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Newbie requiring a bit of advice

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've recently purchased a new smoker like this one
I've given it a go today but need a bit of advice. I wanted to cook a 2kg pork shoulder in it. I set the fire bowl at the bottom with the small steel rack in it to sit the briquettes on it.
I then filled a chimney stater with the briquettes (branded Big K) which was about 1/3 of the 5kg bag. I put newspaper under the starter and lit it, leaving it until the briquettes were covered in white ash. I then tipped the briquettes onto the small rack in the firebowl, fitted the water bowl above it, filled that with water and then put the rest of the smoker together.
I gave it 20 minutes to get hot but after that time, the temperature gauge on the smoker was about 58C. I thought maybe there wasn't enough briquettes in the fire bowl - there was about 1 layer with a few on top so I set off another batch in the chimney starter. I waited for them to be covered in white ash, disassembled the smoker, poured them in which almost filled the fire bowl. I reassembled the smoker and gave it 20-25 minutes. The temperature gauge reached 68C but wouldn't go up anymore.
After 2 hours, the temperature is now about 60C. I was going to do the pork shoulder in it today but have cooked it in the oven instead but I'm still running the smoke with no meat in as a trial run.
Any advice anyone can give me as I'm doing something wrong.
Thanks in advance

post #2 of 15
Therms that come with a smoker are notorious for being wrong. They are made cheap. You need to check the therm in ice water or and hot water boil to see if its correct. You should always have a remote therm with you in these cases.... I would start there first
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Is there any cheap-ish ones you can recommend?
post #4 of 15
Are you in the UK...... Walmart has a pretty good chepo for around 10 us dollars. Any major retailer should carry them
post #5 of 15
does the smoker therm have a probe on the other side or is it a flush mount
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'm in the uk and it's a flush mount therm as below (taken it out to show you)
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've just poured a cup of boiling water and put my therm in and it rapidly rose to just below 100C so it seems fairly accurate
post #8 of 15
Try it with no water ...just the empty bowl. The water might be sucking up all the heat.

Edit: thinking about everything you said in your post , I will offer my 2 cents. (I am not an expert)

If your smoker is only getting up to roughly 137 degrees I would definitely ditch the water. Maybe just put a pound of sand in the pan for a heat sink.

For the charcoal , I would fill the charcoal bowl as full as it can get with unlit charcoal....then take about 20 briquettes off and light those in your chimney starter....when they are nice and hot dump them on the unlit.....put the lid on and let the smoker heat up. If it gets up to a temp you like , throw the meat on .

I have no clue how the vents work on your smoker , but I would venture to say that your fire might be starved for need to think about how the fire gets it's air and make some adjustments. If there are vents in the smoker open them up at first and then as the fire gets hot adjust accordingly. If no vents then maybe leave the charcoal door ajar. My smoking experience is largely on a weber smoky mountain which is a bullet smoker like yours but different. But years ago I had a brinkmann gourmet which is a lot like the one you showed pix of and that smoker had air supply issues from hell.

Hope you find this helpful. Post a few pix of your actual smoker and maybe some more ideas will present themselves. Good luck.
Edited by Hambone1950 - 5/25/14 at 7:10am
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
I just opened the vent in the lid and left the body doors closed. That could have been the issue. Will have another trial in an hour. I don't mind burning off a couple of bags of charcoal to get it right cos it's only £4 a bag.
post #10 of 15
Once you have eliminated the therm as being the problem you move on... Looks like your heading in the right direction..........
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've given it another go. I only had 1/3 of a bag of charcoal left (about 1.5kg). I lit it in the chimney starter and once ready put it into the fire bowl. I put the water bowl filled with water. I put it all together and left the bottom door open which is where the charcoal is. The temp reached about 55C after 10 mins and wouldn't increase so I took the water bowl out.
After 10 mins it got to 97C but again wouldn't go any further. I left the top vent fully open and experimented with the bottom door being 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 open.
I only used 1/3 of the bag of charcoal as I say and that only covered 1/2 of the fire bowl.
Would I be right in thinking that twice the amount of fuel would increase the temp considerately?
I would like to use the water bowl eventually but I need to get the temp up first.
Someone asked for a picture of my smoker so here it is
post #12 of 15
What does the charcoal pan look like? Any holes or slots in it? One of the mods you usually hear about in smokers of this type is making holes in the (solid) charcoal bowl or pan to get more air to the fuel. And to answer your question , yes. More charcoal should mean more theory. But it's all about getting the charcoal to burn.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
The pan is solid metal with no holes or slots in it.
I've had a go today with about 3.5kg of charcoal. I filled the fire bowl up with unlit charcoal, the took some out to put in the chimney starter. Once that was ready, I tipped it onto the top of the unlit charcoal. After a while it got to about 120C but wouldn't go anymore.
It seemed to maintain that temperature.
I thought I'd test with the water bowl in but it would only reach about 70C.
I think I'll just run it without the water bowl as that seems to affect the temp drastically.
Is there anything I can do to improve the airflow to get it to burn hotter?
I've done the test today with the dome vent and the bottom vent near the charcoal fully open
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've taken the water bowl out and within 5 minutes it's gone from 70C to 100C and it's still rising so it's definitely the water bowl that's stopping the temperature.
This is a photo of the water bowl which is identical to the fire bowl
post #15 of 15

Hello Carl and Welcome.  Glad you found your solution.  Keep Smokin!


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