Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by mitsuruss, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. jond36

    jond36 Meat Mopper

    I dont have any lava rocks but has anyone tried lava rocks in on of these smokers or the MES to control temp swings?
  2. Just curious, I smoked a 9 lb pork butt yesterday in my Smoke-it #2 just setting the knob to 225, and adding a few more wood chips after 3 hours.  Removed it at 195 IT, and it came out excellent, smoky, excellent bark, and moist enough to pull off with a standard fork, had to cut up some of the bark into smaller pieces with a small knife. 

    If I made some of the various modifications listed here to prevent the box temperature swings, how would it have affected my end result and made it different?
  3. I haven't tried it yet but its on my list of things to do,,, I like the idea...

  4. Or perhaps a Fire Brick or two? Thumbs Up
  5. kemuri

    kemuri Newbie

    I've got a #1 and I don't see big air temperature swings.

    I've had it about a year and done 17-18 batches in it. I always mount my air sensor roughly in what seems like the midpoint of the meat mass vertically in the box. I typically do 2 butts in it at once at 220˚ and (once it comes up to temp) the air temp fluctuations are quite small. I wonder if the smaller size (less air to heat relative to the mass of meat) is a factor? When I have room I also add in a container with a quart or 2 (depending on space) to my sauce mix to smoke that as well. So that's a bit more mass in there for each smoke.

    I also load and lock mine for the duration. Once the meat and wood are in, I don't open it till the meat reaches 200˚ (typically 17-18 hours.) Been working pretty well for me. I use a homemade dry rub, oak and cherry.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  6. jjrolex

    jjrolex Newbie

    What's an air sensor?
  7. kemuri

    kemuri Newbie

    I've got a Black Maverick Dual probe thermometer. 1 senor (probe) goes in the meat to read its temp and one clips to a rack to measure the air temp in the (in my case) smoker.
  8. jjrolex

    jjrolex Newbie

    Ok…I've got the 732 model. I guess I refer to the one probe as the smoker probe, never heard it called an air sensor before. My bad, thanks for response.
  9. divotmaker

    divotmaker Smoke Blower

    Great question, 801 - well-put!  That's really the meat of the "to mod or not to mod" question!  If I'm already getting great results with my stock unit (or maybe a stock unit with an Auber PID), how are any other mods going to improve what I already get?  I guess everyone needs to answer that for themselves.  Don't get me wrong - I'm not advocating either approach (mod/no mod), but I tend to lean toward the "no mod" side.  I believe the majority of owners are happy with stock performance (as I have certainly been with a #1 and #2), but some are looking for "more than stock" performance.  I believe everyone has the right to modify any product they buy to suit their needs, but also believe modifications should be undertaken with a clear understanding of the benefit, not just because it seems cool.
  10. I can see making modifications for an improvement or a different end result that you currently are getting. 

    I am a tinkerer myself and have modified many items, cars, motorcycles, aircraft, electronic equipment, antennas, mechanical equipment, cooking and grilling equipment etc over the years, but I always had a specific goal in mind that I hoped would give me a better end result for my needs.  Go faster, ride through deeper water, fly faster, or in some cases slower, talk further, pump more, hold more smoke, etc.   

    Most of the time I saw a benefit with the end results fitting my needs better.  I was just wondering what the end result benefit might be of having tighter box temperature control on my smokes before I go to the trouble to try it.

    Thanks for all the input and information.  This site is great. 
  11. bocaboy

    bocaboy Fire Starter

    "801", IMHO, the more accurate the temperature the more predictable the results. That's why I chose to buy an Auder PID and to disconnect the built-in thermostat so if I chose to, I could achieve higher temps than 250°. Pork is pretty forgiving with temperature, so I'm not sure I'd use your outcome as the definitive criteria for whether to do a modification or not. As I've said earlier, I do a lot of smoked fish, and I really want to keep the temperature w-a-a-y down low as I apply smoke to the fish. (BTW, for what it's worth, I usually go for 202° on pork butt. At that point it's as tender as can be!)

    I can also say that my smoked ribs (225° for 5 hours) is dead-on consistent. There isn't a time when the ribs haven't been tender or perfectly cooked.

    So maybe the best thing to say is it depends on what you're cooking and wether you're happy with the outcome, i.e., is it consistent. For me, if I had to do it over again, I'd still make the same modification.

