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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have 3 of these beasts having just bought another one about a week ago. The two old ones are probably 10-15 years old and I've had to replace the elements in both of them and also the cord on one.

The new one is the first one that I've ever used by using the box as an insulator. I cut holes in the front and back for the chip pan and the cord. I put some salmon in it over the weekend and before leaving for Costco thought I'd better check it (salmon had been in for 4 hours) Good thing I checked because the salmon was well done and pretty dark on the outside.

My old smokers (without boxes around them) take anywhere from 15-20 hours and even then the fish is just lightly smoked.

Has anyone tried the insulating blankets that are sold by Big Chief? There was an accessory guide that came with the new smoker and I think they were about $20. The instructions warn not to use the box around the smoker, but has anyone ever had one catch fire? Anyone used blankets or wood or something else to cover them up? Thanks in advance for the help.

Joe
 

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Killertraylor,I don't use the box unless it's cold outside. My big chief is new,and it takes about 8-10 hrs to finish,in summer weather. I purchased one of those silver insulated blankets,but I'am waiting for cold weather to set in to try it.
 

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Never had an issue, and I have seen it done for ages. That said, I also cut the bottom out of mine and the lower portion off so the it doesn't sit in the box, but box is used to cover the smoker down to the chip door. Then the smoker sits squarely on the ground/cement away from the house. Note: BOE...keep smoker away from house.

Mine is a little chief and it take about 8 hours to do a few fish...silvers. And that was on a hot day last week. In the winter 10-12. Of course the lil'chief is much smaller, but then again so is the element.

gus
 

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I am leary of using a highly flamable cardboard box around my smoker. Mine is about a year old and the cord melted where it plugs into the element.

The old smoker I had took forever to smoke fish. I got tired of staying up until 3am for the fish to finish. The new one takes 8 hours or so depending on the thickness of the fish and the temperture outside.

Put alittle water on your first bach of chips. A little wet heat will help to keep your fish from turning into jerky.
 

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KT, a friend of mine had his smoker go up in flames using the box as insulation. Don't the new ones have instructions stating not to use the box as insulation? I keep mine well away from any buildings. The blanket might be the way to go. Good Luck......
 

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My box was getting pretty worn out, so I tossed. Even with the box, the internal temp wouldn't hit the 170 F mark it should to properly kill the nasties.
Best solution, go to Home Depot or whatever and buy adhesive duct insulation. This is about 1/4" thick foam insulation that is sticky on one side and has a thin metal foil on the outside, 12" wide roll. Wrapped the sides and lid, cuts easy. My smoker now hits 170 F easily and salmon takes 4-5 hours per load. Cheap, easy and it works. Most of my ideas don't work out this way :whazzup:
 

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I smoked three salmon on Sunday. The thickest piece was just over 1 inch. Used my Big Chief in the box. The thinner pieces were done in 8 hours, the thicker pieces took 10. I think Sunday's temperature ranged from 60 to 70 while the smoker was going. When I use the smoker, even when not using the box, I place it in my driveway as far away from the garage as possible. That way, if (when) the smoker catches on fire I only lose the smoker, not my garage and all the junk in it. On the other hand, my wife has been complaining that the garage needs to be cleaned out. I wonder...?
 

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Two years ago, a friend of mine was smoking salmon on his cedar deck with his Big Chief with the box as insulation. The whole thing went up in flames. The resulting fire destroyed his deck, the back of his house, and part of his roof. The smoke damage was just as bad. The quick response from the Fire Dept kept his whole house from going up in flames.

So his advice would be to avoid using the box when smoking with a Big Chief.
 

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$20.00 for the insulating blanket is pretty cheap insurance. If the blanket catches fire, I'm guessing there would be a product liablity lawsuit on the horizon. Joe, do you know a good lawyer?

I used to use the box as insulation on my Little Chief, but when I upgraded, I quit. I'm getting a blanket.

[ 09-11-2003, 07:24 AM: Message edited by: Mojo ]
 

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When it's cold, I just wrap the thing in fiberglass insulation. It doesn't burn, is generally free (if you know where to find scraps) and is more insulation than you can get out of any box.
 

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I've also gone through TWO plugs, both melted at the connection to the element. That's scary. Joes has been good about giving me a replacement at the store. It's frustrating though.
GBS
 

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Here is a post I made on 8/2002 regading my house fire while I was smoking fish. I now smoke fish away from the house and set the smoker on fire proof wonder board. The bottom like is these smokers work great but you need to be careful.

