Vertical Cabinet Propane Water Smoker
I just received a Big Block 3605BGD and wanted to post some notes and comparisons to my 3405GW.
My 3405GW is a great smoker, it has been very faithful, temps remain constant and had never had a problem.
The 3405GW has put out some superb food! So there will be no 3405GW bashing. The only modifications made to this smoker were a "needle valve mod", a "Dutch Oven as a smoker box" and I added an intake, the latter was not needed, these smokers are vented from underneath...adequately.
I am a little sad to see the 3405GW go, especially after it took 3 years of awesome smokes to get it seasoned just to where I wanted it, however I am pleased to find a new home for it, directly across the street at my Neighbor Bruce's house.
I will be referring to the 3605BGD as the BB from here on out.
Do not confuse the 3405BGW below with MY 3405GW. I only posted the 3405BGW (Wide Body) info on this blog because I have noticed many people confusing these 2 smokers, and as far as I know you can not get the 3605BGD (Big Block) at Walmart, only the 3405BGW (Wide Body), as far as the wider smokers are concerned.
The information below is for comparison of the 3405BGW (Wide Body) and the 3605BGD (Big Block)
Just a side note, the GOSM's sold at Wal-mart are different in quite a few ways, so be careful when making a decision to purchase one from Wal-Mart as opposed to Bass pro, There is a reason for the price difference.
Update 6/7/2011 Bass Pro not carrying GOSM.
Ok, hopefully the confusion between the 3405BGW (Wide Body) and the 3605BGD (Big Block) is resolved and we can continue with some BB notes and some comparisons to my 3405GW.
The box arrived in pretty good shape, a few dings that I banged out no problem.
It was pretty heavy, 91 lbs. The website said 63lbs
Update: I called Landman USA when I originally ordered this item and told customer service the weight was incorrect on the website, she replied thank you I will notify the web designer, anyhow I checked today 6/16/2010 and it was corrected.
After I opened the box I realized why it was so heavy, the new chip pan is huge and as soon as I picked up the chip pan I knew that mods were not going to be needed.
As big as the BB looks, the footprint is still relatively small, below are 3 comparison photos.
45.2'' H x 29'' W x 21'' D
1257 CU IN COOK SPACE
Landman USA Info:
Call us at 1-877-3GRILLS
Address: 101 Old Mill Rd.- Building 300
3405GW and 3605BGD, side by side comparison.
The first thing I noticed when assembling is that the hardware itself is a bit heavier duty and the hinges are barrel hinges that are welded in place as opposed to the 3405's bolted in hinges.
The steel seems to be of the same gauge and they both have a decent paint job. Assembly was very straightforward and after it was all together I was slightly disappointed because I was enjoying putting the BB together.
The thermometer sucks ass and the thermometer on the new BB was damaged and I refuse to put that piece of shit on, I will order a large 3 or 4" tru temp but for now I have a 2" one on now.
Maybe I will make a night light out of the thermometer.
Update.., I called Landmann USA for a replacement thermometer, great customer service.
Although I will not rely on the thermometer, I felt I should put it on for aesthetic purposes only. Maybe I can use it as a bottle opener.
Another thing I noticed is how the bottom is affixed to the smoker.
On the 3405GW its pieced together and on the BB its welded, I always had grease seep out at the bottom joints on the 3405GW.
Grease can seep out of the front gap on the BB but can be filled with some high temp sealant.
The BB also has a removable drip pan and deflectors to deflect the falling grease from the sides into the drip pan...way to go Landman.
The 3405GW has a rotary igniter whereas the BB has a push button igniter. I am not sure at this point if one is better than the other.
Same cheesy handles but they work.
I get a little less smoke seeping from around the door on the BB but this may be due to the fact that the 3405GW was damaged a bit in transit, as you can see by the above side by side photo.
Welds seem to be a bit cleaner and sturdier on the BB.
Installing the burner is about the same on both, from what I remember anyway.
The racks are Nice and fairly heavy duty.
The chip pan is huge and weighs approximately 10 lbs or so.
I replaced the chip pan on the 3405GW with a small cast iron dutch oven and had to do various tweaks
For the BB with the lid on the chip box, acquiring TBS, (Thin Blue Smoke) is fairly easy,
I don't use chips as the manufacturer suggests, I use chunks, as you will see later in this post. With the larger chip pan you can get 2-3 hours of smoke, just make sure to choke off the air by using the lid.
The water pan is much larger also, as you can see in the next 2 photos. The water pan is porcelain coated for easy cleanup just as the 3405GW, but you may want to cover it in foil, just make sure to get the wide foil.
I put about a gallon of water into the water pan, the manufacturer suggests about an inch from the top.
I am not sure how much water went int the 3405GW's water pan but I would guess about half of a gallon. I stopped using foil on the 3405GW but will be using foil again, just make sure to press it in tightly around the sides so you don't loose any volume, and don't puncture the foil.
One Major improvement, upgrade or whatever you want to cal it is the drip pan in the bottom, you can line this with foil, but I chose not to. I spray it with pam. If you look closely on the first picture below, you will see the dripping deflector in the upper left hand corner...way to go Landman.
Time to fire up the smoker.
I opened the propane valve 1-1/2 turns, turned burner control knob to high per manufacturers instructions... counted to 3, pressed the igniter once, and the burner fired up no problem. Repeated this to make sure it wasn't a fluke.
The rotary igniter on the 3405 has been pretty good as well over the last 3 years.
