1st time smoker - temp problems with my Brinkman Smoke N Grill

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by friartuck, Jun 5, 2010.

  1. friartuck

    friartuck Newbie

    Hello,

    I'm new to the forum and new to smoking. I've read BBQ forums for a while and just purchased a Brinkman Smoke N Grill. Today I used it for the first time and smoked 2 racks of ribs and 2 chickens. I had some temp control issues that I was hoping to find some help about.

    Through most of the smoking time I had a really hard time keeping the temp above 220. I could get the temp up around 215 to 220 and then any time I'd open the lid to turn the ribs or add the chicken the temp would drop to around 150 and I would only get back up to around 195 or so, very slowly. The only way I could get the temp back up to 225 range was to add more charcoal. Through 6 hours of smoking today I used an entire 10 lb bag of oak lump charcoal and a few briquettes I had. This was my first time, but that doesn't seem like it should be normal.

    My temp readings came from an Acurite probe I laid through the top rack. I haven't made any of the mods to my ECB. Will the air holes in the charcoal pan really make that much difference as far as helping it stay at temp? I'd like to do a brisket but I'm worried that I'll have to use 30 lbs of charcoal for that :).

    Thanks!
     
  2. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Those mods will make a big difference.  Temp control is all about air flow.  More oxygen = higher temps.  Use a combination of charcoal and chunk wood.  The wood burns hotter and gets temps up in the right range.  I add 4-6 coals and 1-2 lumps of fruit wood for smoke & higher heat about every 30 -40 minutes. Open the smoker as little as possible to keep temps up (avoid the temptation to "check" on progress).  If you're at temp, your cooking.  I believe the motto is "If you're looking you ain't cooking!"
     
  3. figjam

    figjam Meat Mopper

    Agreed.  Plus, getting the coal off the bottom of the pan will allow the ash a place to fall.  I don't use lump (yet), so there might not be much ash for you but there is tons if you use briquettes.
     
  4. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

     Well, I would guess maybe 6 hours of smoking time? If so most ECB are gonna start needing more coals around the 4 to 4 1/2 hour mark. Air flow will help with your temps. I have a 35+ year old ECB and did some mods. Removed the legs and elevated the barrel on 3 concrete blocks. This allowed for maximum airflow and I can get away with 1/4 pan of charcoal. Of course I have to add more eventually but can virtually lift the barrel right off the fire pan without opening the lid. Another thing that will get you temps up is to use Playbox Sand instead of water in the water pan. Higher and more consistent temps with sand.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This is with my normal 3/4 pan of briquettes. YEOW!! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2010
  5. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    [​IMG]

     First off welcome Frier Tuck to SMF. You'll like it here cause there are alot of really good folks that would just love to help you with anything to do with smoking. Now we like having new folks here to give a new prospective on some of the ways we do things around here. Now if you are really new then I would suggest that you sign up fir the 5-day E-course it free and it will give you the basics on smoking and a few recipes too. Here's a link to it:

    http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/forum/list/127  

     Now the next thing you have to do is run out and get something to smoke. Then just smoke it and if you have any questions just post  them here and we will answer all your questions that you might have. Oh yea there's no stupid questions we were all there in the beginning and we just really like to help others enjoy the fabulous smoked foods that we do. So again

     

    Welcome to Your New Addiction
     
  6. friartuck

    friartuck Newbie

    Thanks for the replies! I'm planning on putting a grate in the bottom of the charcoal pan and drilling some air holes before smoking something else. I'll probably do something quick like a fatty or something just to see how it responds before taking on a brisket or pork shoulder.
     
  7. jklauk

    jklauk Newbie

    Just got my Brinkmann last night. What are th mods everyone is talikng about. I was kinda surprised not to see an adjustable vent on the lid. Does this need to be added?
     
  8. jimf

    jimf Meat Mopper

  9. curious3210

    curious3210 Newbie

    Once you put the grates in and drill holes in the ash pan you will be all set.  I used this exact smoker for years with good success after the modification.
     
