NEED HELP!!! Please. Losing heat big time

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by islandqking, May 3, 2014.

  1. islandqking

    islandqking Newbie

    OK. So I am looking for some help from the seasoned veterans. I am having a few big issues while smoking. Here is my setup....
    Brinkman Trailmaster Limited
    - Entire smoker sealed with high heat sealant..
    - Charcoal basket--12x10x6
    - Deflector plat at 45 degree angle...tuning plates--
    - Exhaust vent extended to grille height
    - Felt gasket on lid with Clamps
    - Water pan closest tofire box on top of tuning plates..

    Ok so here are my several issues and questions. I cant seem to hold temp at all. I started my fire using the minion method. Put half a basket of charcoal in the firebox. Pulled out 15 or so from the middle. Lit them completely. Dumped in the middle. Intake wide open. I let the entire basket catch in 20-30 minutes. I then put on 2 log splits on top of the charcoal. It brought my pit up to 245 on the exhaust side and 238 closest to fbox. I opened my pit to bring down my temp around 225-230. It stabilized. Total about an hour since putting in lit charcoal. I cloised my intake almost completely. However, I lost temp down to 205 within an hour and needed more fuel to get temp back up. I tried opening the intake more and it didnt help. I dropped in more lit charcoal. Spiked temp up to 245 again. Held for 30-45 minutes and dropped again. This time I tried another log split. I bounced up and down from 250 to 205 every 45 minutes to an hour or so. I never got a good bed of embers going. Do I need more wood to create a nice bed of embers?

    When adding wood splits. How do I keep from putting in nasty white or black smoke = creosote. Whenever I dumped a log in I opened up my intake completely to keep the white smoke from billowing. It would spike temp bad. My logs would keep a really high flame and never stop smoking badly. I thought the logs would lose flame and just turn to embers. This didnt seem to happen. I just seemed to blow through my logs fast and never get good thin blue smoke. I would get good thin blue smoke after about 20 minutes of putting a log in.

    Can I please get some advice on how to hold temp longer? How to add and when to add wood properly for fuel?

    I truly appreciate any help I can get.

  2. Make sure you have enough air under and around your basket. The basket should be at least 3 inches off the bottom of firebox for the fire to get air. Believe it or not, charcoal brand means a lot. Natural lump will give you a better burn. Royal oak brand for me burns much better than the frontier brand I originally bought. Temps were a lot higher.
    Most important, you need that air under and around your basket.
    My basket is 12x12x6. When I cook, I start out with an unlit chimney of lump with a lit chimney of lump right on top. I'm new at this too, but it worked for me. Hope it helps. Good Luck.

    Last edited: May 4, 2014
  3. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    First off the Brinkman trail master is not a stick burner. It is designed for charcoal use. You can use some  real small splits for smoke but don't try to use logs for controlling the heat.

      Your exhaust should be fully open and  you shouldn't have to mess w/ the intake as much as you are doing. 

     It sounds like you may have an airflow problem or you may just need to do some more experimenting? One tip is do not use the pit door to control temps. It makes the temps swing to far.
  4. I have an ok Joe highland, I tried logs too... didn't like the outcome if they catch a fire, it heats up way to much, I chucked my logs now like you can buy in the store with the saw. Add few pieces here and there and went back mainly to charcoal as said above. Works great.
  5. islandqking

    islandqking Newbie

    Thanks for all the responses. I think the verdict is to use charcoal only now. Small chunks for smoke obviously. I def have enough room around the fire box. It sits up on a rack.

    I had no idea the trail master isn't able to be a stick burner? Can I ask why?

    Would you suggest hardwood lump charcoal or just regular Kingsford charcoal- blue. The problem I was having was staying lower at 225. I will try straight change coal or lump for now. Thanks again..I'll post some Q view.
  6. islandqking

    islandqking Newbie

    Can I still do the minion method with hardwood lump?
  7. I having been using Kingsford original. Seen where people said lump holds higher temp however I haven't needed or attempted that yet.

    The only thing so far is every 6 hours I clean out the ashes to make sure my air flow is good and with that no real problems with temp.

    Pick up  cheap fireplace set with shovel poker and broom, works wonders.
  8. Hi IQK, as I said before, I'm new at this too. But from what I learned 225 is the lowest you want to go. Again, from what I learned, 250-300 is where you want to be. Take that with a grain of salt.
    One last thing I can tell you for sure, Don't trust the stock thermometer on a COS.
  9. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    IQK, hello. I have only one suggestion that may help more than any other . . .Practice...and learn patience. Learn your Smoker's faults and strengths. Mod. as necessary and never give-up [​IMG]  .

    Have fun and as always . . .
  10. islandqking

    islandqking Newbie

    OldschoolBBQ.  THank you for the honest and great wisdom.  I am switching to charcoal only for now to learn temp control a bit better on my pit.  I will switch to wood once I master charcoal.  Thanks for all of the advice folks. 

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