Smokin-It #3 electrical smoker

bolepa
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Smokin-It #3 electrical smoker

Post by bolepa » Fri Sep 08, 2017 23:10

Hi everyone,
I am on the path to buy Smokin-It #3 electrical smoker mainly for making sausages and not for cooking/smoking meats like ribs, buts, briskets and so on. As soon I will be dealing (mainly) with sausages, I need to keep very precise temperature - preferably within 5 degrees. After visiting several other forums and websites and reading hundreds (?) reviews for last month and a half I realized that this is very good smoker overall but it has one serious problem: the temperature fluctuate during the smoking within 30-40 degrees F. which is not acceptable at all when you smoke sausages. Unfortunately, this smoker has an analog temperature controller and I think this is a reason. As much as I know, all electrical smoker prone to this issue. Of course, I can buy Auber PID temperature controller and this will (should?) resolve the problem.
I tried to find any information about this on this forum but unfortunately could not find nothing on Smokin-It #3 electrical smoker so I decided to as if anyone own (or used to own) this smoker and could share their experience with me.
Thank you very much in advance,
Boris
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Post by cathouse willy » Sat Sep 09, 2017 00:41

I can't help with that smoker but I do have an electric Bradley smoker that I control to+/- 2 deg f with a pid.The auber units are pricey but they are plug and play. If you're comfortable with basic electronics and wiring you can build a pid from parts much cheaper. One thing to consider is can the smoker be used for cold smoking. That will add a whole new range of smoking you can do.
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Post by Butterbean » Sat Sep 09, 2017 00:48

I googled it and it looks like a nice smoker. I went to their forum and did some reading and it sounded like most people were pleased with the temperature ranges but I also got the impression that most are smoking things other than sausages.

I've made and own several smokers and though each smoker has versatility each one also has a sweet spot it likes to cook at and my impression is this would not be the best choice for sausages if this is what you are primarily going to use it for? Home use or commercial?
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Post by bolepa » Sat Sep 09, 2017 01:30

cathouse willy and Butterbean - thank you very much for your input.
Cathouse willy - how reliable the Bradley smoker is? If I decide to go with Bradley, it`s going to be 6 racks smoker for $500 plus $200 Auber PID controller. I know it has four stars on Amazon but just want to know from your personal experience. About cold smoking. I built my own "cold smoking" system: large Brinkmann smoker with a fire box on it`s side with 4" pipe inserted in firebox and another end is connected to small grill about 15 feet away from big one and sitting on the ground. Works like a charm! Cold smoked Salmon is delicious...
Butterbean - you are absolutely right: I would say 98% of owners of Smokin-It smoker don`t do sausages - just other meats. I don`t and won`t be using this smoker commercially - only for home usage. What I realized recently is this: as my sausages get better with time (thank a bunch to this forum) I am getting more and more of relatives and friends. Guess why? When I make sausages, I am giving about 70% of them to my friends and relatives and believe or not they like them and ask for more!  Usually I don`t cook more then 10# but think I have to prepare myself to start making 15-20 pounds any time soon!!! 

Thank you again!
Boris
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Post by Butterbean » Sat Sep 09, 2017 02:15

Boris, since its for your own use and doesn't have to look all shiny for an inspector I'd suggest building one yourself. I've made several and experimented with different designs and there are a lot of ideas on this site but one of the best smokers I ever built was a design made by an extension professor in the Pacific Northwest for cold smoking salmon. This design is so simple and shouldn't cost you more than $100 to build. Whats also great is you can build one in a couple hours. Its that simple. Also, though its has a relatively small footprint the smoker can easily hold over 100 lbs of meat and a similar smoker sold by commercial producers would cost you around $3000 and this simple smoker will smoke sausages and bacon just as good as its expensive cousin. The sweet spot for this smoker is from the cold smoke range to the 190F mark and anything over that you have to work for. In other words it will coast right where you need it to cook at and it holds a very steady heat. The only flaw I've seen with it is the ambient temperature can effect the temperature to a small degree. For instance, if you begin a smoke in the afternoon and the night temp is expected to drop 50F then this will require a small adjustment during the smoke but other than that it works like a dream. It just looks to simple for many to take it seriously but its one of the best smokers I've ever used. If you are interested in going this route I'll dig around and see if I can find some pictures and information for you. It does run on gas though.
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Post by harleykids » Sat Sep 09, 2017 05:24

Butterbean, yes, please see if you can find pics and info on his smoker, I too would love to see the design! Thanks!
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Post by Butterbean » Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:24

The issue with photobucket has been a pain but here are some photos I dug out. I can't find the link to the extension design but maybe this will give you the gist of the smoker.

Basically, its just a wooden box made with 1"x6"x 8' tongue and groove pine. Granted, it doesn't look like much but don't let the looks and its simplicity fool you because this design is miraculous and it is surprisingly well insulated and its temperature sweet spot is just where it needs to be for smoked sausages, bacons and ham.

You can count the boards for the dimensions and the only sawing is the slope on the top and this is just a simple cut with the skihl saw to give a sloped top. A hole saw is used to drill an air intake hole near the bottom and two vent holes on the top sides. Air flow through these holes are regulated by simply using electrical box plates which are snugged to the wood with a single wood screw. Friction holds the plate in place.

To shore the tongue and groove boards together, 2x4's are ripped in half and used to tie everything together. These reinforcement boards are used to hang either smoke sticks or shelves made of expanded metal for things like fish etc. It is important that once you tack the boards together to use screws to prevent the wood from shifting on you.

