Lang 36 poor quality welding?

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by chipotleq, Nov 30, 2013.

  1. chipotleq

    chipotleq Smoke Blower

    After writing my review of the Lang Hybrid 36 Patio:

    I decided to also talk about some issues I am having with temperature across the chamber and hopefully I can get some pointers on how to make it more even, as it was designed to be. I will also point out some imperfections I found with grill.

    First is the major issue regarding the temperature across the chamber. The day I got the smoker I seasoned and was excited about testing out the tel tru and checking the accuracy of the thermometer. I was probably an hour in the seasoning when I got the tel tru to come down to 250 from 320. I popped my maverick thermometer in and checked in four different spots. I was getting differences of about +30 degrees. So I let it go and figured it was just user error and maybe the smoker needed a "break in" period.

    After a four smokes, I decided to photo document my thanksgiving smoke and recorded temperatures. The link to the above review will show my fire management. This is what I got:

    1st reading at 20 minutes into the smoking(actually about 1 hour 20 minutes in since I started the timer when I put the rib roast in)

    Probe: Bottom left shelf close to edge of griddle plate.

    Tel Tru:     265F

    Maverick: 227F

    DIff:           -38

    2nd reading 29 minutes in Probe is closest to this position making it somewhat accurate

    Probe: Top Left shelf above first reading.

    Tel Tru:     255F

    Maverick:  265F

    Diff:           +10

    3rd reading 54 minutes in

     Probe: top right closest to the fire stack exit.

    Tel Tru:    236F

    Maverick: 265F

    Diff:          +29

    4th reading 1 hour in

    Probe: bottom right shelf closest to firebox

    Tel Tru:     225F

    Actual:      320F

    Diff:          +95

    1st reading 2nd trial 1 hour 16 minutes in

    Probe: Bottom left shelf close to edge of griddle plate.

    Tel Tru:     250F

    Maverick: 189F

    DIff:           -61

    2nd reading 2nd Trial 1 hour 20 minutes in

    Probe: Top Left shelf above first reading.

    Tel Tru:     250F

    Maverick:  260F

    Diff:           +10

    3rd reading 2nd trial 1hour 22 minutes in

     Probe: top right closest to the fire stack exit.

    Tel Tru:    250F

    Maverick: 288F

    Diff:          +38

    4th  2nd trial reading 1 hour 26 minutes in

    Probe: bottom right shelf closest to firebox

    Tel Tru:     250F

    Actual:      351F

    Diff:          +101

    Average differences from the reading of the tel tru are:

    Bottom left (-38+-61)/2=   -49.5 degrees

    top left(10+10)/2=              10 degrees

    top right (29+38)/2=           33.5 degrees

    bottom right(95+101)/2=    98 degrees.

    My fire consisted mainly of a bed of red and white oak sticks broken down to coals and embers. One Pin wheel closed and other opened 1/3 to bring down tel tru to 250 stable temp within an hour. The smoker was on a downward slope from firebox to chargrill end. I added a couble of hickory/pecan sticks every 30-40 minutes with a an average length of 10 in by 2-3 inches in diameter.

    While this is no major problem for me since I am used to rotating meat and also kinda like feature of having different zones. For example on my thanksgiving smoke, I had the rib roast sitting in the lower left side of the grill while the turkey was closest to the firebox. Being hotter I guess I was satisfied by having the turkey skin crisp up nicely. But yet I find that a 100 degree difference from one end to the opposite is just too much. Maybe I am doing something wrong but can anyone share their temperature experiences with the langs. I will do a video review soon by smoking some white bread and finding confirming the hot spots. I will also do a mod to see if there is a difference in the temperature. Basically the mod consist of lowering the smoke stack exit a few inches down to allow the heat to escape from the middle of the chamber. Like this:(photo taken from the Lang forum site

    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  2. chipotleq

    chipotleq Smoke Blower

    Here are the imperfections I found:

    Messy welds and maybe the bead welds should go all around. Here the firebox bottom is only welded form the inside. No leaks but still looks like it couls haven been done all around.

    The bead welds do not continue all aroun the bottom of the chamber and the firebox.

    Doors are stitched welded and have visible gaps from the flanges and doors. They leak smoke. I know all welded smokers, leak from the doors and is no issue with the langs. Since you cook with heat and not smoke. Only smoke leaks out when the chamber is full of smoke. I can not feel any heat leaks and therefor I see no performance issue. However I would like to see fully welded flanges like the gator pits or klose pits.

    flanges are not fully welded and you can see the gap between the door and flanges

    Smoke leaks with smoke stack closed 3/4 choking white smoke off the logs and leaking out the doors.

