Originally Posted by OldGameFreak
I'm new to the TMLE world and I just got mine together and seasoned. I'm working on tuning it and I have some questions... First off I've sealed it up with Rutlands, Fire rope on the firebox and a gasket on the main chamber. Also did the dryer vent and now tuning plates.
For tuning it I just used kingsford charcoal in a basket. I have the side damper SHUT and the stack damper a bit over halfway closed. I've let her settle in for about an hour but I can't seem to get it under 235. I'm holding between 3 and 5 degrees across the chamber. Is this normal not getting below 235 like this? Also I see brisket should be done between 200 and 225, would 235 be too hot?
Hopefully their are still people reading this thread.
First, welcome to the world of the TMLE. It's a good smoker, and will eat a lot of different types of fuel, but it takes some time to get "feel" for how it wants to act. A couple of points:
1. ALWAYS keep your vent stack WIDE OPEN. This is required to create sufficient draft for proper combustion and cook chamber gas evacuation rates. If you can't get your temps down to the level you want with the intake damper, then you have too much fuel going at once.
2. It looks to me like you lit an entire pile of briquets all at once. That's why you're having temp issues. You just learned your first lesson on the TMLE, i.e. how much fuel translates into what temps. The charcoal basket is a perfect vehicle for the 'minion method' where you light a portion of the fuel and let it slowly ignite the rest over time. This translates into longer unattended burn times.
3. The TMLE really wants to be a large chunk/stick burner. The size of the firebox in relation to the cook chamber kinda lends itself perfectly to this fuel. I start my fires with Kingsford Blue in the minion basket but when that gets nice and hot, I switch to hardwood fuels.
4. When I have a good, small pile of hardwood burning, I find that I can close the intake damper down to barely a 1/16" open, i.e. almost all the way closed. This allows me pretty stable, unattended burns times, at least as good as inexpensive, direct-flow, side-firebox horizontal smokers can get. They are definitely not a set-and-go-to-bed cooker.
Any other questions, don't hesitate to post up. I -- and others -- have been around the block a few times with this smoker.