Smoker Question...
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    CLARION, PENNSYLVANIA, USA
    Posts
    59

    Question Smoker Question...

    Sometimes I have trouble keeping my smoker going. It seems that the bellows is not putting air into the canister that holds the fuel source to make the smoke…

    Here is a pic of my smoker (upside down). Note the gap between the bellows and the metal canister. Is this how it is to be or is there something missing? I don’t have another smoker to compare it to…

    Thanks…BCB
    Attached Images Attached Images

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Scott county, Arkansas, Usa
    Posts
    1,517

    Default Re: Smoker Question...

    Yes this is correct, without the gap, the fire would get sucked into the bellows. The smoker material may be packed too tightly to allow for airflow. Keep experimenting, you'll get it.

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Campbell River, BC, CA
    Posts
    1,685

    Default Re: Smoker Question...

    That looks just like my smoker, the gap is normal. I used to have a lot of trouble keeping it going, then I learned how to properly light it and keep it going for hours.

    Start with an empty smoker, mine has a little insert that keeps a small air space under the base coals, that little insert is important. Light a piece of newspaper and put it into the open body of the smoker, let it get going to a full flame. Sprinkle some wood shavings on top of the full flame. Pump the bellows to get the wood shavings burning, they should be burning, not smoldering at this point. Now add more shavings to loosely fill the body of the smoker, not packed. Pump the bellows more till you have indications of flame coming up again. Now pack the smoker with shaving, full and tightly packed. Pump the bellows again, should get a lot of smoke out the top, cool smoke. Close it up and you are good to go. The goal is you want a bed of hot coals at the bottom with the body packed full above that. When you pump the bellows, the coals burn more of the shavings, smoke passes thru the pile of tightly packed shaving above which cools the smoke.

    The key is, get those initial shavings burning, not just smoldering, they become the coal base for your smoker, then you want to end up with the body full of tightly packed shavings. Depending on how much moisture there is in the shavings, it'll last anywhere from an hour to 3 hours this way with occaisional use pumping the bellows. The clue that you need to reload it, smoke coming out of the top starts to be hot smoke with some sparks in it, that tells you the entire pack of shavings has now been mostly burned and it's time to re-load the barrel of the smoker. My wife buys bales of shavings for bedding in the chicken coop, I keep a 5 gallon bucket full of those shavings in the bee yard for use in the smoker.

    I used to try using burlap in the smoker, and had lots of issues keeping it going, so over time drifted into the camp of 'who needs smoke', because I got used to working without it after the darn thing went out. This year I made a conscious effort to learn how to keep a smoker going, youtube has a few good example videos, and once I tried this method, never looked back. I can light the smoker this way then leave it sit for an hour. Come back, pump the bellows 3 or 4 times, and out comes nice cool white smoke.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Portland, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    285

    Default Re: Smoker Question...

    I had the same problem at first but then I added a canister inside full of holes to allow better flow. No problems now. Did yours come with the metal grate in the bottom? If so try bending the fingers down some more to let more air under the fire.
    Beeman
    All things may be lawful; but not all things are advantagous.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    CLARION, PENNSYLVANIA, USA
    Posts
    59

    Default Re: Smoker Question...

    O.K. Thanks…

    At least I now know my smoker is the way it is to be…

    I have been doing all that is suggested, but I certainly need more practice. Packing the shavings in after the coals get hot is something I will try. I have been using paper to start it, dry straw to get it going better, and then I add some pine chips—the kind used for pet bedding…

    I think I am having it too loose in the canister. And it doesn’t have a good column to keep the smoldering going…

    I am going to practice with the smoker when I am not going to get in the hive. That way it won’t be so critical if it goes out and I can adjust my tactics to keep it going. A good video might help also as suggested...

    It would be nice to have it available for at least ½ hour. Three hours sounds amazing!...

    Thanks…BCB

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Campbell River, BC, CA
    Posts
    1,685

    Default Re: Smoker Question...

    Quote Originally Posted by BCB View Post
    A good video might help also as suggested...

    It would be nice to have it available for at least ½ hour. Three hours sounds amazing!...

    Thanks…BCB

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzVsES2H2Zs

    Use that method, it'll stay lit for hours. I do exactly what is shown in the video, but I'm using shavings we buy in bales for bedding in the chicken coop. I can light the smoker, go out and tend to 20 colonies, then set it down. A couple hours later if I want to go out and check on how things ended up, a few pumps on the bellows and it'll be good to go again, may need a reload of fuel if I want to use it for any length of time.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,922

    Default Re: Smoker Question...

    The gap is normal. Feel around the corners of the bellows while you pump. Do you feel lot of air leaking? Some silicone chalk around the corners might be the solution. I have some smokers just like that with a leaky bellows.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

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