Ready to get rid of OBS!!!

Started by babyhewi, November 06, 2010, 12:35:21 PM

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Ok so I live in CT and today it started out a bit cold but now it's 50* and sunny and my OBS will not get to temp!!!!  My OBS is fine in warm temps but the minute it gets cool, not even cold, it will not recover.  I've tried small loads of just 2-3 racks of ribs and same problem.  Today I understand I have a large load of 7 racks in but I pre-heated it up to 250*, used boiling water, have OBS in my shed and still couldn't get temp up.  I thought moving it indoors would solve problem but it didn't.  It hovered around 254 then I put up emergency boards around it to block as much cool air as possible.  The temp is now around 175.  I've tried to not get frustrated but really! It's looking like I can only use this for May-September.  Not practical for me in CT.  I was advised to insulate the unit or build an enclosure or even add a second element.  My question is shouldn't Bradley build a smoker that works adequately without any modifications?!  Ok thanks for the rant!!

Habanero Smoker

Seven racks of ribs is a large load. If you are getting 250°F during a preheat, then your smoker if functioning properly.

What are you using to monitor the cabinet temperature? The door cabinet is not reliable once you have a load in it. I if you have a digital probe thermometer, place the probe underneath the last rack. To facilitate even cooking on all racks, it is best to rotate every two hours or so.

What is your vent opening? Some like to leave theirs wide open. I found that the vent is useful in adjusting heat; vent opening is also dependent on the type and amount of food you are smoking.

How long is it taking you to cook your ribs? If your cook times are close to the time-frames that are posted on this board, then your smoker is functioning properly.



Like Habs says 7 racks of ribs is a huge load on a 500 watt element and it will take time for the heat to rise to a cooking temp. But also my door thermometer is 25 degs or more lower then the digital probe I place below my lowest rack so if you're using the one on the door you may not be getting a true idea of what's really going on inside the cabinet.

All that said after one smoke I added the second element and bought a dual probe PID and now I couldn't imagine an easer way to smoke low and slow!


I know that im a rookie but i found the changing your water bowl to 13x9 steel baking pan and a foil covered brick really helps heat things up i use the house oven to heat them while the smoker warms up just a thought before you throw the towel in


I used two foil wrapped bricks in the beginning along with the original water bowl and only removed the bricks on the last two smokes (two 7lb butts each time) after I had enough confidence that the PID could control both elements without worry.

Babyhewi, I can understand your frustration but the OBS is like anything else we buy (a gun and adding a scope or a car and tinting the windows) sometimes to get it the way your want it your have to modify it and then your happy with it!

And now I'm very, very happy with my OBS...but I could use a new truck!  ;D

Up In Smoke

Quote from: DTAggie on November 06, 2010, 06:12:35 PM
Go ahead and get rid of it.  Plenty of people on here will buy it from you.  Enough with your gripes.  It got down to 28* here last night and my OBS was 235* when I got up at 6 this morning to check it.  Wasn't loaded like yours but as I recall you have never been happy.
WHAT????? This is how you help a fellow Bradley owner and forum member?
DT you need to relax and regroup.
2 Bradley OBS
Some people are like Slinkies... They're really good for nothing.
...But they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs.


DT, this is babyhewi, she was featured in the forum newsletter last month..

That other guy hasn't been back.


Hey Baby...OK I just had to get that out. ;D It sounds to me also as though your OBS is working fine. I am thinking that you are just use to a kitchen oven which has a big powerful element and has no trouble heating up. You just need to get the right perspective on this. As was mentioned, the OBS and all Bradley's for that matter have a 500 watt element. Now think of it like this, your hair blowdryer probably has a 1500 watt heating element in it. So that blowdryer has 3 times more power than the Bradley. I think you just have to get wrapped around the "Low and slow" concept which is smoking food. For instance if you were to take the same thin strips off meat we use to make jerky, you could turn that into ash in 10 minutes in your oven where as we take up to 6 hours to smoke and dry our jerky. This is a slow process and we all had to learn patience with this type of cooking. Another example is say an 8 lb pork butt. You could ruin that in your oven in about 2 hours, but sometimes it takes us up to 34 hours to get them to 195f IT. Try to think of your OBS as an 120 hp Austin Mini and your oven as a new 525 hp Corvette. That Mini could never keep up to the Corvette but the Mini is still a lot of fun to drive. I hope this helps you and I hope you aren't so discouraged that you get rid of it. We enjoy you here and love to help. Besides those other girls need all the help they can get when it comes to the Iron Chef Bradley contests. Oh and disregard DTaggies comments, he is going to be eating humble pie for awhile and it tastes bad when you smoke it.  ;D ;D ;D
I like to walk threw life on the path of least resistance. But sometimes the path needs a good kick in the ass.

One Big Easy, plus one in a box.


