I hope it can handle cold weather...

fergusburger

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I purchased a 456D in mid-December. This week I finally had the opportunity to un-box and assemble the smoker. The only two tricky bits to assembly were 1) accessing the two lower screw holes when fastening the hopper to the barrel (a 10mm nut driver was my friend) and b) angling the flame broiler main plate into the barrel. Its a tight fit, but as the instructions say, insert the right side first. It didn't help that I'm in Minnesota, the temperatures were in the high 20s F and my fingers were a bit cold and stiff.

Today I did the initial check of the electrical components and followed that with the burn-off. My initial concern was that the auger wasn't turning, but then watched it for a while and realized it turns much slower than I anticipated.

I have a question about the function of the primer button. The instructions say after loading pellets into the hopper for the first time to press and hold the primer button to load the auger with pellets and to begin filling the fire pot. What found was that when I turned on the power with the dial on SMOKE as described in the instructions the auger turned without me holding primer button. When I then held the primer button down the auger just continued doing what it was already doing so I don't understand what my holding down the primer button is meant to accomplish. I had initially thought it would speed up the auger a bit, but I didn't see any increase in rpms. Maybe with this model the primer serves as a override to the igniter time-out cycle. I think I read somewhere that the igniter times out after 4 minutes, and maybe that isn't enough time to get enough the pellets down the auger to the fire pot to achieve ignition. Holding down the primer button might then extend the time allowed for the auger to turn and deliver the pellets, and maybe it even shuts down the igniter while the button is pressed, but doesn't do anything to speed up the auger. Does anyone know how the primer button functions with this model?

In any case, the smoker ignited just fine and the burn-in went smoothly. Ambient temperature was 30F but the smoker got up to the specified heat in a satisfactory amount of time. It held temperatures within 15 F of the target target temps that I dialed in. I'm looking forward to smoking my first meal.
 
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fergusburger

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A week after the burn-in described in my previous post I smoked a pork loin, and a few days later, a spatchcocked chicken. In both cases ambient temperature was in the teens or lower with some wind, but not blowing hard. Using plywood sheets I had in the garage I erected an enclosure around three sides and the top of the smoker. The back was left open so that the smoke path from the oven chamber was unrestricted. The pork took about 3 hours at the 225F setting to reach 145F internal temp and the chicken a bit longer, maybe 4 hours to reach 165F internal temp. I used roughly a full hopper of pellets for each session (the 456 has a very small hopper compared to larger Pit Boss units). Temperature fluctuation was roughly +/- 20F. I think the fluctuation and the pellet use was reasonable given the cold and moderate wind. I used the same rub with each: brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, paprika, pepper. I used PB competition blend pellets. I found that the pork loin was tender and juicy with a mild to pronounced smoke flavor, The chicken was also tender and juicy with a tough leathery skin and pronounced to excessive smoke flavor. Next time I would consider cooking the pork loin a bit hotter to reduce the cooking time and smoke flavor, and would definitely do that for the chicken where I thought the smoke dominated the flavor to the point that the nuances of the meat and rub were lost.

In the first post I was hoping that the unit would handle cold weather and now I can say that, with some help from a plywood enclosure, yes it can.
 

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