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SmartFire with a Callow (First Gen) - Setup thoughts please


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I'm hoping to get a chance to have a short test run of my new smartfire this evening with my first generation Callow. My fire basket as the modded mesh bottom (thanks @Wade) and for today I'm probably just looking at using water in the pan, though at some point i'd like to give sand a try.

From what I've read round and about, I'm thinking the following setup should be my starting point.

  • Top vent fully open
  • 2 bottom vents closed
  • Adapter on third vent
  • firebasket setup as a minion with lit coals to the side opposite the position of the SF

Does this sound about right?

Any thoughts on adding a foil baffle round the top of the fire basket to ensure air goes through the basket?

Any thoughts much appreciated :)

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1 hour ago, valve90210 said:

I'm hoping to get a chance to have a short test run of my new smartfire this evening with my first generation Callow. My fire basket as the modded mesh bottom (thanks @Wade) and for today I'm probably just looking at using water in the pan, though at some point i'd like to give sand a try.

From what I've read round and about, I'm thinking the following setup should be my starting point.

  • Top vent fully open
  • 2 bottom vents closed
  • Adapter on third vent
  • firebasket setup as a minion with lit coals to the side opposite the position of the SF

Does this sound about right?

Any thoughts on adding a foil baffle round the top of the fire basket to ensure air goes through the basket?

Any thoughts much appreciated :)

Hi!

  • I'd avoid using water in the pan as this will fight against the Smartfire - even an empty pan with foil over it will work better.
  • Top vent may need to be closed a little, see how you get on.

Otherwise you sound good to go! I've got a quick question, what size is the vent on the callow? - I want to make sure our adapters have a reliable list of compatible smokers on the website.

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Ok, i'll give it a go without water. 

On the Callow (first gen) I've always had to have the top vent fully open to get enough airflow through. On the later models they added a second vent to allow better air flow to draw more air in but I guess with the fan doing the job of putting air as required that's not necessary. 

I'll have a measure of the vent when I get home and let you know. Do you do the adapters like the one posted Here?

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50 minutes ago, valve90210 said:

On the Callow (first gen) I've always had to have the top vent fully open to get enough airflow through. 

Yeah, things are a little different when you start using forced air. 

50 minutes ago, valve90210 said:

On the later models they added a second vent to allow better air flow to draw more air in but I guess with the fan doing the job of putting air as required that's not necessary. 

That's the plan! 😊

@ProQ-Ty Welcome along Ty. Nice to see you join Ian as a member. Lots of ProQ and Smartfire discussion on here. 👍👌

Phil.

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2 hours ago, ProQ-Ty said:

Hi!

  • I'd avoid using water in the pan as this will fight against the Smartfire - even an empty pan with foil over it will work better.
  • Top vent may need to be closed a little, see how you get on.

Otherwise you sound good to go! I've got a quick question, what size is the vent on the callow? - I want to make sure our adapters have a reliable list of compatible smokers on the website.

That's an interesting comment on using an empty waterpan, Should the Callow as well as the ProQ operate @ 225F as when I have used or accidentally been left with an empty waterpan it usually goes up to or close to 260-275F

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5 minutes ago, sotv said:

That's an interesting comment on using an empty waterpan, Should the Callow as well as the ProQ operate @ 225F as when I have used or accidentally been left with an empty waterpan it usually goes up to or close to 260-275F

@sotv The issue is that you have enough charcoal lit to keep 225F whilst boiling some water in the pan. Once the water finishes evaporating, there is too much heat all of a sudden and the temp shoots up.

If you start with a sand or empty pan, the pit and bowl absorbs some heat (you might find it takes longer to get up to temp) but is more consistent once it gets there. In theory, you would use vents more closed (or Smartfires fan will operate less duty) in order to maintain 225F as you need less heat therefore less air.  

In the ProQ i start it off with just 4 or 6 cubes of ProQ coco. It takes around an hour to get up to 225F. 

Phil.

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15 minutes ago, Phlashster said:

@sotv The issue is that you have enough charcoal lit to keep 225F whilst boiling some water in the pan. Once the water finishes evaporating, there is too much heat all of a sudden and the temp shoots up.

If you start with a sand or empty pan, the pit and bowl absorbs some heat (you might find it takes longer to get up to temp) but is more consistent once it gets there. In theory, you would use vents more closed (or Smartfires fan will operate less duty) in order to maintain 225F as you need less heat therefore less air.  

In the ProQ i start it off with just 4 or 6 cubes of ProQ coco. It takes around an hour to get up to 225F. 

