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Need advice

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I got my first smoker 2 weeks ago, and have used it each weekend since. I made my very first fatties yesterday and had trouble maintaining 225 degrees. The temp kept dropping down to 200 even with the draft wide open. Do I need to put more charcoal in the firebox each time, or do I need to do something else? I have a charbroil 1280 and was using about 2 pounds of charcoal, adding a little at a time as needed.
post #2 of 11

What is your procedure for lighting the smoker? Do you start a chimney full of charcoal and then add it on top of unlit coals (the minion method)?


When you say "draft wide open" are you referring to the intake or the exhaust? or both?


Where are you located and what was the weather like?  

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

To light the smoker, I used lighter fluid. I picked up a chimney last night at the store. I have been reading through posts on here as time permits and everyone says they are the way to go. I have seen references to the minion method, but have not been able to find a full description of how to do it yet.


At first both were wide open, but then I closed the chimney side down to just slightly open to help hold the heat in. This seemed to help a little bit.


I am located in Central PA, and the weather was in the upper 60's with a very slight breeze and alternated between cloudy and sunny most of the day.

post #4 of 11

Here is Jeff's article on the minion method:


I would try the minion method and see if that helps. 


Also, how well is the cooking chamber sealed? If you have a lot of air leaving around the door it will keep your temps down. 

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the article. I only had a minute to glance over, but I will read the whole thing tonight after work. From what I have seen so far, it looks like it will make a huge improvement.

The cooking chamber door does not seem to be sealed very well. I get smoke coming out around the edges of the door. What would be a good way to seal it?
post #6 of 11

If the lid is just loose you can add some clamps to keep it closed tightly. Something like this:




If the lid does close tightly but there are gaps where the door doesn't line up with the smoker you can add a gasket to the door to help seal that.


Until you have your leaks under control you will have some level of temp issues. 

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Looks like I'm making a trip to the hardware store. I will give it a try. It won't be til next weekend until I find out if that fixes it. I have to go to the in-laws this weekend. th_crybaby2.gif
post #8 of 11

Note: Leave the exhaust stack vent ALL THE WAY OPEN. Always. Control combustion using the intake vent. A closed exhaust vent can facilitate creosote buildup and nasty-tasting BBQ.

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Now that you say that, it makes perfect sense. I had not given creosote a thought. Thanks.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
I got Jeff's book and it arrived on Friday. I started reading it yesterday and one of the mods that he suggests is running the chimney down inside the cooking chamber to grate level. Has anyone tried this? Does it work? What material should be used to extend the chimney? Will the new piece need to be seasoned?
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the help guys. I did 3-2-1 ribs yesterday, and the temp control was drastically improved. The ribs turned out perfectly also.
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