Dave's Smokefire EX6 Experiences

Dave - Unixadm

TVWBB Super Fan
Removing the safety wire over the auger does not fix the problem. I was in my office reading on here and walked outside. The smoker was set to 325 degrees and had been running for a while. When I went out the temperature was down to 230 degrees. I opened the hopper and tapped the side and sure enough a bunch fo pellets fell down. The temp ended up dropping to 200 degrees before starting to recover. I've not had the controller freeze on me the past two days, but this issue is not good. We'll see of my little experiment helps or if I'm going to be returning $50 worth of stuff to Amazon. lol
 

Jon Tofte

TVWBB Platinum Member
One other thing I've noticed is that my EX6 doesn't seem to like to start up the first time after being cleaned. Any time I clean the fire pot going forward, I'm going to drop some pellets in there to see if it helps. It always starts up on the second attempt.
Rec Tec recommends “priming the pump” (not their words) by putting in a handful of new pellets after each cleaning. I shop vac the inside of the grill and firepot followed by that and I have yet to have a problem starting.
 

MikeLucky

TVWBB Fan
I've read this entire thread and have really enjoyed everything about it. I'm not a pellet guy and just don't know that I'll ever be one. But, I'm all in on Weber and have been for a long time and as pretty as this SmokeFire is I can't help but instinctively want one. Lol

Also, I will say this. I have spent most of my career working in creating technical documentation for engineering and software development and sustainment. I've seen the entire development process for a new product from pen and paper all the way to full and COMPLETE customer integration. And, by full and complete, I mean not when it's released, but when it is ultimately working correctly in the field for customers. Even the most robust and critically important "products" I've been a part of have almost exclusively been released far sooner than they should be because timelines are generated by the money people and the market, and never by the engineers or the people actually charged with design and complete implemention. I've seen this with aircraft companies, software companies, and even military/government entities. It's just the way it is.

Weber is a BBQ grill manufacturer. It can be very favorably argued that they are the most innovative and superior BBQ grill manufacturer in the history of BBQ grill manufacturing. Seriously. But, this new product is closer to computer or software development given how it works. So, to think that they are going to pump out a completely perfect product in a completely new segment that is more technology than BBQ is really short sided, even for a company like Weber. What I do know for sure is that Weber will work harder and more diligently than just about anyone to get it right. Hopefully they have hired some folks in development of this product that made sure to design things in a way that they can easily integrate updates/fixes/patches to get things to where they should be even though they were forced by the market sooner than they would have probably liked with this product.

That is a LOT of words to say, Weber will probably get it right, but unless you are a serious tinkerer then you might want to wait a few cycles to invest. Lol. And, I would also guess that once they do get it right, it'll be better than just about anyone else. Just saying. But, I am a bit of a homer, so keep that in mind too. Lol.
 

Lynn Dollar

TVWBB All-Star
Mike Lucky, I agree that this is a different product for Weber. And don't get me wrong, when it comes to a smoker I like simple, but Weber's products prior to this have been as simple as it gets, from a development and manufacturing stand point.

But that said, the problems SmokeFire is having are not tech related. They're mechanical. Pellets that won't feed and grease not draining. Weber should be able to fix those. That's in their wheelhouse.
 

ShaneF

TVWBB Fan
Mike Lucky, I agree that this is a different product for Weber. And don't get me wrong, when it comes to a smoker I like simple, but Weber's products prior to this have been as simple as it gets, from a development and manufacturing stand point.

But that said, the problems SmokeFire is having are not tech related. They're mechanical. Pellets that won't feed and grease not draining. Weber should be able to fix those. That's in their wheelhouse.
Yeah, I'm sure they have some great engineers that can solve it eventually. However, how can so many people have feed problems and grease fires and they not have seen it in their testing? Will they really fix it for current owners or will it be on the Smokefire EX-4.2 and EX6.2? That's what I'm struggling with.
 

Dave - Unixadm

TVWBB Super Fan
I posted this in the YouTube thread, but I wanted to post it here as well for those following my experience.

Weber responded to my support inquiry this morning. I don't want to share their direct email without approval, but I'll summarize:

  1. A poorly fitting door isn't much of a problem. They indicated that as I used it more, grease and such would plug the large gap on the left side of the door. I've insisted they replace mine, along with the hinges.
  2. A bit of smoke coming from the hopper assembly is normal. I just wanted to verify this as it seems to occur north of 300 degrees when the fan is running on the highest speed setting.
  3. Pellets not falling into the auger chute just require the user to use the included scraper to direct pellets into the auger assembly. LOL. My response to them wasn't too nice.
  4. Temperature variations are not a concern - I need to let the smoker level out. I responded indicating that some of the temperature issues could be the result of #3 above.
  5. The controller freezing isn't really an issue if power cycling make the controller work again. My response was similar to #3. :)
  6. They asked me questions about my phone, iOS version, app version and firmware version. I sent them this info.

