Author Topic: Considering purchasing a 4 rack digital, some questions first though.  (Read 5989 times)

Offline SmokinNY

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Hi everyone,

I'm thinking about getting a 4 rack digital to augment my Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) smoker.  I have a few concerns/questions though.

One of the reasons I want a BS is because its impossible to start a casual smoke session without the investment of a few hours of prep time.  As it stands now I must clean the WSM, start some lump in the chimney, load up with additional lump (minion method), foil and fill the water bowl, plug in and set the guru, wait for the temps to come up, add the wood chunks and finally put the ribs on.  Overall this process takes about two hours.  The idea of doing a simple smoked meatloaf is out of the question because there is so much lead time required.  My question is, how long does it take from the time you decide to do a cook, to you actually put the meat in.

Another question I have is about the steadiness of temps during long cooks.  I am looking to do brisket/butt overnight cooks and i'm wondering if the temps will hold in the 235 degree range for 12-18 hours.

I'm also wondering about maintenance and cleanup of the BS, and also about storage.  Is it feasable to carry the unit in after cleaning it and storing it in the basement or is it too bulky/heavy/dirty to even consider that.

As far as cooking, can anyone let me know the size of the racks, and if its possible to use a rib rack inside of it for cooking 4 or 5 racks at a time.

If the unit is outside and it rains on it is there any danger of damage to the BS, and will the temps drop drastically.

Has anyone out there done some butts overnight then added ribs near the end of the cook, any good/bad experiences with this (temp spikes dips etc...), can smoke discs be added at any time or only at the beginning.

Is the 6 rack model worth the extra $100 ?  at most I would do a butt/brisket and a few racks at a time.

Sorry for all the stupid questions but electric smokers are new to me i've been smoking for years though using charcoal.

Thanks everyone for your help, and if anyone can add any tips i'd greatly appreciate it. 

Norm

Offline asa

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Welcome Norm. You have a lot of good questions. I'll answer the first one with a link to something I've written recently to someone else thinking of getting the BS. Hope the link works:  http://forum.bradleysmoker.com/index.php?topic=3504.msg31689#msg31689. So "casual" sessions are certainly possible. I don't have a digital so I can't answer about steadiness, but others can. It is certainly light enough to be moved around for using/storing. Rack size is listed on the websites (don't remember offhand). Distance between racks is 4 inches, so standing ribs on their sides will take more than one 4" space. That being said, you can invert racks to give a space of 6" if you wish. I don't think you want to have it rained on - this is an electric smoker. You could do butts overnight and then add ribs near the end, but you'd have to start smoking all over again, and your oven temp would drop for a while. You might want to take the butts out to the kitchen oven to hold them around 165 degrees to break down fat and collagen, then start the ribs with new pucks. Those are good questions. There are no stupid questions, just stupid answers (but not here, of course). Good luck, and let us know how you do.

     Art
Enjoy good Southern-style smoked barbecue -- it's not just for breakfast anymore!
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Offline Oldman

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Greetings Norm,

As Art said there are no dumb questions here. One item you really need to consider is your 18 hour brisket smokin'.  The digital unit has a maximum run time of 9 hours, and 40 minutes then it turns itself off. It is for this reason that I would never own that unit. I have the older style unit and I hope they never stop making it.

Let's talk about brisket as I believe it will answer many of your question. Before I get into it allow me to say that in my opinion there are no plug n' play smokers. At least wise not at this price level.

For the 4th of July I did two Texas style brisket points. Ten pounds total. Pre-heated the Bradley. Four hours of smoke (Oak - Alder -Oak) plus one more puck. Once my box is hot I start the smoke generator. I did not place the briskets in the smoker until the smoke was running strong.  At that point it takes me about an hour to balance out the box - target temperature closer to 190 F then 200 F.  At the end of the smoking period (4 hours) I remove the briskets and place them in a foil boat, add a splash of apple juice and tent the boat up (closed) and return them to the smoker. I use two wireless probes. One to monitor the box temperature, the other for the meat. Once the one in the meat is reading 180 F I open the box up and place the other probe in the second piece of meat. Once those hit 185 F. I then FTC for a couple of hours or so.

