challenges with Brinkmann Square vertical smoker

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by twardnw, Jun 13, 2010.

  1. twardnw

    twardnw Fire Starter

    Go figure, right?

    anyway, when I first got it, of course, it didn't work worth a damn. No airflow to the charcoal. A problem easily solved by some quick work with my drill and stepping bit :)

    Then, I found out just how bad Cowboy charcoal is. So I found a grill place by my work that had some Big Green Egg lump. Worked ok with the modified charcoal pan. Today, I went down to Lowes and found a grilling wok to use for my charcoal basket.

    Problem. It works too damn good. Filled it up with lump, then lit about a half-chimney, and poured it on top. Filled the water pan with beer, and walked away for about 20 minutes for it to stabilize a bit. Thought it was doing ok, appeared to have settled at 240ish, so I closed the bottom vents down a bit, put my meat on, and went inside for a bit. Came back in another 20 minutes, and it was at 290!!! Holy cow! Closed down both bottom vents, wide-open on the upper vents, and bled a ton of heat off by opening the door a ways. Got the temp down to 215-220, and closed the door. Immediatley the temp shot back up to 250 and kept climbing.

    So now, I have the door propped open a hair (, and with both upper vents also open, am maintaining 230-235.

    any advice for the n00b on how to cool this thing back down?
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2010
  2. rdknb

    rdknb Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I do not know as I use gas, but giving you a bump
  3. helljack6

    helljack6 Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Your technique is right, the only thing you probably didn't know is that when you're smoking food, ALWAYS leave the exhaust wide open REGARDLESS of whatever your intakes are set at. Your intakes are used specifically for modulating your overall temperature, NOT the exhaust. Next time you try it, leave the exhaust wide open, based on your outdoor temps, if it's hotter, use cooler water in your water pan, if it's cold user warmer/hotter water.

    The reason why you leave the exhaust open is because if you don't your smoke will accumulate and you'll get stale smoke and higher heats because they aren't evacuating fast enough. That and with the exhaust wide open, you'll actually get a more accurate and complete draw from your air intakes. Hope this helps.
  4. twardnw

    twardnw Fire Starter

    give it a re-read Jack, I had my exhaust vents open all the way.
  5. twardnw

    twardnw Fire Starter

    I think I am going to pick up some fiberglass rope on the way home today, try and seal up the doors a bit
  6. twardnw

    twardnw Fire Starter

    well, I ran short of the gasket rope (as I learned it is called), and only got the upper door sealed. Will pick up another segment tomorrow and finish the job, I have high hopes for this :)
  7. twardnw

    twardnw Fire Starter

    Ok, doors are sealed, letting the glue dry a bit, and then going to start a basket of charcoal to see what it does :)
  8. twardnw

    twardnw Fire Starter

    well, it didn't help. All vents are closed right now, and it is sitting at 240. If I open the upper vents, it just creates a draft and raises the temp, instead of bleeding off heat.
  9. twardnw

    twardnw Fire Starter

    so it seems even with my rope gasket, and the vents off, too much air is still finding it's way it.So, we have some magnet stock at work, and I helped myself to a little bit. Both vents are now almost completely covered, uppers completely open, and I had it stable at 220. Had the door open a bit too long when I was loading meat onto the grills, temp spiked to 240, but is slooooooowwwwwwwlllllyyyy making it's way back down, with both bottom vents completely closed. Not a perfect solution, but for now it works. I am thinking of putting my own hinges on this thing, so it will actually swing shut, instead of pivot, and that should help the doors seal a little bit better. Anywho, some pics of things as they are right now.