What I seemed to gather is that the support team is operating with limited info and is already pushing out answers which I don't feel were all that acceptable. We'll have to give them some time to realize what they've got going on, what problems are pattern based and what problems are isolated. I'll give them some time to work it out.
 

Chris Allingham

Administrator
Staff member
David, I see on page 19 of the owner's manual they mention error code E9 "Low Fuel Detection Error" and "how to clean the low fuel sensor window."

Shouldn't users be getting a low fuel warning so they can stir the pellet hopper before the auger completely runs dry and goes into the shutdown process? Is this related to the status of the smartphone app--the app should alarm on your smartphone, right?

For your little project, I was thinking you could monitor the status of the low fuel sensor and initiate your vibratory add-on.

Or maybe rig up something like this, but kick the hopper, not your butt!

4817594763_e3cc63a50c.jpg
 
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Brian B Atlanta

TVWBB All-Star
I have a theory on the pellet dam's putting it here cause it appears Dave will do anything. :)

The caulk has always bothered me as caulk has resistance which the box had it been in one piece not needing any caulk would have less resistance. My theory is that the pellets on the caulk as you go down the chute where they become much deeper and heavier the ones on the bottom are getting held up on the caulk on the front and back wherever they are contacting the caulk. Not a problem at the start of the run since the depth is not that great and the pitch is steeper.

Since the pellets vary in size as the cook goes on they start forming a damn as using the pellets in the caulk as an anchor and they start filling the gap inside which eventually forms a dam all the way down to the auger around the auger also where the caulk is. To test this in a perfect world you would remove all the caulk on the bottom as the caulk is going to have hills and valleys also did not appear they took that much time to smooth it out at least on the two I saw. That is not practical for a test but what about covering all the caulk on the bottom the pellets come in contact with starting half way down or from the start with aluminum foil tape and getting it as smooth as you can on top of the caulk.

Something like this which I have used to seal HVAC joints, very thin its all foil you don't want to use something that has a backing. This stuff is just a peel and stick. My theory is the pellets would no longer get caught up on the caulk if that is what is happening less chance of a dam being formed.

Might be a silly theory or idea and in the end maybe the pellet bin is just not sloped enough, I think they sell smaller rolls than this but its been a long time since I have bought it.

 

Dave - Unixadm

TVWBB Super Fan
Chris,

The fuel level sensor appears to still be covered with pellets because I've received no errors of any kind on my Smokefire. If you look at a picture Bruno took (hope it's OK that I used one of his pics), the hopper is shaped like a V. It seems like a bridge forms over the auger hole:

84A134A1-F80C-4CA2-B87E-8CE879F68524.jpeg.jpg

You can also see the pellet fuel sensor. When you look at the auger opening, there are all kinds of odd angles, and the platforms on the side of the auger opening that are likely contributing to the bridging on each side of the auger hole. Topping that off, the pellet ramp isn't overly smooth, so the pellets are not encouraged to feed. The pressure of the pellets above may be just enough to hold everything in place, which is why tapping the hopper closes the void that forms.
 

Dave - Unixadm

TVWBB Super Fan
My parts arrived so I decided to throw something quickly together. At this point everything is 12 Volts and I'm powering it with a 12 volt power supply. I wrapped the vibratory motor in some dense foam adhesive backed tape, programmed the cycle timer for 300 seconds off, 8 seconds on. No signaling at this point. I looked inside and strapped the motor to the auger down tube. I don't believe this is the best place, but it was easy.







I can tell from the initial testing that it does help settle the pellets. It doesn't do much to move them along the ramp, but I didn't expect them to. Preventing the bridging is what I was after. I may let the thing run on the patio at 300 degrees while I go to Outback for a snack. :)

Looking at the hopper assembly, it is really oddly designed with a lot of things for pellets to catch on. Screw heads, sheet metal lips, the pellet dump, etc.
 

Jon Tofte

TVWBB Platinum Member
David,
I posted in the other thread, but how do you feel your SmokeFire hopper compares to the one on my Rec Tec? It has never given me the problems being reported here and all over. Caulk can't be the issue, because you can see that my grill has that, too.

I always assumed the divider you see (which stops 2/3 of the way down) was intended for you to be able to mix two kinds of pellets. Now I think it may be intended to reduce the potential for these "bridge" problems. If one side catches you have another to fall back on. I don't know...

Rec Tec Hopper 1.jpg


Rec Tec Hopper 2.jpg
 

Bob Swaskoski

TVWBB Fan
I posted this in the YouTube thread, but I wanted to post it here as well for those following my experience.

Weber responded to my support inquiry this morning. I don't want to share their direct email without approval, but I'll summarize:

  1. A poorly fitting door isn't much of a problem. They indicated that as I used it more, grease and such would plug the large gap on the left side of the door. I've insisted they replace mine, along with the hinges.
  2. A bit of smoke coming from the hopper assembly is normal. I just wanted to verify this as it seems to occur north of 300 degrees when the fan is running on the highest speed setting.
  3. Pellets not falling into the auger chute just require the user to use the included scraper to direct pellets into the auger assembly. LOL. My response to them wasn't too nice.
  4. Temperature variations are not a concern - I need to let the smoker level out. I responded indicating that some of the temperature issues could be the result of #3 above.
  5. The controller freezing isn't really an issue if power cycling make the controller work again. My response was similar to #3. :)
  6. They asked me questions about my phone, iOS version, app version and firmware version. I sent them this info.