Hi All- No worries.  I may not have been clear in my frustrated ragings!! LOL.  No matter how small or large the load is if it's not already 60* or better I can't the smoker to get up past 190.  My last attempt was 3 racks and the highest temp was 190 after many many hours.  Now I realize that I stuffed that poor smoker fuller than a car full of clown at a circus yesterday!! I accept that I messed up there.  What I'm trying to figure out is how to make it work in New England.  I absolutely love smoking/BBQing.  I really don't want to stop.  But is it normal for it to not get back up to temp in cool weather.  I'm screwed in the winter as it gets pretty cold here.  I won't be trying a huge load like that again.  We were having a family dinner and the number just kept growing.  Plus I threw my back out Thursday so by the time I posted here I was very uncomfortable, frustrated and stressed.  My apologies.  Everyone here has been wonderful.  On a good note I got the bubba pucks and they have eliminated the problem of unburned pucks being tossed off the belt!! So all is not bad. 
     So the low down on yesterday's smoke was after 8.5 hours in smoker with a max temp of 155 I pulled and finished in oven.  The baby backs were great!! The smaller end of the St. Louies were also very good.  The larger end could have used more time but let's just say there were no leftovers!!!! So all's well that end well.  I will take the advice given and stick to smaller loads and maybe look at insulation or another heat element!


Baby H-
We have members that live in the cold regions of Canada and Alaska, so the thing should work. You may have to make some minor adjustments but I am sure someone can offer some suggestions that aren't too onerous to do.
First can you give us a summary of your set-up:
1) what is the usual position of your vent
2) Do you use an extension cord
3) what do you use to take the temp of the cabinet - the door thermometer, a remote etc.
4) what have you cooked, type of meat and weight, what was the full load in the cabinet and how long did it take?
5) How many times you peek or open the cabinet.
6) Did you have enough adult beverages (sorry - wrong list ;D)
If you provide the above, someone should be able to help.
"It ain't worth missing someone from your past- there is a reason they didn't make it to your future."

"Life is tough, it is even tougher when you are stupid"

Don't curse the storm, learn to dance in the rain.


BabyHewi, as a fellow new englander I feel your pain with keeping it up to temp.  Here is what I did to overcome it.  I moved the smoker into my garage next to a window.  I bought some flexible vent hose, forced hot air floor vent and and metal exhaust vent.  I installed the exhaust vent in a piece of 1x8 pine and cut it to fit in the length of the window.  I tape the floor vent over the OBS vent to vent the smoke outside.  I then installed the second element.  I posted a couple days ago after I installed it and it was a night and day difference.  15mins to preheat to 250*.  I am smoking 2 racks of ribs today I will get some pics of my setup and post them here for you.  If you don't have a garage; your shed should work the same, but I think the second element will be your end all fix (IMO).


Hi Baby H.  Please reply to the questions Gus posted.  An improper extension cord or a long run from the breaker box can cause a substantial voltage drop leading to a lack of heating.

I am also in CT, near Danbury.  I use the OBS all year but move it into the garage with venting in the winter.  It keeps the wind away and I don't have to trudge through the snow.

Hang in there, we'll get ya going.
-- Arnie

Where there's smoke, there's food.


babyhewi, another thing you might want to look at is the slide bar.  Some OBS have a sweet spot which is full open and then just a bit back.  My OBS works fine at full open.  Some here have said that if you just move it back a tad you find the sweet spot.  I use a PID with mine and last night I put a butt in and my temp would not get over 110 degrees in the pre warm cycle.  What I found is that when I moved it from the garage to the patio I bumped the slide and it was almost shut clear off.  Moved the slide bar to the right and she fired right up.  It was 50 degrees outside and I had the OBS running at 225 with no problems.

Hang in there!  As was mentioned, the members here will get you going.  :)

Enough ain't enough and too much is just about right.


The extension cord is very important as is using an outlet that doesn't have a bunch of things on it. I have one outlet close to my sundeck where I do my smoking,unfortunately it is also the one my computer is plugged into. I have to unplug the comp and run a cord from another plug-in or the smoker won't heat up. I also made up a cord just for the smoker. I used 15' of #12 gauge wire and heavy duty plug ends. I kept it to 15' so as to minimize voltage drop. You should check the plug-in you are using to see what all is running on it and unplug as many things as possible when smoking. Better yet unplug everything on that circuit.
The wind is the biggest enemy, but extreme cold will kill you too. I was smoking something last winter and it was very cold out for the westcoast of Canada and I literally had to run the smoke threw and then I brought the smoker in to finish in the house. It gave a lovely aroma to the whole house which was not appreciated by everyone until dinner time. Then it was "Awesome Dad".
I like to walk threw life on the path of least resistance. But sometimes the path needs a good kick in the ass.

One Big Easy, plus one in a box.

Habanero Smoker

I'm a New Yorker and I generally get colder temperature then those in Connecticut. I keep my smoker outdoors 24/7. Although I now have the second element, the first 4 or 5 years I was smoking in the winter with one element. Providing the information that I and Gus asked, will go a long way to providing you help.

BTW; I like your clown analogy.