Initial Setup and Using the Masterbuilt Vertical Propane Smoker

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by tt ace, Nov 23, 2011.

  1. I solved the lousy design of the chip tray by taking the whole thing back to Bass Pro for a refund after getting a complete runaround from Masterbuilt! I owned 2 MES smokers before buying the vertical propane smoker. Congratulations Masterbuilt, you saved a hundred bucks and cost yourself a lifelong customer. I bought a GSM and love it.
  2. Here's what has worked for me.

    I just used the wood chip pan that came with the smoker and added a 10 grate and a 8 inch cast iron skillet.   I never have any flare up's and get lots of blue smoke.
  3. I've been having trouble with smoke generation since getting the XL40 this summer. I ordered it with the 8" cast-iron pan from amazon based upon all the recommendations and user experience. But I kept having trouble keeping smoke generating when it was down at 225 degrees. For my smoker, I have to keep the flame level so low to maintain 225 that it's not smouldering the chunks in the pan.

    Today I decided to try an experiment. I had already set it up with the 8" CI pan full of chunks, and smoke was inconsistent. When I first started it up, it did fine, but it slowly disspated, as usual.

    So I put a chunk on the normal chip pan. I'm getting perfect blue smoke, no flare-ups, no problems, it's all good.

    I know that with these things built in China, there's a lot of variation. In addition, I live in SoCal, where it's currently about 82 degrees on Nov 2. So with the outside temp and perhaps some idiosyncracies of my model, I don't need to crank the flame on mine to maintain 225. I usually leave it almost at no flame.

    I think I'm going to keep experimenting without using the CI pan and just using the normal chip tray. This isn't to say that any of you are wrong about all the mods you're making, but *IF* someone else runs into the issue I've been seeing, where the mods actually make smoke generation *worse*, hopefully this feedback will help.
    martyb likes this.
  4. I've had some of the same issues as I've gotten more familiar with times, temps etc with this smoker. Mmost recently I tried the recipe for the bacon wrapped chicken with jalapenos and sharp cheddar, I used chicken breast pounded thin and it came out beautifully.

    But, I was concerned about the breast meat drying out if they were on too long or too hot, and I've had some serious concerns about having the unit going along at 225-250 and having pork shoulder or ribs or whatever take HOURS longer than expected. So for a temporary fix I picked up an kinda cheapo oven thermometer at the local Kroger store just in passing while getting other stuff.

    I used that last night to compare the two since I would lose smoke as well, and things took so long to cook - The Masterbuilt thermometer was off almost exactly 75(!) degrees! It was reading 250 on the outside and the oven therm, said 175. I turned it up to 300 on the outside it was really around 220. Ffinally got it up to 325 on the outside and inside it was pegged exactly at 250 and was running along perfectly.

    Great smoke, the timing was nearly spot on (a little longer since I had to get it stabilized) and the food came out great.

    So bottom line, I had been keeping this thing at nearly no flame as well, cause it was reading the desired temp. only it wasn't the desired temp and really wasn't even close. I had been trying to do a 8-10 hr smoke on an 8 pound Butt and it then spent 2-3-4 more hours finishing in the oven. Simply because the real temp was closer to 175.

    Next stop, the Maverick ET-73 wireless therm. recommended on here by so many. It looks like has the best price right now at around 35 bucks each.

    Good luck, happy smoking!
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  5. Question...

    It seems that just about everything I smoke takes longer than I'd expect. And I don't know why.

    People say that pork shoulder should be on average 1.5-2 hours per pound at 225. I did 2x 8# shoulders last weekend and the earliest one took 16 hours, with the second of the two taking about 18 hours. And that was after raising the temps up to about 250-260 for the last few hours because I needed to get them done. This slow performance seems to be the rule, rather than the exception, for me.

    I think my thermometers are okay, as I use the Maverick ET732, although I haven't tried the smoker probe in ice or boiling water for comparison. But the one time I used it in an oven, the ET732 reported exactly the same temp as the oven set point. And the meat probe always reads the same as my instant-read when I'm testing meat for doneness.

    I've now smoked enough that it seems to be a general trend rather than specific cuts of meat taking longer than others. 

    Anyone have any ideas why something like this might happen?
  6. My thermometer was definitely the issue with mine, off 50-75 degrees regularly, but it appears you have that covered.

    How often do you open the door? That would make a difference. Outside temp shouldn't affect it , so otherwise I have no idea. Maybe others have some further thoughts, I'd be interested as well.

    Good luck!
  7. Not too often. This smoke over the weekend, I got it up to temp, probably opened the door twice in the first hour or two reloading wood chunks, then left it a good 7 hours, checked it and installed the temp probe, then left it several more hours.

    I definitely opened the door more often (read: too much) when I first started, but I've managed to wrangle back that impulse.
  8. allanatc

    allanatc Newbie

    Hey All! 

    I am going to smoke my first brisket this weekend and I just had a quick question I was hoping someone could answer. I called the butcher and ordered a 7 lb. flat which was $8.99/lb. I was at the grocery store the other night and found it for $4.99/lb. (still USDA Choice), so I cancelled the order with the butcher. The brisket from the store only comes in 2-2.5lb cuts. If I am going to do 3 of those cuts at the same time, will my cook time be similar to the 7lb. cut or will the cook time be significantly less? I was planning on a low and slow cook at about 225 and was figuring on 1 hour per pound. Any input is greatly appreciated!