  10. kbeezy

    kbeezy Newbie

    I have the same exact problem. Got the wok...wayyyy to hot in spikes. Tried using smaller amount of coal, and that worked to keep the temp lower, but then you have to added coal multiple times. If you come up with anything that works well let me know cause i'm getting very frustrated at keeping a constant temp. 
  11. twardnw

    twardnw Fire Starter

    Yeah, I think the wok is a little hard to control in this thing, if it gets hot, it goes WAY hot, and is near impossible to bring down. For Fathers day I did 3 racks or pork spares, started it out very very low, used the better part of an hour to get it up to temp. Had all the ribs sitting next to the smoker on the racks, and only had the door open for ~45 seconds getting everything in and temp probes placed. Worked fairly well for ~3 hours, then ash built up and started choking out the coals. So I got some ready in the original bowl, got them started, and swapped them in, that seemed to work fairly well.
  12. kbeezy

    kbeezy Newbie

    My smoke last thursday went perfect, although took some tending too. What i did was get a good amount of coals going good then took enough off too get it down to temp and put the 'extras' in a another small grill with cover to sit, and if the temp started to drop I would take coals off the small grill and add them to the smoker. I think it was a pretty good method. 
  13. mudbug65

    mudbug65 Newbie

    Well..I thought I was the 1st to use the grilling basket for the coals. I see I am not the trail cutter I thought. I smoke a lot of things using this style/brand smoker. I control temp with amount of fuel and air intakes. I also have found that if I don't clean the thermostat before each smoke, I don't get as accurate reading. I have thought about sealing the upper side vents and installing a small stove pipe. But I am reluctant because I enjoy the flat surface to place things on. Has anyone tried this?
  14. myklos

    myklos Newbie

    I have the exact same smoker and had the exact same problem. I drilled holes in the pan and made feet with bolts. This made the temps too high. I tried all kinds of combinations with the vents, but it didn't make any noticeable difference. I figured that there was a lot of air leakage around the doors. I couldn't find any silicone seal for the doors so I got the fire box door to close a little tighter by bending the magnetic catch back altttle and this helped quite a bit. I have only done one smoke with this adjustement. It held temp at 250 for about three hours. I will test again this weekend.
  15. hairy-alaskan

    hairy-alaskan Newbie

    I've had the same problem with mine too. I never really noticed until I added a good thermometer to the door to see what the temp was really doing.

    I think part of my problem was adding too many lit coals to the pile in the wok instead of just adding a few and letting the heat gradually build over the coarse of a wok load. I've still smoked multiple great chickens in mine though. Last year I had one really bad experience after accidentally letting the water pan run dry while mowing the lawn. The darn thing got up to 900 degrees and totally burned the chicken I had in there.

    With practice it has been getting better and better.
  16. jrod

    jrod Fire Starter

    great, i just bought this thing yesterday thinking it would be better than the cheaper Brinkman cylinder looking smoker that was about $15 less.

    Guess I will be modifying too, we will see how she works.

    I would take it back but its already assembled and I wanna smoke something this weekend. Thinking Tri tips. :)
  17. Picked up one of these today, found this site and read this post and immediately went out and picked up a grill wok to use for the charcoal and I'm currently curing it.  Since I am curing it I didnt add any water in the pan and It got real hot real fast.  After adding water its been pretty easy to keep where I want it.  
  18. jrod

    jrod Fire Starter

    I was up at HomeDepot yesterday and saw an updated model of our smoker. Rusty, I think you got this model from what I can tell of that picture you have.

    The newer model seems to have a better way to secure the doors close and tighter. They use some sort of spring mechanism were mine uses a darn magnet that seems they placed wrong allowing my door to rock.

    Figures HomeDepot gets this newer model less than a week after I buy and use mine.

  19. timleo

    timleo Smoke Blower

    I have the same unit and made a few mods myself.  The one that worked the best was to start using a labyrinth in the charcoal pan.


    jeepsteve92xj and pork dork like this.
  20. @jrod

    Yes,  the doors on mine are spring loaded.  I didnt have any issues holding a steady temp while I was seasoning it.  Hopefully I won't on Labor Day.  I plan on smoking 5 racks of ribs, a butt, some sausage, and 3 Turkey legs, for those that dont indulge in the greatness that is the PIG!!!


    what's the purpose of the labyrinth?  What are some of the other mods you made?  I've got the grill wok,  I'm going to set out after my morning round of golf to find a new thermostat and meat thermometer.

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