08-01-2002 11:52 AM

Saftey Alert To All,

I have smoked hundreds of pounds of salmon in both a Little Chief and Big Chief smokers. Last Feb. I was using my Big Chief on my covered back deck, which is cedar along with my house. Fifteen minutes after putting a new pan of chips in the smoker we heard this roaring noise comming from the back of the house. When I looked out the kitchen window my deck was a inferno. Four fire trucks later my deck was toast and we had significant smoke damage to the rest of the house. We just moved back in to the house two weeks ago and the reconstruction cost is well over $100,000. Apparently the smoker shorted out and the element went through the aluminum smoker box and started the deck floor on fire. I did have the smoker on blocks to allow 3 - 4 inch clearence under the smoker. Obviously this did not work. Since my fire I have heard of several other similar situations.

I have replaced my Big and Little Chief smokers that I lost in the fire and will continue to use them but will now move the operation well away from my house. I will continue to implement my cardnal rule for smoking. "Do not leave the house when smoking fish and do not put fish in the smoker at night and then go to bed." If we had not been home we would have lost our home.

I hope this post will prompt you to review your smoking procedures and make sure you do not endanger your house or other structures with a potential fire hazard
 

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Plugcut, sorry to hear about your house. That sucks bad. Good call on using a fireproof surface under the smoker. I place mine on a concrete patio, and use an extension cord to get it well away from the overhang of the house.
 

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Trayler....

I used mine again just this week but for beef cut 3/8 thick. I did something this time I don't usually do and it resulted in some well done jerky similar to your fish. I DIDN'T shuffle the racks this time at intervals. Usually I due and this has kept the meat from being overly done. As for the rest, I've never used the box as I thought it might be a hazard and I've always used mine on a concrete slab. I've also left stuff overnight once waking to swap racks and won't do that again thanks to the shared info on the house fire.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks, everyone for all the tips. I'm convinced that the new smokers are just faster than my old burnt out ones. I took the box off it tonight and after 3 hours I can tell that it will be done in 4. I've put new elements in both of my old ones and they still don't get hot enough??? I'll try insulating them and see if they work better. Maybe I just need to toss them and get another new one. I think I'll try the insulating blanket or maybe the duct insulation that fi****is suggested. Thanks again.

Joe
 

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I have had three little cheifs and am largely happy with the product they produce. I use the carton when cold although my neighbor burned a hole in his porch doing this. I watch mine closely.
My next smoker will be propane with adjustable heat.
 

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I've been using a little chief for thirty years,with no mishaps what so ever. I've used the box as insulation as well. Second time I used my new Big Chief,the end of the cord that plugs into the smoker melts and the element burns out. Upon closer examination,the plug was cocked down,which shorted out,thus causing the damage. Moral of the story,be very careful with the plug.The drip tray at the bottom of the smoker,if not cleaned regularly,will ignite. I wrap mine with tin foil,which makes cleaning a snap.

[ 09-11-2003, 08:52 PM: Message edited by: freespool ]
 

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I made a box for mine out of 1/2" duct board. It's a ridgid fiberglass panel that has aluminum foil on one side. Heating contractors use it in the place of sheet metal ducting. It makes an excellent fireproof box and has held up so far for four years.
 

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Killertraylor,

My wife got me one of that blanket made by Luhr Jensen. I just had the opportunity to use it this past weekend and let me just say they are awesome, I can't believe I didn't think of this.
The unit stays wrapped the whole time. The top has a separate piece of installation so you can check your product without removing the blanket.

It was pouring down rain and my big chief was at prime temp (4 hours to smoke 20 lb.) The insulation blanket requires little assembly (velcro stickers)

The chiefs put out smoke that is too hot and you need to let that smoke escape if you don't it will turn you product black. The blanket let's all the smoke escape.

P.s.
If you have more than one chief to cover it might be cheaper to take a trip to Home Depot and buy the same stuff in bulk....wait a minute I've seen your boat, go buy the stuff that is already made.

Later
Bobby
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: Bobby - I spent all the money on the boat so I'll just borrow your blanket....

I'm going to get one and try it on the older smokers, but I think they just burn out after time - even with replacing the elements. I used the new Big Chief last night without insulation and it gets much hotter than the old ones. I also tried basting the pieces with honey and finishing them in the oven like Shane does and they turned out awesome.

Thanks for sharing! :dance:
 
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