I picked up a Stoker from Rock’s BBQ and it was delivered yesterday. I decided there was time this morning for a quick test run. I’ve got a slab of babybacks and a couple of thick pork chops on the WSM right now. Everything went on around 7:20 and last read has the smoker temp at 147.3° and a pork chop at 85.7°.
It’s a bit different from my normal setup. I only filled the water pan halfway (although I’m using the brinkman charcoal pan as a replacement, so it’s probably about a gallon of water). I put what I hope is enough charcoal in the ring, scattered smoke wood throughout, and then lit about 8 briquettes closest to the stoker vent with a torch. This process took about 10 minutes, so the fire was really going by about 7:30. It seems to be burning okay and the stoker is steadily increasing the temperature of the smoker.
My favorite feature so far has been the telnet interface. I’m hoping that it’s possible to control every function via telnet. There’s also a web interface that lets you monitor temperatures, set alarms, and targets. My setup right now is that I’ve got an alarm on my meat for 150° and the target for the smoker is 230° at the bottom grate.
In the time it took me to write this post the pit temp is up to 161.2° and the meat temp is 100.3°.
UPDATE: Pulled the pork chops around 10:00 – I didn’t think they looked done when the temp was 155° so I left them a bit longer, got distracted, and pulled them at about 170°. They’re not bad, just bit overcooked – still very moist and flavorful though. Flattened out the ribs and set the meat probe next to them on top rack. Current smoker temp:
– Bottom Rack: 226.9°
– Top Rack: 232.1°
UPDATE: Pulled the ribs at noon. They were perfect. I’m trying to figure out how to shut down the Stoker so that it will preserve the remaining charcoal. By my estimate with the Stoker and a half water pan used slightly less than 4lbs of charcoal (assuming that I can get it shut down). Overall I’m pleased with the performance o the Stoker. It held the temperature very steady except for when I opened up the WSM. See the chart below for temperature info.