    Either way, I like my #2 and love making great Q with it!
  12. jond36

    jond36 Meat Mopper

    I wonder if it would make a difference with a large turkey. That seems like something you wouldnt wanna mess with temp swings.
  13. Bocaboy,

    Thanks, this is what I was looking for.  I had not thought about smoking at a lower temp. 

    So far everything I have smoked has been happy in the 225 temp range. Beef, pork, chicken.  I had not thought about something like fish at a lower temp.  A 30 swing at something like 150 would be a much bigger percentage of error especially with less denser thin meat like fish, it could get a peak burn more than I would care for it to.

    What kind of fish do you smoke, thickness, temp, kinds of wood, etc?  We live on the lake but mostly fry or occasionally bake with lemon pepper or something similar. We mostly have crappie, white, striped, and small mouth bass that is relatively thin.  I have smoked salmon on the charcoaler many times in the past, but not in the Smoke-it.

    I wonder, does the element heat enough to smolder the wood chips in the normal tray with a partially "on" temp or might something like an AMPS be needed?  Initial full heat at start up might be enough to get it started, but it might not continue smoldering.

    What do you smoke over 250?  Something else I had not thought of.

    I think I have an old PID controller and most likely enough spare parts to put something together to make this work.  (I am kinda cheep if I have stuff laying around to meet the function)  Right now I can not think of anything I might need to smoke over 250, so might go with a TC in the smoke hole like my external temperature sensors and mount my control equip in a separate box with a recep for the Smoke-it and turn the existing controller to 250.  I would not have a timer function but I can work around that.  It should not take long to tune the controller to provide a constant temp, would have to adjust on a few start ups to get the initial stabilization tuned.

    Thanks for the reply and the information.
  14. divotmaker

    divotmaker Smoke Blower

    801 - Sounds like you have a plan!  I'm not sure what kind of PID you have on-hand, so I'm just providing info for comparison.  The Auber WSD-1503CPH (the unit most of us have, and the one that SI sells) gives you the ability to set 6 different steps.  The steps are triggered by time or temp.  I know the Auber's box and meat probe are tuned to their units, so that's something to consider if using another type of PID.  You'll have to check with the manufacturer as to availability of probes, I would suspect.  I find the Auber to be the single modification to the SI smokers that makes a great smoker spectacular!  The ability to hold any temp accurately, with programmable steps, is just what I was looking for!  Bocaboy said it best - consistency!
  15. The unit I have no where near that flexible.  It is just an industrial controller that would need a piece of type J or K thermocouple wire twisted together in the box at the point where I would monitor the temperature.  I would feed the output signal into a ckt that would vary the power to the heating element.  This would automatically adjust to hold the set temperature very accurately, but would not give me any other functions other than removing the temp spikes.  I will look and think about this some more before I go to much trouble with this.  Thanks for the feedback, and inciting the thoughts.
  16. divotmaker

    divotmaker Smoke Blower

    No problem, 801!  I only mentioned it because I've spent way too much time reinventing the wheel myself, instead of trusting proven technology!  Cheaper to start with, but costly in the long run!  LOL!
  17. To me this is what these forums are all about.  Thinking about different things to do and ways of doing things.  I had never thought about a lower temperature smoke other than a cold smoke or changing the temp during a smoke.  I do that with grilling all the time, moving stuff around on the grill to different temperature areas, this would be similar.  I had first only considered the element on/off swings which would be easy to program into my unit over a short period of time to hold steady with slight changes as I had varied ambient conditions to fine tune with. but some of you guys are doing a lot more than just maintaining an even temperature.  I will need to go back and dig into things people are smoking and how they are smoking a little more.  I want to be really prepared to tell Wifey why I really need a new gizmo. Ha Ha.

    Thanks for all the info.
  18. divotmaker

    divotmaker Smoke Blower

    I feel ya, Driver, I feel ya.[​IMG]
  19. My wish list top item: Auber WSD-1503CPH

    My #1 has temp swings that are tolerable for Butts, Ribs,etc. but I like the idea of a PID controller for low temp smokes as well as the option to mod and finish off Foul at about 350 for a crispy skin...
  20. jond36

    jond36 Meat Mopper

    No offense at the suggestion, but doesnt your skin get crispy anyhow with the bark?

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