    I had to modify the top grill grate on the chargriller side because when I was closing the door The tip of the tel tru was hitting the chargriller and I believe it actually got damaged because I have found it to be less accurate than the dial on the smoke chamber. I had to cut a hole in the grill grate to allow the tip to freely close with out hitting the grate. No big deal since I find it is unnecessary for me to be accurate for the chargrill.

    I have read that the hardest part of building a smoker is getting the door to fully close flushed on the chamber. Here is my door on the smoker side. You can see the bottom sticks out a bit. No problem also since I even find it convenient because it allows me to run a thermometer wire without pinching it. No need to drill holes lol.

    Last imperfection and the worst one is the leak in the grease drain pipe. There is a leak in the weld where the V channel meets the drain pipe. Grease runs down from the side visible through firebox and runs down yet on another leak down the outside of the pipe running down by the valve. These are easy fixes but really bother me. My fear is that on a long multi pork butt cook I will collect enough grease in the bottom chamber that it will catch fire and warp everything. I have to keep a fire extinguisher handy.

    While I do get excited every time I want to turn her on to smoke some meat, I feel there are quality control issues down in the Lang production. Maybe the fact that they are now on TV with pitmasters and have high demand that they get some untrained welders. Still a fan of the langs. But next time I call Ben to order my future Lang 60 or 84, I know what to tell him to look out for before my smoker ships out. I am already saving for the next one, or maybe not, I got to check out a jambo or a klose.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Q, morning..... Uneven temps have long been an issue.... A few notes.... I saw where your frying pan temp was 450 ish in your other thread... the high temps in the FB are the cause of inadequate air flow to move the heat from the FB to the CC..... This can be remedied easily enough with an additional air inlet in the FB....... Place the inlet directly across from the FB/CC opening .. It would be nice to see the FB door configuration.... An inlet of about 4 sq in will do... fab some sort of adjuster for it.... slide damper type thing..... With the dual air inlets, you can adjust the air to the bed of charcoal for heat generating.... the upper air inlet will move the heat to the CC without having to open the lower inlet to accomplish that adjustment.... results are an even heat distribution inside the CC due to increased air/heat/smoke flow and a reduction in consumed fuel... Your FB will run cooler and not waste heat..... The smoker must be sealed tight.... no air leaks per se.... the exhaust stack should be operated in the wide open position.... all air entering the smoke needs to be controlled through the 2 air inlets for optimum control...

    It's sad to see the quality of workmanship you have experienced..... I'd bet the smokers, that represent Lang at competitions, are finished in a much finer detail than your thread depicts... Anyway, with a little tweaking, your smoker will give you years of great food and service...

  4. chipotleq

    chipotleq Smoke Blower

    Hi Dave

    It makes a lot of sense to me what you wrote. Now that I think back, the hottest zone zone which is 100 degrees hotter than the rest is located closest to the firebox. Someone else also pointed out not to stack the logs towards the back of the firebox, and it is how I had it. It makes total sense that that heat needs to move quicker out the firebox and into the stack. I will try building a smaller fire and splitting smaller logs. I will also get the nose of the grill to point up a bit to have the heat move naturally "up the hill" because the way I had it, it was moving down. And I guess heat settles in the bottom closest to the firebox and moves slower out. I am still trying to figure her out. I am sure this is a common problem, I hope it can also help other new lang owners figure the fire management out, its not as easy as they say at first.

    Regarding the quality of workmanship, I would like to get input from other new lang owners to see if they have the same. So far I've read that in general, lang pits are generally less appealing when it comes to the quality of the welds compared to say a jambo, gator or klose. But it does not take away from the performance. And I know the langs are cheapers than the ones mentioned.
  5. ChipolteQ,

    I was a bit humored by what Dave was mentioning about the adjustment of the FB pinwheels as I was thinking about the very same thing as I was reading your summary results.

    Also, you are absolutely right about moving the front end of the smoker up a bit. This does force the smoke and heat to move under and up and out of the stack and you will see better heat distribution internally. Finally, you are right on about not stacking to much wood to high into the rear of the firebox and that will create a much hotter heat source that you don't need or want.

    Now as for the welding imperfections that you have discovered, I was clearly disappointed to read what you had found as well as the pictures that took showing everything.