In the one I built I used a simple gas burner for a heat source with the gas line running through the bottom vent. It only required a very gentle flame to give a consistent heat within the smokehouse. For smoke, I used a cast iron dutch oven filled with sawdust that sat on top of the burner. I would light the edge of the sawdust and let it smolder across the pan.

I have to say I was surprised and well pleased at how good this design worked and how much of a set and forget smoker it turned out to be. Only issue I ever had with it was when a big cold front came in one night and the ambient temperature dropped considerably and I had to turn up the flame just a hair to compensate for the ambient temp drop but for the most part it would keep very consistent temps while smoking.

Image

Image

Image

I hope this was helpful and to be so simple its amazing how well this works. I do think a different smoke generator would work better than the dutch oven dust method I used but in all it worked fine and I smoked a lot of meat in this box without any issues.
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Post by harleykids » Sat Sep 09, 2017 15:03

Thanks for the pics ! I use my big insulated vertical smoker and just light my amazn tube for cood smoke. I can cold smoke for 6 hours on a single tube at whatever ambient temp is. Works great!

Never tried to raise the temp above ambient though, may try that with my digital controller and fan.
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Post by cathouse willy » Sat Sep 09, 2017 19:05

Boris I've had an original bradley (4 rack) with a pid for 6 years now and I've been very happy with it. Just my opinion but the digital bradleys still have a 20 plus deg temp swing and don't do anything the pid can't do better.Here's a link to the user forum, a lot of the problems people have are user caused and bradley does have excellent customer service.
http://forum.bradleysmoker.com/
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Post by bolepa » Sat Sep 09, 2017 20:54

Butterbean and cathouse willy,
Thank you very much and I really appreciate your help.
Butterbean, thank you very much for taking your time and providing us with the picks and very interesting idea on the smoker. While I understand the concept of how your smoker works, I still have a few questions on details.... There is only one small personal issue with this smoker in regard to my personal preferences: this smoker is tight to your place and you cannot take it with you in case if you have to move somewhere else... It`s not really mobile unit... but.... the idea is really sweet.
cathouse willy, Thank you for the link you provided and I will check this out... Did I understood you correctly that even with Auber PID controller the Bradley smoker still has "20 plus deg temp swing" ? What I realized while going through several forums and reading multiple post is that PID controller is able to keep the temperature inside the smoker within plus/minus 5 degrees. And this should work for any digital smoker. Am I mistaken?
Thank you,
Boris
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Post by cathouse willy » Sat Sep 09, 2017 21:33

What I meant was that the digital smoker on its own has wide temp swings but if you add a pid and you'll get down to 2-3 deg swings.Sorry for the misunderstanding.
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Post by bolepa » Sat Sep 09, 2017 21:36

cathouse willy, sounds great. Thank you for the clarification,
Boris
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Post by bolepa » Wed Sep 13, 2017 14:34

Hi Butterbean,

Once again, thank you for giving me a general idea on how to build my own, "propane based" smoker. Very interesting and easy to build (and cheap!!!) but I have several question thought:

1. "Air flow through these holes are regulated by simply using electrical box plates which are snugged to the wood with a single wood screw. Friction holds the plate in place."

What "friction" hold this plates in place? Are plates snugged to the wood with a single screw from outside of the smoker?
It is my understanding that need for those holes and plates to create ventilation (holes) and control it (plates) inside the smoker?

2. "In the one I built I used a simple gas burner for a heat source with the gas line running through the bottom vent"

Does this mean that there is an open flame, created by the gas burner inside of the smoker? If it is, is it safe to keep open flame inside of a wooden box for extended period of time? I am very concerned about this because I live in the area where houses located very close from each other and backyards are very small...

3. it is surprisingly well insulated

From the picks you proved, I don`t see any additional insulation but just bare wood....

Also,
What base (floor) of this unit made from? The same pine wood boards? Should floor be covered/insulated with a heat protective materials?

I am so sorry for asking for so many questions but I am under impression that I just missing something here so... could you be so kind and provide me with an extension design of this smoker? I did tried to search this forum but didn`t have any luck to find anything.

Thank you very much!
Boris
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Post by Bob K » Wed Sep 13, 2017 15:01

Boris - BB probably has his hands full right now due to the storm, so until he can reply-
bolepa wrote:What "friction" hold this plates in place? Are plates snugged to the wood with a single screw from outside of the smoker?
Yes he means the box covers https://cdn.mscdirect.com/global/images ... 656-21.jpg

bolepa wrote: Does this mean that there is an open flame, created by the gas burner inside of the smoker? If it is, is it safe to keep open flame inside of a wooden box for extended period of time? I am very concerned about this because I live in the area where houses located very close from each other and backyards are very small...
There is no heat to speak of under the burner, to be safer use a metal plate underneath if the bottom is enclosed.

Wood is a natural insulator and BB lives in Southern Georgia. If you look at the pics of Stefans smoker it is wood but also insulated http://www.wedlinydomowe.pl/en/viewtopic.php?t=7565

Another design (may be the same one)- wood + propane burner
http://animalscience.uconn.edu/extensio ... 669492.pdf
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Post by bolepa » Wed Sep 13, 2017 19:25

Bob K,
Thank you very much for the information you have provided and it is very helpful.
StefanS design is definitely looks great but it is quite a project. Taking in consideration my very space- limited backyard - it`s just not doable for me.
On the other hand the second design (form the link you provided) looks exactly like what Butterbean referred to earlier and it is absolutely understandable how to build it. In spite I am really eager to stars building this smoker, I still very concerned if this is safe to keep this smoker in the environment where houses very close to each other with pretty small backyards....
Boris
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