Newbie needs help please!!

Discussion in 'Wood Smokers' started by kevinwiggins, Nov 18, 2014.

  1. kevinwiggins

    kevinwiggins Newbie

    Hi I have a Brinkmann Trailmaster Vertical that ive sealed up with silicone and it works great so far. I have some promlems tho. Im a cattle feeder in Iowa so Ive only really smoked beef on this thing and everything ive smoked on this thing tastes like a burnt log, I try to use more carcoal but then I have to use wood to make heat and then I  get too much smoke. When im smoking on my meat raises internal temp really fast. Is my smoker too hot? its stays right on 225 but I don't know if the stock thermometer is correct. If any of you smoking veterans could help me out that would great! Kevin
  2. I would bet it is way off. You need to find a thermometer to check it. Also what does your smoke look like? you want TBS not a heavy smoke. I don't understand why you think you have to add wood to make heat. Look for Oldschoolbbq's stick burner 101. I am thinking you need to spend a lot of time with chicken (chicken is cheap and will take wild temp swings and still be tasty) and play with your smoker and learn what makes it tick. Wright down what you do, count the number of briquettes you add.

    I also see this is your first post. When you get a chance will you drop by roll call so everyone can give you a proper SMF welcome?

    Happy smoken.

  3. kevinwiggins

    kevinwiggins Newbie

    My smoke is pretty heavy so that's probably one of my problems. You have to use wood to make heat with this smoker. If read a lot of other people's reviews and they have to do the same thing to make heat. Thanks for your input I appreciate it!
  4. Do let your wood catch fire so that it makes coals quickly, but be careful, the thinner guage metal in the firebox will warp unless you have a cage to keep the coals from touching things like the firebox door.
    see the gap?

    The outside temp gauge runs 50-75 degrees cooler than the center. I use oven thermometers inside my trailmaster.
    The little thermometers are good for measuring top to bottom temps also.

    Part way open fire vents and an open stack should settle in at 250. But it does depend on the fuel. When I start to cook, my wood looks like this.
    But when I started the fire the wood looked like this.

    Hope this helps. Oh by the way, the door thermometer is usually correct, its just in the wrong place. I have checked them with boiling water and ice water, its just that they are on that door which is cooler than the inside air. Its really better to just consider it a visual gauge to run your vents with.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
  5. kevinwiggins

    kevinwiggins Newbie

    Thanks for the info!that would make sense of why the meat cooks so fast.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2014
  6. buttburner

    buttburner Meat Mopper

    I would not pack your firebox with unburnt wood chunks like that.

    Find and read the Stickburning 101 thread like has been mentioned by themule69.

    What you want is a small, hot fire. There is a lot of good info with pics in that thread

    I could explain it all to you here but its all contained in that thread

    you want a fire like this
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014
  7. Yes that works for that method, utilizing flame or burning wood rather than coals. Consider though that what I am doing is useing the firebox as a charcoal retort, creating low energy charcoal, which is to say it has a lot more carbon that raw wood, but less carbon than high quality lump which is made with higher temperatures. By making it out of hickory, I can retain the sought after flavor of the wood, because this method simply doesnt generate enough heat to drive out all the organics contained in the wood, but does clear a lot of the nastier elements like methane etc. Its not a process that is necessary to cook with, as the small hot fire has been vetted for cooking for millenia, its just that I got tired of feeding the small fire to get the same result. In fact We kind of prefer the less woody flavor, though you most certainly taste the hickory flavoring, its actually not easy to oversmoke this way, unless the wood isnt given time to carbonize enough before unfoiled cooking starts. I guess its kind of a hybrid idea, but the reduction in volume of the wood as it is reduced to charcoal allows plenty of room in the firebox for airflow during the cook. I think I stumbled across doing it this way years ago, shutting the vents down on a hot wood fire and then getting a phone call or some distraction, when I came back to the fire the wood had changed to unburnt lump, and the cook went so well I looked it up on some charcoal making sites and now prefer doing it this way. Its a lot less messy than having a full on charcoal retort setup for the small amount of charcoal I need to produce.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014
  8. buttburner

    buttburner Meat Mopper

    I make charcoal in a retort. a retort is a vessel inside of another vessel containing the wood to be made into charcoal. Waste wood is burned in the outer vessel so that the charcoal wood is burned indirectly

    I don't use my smoker for it

    your method may work but not the normal way to run a stickburner..

    I usually average 1 stick every 45 mins or so, this is common

    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014
  9. And you sir get the golden apple for naming the reason I do it. My temperature is usually not below 250. More heat means more energy, and that means more and hotter fuel. I learned to make ribs on a brinkmann cimerron. Fuel sucker wouldnt get hot to save its life. Anyway, after being bitten on the toe by a scorpion tending the smoker fire at 2am, I resolved to shorten my cooks.

    Relative to having a retort, which is a great idea I havent pulled the trigger on; I have so much wood I could turn into high grade lump (grade is the carbon content) that I wouldnt care to flavor with, like dogwood and red oak, black walnut which I hear is allergenic somehow, and others that defy description, I would love to explore the idea of a retort. I havent seen a design I like. Its like they only recently discovered they can redirect the flammable wood gas to the heat and boost it. I think some cool ideas are around the corner. But now I am stomping on the original poster so its best saved for another topic.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014
  10. I am not thinking this thread is about making lump in your grill. Maybe I misread the question a few times. I am not thinking someone asking about smoked burnt tasting meat wants to know about the science of making lump. Since the [​IMG]  has happened I will say if you are going to make your own lump you can use about any hard wood that you want as when the gasses are burnt off you loose that woods flavor. 

    So now back on topic. Why do you think you have to burn wood to make heat? Heat is BTU's. Charcoal and lump have BTU's. It is all a matter of learning to control your smoker. Air leaks are the arch enemy of a smoker [​IMG]!

    Happy smoken.

  11. Well it depends on the cooking. Most of this fire stuff is about pork, like ribs. I do cook them pretty good because of the collagen and want some btus. Fish though, or soft meats I couldnt see needing all that. I like salmon with alder smoke out of an electric smoker or really low fire, because too much heat just ruins it. The piped smokers are neat but I have never tried one of those. I never would have thought of a mailbox as a firebox!
  12. Please read the question that was ask by KevinWiggins
  13. buttburner

    buttburner Meat Mopper

    exactly!!! thanks

    this is why I referred him to Stickburning 101
  14. Hey, hang on there! Thats a little strong. I dont think starting out with coals is the wrong idea. I think its the right idea. Then if a person wishes to spend an entire weekend trying to small fire a huge brisket, they can at least know what their baseline taste is without wasting all the money on meat and torturing the family and friends with acrid smoke by products from wood gas. The stuff is flammable for petes sake, and if you like it more power to you as its a fun part of smoking, but there are many around here that do not. I dont recall that indians who cooked barbacoa style even put their meat in a stream of wood gas. The meat was aside the fire. Additionally, my trailmaster can hold more than 6 slabs of spares, and a small low fire just "over atmospheres" the surface of meat without bringing it up to temperature. I get what you are saying, but leave a little room for those of us that find meats besides ribs or butts too strongly smoked by that method.
  15. buttburner

    buttburner Meat Mopper

    starting out with coals is fine

    making coals out of a jam packed firebox full of wood is a different matter, especially for a beginner

    A small hot wood fire produces very little smoke, in fact, the hotter the fire the less smoke there is.

    I am not saying your method is right or wrong, I just  don't think its a good idea for a beginner to start this way.

    If he wants to use coals, just use lump (pre made) or briqs.
  16. Most definitely lump I agree. Its so easy to add later in a long cook.

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