    I would like to make a suggestion to you for your consideration. That is, I think that you need to ask to speak to Ben Lang directly about what you have discovered concerning the quality of the smoker build you received, get an email address from him, send him the pictures you took and set up a follow-up call back with him a day or so later to get his comments regarding the smoker build workmanship.

    My guess would be that he will not be very happy to see what went out the door with his name on it. I can tell you straight up that this is what I would do regardless of whether this was a Lang, Cadillac, Klous, etc. Given my extensive sales experience with several Fortune 100 companies I can tell you that companies both big and small that don't pay attention continuously to the quality of their manufacturing processes will soon loose their marketing presence and quickly spiral into a state of failure if they release inferior products.

    If you decide to do this, I would very much appreciate hearing about what you are told.

  6. chipotleq

    chipotleq Smoke Blower

    I did another smoke today and made some adjustments...

    I  leveled the grill to point the nose up a bit and have the smoke move "up the hill". Big difference in temperature from how I had it originally. Now I have the temps at the top rack about 2-5 degree difference from tel tru thermometer and the bottom left only about -5degree colder. But still the right bottom closest to firebox is about 25-30 degree hotter. Better than 100 degree difference i had before. I have decided to mod the firebox fire grate. I will weld a slide out basket from expanded framed on 3/16 angles and will also do a slide out ash pan underneath the firebox grate. Hopefully I can complete the project in the next couple of weeks. Will post pics.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2013
  7. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Did you call lang and voice your concerns. Would like to know what there response was......
  8. chipotleq

    chipotleq Smoke Blower

    I don't know if I should call them... What would they do? these are easy fixes for me. But I guess I should point out to them their QC. After much research, there seems to be no QC at Lang. Reason why they leave their welds so messy might be that they have low skilled or even student welders do the work. That may be how they keep their prices relatively cheap compared to say the Houston area custom pit makers. I have found out I am not the only one with these issues regarding the welds, heck, I've seen worse ones on other forums. Its still a solid smoker to me, the finish might not be as pretty, but she gets the job done.

    Regarding the second leak(the one that is by the drain pipe on the chamber and leaks down to the drain valve) I pointed out, that is how is "designed" according to what Ben has responded other owners with same issue. Is to prevent rust from forming on the bottom of the chamber by draining the water that is left from a steam clean.
  9. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I personally would call them and let them know your problems with the smoker. uneven temps that bad!!!!! I do understand its hotter by the firebox but looking at that door it is unacceptable to me. The smoker should be sealed fairly well with very little leakage and you shouldn't have to modify or fix anything.....JMHO
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2013
  10. chipotleq

    chipotleq Smoke Blower

    You are right. I sent them some pics right now, i'll wait for a response or call them next week. That door should not be like that, maybe that isncausing the high temp spike in that area
  11. These comments are based on almost 20 years experience using a Lang 60.  I can relate to a lot of what is being said here.  For years i struggled with uneven and inconsistent temps.  Here are some of my observations.  

    Things that most often affect temps
    • smoker leveling,  I now use a cheap bubble level  mounted on the smoker so I know exactly whether I'm high or low on the reverse smoke end.  It definitely makes a difference when smoke is going up or down hill.
    • Didn't look to see if you had a butterfly valve in the exhaust but if you do it should always be completely open.  You want to adjust air flow with the draft controls in the FB.
    • Know your true temp thermometers,  pull them off the smoker and do the boiling water test to make sure they are all reading the same.  They will some times vary for one to another.
    • Fire temperatures will vary depending on the wood your burning, seasoned vs green
    • I try to make sure I have an established bed of wood coals going before I start smoking the meat.  A freshly started fire is hard to cook on.
    • Once my temps are in an acceptable range I try not to open the door on either the fire box or the pit unless I need to spritz or add wood.  Its the hardest thing for me to keep my friends from opening the doors to take a look or over react to temp drop and add wood.
    My Lang is an older smoker and the welds are really good, but that being said I did have modifications  done at the plant, I don't live to far from them,  and some of the work was substandard.  It was easily fixed by my local metal fab shop.

    I once had to replace some of the steel under the grate near the FB.  In the welding process it heated up the metal to the point that the door to the pit warped.  It was easily adjusted to fit properly with a 3 lb hammer.

    I had a second grease drain installed up near the firebox awhile back and it has a gape similar to what I saw in your photo.  The difference in mine is that where the pipe is welded to the angle iron in the plate, the weld is good and does not leak.  I think that is where your leak is and not the bottom of the tank.