All in all the total time for this was about 19 hours. Seldom do I have to make an adjustment once I have my box balanced with the meat in it. Temperature swings,  or in the case of my style smoker, temperature changes are caused by the temperature of the ambient air.  I always try and start a long smoke after the sun has gone down. After the 4 hour mark I go to bed and  I don't worry about it. I never allow the sun to shine on my box. A couple or so hours after sunrise my box will increase in temperature 3 to 8 degrees. When I went to bed it was holding 190 F so this increase is not really a problem.

As far as adding smoke later into your cook I guessing that you are planning on smokin' items that take different time-lines to finish. The smoke needs to be applied to the meat before it gets hot. If you add a second item you will need to add more wood pucks.  OR....... smoke both items together and at the end of the smoke period pull out the item that has a shorter time-line. Once the longer item get closer to being finish add back the item you removed.

Plug n' play? No. Easy? Yes. Especially coming from what you have been using.  Keep in mind the total wattage of the box between the heating element and the generator is 625 watts.  You load that box up with 4 good size chickens and you headed for a good long smoke.

Hope this information has help. If you do get the Bradley and are going to do it online I strongly suggest you get it from Chezbuba. He is a member here and his service is second to none. His web page is listed in his profile. Call him instead of going through Paypal and he will drop some of the cost on shipping.

Good Luck,
Olds
« Last Edit: July 14, 2006, 02:51:54 AM by Oldman »

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Offline iceman

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Excellent advice Old's and asa. About the only other suggestion I would add would be to get extra racks if your doing large amounts of ribs and get a couple of bubba pucks when you order the smoker. Oh yeh, almost forgot, HAVE FUN!!! :D ;D :D

Offline SmokinNY

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Guys thank you for your replies, some great information there.

SInce I always Q by temp and not time, i'm leaning heavily towards the original model now.  It seems like the additional features of the digital ones are just overkill. 

The stats on the main site say a max temp of 320 degrees is possible.  Is that realistic, or only when its 90 + outside?

I'm thinking a basic model, enclosed in this...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000E0DUI0/qid=1152897008/sr=1-45/ref=sr_1_45/104-0271616-4396755?%5Fencoding=UTF8&s=garden&v=glance&n=286168

The size looks about right, and i'd put it on a shelf maybe 1/2 way up and fashion some sort of vent from clothes drier duct or something.

This should provide a good thermal barrier and hold temps nicely.

How is the thermostat on the basic model?, is it low/med/high type of setup?

Also, is a Guru Raptor a good investment to go with this?

Looks like ChezBubba is getting a call today...

Thanks again guys..

Norm




Offline iceman

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SmokinNY, I think your leaning the right way. The temp might be a little high to shoot for but Old's gets his that high easily. I've never had to get my smokers that high. Almost all smoking is done at 200 F or less.After that your just cooking in an oven enviroment. The temp control on the original is a slider bar with infinate control. It seems to work well. A bunch of the guys around here swear by the Raptor so I would say if you like gizmos go for it. It's a personal choice, I mean after all a man has to have his toys. :D
Check out my latest toy I just built. Have a good one.
http://forum.bradleysmoker.com/index.php?topic=3487.0
« Last Edit: July 14, 2006, 10:55:00 AM by iceman »

Offline Habanero Smoker

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You mentioned you have the guru, so you would only need to purchase the Raptor and the possibly the "fan" plug in cord. The heat is controlled by a rheostat with a slider control. I don't have the dimensions with me, but that cabinet looks alright. I am going to build my own cabinet, one thing to keep in mind, that I am thinking about; the shelf you build for the smoker should be able to slide back and forth, so that the smoker can be slid forward 4"-6". The reason I say this, if the smoker is fully within the cabinet, you will not be able to fully open the door while loading and unloading.


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Offline iceman

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I am going to build my own cabinet, one thing to keep in mind, that I am thinking about; the shelf you build for the smoker should be able to slide back and forth, so that the smoker can be slid forward 4"-6". The reason I say this, if the smoker is fully within the cabinet, you will not be able to fully open the door while loading and unloading.
Hab your always thinking ahead. Good point to remember.  ;)

Offline manxman

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Quote
The stats on the main site say a max temp of 320 degrees is possible.  Is that realistic, or only when its 90 + outside?