    Happy Smoking!
  9. warsmokeeagle

    warsmokeeagle Fire Starter

    Cook 10 two pound briskets or 1 two pound brisket. It should take the same amount of time.
  10. no peek n

    no peek n Smoke Blower

    Do yourself a favor and go look for a "Full" packer , about 10-13lbs, trim off just a "tad" of fat and  Jeffs rub "or of your concocktion" insert the Mav ET-732 (not the ET-73) set the smoker at 225* and toss in a good 2-3 chunks of Hickory and sit back for 13-16hrs, until the internal Temp is 195-205*...and enjoy,..... those smaller pre-trimed briskets I have found (by my Mom's try at it) come out dry and tough..and cost more, a full packer over here run $3.49 lb, and will run about $40 smack-a-roos , but will last a long time in the Freezer..

  11. allanatc

    allanatc Newbie

    Thanks for the tip! If I had the time I would do a packer… but not this weekend. I am going to inject the brisket with beef broth and make sure to mop it every hour or so to try and keep it moist and tender. Thanks for helping me out!
    martyb likes this.
  12. billb

    billb Newbie

    Just a noob here,,, but i have a question. Al lot of folks here are talking about using "chunks" but the smoker instructions specifically state "chips" is there actually no difference with respect to this smoker ?? I am in the Philippines and I can get various types of "chunk" wood but no chips. If chunks work ok for this unit then I can't wait to try coffee tree wood, or calamansi, or even pomello and tamarind !!! [​IMG]
  13. worktogthr

    worktogthr Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    You can disregard the instructions and go with chunks. Chips seem to burn instead of smolder. I get better smoke with chunks, without having to add wood as often. Some chunks I have used, about the size of a baseball can give me almost 2 hours of smoke where a handful of chips lasts 30 minutes or so. More than a handful and they seem to catch on fire even if you use the cast iron skillet mod.
  14. billb

    billb Newbie

    Thanks for the info, this helps tons,,,,, now to go to the closest coffee plantation to pick up some chunks ...
  15. tt ace

    tt ace Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Yes, chunks are the best to use.  Best are fruitwoods.  Make sure the wood you use does not make creosote.
  16. marcman

    marcman Newbie

    Just got my XL setup and was wondering if it's a bad idea to use it on a wooden porch - should I put down a protective layer between the smoker and the wood? Don't want to set the house on fire. Thanks! 
  17. mpzee33

    mpzee33 Newbie

    Great article/post, I just purchased a MB propane smoker, and I am having a heck of a time regulating the temp. I feel like I am constinitly chasing the dragon. Stays at high 240's then when I move the dial a smidgen it can go all the way down to 210?, when I move it back it shoots up high again
    Trying to keep it set at 230, appreciate any advice on maintaining a set temp.


  18.  Hey Everyone,

    Brand new to the smoker scene.  Just bought a MB 2 door duel fuel 30" vertical smoker, been cruising through here doing lots of research.  I have no idea about setting dampers, temperatures seem pretty straight-forward, but regulating sounds like it is about experimenting.  I just put it together and haven't had a chance to season it yet.  I am considering the cast iron skillet or pounding down the original wood bowl and I have ordered a cover, 1/2" x 1/8" Nomex High Temp BBQ gasket smoker pit seal, self stick, & Maverick M Remote Smoker Thermometer [ET-73] - Black.  So what is a good starting smoke that is easy to manage?  

    On a side note:  I also have a Ducane Stainless Series 5 burner grill, as well as LP Patio Heater.  I am hoping to convert all of these to NG and have found the posts helping with that, just worried about actually taking the plunge and making it look respectable and not half-***ed.  The orifice sizes are pretty easy to figure out, but all of the different fittings sounds like it can get pretty cobbled up.  When we finished our basement I had enough forethought to have a yellow jacketed flex line ran out to the underside of the deck with an outdoor shut-off valve, but the distance between all equipment will span approx 10-12 feet.  Any input/pictures of multiple appliances/equipment fed from single line?  Manifold? Additional Flex-Line with T's?

    Thanks and hope to learn a lot from all of you!

  19. so i got tired of messing with wood chuncks and keeping them smokeing but not geting the smoker to hot so i went and got a cold smoker from smoke daddy ( The Big Kahuna )

    all I have to say is OMG this thing rocks supereasy to light and then just set your temp and smoke 24 hours later picknic hams done.... never messed with the gas once I will post pic's

    when i get some
  20. brucec

    brucec Fire Starter


    I've found that temp regulation is the most frustrating thing with these MB propane models.  If yours is like mine, there's some play in the control knob, which makes it hard to know where to set the dial to hit that sweet spot that you're looking for.  Outside temp plays a role in this as well, but I'm constantly bumping it up and down to find that 225 spot, and rarely can I hit it consistently.  I've probably done 10-15 smokes in mine over the last couple of years, and you do kind of get a feel for it.  I do like how much I can smoke at one time in these smokers, and they use a relatively small amount of propane, so I deal with the flaws.  Just keep smoking.  I've found that pork shoulders are really forgiving and hard to mess up, so you might want to start with something like that, and just keep using it to get a feel for how your smoker runs.  Listen to the advise in this forum.  Buy the cast iron pan.  Use chunks instead of chips.  I also think that one thing that really helped me regulate temp is putting sand in the water pan instead of water.  The Maverick ET-732 is an absolute must-have with this smoker. The in-door thermometer is a POS.

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