Trouble Getting 200+ F Temps

Discussion in 'Propane Smokers' started by khuhner, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. khuhner

    khuhner Fire Starter

    My father built the propane smoker below. It has a vent on the top of the cabinet, and one at the bottom on the front of the cabinet. It has a single burner (low pressure) and a cast iron chip pot.

    So I've done a couple of smokes in the cabinet and am struggling getting the temps above 200 F. I dont know if it's improperly set vents (top and bottom), or maybe the burner isnt getting the chip pot hot enought? The last smoke I even tried lining the bottom of the chip pot with lit charcoal then placing wood on top.

    What's a good choice for wood type (sawdust, chips, chunks)? How much wood should you start with? Note I soak my wood in water overnight.

    How should I sent the vents at the beginning and during the smoke? What affect does opening and closing the two vents?

    Any ideas would be appreciated getting my temps above 200 F.


  2. meat hunter

    meat hunter Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Hey there Kurt, how ya doin?
    Nice looking rig there. Where on there is the lower vent? Is it inline with the burner or is it below it?

    How large is the vent on top?

    As far as wood goes, you can continue to soak the wood, or you could simply take a sheet of foil, line a small pie pan with it, add some wood shavings, seal it up so it looks like a hockey puck and poke a few holes with a toothpick in it. This works very well. The wood will smolder and won't ignite as there is not enough oxygen getting to it to do so.

    As heavy as the wood looks, it should be well insulated, but how tight are the edges and the door when you shut it? Any leaks or cracks are great places for heat to escape and drafts to work their way in.

    Do you know the btu's of the burner your using? Or have a pic of it?

    Also remember, you live in NY, and if its anything like here, and I know it is, its cold outside LOL, which is always a struggle in the smoking world, especially if the unit is not insulated.

    If your wood is turning to ash now, I would say
    the burner is getting the chip pan hot enough.

    I say look for any areas where heat can escape. Even though it may look tight, if you have any areas where you see smoke escaping other than the chimney, you need to seal them up.

    Also, what are you using for a thermometer? Are you sure that it is accurate? If you have a few other shots of this rig, post them. Home builts are always nice to see.

    I just went back and looked at your photo. Its kinda hard to tell but it looks like there are some darkened areas around the top corners on the edges, which leads me to think that is smoke residue, and if it is, that also means heat it going thru there too. If this is the case, something you can do for that and will be really effective, is to buy one of those woven rope gaskets that go on wood burning stoves. Secure that to the edges. Acts like the squishy door seal on your refrigerator. Also, if the wood on that smoker is not as thick as it looks, maybe get some of that 1" think foil backed foam at home improvement stores and place it on the outside.
  3. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Also are you trying to smoke your wood chips in the dutch oven with the lid left on?
  4. bbally

    bbally Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Needs a draft at the bottom. Or need to see a picture of it.

    Is the air mix venturi external to the box? Or on the burner itself?

    Something similar to the picture below. Allows the air to mix with the propane for combustion. Is this part outside the box? Or inside on the burner?

    I think you have incomplete combustion.
  5. cheapchalee

    cheapchalee Smoking Fanatic

    Looks like you have a small air leak at the top right, but I don't think that would stop you from getting above 200 degrees. Also as asked before are you smoking with the lid on the dutch oven, shouldn't stop you from reaching temp though. I would look at the heat source, maybe a bigger burner. Just another question, did it ever get aboe 200 or did this just occur?

  6. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Just a thought , but are you sure your thermometer is accurate?
  7. mgnorcal

    mgnorcal Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    What is that bottom shelf exactly?
    Hard to tell from the pic but looks like a metal sheet with holes in it.
    If that's the case, you're going to keep too much of the heat down in the lower section
    - so try it with that shelf out. and check your temps.

    I like your racks - where did you get them and what size are they?
  8. khuhner

    khuhner Fire Starter

    No [​IMG]
  9. khuhner

    khuhner Fire Starter

    Ahh, that sounds like a tip. I dont know exactly what it's used for other than letting smoke through and protecting the fire from dripping, but I could be wrong. I think I'm going to insulate the cabinet better and try without this tray.

  10. khuhner

    khuhner Fire Starter

    Well I think the thermometer in the door is slightly off (low by 10-15 deg). I figured this when I used (and subsequently "smoked" the transmitter [​IMG], see the thread for my embarrasing skills) a Maverick ET-73 and noticed it was 10-15 deg hotter than the door thermometer.

  11. khuhner

    khuhner Fire Starter

    I have never got it over 200. I believe my father did, but the original burner in there seemed weak so it was replaced with the one in there now. I thought it was find, so it may need a cleaning, or more powerful burner...

  12. khuhner

    khuhner Fire Starter

    The racks were in there when it was handed down to me. I believe my father got them in the Air FOrce from equipment that was being replaced. He really bragged about those grates :)

  13. justsmoke2

    justsmoke2 Smoking Fanatic

    Take a few more pics of your burner set up. Outside and inside connection. You may just need a new burner set up. If so look for a unwanted turkey deep fryer and cut the stand down to fit. I know there is plans floating around here I just don't know where of a similar smoker as your.
  14. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If your sure your thermometer is accurate I would try and remove that metal grate on the bottom and just see if you can reach any higher temps. If you still can't maybe you can switch the regulator out with a high pressure one or just get a higher BTU burner all together. Also like others have mentioned try and put a seal around your door. I have a smoker like yours but much taller and I am able to reach well over 350 if I want to but then again I am using a turkey/fish fryer burner which puts out a lot of BTU's and it is a high pressure regulator. I installed a needle valve inline in my hose because I thought mine would get too hot but so far in the butt cold winter we have been having I have not had to use my needle valve at all. This summer I might have to. Also my smoker is VERY well insulated. I have tin then insulation then plywood and then an outside layer of tongue and grove so mine is very thick. Just my $0.02.
  15. scpatterson

    scpatterson Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I use a turkey fryer burner for mine. i cut the legs off to shorten it up some and can run my temps as high as I want. I could set the thing on fire if i wanted. My whole burner assembly sets inside mine with a vent on the side by hose and air intake for the burner..Works great so far..

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