See this post, there are comments on achieving the max stated temperature part way down. (n.b:160C= 320F, 120C = 250F, 40C = 100F)

http://forum.bradleysmoker.com/index.php?topic=923.0

Originally I thought my unit was faulty.

As Iceman said most people rarely go beyond 205 - 210F when using the BS, occasionally up to 250F for some things. Preheating to around 300F is achievable, keeping the slider slightly below maximum stops the thermostat cutting out...... all this on a standard BS with no add ons but that is also discussed in this post.
Manxman

Offline Habanero Smoker

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Hab your always thinking ahead. Good point to remember.  ;)
I wished I could think ahead. I usually figure things out by either making mistakes, or observing others making mistakes.


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Offline SmokinNY

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Re: Considering purchasing a 4 rack digital, some questions first though.
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2006, 02:47:07 PM »
Hey Everyone,

I've decided to wait until next week to order the BS.  Sears has that 'tool shed' on sale for $99 so i'm picking that up this week.  I'll hit home depot for some venting, light, shelves etc. and get it all ready before it arrives. I know if it gets here i'll start using it immediately and not think about an enclosure until the snow starts falling. 

I think i'll go one additional step and get a water heater blanket to put around it for when it gets colder.

Thanks for the info on the raptor Habanero, I though i'd have to purchase the whole thing over again.

So i've decided to go with the basic 4 rack one, I just can't justify the digital.

Once I get everything built i'll post up some pics.

I can't wait to get some brisket going, embarrassingly, I have NEVER cooked a decent brisket in 4 years of smoking, so i'm really looking forward to puting the BS through its paces.

I guess one last thing i'd like to ask is about using bricks or sand instead of or in addition to using water as a heat sink/stabilizer.  Has anyone out there tried that? on the WSM boards there are quite a few people who swear by it.

Anyway,  thanks everyone for the loads of info and advice.  I look forward to many hassle free cooks this summer and beyond..

Norm

Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Considering purchasing a 4 rack digital, some questions first though.
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2006, 03:05:46 PM »
In the BS water is not used to stabilize the cabinet temperature, as it is used in a water smoker. The water is used to extinguish the wood pucks after they are pushed off the heating plate, this create a cleaner smoke.

Many of us use a brick or two to help recover from a temperature drop when you load the BS. One household brick will fit nicely beside the water bowl and cabinet wall.


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Offline asa

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Re: Considering purchasing a 4 rack digital, some questions first though.
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2006, 04:52:19 PM »
See this post, there are comments on achieving the max stated temperature part way down. (n.b:160C= 320F, 120C = 250F, 40C = 100F)     http://forum.bradleysmoker.com/index.php?topic=923.0

manxman -
Interesting thread. Thanks for the link. I never would have seen it otherwise, and it certainly ain't in the BS manual.
Art
Enjoy good Southern-style smoked barbecue -- it's not just for breakfast anymore!
Play old-time music - it's better than it sounds!
     And
Please Note: The cook is not responsible for dog hair in the food!!

Offline projump

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Re: Considering purchasing a 4 rack digital, some questions first though.
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2006, 06:31:40 PM »
Hello fellow smokers,
     I am new to the forum. I will be receiving a 4 rack digital hopefully on Fri. and will be cooking pork steaks this weekend with a dry rub.
     Lots of great info on here. I have smoked for 11 years with a Brinkman professional cooker with offset firebox. I look forward to using the Bradley. I'll let you know how they turn out.
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Offline Oldman

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Re: Considering purchasing a 4 rack digital, some questions first though.
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2006, 08:42:47 PM »
Quote
I have NEVER cooked a decent brisket in 4 years of smoking, so i'm really looking forward to puting the BS through its paces

As I posted above, a brisket is to easy to do. Follow what I wrote and you cannot fail unless you purchase utility grade and sometimes select grade of meat.  I only use choice. 

Good Luck!
Olds

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