I own a Charbroil 430 offset smoker. It was cheap and has the size that I need. I have smoked beef and pork with OK results but always struggled with fire and temp management. I knew that this smoker was going to give me trouble but I took on the challenge of making it work. I figured if I learn with this little guy, it will be easy when I buy a good one in the future. Because of ash would build up after 4 hrs and choke the fire I decided to build a charcoal basket with an expanded metal sheet. Not only was the basket a lot of work (which I enjoyed) but also ended up being small (7x 7 x 4) an holding about 35 % of the charcoal the firebox w/o basket would. I started the fire on one corner of the basket, but even when the whole basket was lit temps werent climbing above 200. However, I would then add a couple of wood chunks and it would get to 225-30 in 15 minutes.
So question for your guys.
Is there a good way to have long lump charcoal burn in a small firebox????
Should I remove the bottom grate and somehow scoop out ashed through the main door as I add more charcoal?
Should I find short logs and just burn wood? What about burning only wood chunks? Would it be too expensive?
Thanks a lot.