Needing Advice on Garage Find

Discussion in 'Smoker Builds' started by smokechoke, Jul 24, 2016.

  1. smokechoke

    smokechoke Newbie

    Hey all, Thought I would start my introduction to the forum looking for some troubleshooting help. Got interested in smoking after attempting to use the trusty weber I grill brats and burgers on and found it challenging to modulate the temp without a purpose built rig. Saw the UDS builds and I was sucked in. Being a recent college grad I love me some garage sales and happened to find this awesome one off custom electric smoker for $50 bucks. The guy plugged it in and it started to heat up. He shows me the basics of using the PID to set the temp. Off I go and I did a test run up to 300F and it did well. I got a pork butt the next week and went to turn it on again and it wouldn't heat. I did mess with the settings but I called the manufacture of the PID and I'm almost certain I have it back to the settings the PO had it at when I bought it. I even called the PO and he said he might have a extra hot plate around but never called me back. I've put a multimeter to the relay and it shows voltage when I turn it on and it begins to heat ramp. However the hot plate doesn't heat. The hot plate is a waage hot stove 1250watt. PID is Solo 4848 from Automation Direct. It has a temperature probe to detect ambient temperature to know when to cycle on/off the relay to the hot plate. Any ideas on what I should look at to verify that the hot plate element is bad or I screwed something up with the PID? I've linked some photos to the smoker and took the baseplate off the hot plate to show the insides. 

    Link to album with more pics:
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Check resistance of the heating element in the the hot plate, and also any other circuit components such as thermostat, switch, wiring and terminations. It may just be a coincidence that the heating element burned out or broke a conductor from handling when you brought it home or moved it (not saying you got rough with it, sometimes stuff just breaks). Sometimes, it's just a loose or tarnished/corroded termination, a kinked/broken wire along a run, or broken wire inside a solder-less crimp terminal. Give a little tug & twist on the wires...if there's a bad spot it may separate enough for you to feel or see it. If resistance checks and other inspections reveal nothing to be apparently wrong, then as a last resort, CAREFULLY check for voltage at terminations with it powered up and set to run.

    Failed electrical circuits can be a PITA, and the more complicated they are the more you need to think like an investigator. Look at the big picture first, for the most obvious signs of trouble, before you start digging in deep. Don't forget patience...if you get frustrated just walk away and come back to it later when you have a fresh outlook. Sometimes all you need is to get your mind on something else and then you see the problem or solution when you return.

    BTW, helluva find for $50!!! Even if you have to gut the wiring and rebuild it, you have a rig with serious potential.

    Last edited: Jul 27, 2016
  3. smokechoke

    smokechoke Newbie


    I appreciate your detailed message. I'm craving pulled pork too much to let this project fail because I didn't give it a thorough investigation. Great point about stepping back and looking at it like an investigator! It's a closed system so there is definitely a solution among the components. This build is all ready to go and I know there's a lot of guys with more passion and experience than I who would love to have this, so I'm going to solve it for them!  

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