Phil.

For 3 years had no real problems with 225F on my Frontier, mostly with water in the pan or occasionally sand. Having to learn  new techniques all over again to adapt to the smartfire 😀

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1 hour ago, valve90210 said:

Ok, i'll give it a go without water. 

On the Callow (first gen) I've always had to have the top vent fully open to get enough airflow through. On the later models they added a second vent to allow better air flow to draw more air in but I guess with the fan doing the job of putting air as required that's not necessary. 

I'll have a measure of the vent when I get home and let you know. Do you do the adapters like the one posted Here?

We will have that adapter online soon, I'm working on that now... Not sure if it'll fit the Callow though - the vents are a little smaller.

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20 minutes ago, sotv said:

when I have used or accidentally been left with an empty waterpan it usually goes up to or close to 260-275F 

I run a couple of weeks back without the pan and the temp shot way up...but from what info is flying around at the moment it seems that most of my cooking in the future will be without the pan, or 1/3 full of sand.

Ice.

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5 minutes ago, valve90210 said:

How well does the SF work for bringing the temp up from the start?  I've used a Qmaster-Lite before and found that because the fan was blowing full whack from the start it would often make the temp overshoot wildly. 

If you look at this thread on a recent Pulled Pork cook.... https://www.woodsmokeforum.uk/topic/1746-pulled-pork/

 

You will see my Smartfire graph at the bottom of the first post. You will notice the SF starts to slow down the fan as you approach the set pit temp. It sometimes turns it off totally just before you get there, realising that you would overshoot if it kept going. 

If you light too much charcoal to begin with though, it is not going to be able to help you much. You just need to wait it out. 

Phil.

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1 hour ago, valve90210 said:

How many lit coals did you add at the start?

I have tried 2, 4 and 6 i think of the small Pro Q coco shell briquettes. I put them in a chimney starter that is turned upside down with a wood wool starter. (This is an old picture, i would use 6 now) .

IMG_20190418_164229.thumb.jpg.86785067319c9ff6e9e841af701d31de.jpg

I use an offset minion, placing the coals on the opposite side of the basket to the Smartfire. (so left hand side of this image)IMG_20190418_164134.thumb.jpg.4fa264ab0cb59e2e4d7cc2d487c923bf.jpg

Phil.

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4 hours ago, Phlashster said:

Great question. What size is the Callow? I would probably try either Weber SM or a Pro Q similar in size to the Callow.

Phil. 

The Callow is a great entry level smoker however it has a relatively small diameter/cooking area. For people starting out on a budget then the Callow is a good choice at ~£100 however if you are looking to spend ~£300 then the ProQ Frontier is the one to go for as it has a larger cooking area.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yesterday I finally managed to find time to give the smartfire a whirl.  I decided to test it with my Callow (Gen 1 with modified fire basket (Thanks @Wade))

The cake tin adapter fitted onto the Callow vent perfectly so no worries there. I have noticed that the getting the SF into the  adapter is quite a tight fit, I may end up gently sanding the adapter slightly to make it a tiny bit looser but we'll see. 

As has been suggested above I went for an offset minion with the lit coals added opposite the SF. I added 7 lit heatbeads to the basket and, because I couldn't be bothered to traipse to wickes to get sand I added 1 1/2 ish inches of water to the pan. the two bottom vents that weren't in use were fully shut and, as suggested, the top vent I had about 1/4 closed. I was aiming for a nice steady 110C.

Lid on, and SF connected I left it. After about an hour it was up to temperature and about 30 minutes after that I went out for the afternoon to dance over in Eltham. The Callow was safely away from anything flammable and the SF and powerbank I was using to power it were covered to protect from rain should it come while I was out. 

I continued to monitor the temperature in between dances and was very pleased to see it remaining within a couple of degrees of the target temp. There as one small blip where the the temp dropped a little but the fan kicked in brought it back up and then it settled where it should be again. Sadly at 5.17pm (ish😉)the SF went off line and I had to continue dancing whilst wondering what had happened. 

When I got home it turned out the powerbank had run out of power and the SF was off, so nothing too major (Anker pwerbank on order for delivery today! lol). I'm pretty confident that had the SF remained powered on it would have kept the temperature where I wanted it until the coals burnt out. All in all a good initial test. Higher temperature test with be done at some point when I get time. 

Below is the graph from the test. 

Screenshot_20190715-100007.thumb.jpg.e3571fc689c899387acbe7c827c79052.jpg

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