  10. I am very new to smoking and have a smoker with the fire box on the side. I am having the same problem with keeping the temp up. I would like to cook at about 250. Can anyone tell me how to keep the temp at 250 for 6 hours. Explain it to me like I am 6 years old.

    Craig
     
  11. jimf

    jimf Meat Mopper

    The basic rules of a fire:  The more air a flame gets the hotter the fire; the less air the cooler the fire. 

    If you are having trouble getting your smoker hot enough, try opening the vent holes on your fire box OR drill holes in your fire box to add vents.  Also look for cracks and joints where hot air is escaping (an issue if you made this smoker yourself).   Also is your charcoal/wood sitting on the bottom of the fire box?  Air needs to be able to get under the coals/wood so if it is, you need to raise the fire a little to allow for air flow.

    If you are having a problem with your smoker being TOO hot, try closing the vent holes in your fire box OR opening the vent at the top of your chimney to allow hot air to escape your smoker.

    Jeff, the starter of this website, created a 5 day ecourse.  Sign up (free).  Jeff will email you a document once a day for 5 days.  He goes over how to pick out meat, info on different rubs and marinating techniques, how to pick out a smoker, how to build a fire, and more.  Good info if you are just starting out (like you and myself)

    http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/forum/list/127/5-day-smoking-basics-ecourse

    If you think you still are having a problem, take and post some pictures of your smoker.  Chances are others here have had the same problem and can offer specific advice.  The guys and gals on this site are incredibly knowledgeable and love helping new comers like us (as long as you post pictures.  They like pictures- also known a q-views). 

    Best of luck!!!

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2011
  12. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    That's an awesome old smoker there Flash! Just goes to show you it doesn't matter what your using if you know how to use it right.
     
  13. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

     Well a buddy corrected me on the time frame and that smoker is 31 + years old. Still it does its job and I always kid the Big Green Egg people that I could have bought around 27 to 30 of these smokers for the price of an Egg, but this one has lasted for so long, it wasn't necessary. Instead I took the money saved and bought more meat. [​IMG]
     

  14. Hey Friar Tuck, welcome. You may want to consider going to Home Depot or Lowes and get an external

    temp gauge. They're easy to install and will eliminate you having to open the lid to check temps. I think

    they run about $8. Cheers and again, Welcome.
     
  15. Hi Craig,

    If you haven't already seen this:  http://www.smoking-meat.com/modify-brinkmann-ecb-smoker.html . It's pretty straight

    forward. Hope this helps.
     
  16. pperkins

    pperkins Fire Starter

    I had that same bullet for years, and these guys are right, keeping the lid on is huge. I did the mod on mine for a "freestanding" coal pan, so I could just lift the whole unit off the coals and add fuel, without lifting the lid. The minion method worked well for me on this unit (in fact, it's why I looked up the minion method, lol.) Here's my post: http://burninlovebbq.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/the-minion-method-easy-low-and-slow-bbq/

    The other biggie for me was making sure that absolutely no wind touched the bullet. I was lucky enough to have a little cubby area on my patio, but do what you gotta do to keep it out of the wind. 

    A buddy of mind actually built a shield for his out of 4 pieces of 1/2 inch plywood and old door hinges, that folds flat to store. Ugly as sin, lol, but it does the job!

    Good luck, it's a great little smoker!

    -Perry

    Perry P. Perkins
    Author
    “La Caja China Cooking”
    “La Caja China World”
     
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2011
  17. Jim, my problem is not enough heat, I would like to cook at 250 for six hours. It may be hard to raise the fire in the fire box,but are you saying closing the stack will make the fire hotter.

    Craig
     
  18. I've had my Brinkmann for a about a year and struggled through several smokes to get a good temp.  I finally broke down last week and did a couple of the mods (turned legs around, drilled about 40 holes and set coal pan on some bricks below the smoker) and that did the trick!  Got some decent temps for about 2 hours at a time until I needed to add more fuel.  Smoked a pork butt and it came out great.  Still need to do a couple more things (new thermometer, better grate in coal pan) but the mods took about 10-15 minutes to do - definitely do them and you'll see better results.
     

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