Pellet/Hopper Feed Issues

JeepSmoker

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Not sure of other models of Pit Boss horizontal smokers, but the Lockhart leaves me less than satisfied with the way pellets feed down to the auger! I think the engineers/promotional staff may have been more interested in quantity of pellets loaded than the way they feed to the auger. I don't want to have to get up 3 or 4 times a night to push pellets to the bottom and have tried a number of different fixes with varying degrees of success. I've searched all kinds of forums for solutions and some have worked but none well. For anyone with the same problem, I'll share these with you and tell you what has worked for me.

1. Wax the hopper with auto wax. The Lockhart should not have a texture-painted hopper. It should be as smooth as a baby's bottom. Waxing it didn't help much!

2. Glued PTFE (Teflon) paper to the sloped surfaces of the hopper. This helped some, was a royal pain to cut it to fit, and as everyone knows, nothing is supposed to stick to a non-stick surface! Contact cement seemed to work the best, the results better but marginal.

3. Time to get serious. I read on one foru!!m where a guy jokingly suggested taping the biggest vibrator you could get from an adult store to the hopper...a real conversation piece but not really practical :oops:. I ordered a variable industrial machine vibrator and variable delay time from Amazon, attached it to the inner surface of the OUTSIDE of the hopper bin, and set the timer to run for 10 seconds every hour. Works perfectly! No more overnight cook worries!
My biggest concern was the vibration affecting the smoker components mounted in the area. After RTV'ing all the wire connections (because of previous connection failures), I have high hopes for the longevity of this setup. If anyone shows any interest in this, I'll post pics and part #'s of what was used in the mod.

Cheers, ALL
 

Jug

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Hi JeepSmoker. bring it on. very interested. best thing for over night smoking yet.
 

DaveXDm9

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Not sure of other models of Pit Boss horizontal smokers, but the Lockhart leaves me less than satisfied with the way pellets feed down to the auger! I think the engineers/promotional staff may have been more interested in quantity of pellets loaded than the way they feed to the auger. I don't want to have to get up 3 or 4 times a night to push pellets to the bottom and have tried a number of different fixes with varying degrees of success. I've searched all kinds of forums for solutions and some have worked but none well. For anyone with the same problem, I'll share these with you and tell you what has worked for me.

1. Wax the hopper with auto wax. The Lockhart should not have a texture-painted hopper. It should be as smooth as a baby's bottom. Waxing it didn't help much!

2. Glued PTFE (Teflon) paper to the sloped surfaces of the hopper. This helped some, was a royal pain to cut it to fit, and as everyone knows, nothing is supposed to stick to a non-stick surface! Contact cement seemed to work the best, the results better but marginal.

3. Time to get serious. I read on one foru!!m where a guy jokingly suggested taping the biggest vibrator you could get from an adult store to the hopper...a real conversation piece but not really practical :oops:. I ordered a variable industrial machine vibrator and variable delay time from Amazon, attached it to the inner surface of the OUTSIDE of the hopper bin, and set the timer to run for 10 seconds every hour. Works perfectly! No more overnight cook worries!
My biggest concern was the vibration affecting the smoker components mounted in the area. After RTV'ing all the wire connections (because of previous connection failures), I have high hopes for the longevity of this setup. If anyone shows any interest in this, I'll post pics and part #'s of what was used in the mod.

Cheers, ALL


The hopper conversation has been going on for a long time now. The major Pellet grill manufactures fix there issue with the hopper and Pit Boss still has not addressed it. The hopper is too wide and too square, but I found a person in another forum that is doing this.

He took a piece of 2 inch thick plywood and cut it enough to fit in the hopper and layed the cut out piece on top of his pellets in the hopper then placed a small weight and he said the weight cannot be too heavy where it will put too much pressure the pellets causing the auger to jam up.

Have not tried, but he said it worked for him.
 

JeepSmoker

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The hopper conversation has been going on for a long time now. The major Pellet grill manufactures fix there issue with the hopper and Pit Boss still has not addressed it. The hopper is too wide and too square, but I found a person in another forum that is doing this.

He took a piece of 2 inch thick plywood and cut it enough to fit in the hopper and layed the cut out piece on top of his pellets in the hopper then placed a small weight and he said the weight cannot be too heavy where it will put too much pressure the pellets causing the auger to jam up.

Have not tried, but he said it worked for him.
Sounds like that might work until it gets stopped at the sloped part of the hopper. At least it would help with 2/3 or so of the pellets. Sounds like they must have glued up 2 or 3 thicknesses of plywood to get that done. I might try a 2X12 first to test it. It wouldn't cover the entire hopper but at least give me a good starting point.
 

DaveXDm9

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Sounds like that might work until it gets stopped at the sloped part of the hopper. At least it would help with 2/3 or so of the pellets. Sounds like they must have glued up 2 or 3 thicknesses of plywood to get that done. I might try a 2X12 first to test it. It wouldn't cover the entire hopper but at least give me a good starting point.

He did not provide video and others were questioning if it actually works. I thought the same thing and the issue is that Pit Boss wanted bigger hopper. They should have made it taller and than wider or instead design a round funnel type inside the hopper instead.
 

JeepSmoker

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Here are some pics of the mods I made to the hopper and some links to the parts I used.
20200903_145822.jpg20200903_145830.jpg20200906_152039.jpg20200906_152059.jpg20200907_112602.jpg20200907_112616.jpg

The first couple of pictures show the end off of the vibrator. It can be adjusted by loosening the nut and setting the eccentric. It has this on both ends so almost infinitely adjustable. 3rd pic is the timer which can be set from seconds to days on and off. 4th and 5th an alternate timer, easier to install, plug & play but limited to max 1 hour on or off.