    My temperature adjustments while cooking drove me crazy for years.  I noticed at one of the N Fla gatherings that my smoking friends use something called a BBQ Guru II.  I bite the hook and bought one and I have to say my temps are much more manageable.  I also use the IGrill which I really like to monitor my meat temps.  

    Sorry for the length.  I hope this helps you.  

    Last edited: Dec 5, 2013
    chipotleq likes this.
  12. ChipotleQ,

    I agree with the comments from Boykjo as I previously suggested to you. Ben Lang can't address and fix product quality control issues if he doesn't get any feed back from clients that purchase his smokers and find problems.

    I think that your sending the pictures to Ben was the right move. I would very much like to hear what his response is.

  13. [​IMG]
  14. chipotleq

    chipotleq Smoke Blower

    I called lang over the phone a couple of times with no answer. Left message, no response. Pretty much the same when I tried to get them to take my order. I left a facebook message and e-mailed, no response...
  15. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    The feedback your giving us from langs customer service will be helpful to someone making their decisions on what smoker to buy. I hope they respond and in a timley manner. If you sell a product you should stand behind your product with customer service and satisfaction. I know you cant make everyone happy but at least you can acknowlege their presence.
  16. hopmeister

    hopmeister Fire Starter

    This is one of the reason I decided on Yoder after trying do deal with Horizon....Byron from Yoder wanted to make sure I was 110% Pleased with my Yoder.
  17. Boykjo,

    I agree completely with your comments. Customer service is and has always been extremely important to me. I have been in the corporate sales world for more than 19 years and customer satisfaction has always been my most important principle. The old car sales model of....get the sale/money and don't worry if your client has problems is a sure road to failure.

    As long as Lang has been in business and the successes that have been achieved in the Competition BBQ World and strong client testimonials doesn't add up well here.

    I am hoping that Lang will get back to ChipotleQ and provide some positive feedback.

  18. 64driver

    64driver Fire Starter

    I am still on the fence between a Lang and a PCC. I was leaning towards a Lang, from what I have heard/read about them, coupled with a few people I talked to who have them. Me personally, I have gotten great customer service from Peoria, even though I was just inquiring about their cookers. It took days to respond to my emails from Lang, and even then it was only a 1 sentence response, with no signature as to who sent it. My only excuse to go with Lang is that I might be down in Alabama for 6 weeks early next year, which would save on shipping a cooker from GA to MN (~$650) for a 48 mobile unit. I can still go pick up a PCC, but they are still more expensive (about 1k more with the options I want). With seeing the craftsmanship of a Lang, I am not sure now. The extra money on a PCC might be worth it, if anyone has seen them (ALL welds are an A+, no skimping on any part). Guess you get what you pay for...

    Aaaaaannd now I am on the fence even more. Thanks for posting the pics for all to see.
  19. chipotleq

    chipotleq Smoke Blower

    peorias cooker, looking at them I like their double smoke stack design and how the stacks are welded in the middle of the chamber end. That is how it should be made with all regular flow off set burners. Have you looked at Jambo pits? They have a 48  size called the backyard jambo, roughly than the lang 48 and the peoria 24x48. But they have insulated firebox. Looks like same price as the preoria or a little more than the lang 48.

    If I had the opportunity to do it again, I think I would still buy the lang. They are excellent cookers, and the craftsmanship might not be as pretty as the other high end smokers, but it gets the job done just as good if not better.
  20. 64driver

    64driver Fire Starter

    I emailed Mr. Geer today to see how much a backyard model on a trailer would be. I'm guessing it won't be as cheap as a Lang, and probably around the same price as a PCC, if not more. The PCC I want has the insulated firebox (+$567) wood bin (+$325), and trailer itself (+$850), on top of the $1753 for the 24x48 cooker. So that's a total of $3495....if I pick it up at the shop, which I would. The Lang is exactly 1k less than that if I picked it up, so I would still be Okay with the slight imperfections like you pointed out. I'm sure it would still get the job done with great results, and live up to the reputation it has. Basically, for the best bang for your buck, the Lang is still at the top. I grew up in Illinois, so I wanted to go with PCC because of supporting a small, home town business. That is why I am on the fence between the two. Don't get me wrong, I would love Jambo, but I think they are out of my price range (wife set a $3500 hard limit). We'll see when I get a response from them on the price though.

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