make it work but it appears that they think thru adjusting the dampers you can control the heet which seems reasonable. I think you may just have to play with your kettle to see how to maintain a constant temp. My biggest question is mow did it smoke ? Were you able to maintain TBS?
  4. I'm thinking too much air was in the kettle. Will need another test run dangit.
    Not sure what you mean by TBS. It smoked fine.
  5. tjohnson

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



    Which smoker is producing the better smoke?

    Last edited: May 4, 2011
  6. The one on the right since it's leaking less smoke.

    Not sure what blue vs white smoke means.
  7. Blue = good hot smoke

    White = bad, impuirties burning off

    The goal is to get that blue thin smoke!
  8. Your main mistake was trusting the thermometer without calibrating it first.
  9. I agree, it was that and also not putting all the starter coals in the center hole- which lit the other coals too soon.
  10. How do you ensure blue smoke?
  11. fife

    fife Master of the Pit

    Good Luck
  12. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Try starting with one wood chunk just next to the hot coals.
  13. The smoking wood should just smolder without catching fire and your coals should all be ashed over. That should yield TBS.
  14. Ok, what does TBS mean?

    I don't put the wood on top of the coals? I did this over the weekend and it did catch fire.
  15. boykjo

    boykjo SAUSAGE MAKER Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    TBS............ thin blue smoke
  16. I have a Smokenator and LOVE it! My 1st question is did you follow the directions for lighting the charcoal? If so, I wonder if your lid is warped. I got mine for Christmas and have used it numerous times now. It works great. I actually deviate a bit from directions now. I use the water pan for wood pellets and cover it with foil, poke a few holes in it to allow smoke to escape but not too many to allow the pellets to burn. I then place a pan of water on the charcoal grate - seems to work fine.
  17. [​IMG]

    I disregard dome temps when using the smokenator.  I simply use the grate level temp. 

    You may have to much air. At first, I used binder clips to seal the lid onto the kettle a bit better.  But after a few cooks enough "good stuff" built up so I don't bother with them any more.  It seals fine now. 

    I use the smokenator for short cooks (6 hrs or less) on smaller pieces of meat.  Although I've always had fuel remaining and could go maybe an hour longer if needed. 

    Also, I use a pitmater iQ110 auto temp controller with my keetle.  I rarely like to fiddle with adding water so I usually put a roasting pan of water under the meat I am cooking. 

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