I bought a new Horizon Marshal 20'' smoker in the early spring and I've been using it all summer. I've made some ok stuff on it, but I have not been able to perfect my temperatures in the pit. It has a factory built sliding convection plate (it is currenlty all the way to the right, closest to the firebox). I use kingsford charcoal loaded into a charcoal basket in the firebox. Even with the damper on the firebox completely closed (and the damper on the pipe completely open), the temperature inside my smoker stays around 300-320 on the left side, closest to the pipe. God knows what it is on the firbox side. I would really like my temperatures at 250 or under.
Now, here is how I start the smoker. I use one bag of kingsford charcoal (23lbs I think). I fill a chimney starter up to the top and put the rest in the charcoal basket. One the coals in the chimney are lit and glowing, I dump them on the unlit coals in the basket. I'm using this method to get a longer burn, which I do, but it is also a very hot burn.
The stock thermometers read around 230 on the left and 270 on the right, but when I put a digital probe in the smoker, it reads around 300 to 320 degrees (on the left). Actually, I had two seperate digital thermometers in the pit. One that measures the temp in the meat and the surrounding temperature and one that was mounted on a potato. The one in the meat recorded temperatures around 320 and the one mounted on the potato recorded temperatures around 290-300. The one in the meat was higher, so that may be the difference there.
I even tried opening up the door to let some of the heat vent out. Not only did this not work, but I also lost my draw on the smoke, meaning it was not coming out the pipe anymore.
Any thoughts? Would it help if I only lit half a chimney of coals to dump onto the unlit ones? Maybe the minion method does not work well in these offset smokers? This weekend I might try just putting on chimney on hot coals in the firebox without any unlit coals.
Edited by KageRyu - 8/29/11 at 2:04pm