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Hello From Southern California

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hi Everyone,

 

I would like to introduce my self.  I am Lefty, I am from Southern California.  Santa Clarita area.  I just bought a Brinkman Trail Master Limited Edition smoker about 2 months ago.  I am new to charcoal smokers.  I have smoked meats before using a vertical propane smoker.  I have used my smoker a few times, cooking brisket, tri tips.  The hardest thing for me to do is keeping my temps up.  I am interested in buying a Horizon charcoal basket, but don't know what size to buy.  Any suggestions would be great. 

post #2 of 14

Hey Lefty

 

Welcome to the Smoking  forum.   You’ll find great , friendly people here, all more than willing to answer any question you may have.  Just ask and you’ll get about 10 different answers—all right.  LOL.   Don’t forget to post qviews.

 

Gary

post #3 of 14
Welcome from Cen Cal. If you haven't done so already, make sure you join your local So. Cal. group.
post #4 of 14

Lefty: Buy the biggest one that will fit in your fire box. Better yet, buy some expanded metal from Home Depot and make your own. Do a google search for building ideas. You don't need access to welding equipment - I bolted mine together. I used angle iron to make the frame and bolted the expanded metal to it. Total cost was about $30. The charcoal basket will help with your temperature control.

 

I don't know which fuel your using but my preference is lump charcoal -- it burns hotter than briquette and leaves little ash. I start my Lang with a weed burner and a bed of lump and some cheap camp fire wood, which burns hot and fast. The chimney is open as are the pin wheels. Once I get a bed of coals and clear smoke coming out of the chimney I add the meat and chunk from Home depot -- hardwood is hard to come by in Tucson and expensive. Once the internal temperature of the meat hits about 145F it won't take anymore smoke so I finish with lump.

 

These smokers aren't like cooking with propane -- you can't set it and forget it. You have to watch your cookers temp and when the temp starts to dip you have to add more fuel -- that's why the lounge chair and beer was invented!! I control my temp with the pinwheels. These smokers take some time to master.   

post #5 of 14
Lefty, I too have a Trailmaster LE and just built my box. I used 1sheet of 24x24 18ga 3/4 and 1 sheet 12x24 1/2in expanded sheet from Home Depot for mine. $30. Would have used 30x30 but they did not have it. The 1/2in was bought for $10 so I saved $10 from not buying 2 24x24 sheets. I made mine 10x10x10 and it takes up most of the box. Could have gone wider but at 10in tall you can only go about 10in deep. I cut 2 10x12 in pieces from the 3/4 for the sides and 1 12x12 piece of the 1/2 for the bottom. We bent the sides 10 with 1 2in overlap on each then the bottom had 4 1in sides bent up so that the box slid right into the bottom. I work for an airline so I had access to a sheet metal shear, bending brake, welder and a sheet metal go who really got into it. My original plan was to just bolt it together but when a welder volunteers you go with it. Definitely go to HD to get the metal. Other places I looked were over double their price. I have not even done a seasoning run yet and just joined SMF a few minutes ago but it should hold a lot of charcoal to burn for a while.
post #6 of 14

Hey Lefty, looks like you got some help already, Welcome from East Texas

 

Gary S

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you everybody for the info, much appreciated.  Looks like I might have to tackle this charcoal basket myself this Friday.  I might be doing a brisket, and spare ribs for Easter so wish me luck!

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

WDMelvin, did the charcoal box help with temperatures, getting them up, and controlling them?  As Wood River suggested, I am going to try using lump charcoal.

post #9 of 14
I did not have 3 hours to do the seasoning run yet so I can't say for sure yet. I'm hoping to get it done this week so I can do my first smoke on Saturday. I did measure my box and it looks like I could have gone 10in high x 10in deep x 12in wide. The clearance issue is with having to roll the box in and out. Right now I have about 3/4 in clearance. I did see where one guy made his 11in high but 8in deep. I wish I had a welder at home as I would make these on the side for people. Not much margin in them but they could be custom built and there would be a market for them I think. I'll let you know what I find if I get it fired up this week.
post #10 of 14
Lefty, Im doing my seasoning run now. A full chimney of briquettes fills up the 10x10x10 basket about 1/3 and I put 3 hickory chunks in it. Both doors are leaking bad it went to 250, on the stock thermo, stayed there for a bit and has crept up to 275 in 1/2 hr. I've barely got the damper open, maybe 1/4 in and the chimney open the same. Dont know what grill level temp is but should be good based on 40 to 50 deg higher at the stock thermo. Ill let you know how long itll last before I have to reload. Probably have to use more to hit 400 for the last hr.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hey WD, that stock thermo is way off on mine, by 75 degrees. I put two at grate level. Helped me better accurate temps. I have a charcoal basket coming in Monday, it measures 12x12x6. On my charcoal grate I put 3" bolts on to raise it up. I am hoping with that and box I can get my temps up where I want them. Right now I have a hard time getting to 225. Keep me posted on how everything works for you.
post #12 of 14

Hey WD, I would run my stack damper wide open, that way you don't get stale smoke, I control my temp with the FB damper only. Just my 2 cents worth.

 

Gary S

post #13 of 14
Welcome, see ya around the forum !
post #14 of 14
Ok im almost done with the season run. At about 1.5 hrs I had to open the dampers to maintain 250 up to 2hrs. At 2 hrs I put 1/2 chimney of lit briquettes in. Opened both dampers full and opened the fire box 3-4 inches. Max I could get was 375. All temps are with stock thermo. Could prob do better with lump as I think it burns hotter and doing the real minion method with lit over unlit. Im a little surprised I could not 400. After 45min Im now at 325 with everything wide open pf course OAT is dropping off but still in low 70s and I dont know how much temps drop with meat in there. Ive got to wait a week or so to get some meat going. I think itll do just fine but prob more wood than I think. Ill give Gary's advice a shot and report what I find. Bad Q is better than no Q :-).
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