Bradley not heating up for higher temps

Started by Xtrema312, August 18, 2008, 07:21:18 AM

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Ok, I know this has been discussed a lot and I have read a lot about the slow recovery and heat up times in cooler weather, with opening the box a lot and with large loads of meat.  I have been having problems, and not due to any of that from what i can see.  I thought it was all my Auber control I was running and found some if it was, but now my heat up issue looks like it is my Bradley.  I just did a batch of Kummok salmon without the control.  I had no problems doing the 100-120 stage or the 140 stage, but thought it was funny I had to run the slide almost full on for the 140 with the vent full and no smoke generator.  After two hours at 140 I couldn't get it to budge over 152.  It was about 85 deg. out, no wind, in the shade.  I had to run the slide full on, generator on and the vent closed to get it to 175 to finish it.  Once at 175 I tried to turn off the generator and it fell into the 160's.  Did the same with any amount of vent.  The unit couldn't hold the 175 unless I had full on, no vent, and the generator going.  I did peak once at a rack rotate and the element was glowing red, but i don't know if it was as hot as it will get.  I have had the unit about 2 months or so and at first I had no problem with salmon, jerky, or pork butts getting 175, 190 and 210 temps with full loads of meat this summer.  I plan to contact Bradley, but is this common to have problems this early?  Is this usually the element or the slide control? 


Have you tried without the Auber at all, just the Bradley?
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Oops.  Just re-read your post a little slower.  Forget my question.
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I posted some of my thoughts in the other thread "Auber Plug & Play Temp Control" on the Accessories Board and you may still want to try those but I didn't realize your OBS was only 2 months old. I would definitely give Bradley a call and try to get it sorted out.


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You may want to also check what other appliances are on the same circuit, and if possible unplug whatever you can.

A problem that is often overlooked; and a problem I had before some remodeling was the smoker was not getting enough power. I had too many other appliances drawing power off the circuit; after some rewiring it works great.



It is on a dedicated garage 20A circuit with nothing really running on it.  Has not been a problem in the past, but it is at the totally opposite end of the house as the main service panel.  I do run it on a 6' extension cord to reach the smoking shed, but that is also a heavy duty cord I got just to make sure I didn't overload it.  A couple weeks ago when the Auber acted up it was running almost 240 at 6 am with a load of pork butt, vent open, and generator off so I know it could do it.


Ok I did a heat test on an empty smoker with the vent half open and generator off.  I was able to get a door temp of about 240, but that is probably closer to 225 if I had my Maverick in the box.  That sounds good, but after almost 1.5 hours I think I could have gotten that with a pork butt in it in the past.  I have done 220 preheats in less than an hour and then put in a butt and had a stabilized temps around 200 in about an hour after the meat went in.  That was at current day time temps according to my notes.  I was then able to maintain that with vent half open during and after the smoke when the generator was off. 

If I didn't have past smokes of salmon with similar load size and weather I would think it was just the meat.  However, checking my notes I was able to run from 140 to 175 with a load of salmon by my next check at the hour and have nothing in my notes about any difficulty getting the heat up.  It has only been the last two smokes where my notes have a lot about very slow temp rise and having to use the generator to get more heat.  Maybe what I am experiencing is normal with the salmon.  I don't know.  I figure after two hours of 120 and two more at 140 with the 1" cuts of salmon Kummok style the meat should be around 140 and it would not take hours to get to 175. 


I suggest a differant type of test.

1.Place your unit in a darken area. Power it up with the rheostat pushed all the way to the right side. Your element should be glowing red within seconds.  If it is not then go to #2 or #3 below. If the element is glowing red then remove your racks. Now close the vent and door. Turn on your generator. No water in the bowl.  Wait 30 minutes. Open the vent enough to see if your element is still glowing red. Next drop a probe down about 1/2 way. it is not reading in the upper 200s F to 300F then I suggest you have one of the following problems. The rheostat for some reason is no longer allowing enough power to the element. Or your High Limit Switch is faulty. The high limit switch is located about center in the back of the unit. You will have to open up the back side to see it. Here is an image of one:

2. Now if your unit is still under warrenty call Bradley. They have a 800# on their web site. 

3. If your unit is out of warranty:
I don't remember if you can by-pass the high limit switch by removing the the lower part of the back.  I think you can by-pass it at your rheostat. You will just have to take the face plate off  and look. Once you by-pass the rheostat repeat the above test. If there is no problem and the element burns brightly after 30 minutes then you know it is the high limit switch. Just remember the high limit is there for a reason. I would not do the test for more than 30 minutes without one. If if still does not glow red then replace the rheostat. At that point there really is not anything else to change out. Do remember once your testing is over with to reconnect your high limit switch.

While it is not common (or at leasted posted about) there have been others in the past that have had bad high limit switch.

If your element never glows bright red I would also consider replacing it after you do the above test. About the only things that can go wrong are:
The Element
The High Limit Switch
The Rheostat
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Thanks for the info i will give it a try tonight if possible.


It glows fairly quickly.  I put in the probe, closed the vent, heat slide full on, and generator on.  It heats up in a reasonable time and kicks out at about 283-287.  Then cools way down and comes back on.  This seems like plenty of heat for what I am doing.  I don't see a problem unless with the meat in the heat near the element and maybe near the High limit switch is kicking the limit switch out when the upper cabinet temp is low.  I wouldn't think so.

I don't get why my temp rise has been so slow with the fish recently when it wasn't at first.  With two hour plus steps in heating I think my meat is at cab temp when I jump to the next step based on years of smoking fish of thicker than Kummok style in my other smoker.  When I jump from 140 to 175 it hangs up in the 150's-160's for 1.5 hours until I kick on the generator and close the vent down then it struggles to stay there and if I open the vent or turn off the generator it drops.  Even after an hour at 175 I can't vent or turn off the generator without it falling. 

This must be the meat keeping it from coming up. I know the higher the temp the harder it is due to ambient temp and cab temp, but in the 80's even the 175 temp is only 90 deg. over outside and that doesn't seem like that much with the meat way over 100. I had big thick chunks of meat like a pork butt or doing a fast heat up from start to the 200's with meat would be a slower process, but this doesn't seem like that dramatic.  I will have a hard time ever getting up to temp this fall.


My limit does not kick until 320F... you might want to call Bradley.  Also I've learned that from doing a t-shirt smoken that If I don't leave enough room for the heat to raise there can be a 40 degree difference between the bottom of the item smoked and the top of it.

Maybe your racks were just a little over loaded...(?).


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I will contact Bradley.  They had me check a few things and look for cracks around the slide switch.  I have just finished checking what they wanted so now I will get back to them.

Good point about the space on the racks.  I have space between all the strips of fish, and some around the sides of the rack, but maybe not enough.  The fish are getting just a little bigger now and I do two at a time so maybe I do have a little less air space.  I probably have even less space with jerky, but that is so thin maybe the heat is able to penetrate faster and with a lot less meat mass I don't notice a lag.  With the pork I have as much meat mass, but a lot more space around the outside of the meat.  Maybe I will get some jerky racks to spread the fish out more and see if that helps with the heat issue.  I have not gotten them because I am fine with my load size, but it could be worth it to get more air space. It could also help with uniformity of finished product if I can keep meat off the back side of the racks particularly on the bottom.  Even with multiple rotations I have a hard time not getting overdone on the back bottom rack.