Below are Low, Medium and High on the 3405GW. The burner control is less accurate in correlation to the control knob as there is not much difference between medium and high compared to the Big Block.
Below are Low, Medium and High on the Big Block. The burner on the BB is more responsive than my 3405GW and the control of the flame is more manageable than the 3405GW as well.
Also note that the Burn is cleaner, (less yellow flame).
I haven't really tested heat recovery but from frequent use of the 3405GW and one test smoke of the BB, I would say they both fare well when temps are running at medium and with a full water pan, however the 3405GW does recover a little bit quicker.
The BB took a bit more time recovering from High Heat around 300 degrees, but this was with no food.
They both heat up initially pretty well, but the BB has better control of the burner. I ran the smoker with a full water pan and chunks in the chip pan to season.
I messed around with the vents on the side a bit and there was only a few degree change after 20 minutes. I would suggest to leave them closed to the stop tabs and leave the top vent full open to the tab stops.
Out of the box the BB smoker is good to go, no mods needed, however I may install a needle valve mod if the temps do not go to 150 degrees, this mod worked out well on the 3405GW.
The 3405GW needed some tweaks, but I must wonder how much of those tweaks were done because of my lack of experience with Vertical Water Smokers?
Temperature Variances.I initially started out with 5 thermos but one probe was shot, so 4 it was.
Weather conditions 70 degrees low humidity no wind.
This test was done during seasoning but with no food, it really is hard to gauge variations in temp because their are too many factors.
For instance if I put a large 1 gallon pan on the 2nd rack, there may be a 50 degree variation in temps as the pan impedes airflow and has much greater mass.
My suggestion would be to have a digital thermometer on each rack and adjust food accordingly.
Seasoning timeAlthough all the above was done during the seasoning process, I separated it in the blog to make it easier to follow, I hope this wasn't in vain.
I absolutely never soak the wood, I feel that the water only delays the inevitable and doesn't keep the wood from igniting, only limiting the amount of oxygen will do this, others may disagree but that is what I do.
OK everything is looking good, getting just a wee bit of smoke and here is what I got.
This is perfect no white ash and TBS all the way.
You can leave it in until its completely ash, but I find it much easier to remove these spent pieces with tongs and drop another piece in its place.
Update: I was able to duplicate the TBS on my second smoke without stacking, no ashes, just coals.
Conclusion, Stack wood chunks for a longer smoke or side by side for more smoke, I have been using the side by side method, this has worked well my last few smokes.
Before I go into the next part, I wanted to point out what I feel are the differences between Grilling, Smoking and Barbecuing.
This is my OPINION only, not FACT!
Everyone has their own opinion and mine is just that an opinion, hope I didn't ruffle any feathers.
OK!, its time to cook
This is assuming all your meat is prepped and ready to go.
Like I said earlier Although all the above was done during the seasoning process, I separated it in the blog to make it easier to follow, I hope this wasn't in vain.
I strictly use water in the water pan unless making jerky. I am a firm believer of water in the water smoker, others will argue and say its only for thermal mass and you can use sand, I disagree.
In addition to acting as a thermal mass, I believe that the water helps minimize temp spikes and helps maintain temps closer to my preferred Smoking temps 220 - 240 degrees.
Reasons I use water in the water pan:
TIP, add boiled or hot tap water to the water pan if there is food in the smoker to reduce heat recovery time.
Some add "flavors" to the water in the water pan, such as onion scraps, apples, spices, wine, beer etc..., I do on occasion but only with scraps, I am not sure it helps in flavoring the meat, but it sure smells good when smoking. Flavoring the water is not needed but does make the smoker smell good., so if you got some scraps, throw 'em in!
Make sure to place the lid on and I would suggest pliers to pull out the chip box grate and to remove the lid, also a pair of tongs to remove and add new chunks. If you must use chips, I would make foiled packets and poke the foil several times with a fork.
Also have a metal pan or something handy to put the spent wood chunks in and make sure to keep it off any surface that may get damaged from the heat.
I will usually put a thermometer on each rack, pushing the probes through a potato or drilled out piece of wood, and will use them in the meat on thing like butts, poultry, briskets and chuckies to name a few. I will not use probes on Soups, stews chili, ribs, beans, fatties etc... you get the picture.
Do not rely on the Thermometer that came with the smoker, plus I would test any thermometer before use, in boiling water for accuracy, remember, water boils at 212 degrees.
You can wait for the smoke to start but I don't sweat it.
This will help keep the smoker up to temp and you can turn the flame down slightly every 15 minutes or so thereafter and dial it in to the temp you desire. I feel its better to work down from a higher heat than the other way around. It helps to have a tight target temp in mind such as 225- 235 degrees.
I have noticed when smoking things like Chili or Beans in a large pan, it will knock the snot out of the temps and give you crazy readings, I believe this is due to the mass and the hindrance of air flow because of the pan or pot.
I have gotten into the habit of removing the wood and adding fresh chunks when the wood is spent, just before it ashes up . The wood will smoke a lot more towards the end, right before it is used up. If you must open the door often, make sure to add water, check the chips and sprits or mop in one shot, also eyeball the meat.
TBS pic below
The pic below is a chunk and some smaller pieces, the smaller pieces were just starting to ash up and when I took them out of the smoker and they were exposed to more oxygen they ashed over rapidly.
Some notes on cleaning your BB.
Let your smoker cool a bit, I usually do this when its still warm, just watch the Smoker Box, it stays hot for quite a bit of time.