Here are some links to these items on Amazon and a link to the Smoke Daddy Magnum which I highly recommend if you're looking for a smoke ring and serious flavor in those long cooks!

RzeruiH Vibration Motor Concrete Vibrator AC110V 30W 60HZ 3600RPM Used for Shaker Table Screening (30W)


GAEYAELE GRT8-S Asymmetric Cycle Timer SPDT Relay 220V 16A AC/DC12V-240V Electronic Repeat Relay(GRT8-S1,AC/DC12V-240V)

Short Period Timer

Magnum P.I.G. Cold Smoke Generator
 

skelly013

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Here are some pics of the mods I made to the hopper and some links to the parts I used.
View attachment 306View attachment 307View attachment 308View attachment 309View attachment 311View attachment 312

The first couple of pictures show the end off of the vibrator. It can be adjusted by loosening the nut and setting the eccentric. It has this on both ends so almost infinitely adjustable. 3rd pic is the timer which can be set from seconds to days on and off. 4th and 5th an alternate timer, easier to install, plug & play but limited to max 1 hour on or off.

Here are some links to these items on Amazon and a link to the Smoke Daddy Magnum which I highly recommend if you're looking for a smoke ring and serious flavor in those long cooks!

RzeruiH Vibration Motor Concrete Vibrator AC110V 30W 60HZ 3600RPM Used for Shaker Table Screening (30W)


GAEYAELE GRT8-S Asymmetric Cycle Timer SPDT Relay 220V 16A AC/DC12V-240V Electronic Repeat Relay(GRT8-S1,AC/DC12V-240V)

Short Period Timer

Magnum P.I.G. Cold Smoke Generator
Do you have any photo's or a walkthrough on how you installed this? I almost always get only 1/2 to 2/3 of the pellets to actually drop without beating on the side of the hopper for more to fall. And getting up every 2 hours for an overnight burn sucks. Thank you.
 

JeepSmoker

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I decided to go with a more "user-friendly" timer control and it arrived today, so I'll get back with you after installation with pics. It works really well and takes the pellets all the way down until you see the auger. It is noisy though and the only concern I have is the vibration shortening the life of other components. I've used Loctite (blue) on most fasteners and used a little RTV on the molex connectors. I only use it on long or overnight cooks. Been working very well for about 10 cooks in 4 months!
 

MikeInFla

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Wow, those are pretty amazing. there aren't a lot of videos out there about the P.I.G. but I did find this one that compares it to the Smokin It.

 

MikeInFla

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On reading up on these I read that it is best to use wood chips instead of pellets because the pellets will create too much white, bitter smoke. Let us know how it turns out for you!
 

Deforestdiamond

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I am experiencing the same issues with the hopper on my lockhart. I bought a small vibrating motor to attach to the hopper does anyone have a suggestion on how to connect the timer relay to the auger. I would like to run it for 30 seconds whenever the auger engages
 

JeepSmoker

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I am experiencing the same issues with the hopper on my lockhart. I bought a small vibrating motor to attach to the hopper does anyone have a suggestion on how to connect the timer relay to the auger. I would like to run it for 30 seconds whenever the auger engages
I'd advise against trying to do that. It seems we have enough problems with controllers anyway and it would probably void any warranty you might have if that connection were obvious when you return your controller! I would keep it isolated from the pit electronics. When you're running at higher temps, the auger is running frequently...no reason to have the pellets shaken down anywhere near that often.

I've had my shaker running for about 8 months now and it's been working great! I moved the vibrator motor from the outside hopper cabinet to the front slant of the hopper. It has helped keep the auger turning freely this past winter because I'm thinking it was sticking at times on startup because condensation accumulated in the auger tube after a shutdown from a previous cook at outdoor temps in the teens.

I set my shaker timer to run 10 seconds every 20 minutes when cooking at 250 or below. Most of the time, at 275 or above, I'm keeping an eye on the food and pellets and don't use it. If I did, I'd run it 10 seconds every 10 minutes.

Things to consider:
Use BLUE Loctite on pit screws and bolts...some will loosen especially the hopper lid hinge screws.
I used a couple dabs of RTV on the molex electrical connectors to ensure they stay fastened.

Cheers to you, and I hope this helps!
 

RayS

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I just got a Lockhart and this was the first place I looked when I had a flameout with 10 lbs or so pellets remaining in the hopper, but I wasn't happy with the prospect of spending more $$ to build a workaround device (which is a clever idea, btw). I opened a case with Pit Boss and asked them how to fix it, and I was told "it is recommended to keep the hopper at least 3/4 full while using the grill. The grate in the hopper can be removed for easier access, I had to do it with my grill as well. You will need to check on the pellets during a cook to ensure there is no bridging happening causing gaps in the auger."

If you think about this, they are basically saying that they have a 10 lb hopper; 30 lbs is needed to keep it from flaming out, and the other 10 lbs can be reliably burned. This is a product defect. Advertising a 40 lb hopper and extended burn times but then not being able to reliably use it is unacceptable. I appreciate all the efforts to find a way of getting around this defect, but after spending around $1000 on the grill, cover, pellets, (+ I ran an outlet closer to my Lockhart), we should not be spending another dime to get this thing working.

I encourage EVERY Lockhart owner who has this problem to open a case, and insist that they fix this. We should not accept this defective hopper design.
 

JeepSmoker

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I'm fairly certain that that would have to be a complete re-design of the hopper and thus reducing the capacity. And...I'm not sure that the "bridging" problem would be completely fixed with that anyway. I didn't mind spending $100 more to ensure I can use the full hopper all the way to the last few pellets (and getting a good night's sleep on those long cooks!).

Pit Boss should correct this problem on current production, certainly! But I don't see them retrofitting all the old ones with new hopper assemblies. But good luck with the endeavor! I'll be hopeful!
 
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