What I seemed to gather is that the support team is operating with limited info and is already pushing out answers which I don't feel were all that acceptable. We'll have to give them some time to realize what they've got going on, what problems are pattern based and what problems are isolated. I'll give them some time to work it out.
So this is what has worried me for the last week. Given the new product release, Weber should have had support and PR people all over these issues, saturated the market so to speak. Not to hide the issues or drown them out but to address them head-on. Instead, they send a response like this which is the equivalent to the old Apple iPhone "antenna gate" issue where they told users that they were "holding it wrong". This IS NOT the way to address a dumpster fire of a product launch (pun intended). Denial and arrogance will get you nowhere with your customers. I can accept that version 1.0 of any innovative product will have issues but I really expected better of Weber. We didn't see anything like this with the summit charcoal release....just sayin'...
 

Dave - Unixadm

TVWBB Super Fan
So this is what has worried me for the last week. Given the new product release, Weber should have had support and PR people all over these issues, saturated the market so to speak. Not to hide the issues or drown them out but to address them head-on. Instead, they send a response like this which is the equivalent to the old Apple iPhone "antenna gate" issue where they told users that they were "holding it wrong". This IS NOT the way to address a dumpster fire of a product launch (pun intended). Denial and arrogance will get you nowhere with your customers. I can accept that version 1.0 of any innovative product will have issues but I really expected better of Weber. We didn't see anything like this with the summit charcoal release....just sayin'...
Someone from Weber left me a voicemail, so I will attempt to connect with them during the next couple of days. I just wanted to mention that and I received the voicemail after I sent back a somewhat terse response.
 

Dave - Unixadm

TVWBB Super Fan
David,
I posted in the other thread, but how do you feel your SmokeFire hopper compares to the one on my Rec Tec? It has never given me the problems being reported here and all over. Caulk can't be the issue, because you can see that my grill has that, too.

I always assumed the divider you see (which stops 2/3 of the way down) was intended for you to be able to mix two kinds of pellets. Now I think it may be intended to reduce the potential for these "bridge" problems. If one side catches you have another to fall back on. I don't know...

View attachment 444


View attachment 445
To me, the Rec Tec has a much more straight forward hopper design. No sharp edges, steep walls and the divider. The Weber is convoluted and it's like they tried hard to do something different. If they would have went with a centrally mounted hopper like the Rec Tec, pellet feed issues would likely not be occurring. My buddy has the latest Rec Tec with no issues.
 

Dave - Unixadm

TVWBB Super Fan
My parts arrived so I decided to throw something quickly together. At this point everything is 12 Volts and I'm powering it with a 12 volt power supply. I wrapped the vibratory motor in some dense foam adhesive backed tape, programmed the cycle timer for 300 seconds off, 8 seconds on. No signaling at this point. I looked inside and strapped the motor to the auger down tube. I don't believe this is the best place, but it was easy.







I can tell from the initial testing that it does help settle the pellets. It doesn't do much to move them along the ramp, but I didn't expect them to. Preventing the bridging is what I was after. I may let the thing run on the patio at 300 degrees while I go to Outback for a snack. :)

Looking at the hopper assembly, it is really oddly designed with a lot of things for pellets to catch on. Screw heads, sheet metal lips, the pellet dump, etc.
Quoting my own post, how cool. I ran down to Outback for a few hours to BS with friends and came back home. I was eager to see if I had a failure or success on m hands. The EX6 was still running right at 225 degrees. I looked in the hopper and the pellets were feeding normally. I tapped on the hopper and the pellets didn't move. I can't say it's fixed, but if I run this thing for 3-5 cooks with no pellet bridging or flameouts, I'll consider it a successful work-around. I may look at making a divider for the hopper above the feed tube. I'm no engineer, but it looks like one of those cases where just because you can draw something in Solid Works, doesn't mean you should build it that way. lol

The one downside to the vibrator is the noise, but I'll take a little noise and a successful cook, versus quietness due to a flameout.
 

LarrySTX

New member
Congratulations on your ingenious solution! Are you sending this to Weber? Perhaps Weber can be inspired to create a similar fix.

Also in the interest of keeping the forum family friendly, glad you used the vibratory motor pictured rather than one of the more 'colorful' options available. :)
 

Bob Correll

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Also in the interest of keeping the forum family friendly, glad you used the vibratory motor pictured rather than one of the more 'colorful' options available.
I almost posted that same thought, but was afraid I might say it a little too graphically. :)
 

J Grotz

TVWBB Pro
Any Physics geeks on TVWBB? It seems like that vertical panel in Jon’s RecTec is transferring or re-directing horizontal-ish angular forces to a vertical force than would otherwise be present without that panel.
 

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