"Temperature Swings" or "The Care and Feeding of an Offset Smoker?!?"

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by terryd, Mar 30, 2015.

  1. terryd

    terryd Fire Starter

    Hey guys, I've been around a while but only check in around the beginning of the year when we start doing some smoking/grilling and I need some ideas or suggestions as to what I can do better.  You guys have always been a great source for info so I come here first when I have an issue.

    I've been playing with setup in my big American Gourmet offset and I've gotten rid of several mods that just have not had the desired effect.  I removed the deflector and just flipped the grill charcoal pan upside down and I've stopped using a water tray because I think it was causing issues with my fire-side temperature readings.  I get much more even temperatures this way (measured with three in-the-lid thermometers and two that reach about 8" under the grates from each end of the smoke box.)  I still have the extended smoke stack and have started using the smaller grate in the fire box which has helped limit max temperatures.  

    The issue I'm having here is I get the smoker running good, temps right around 210-225 and trucking right along.  I relax a bit and BOOM, the temps are 300+ and climbing.  I've learned not to over-react and generally just open the smoker lid to drop the grate temperatures and pinch back on the inlet damper about 1/8".  Temps will come right down.  

    My second issue here is that I loose fire as well.  Usually after a couple hours, I basically have to restart the fire.  In reading I've seen people talk about just one basket full of charcoal for a 4-5 hr smoke and I'm using over a bag of Royal Oak Lump plus what ever wood source for the smoke.  I bet I used 12-14 2"x12" sticks of dried apple Saturday on a 5hr rib smoke plus almost a bag and a half of lump.  I have to add fuel about every 45min-1hr to keep my temperatures up and maybe I've been reading the wrong threads or misunderstood what I've read.

    This isn't such a big deal, the food is awesome either way and I am still learning how to get the desired affects with it.  I would like to be able to leave it set and running with a little less attention for brisket and butts as I read a lot of guys threads talking about starting theirs before daylight and going back to bed.  However I don't feel like I can do that without risking drying out the food or the smoker basically going out.

    Is it just my expectations are too high and I need to keep shoveling in fuel every hour or do I need to look at issues with my setup?  Thanks as always guys!

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