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!