Smoker 101 - help needed!

Junior Burger
2003/10/07 12:09:40
Hi guys--

I am a long-time lurker and first time poster here (though I plan on diving in and getting to know everyone)--this is a GREAT forum.

Anyway, I was hoping for a little help/advice. I just purchased a used smoker and don't know where to begin. It appears to be an older Brimkmann electric (definitely electric, looks like a Brinkmann). I've read plenty of advice here on techniques for smoking, recipes, etc. But what I really need is a simple, basic, remedial "Electric Smoker 101."

What would help immensely, would be a diagram of various parts and where they go... Where does the water go? The heating element? The rack? The wood chips? And so on...

I don't expect anyone to draw me a map, but I was wondering if anyone had any good links to sites that might describe in detail how to set up and use electric smokers?

I figure that after I get this thing cleaned up and assembled, it'll be great for practice--I'll probably start with some jerky (I've made some great jerky in the past in a dehydrator). And once I learn my chops on this second-hand smoker, I'll feel more comfortable going out and buying a brand new one...!



Junior Burger
RE: Smoker 101 - help needed! 2003/10/07 16:35:22
Okay--after much research, trial and error, and fiddling around, I've narrowed this down to one question (well, maybe two or three).

--Basically, I have the smoker assembled as follows: on the bottom is the electric heating element (which is fixed to a round, flat metal plate. Directly above this fits a porcelain coated bowl, which I am assuming is for the water. Above this fits a larger metal bowl with a "half-dollar" sized hole in the bottom. and above that fits the grill.

My question is, where exactly do the wood chips go? I assumed that they would go in the metal bowl with the hole, which is above the water bowl? Is this correct? if so, it seems like they might be a bit far from the heating element to smoulder... If the woodchips go somewhere else, what is the bowl with the hole for?

Finally, a related question: Are lava bricks something essential to a n electric water smoker? The smoker as it stands now has none. If they are needed, where might they go?

Thanks you all SO MUCH for your patience!!! Once I get this thing working, I'm sure my questions will be much less complicated and more... "culinary" ;)

RE: Smoker 101 - help needed! 2003/10/07 17:12:38
Call CSP Outdoors, 1-800-592-6940, ask for Linda or larry. They sell all the brinkmann smokers, both charcoal or electric. They can tell you in which order each piece goes and if you have all the parts. you can also order chips or a new pan or any parts that you may need. good luck
Filet Mignon
RE: Smoker 101 - help needed! 2003/10/07 17:16:01
sardy, I've never used an electric one, but just from knowing a tiny bit about things, I'll try to answer a couple of your questions:

The wood chips would definitely go BELOW the water, so maybe you have the two bowls "backwards". As you suspected, the wood would need to be real close to the heat source. Maybe the bowl with the whole is intended for the wood chips and would go below the other one (which is definitely the water bowl). Or, maybe the "bowl with the hole" goes below the heating source?? Again, I've never used an electric one.

You would NOT use lava rocks with this unit.

Here's a website that might help:

If the Sundancer is lurking about, he might be able to offer some advice. He bought an electric unit not too long ago.
Filet Mignon
RE: Smoker 101 - help needed! 2003/10/07 17:17:09
Well, I see that spadoman was typing at the same time I was. Good advice.
Junior Burger
RE: Smoker 101 - help needed! 2003/10/07 17:50:50
Thanks so much! One last question, and I think I'm there (And I will definitely give Linda or Larry a call to order some parts/chips!).

Seems that you're probably righ, Bushie, in that the "bowl with the hole" might go beneath the heating unit (though I'm not sure why--but this is the only other place it fits). Now my question is:

The soaked woodchips. Should they just simply be placed directly on the same plate that the heating element is mounted to? Is it okay if some of them touch the heating element?
Filet Mignon
RE: Smoker 101 - help needed! 2003/10/07 17:56:21
Actually, sardy, having the "bowl with the hole" beneath would make sense. If it fits that way, that's what I'd do. The idea is to apply heat to the wood so that it smokes, not flames. Definitely soak the chips well. Do NOT have them touching the heating unit.

Please report back on your experience.
Fire Safety Admin
RE: Smoker 101 - help needed! 2003/10/07 18:43:43
The Sundancer bought a new Brinkmans a couple of months ago and I assemble the dadgum thing. It was a six pack thing if only I drank beer. I did not and it was my favorite libation and it took me two hours. It was hot and humid and it took me two hours.

The bottom contain has the ceramic rocks with the element on top. You put the super soaked chips in between the elements. Put the water container on top. Some has indicated that it does not help to put spices in the water. I do. I add BBQ sauce, citrus peels, onions and any other stuff that smells good to you. I rub my product with spice and oil, shut the door and let it rip.

My favorite on the smoker is chicken or turkey, but ribs and brisket turns out real good.

I have found that the electric is much faster than the charcoal unit. I have both. I did brisket in 7 hours and I did a turkey in 6. Judge by your digital temp indicated that can be bought for a few dollars at Wally World.

If you do your Thanksgiving Turkey, you will get lotsa complements. Super moist and tasty.

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
Junior Burger
RE: Smoker 101 - help needed! 2003/10/07 19:00:05
Cool! Thanks, Sundancer! Here's a question for you:

You've said that the bottom-bowl contains ceramic rocks with the heating unit on top. I currently don't have any ceramic rocks in it, and I'm trying out a batch of jerky that's been sitting in brine since last night.

The ceramic rocks (are these different from lava chips?) go in the bowl at the bottom. Now, as I've mentioned, the heating element is mounted to a flat, round metal plate. The way I see it, there are three options for the woodchips:

--1. The woodchip can be placed in the bowl with the ceramic rocks (on top of the rocks) with the heating unit placed element-side down over them.

--2. The heating unit can be placed element-side down over the ceramic blocks with the woodchips placed on the flat backside of the heating element.

--3. The heating element can be placed over the bowl of ceramic rocks element-side up with the woodchips carefully placed between the hot coils of the element (this is what I'm currently doing now, sans the ceramic blocks)...

How necessary are those ceramic rocks?

Whew! this is a long day (and yes, quite a few beers!!) trying to get this thing together. Aside from assembling it, I also extensively cleaned it and seasoned the entire smoker (except heating unit) with olive oil.

Well, we'll see what works! I'm starting to think that, as long as I can get it at a good temp inside and the darned woodchips smoke... whatever works!!

Oh, and thanks for the tip--I added the leftover jerky brine to the water!